Filmmaker Cherry Arnold discusses self-distributing "Buddy," a documentary on Providence mayor Buddy CianciApril 7th, 2008 | Lynn Tryba
Cherry Arnold didn’t know what she was in for when she started filming Buddy: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Notorious Mayor. “If I had known all the work involved…,” Arnold says. “Pure ignorance kept me going. I underestimated by months at a time how long each step would take.”
Filmmaker Buzz McLaughlin was so adept at self distribution, that he eventually caught the eye of a traditional distributorApril 7th, 2008 | Lynn Tryba
It’s no wonder Buzz McLaughlin feels some pride and relief. His New Hampshire-based film production company, Either/Or Films, just signed a distribution deal for its first movie, The Sensation of Sight, during the last week of March.
Three filmmakers talk about their experiences distributing their films themselvesApril 7th, 2008 | Lynn Tryba
Unless you get your film into the very top festivals like Sundance, Toronto, or Cannes, you'll probably have a hard time attracting interest from an established distributor. So how can you get your film in front of audiences? The makers of three successful indies—The Sensation of Sight, Buddy, and On Broadway (pictured)—chose to self-distribute. As The Independent's Lynn Tryba reports, this grassroots approach is hard work and there's no sure payoff. But self-distribution can work beautifully—turning a small film into a word-of-mouth phenomenon. Part 4 of our special report on distribution.
Long after they wrap their films, independent filmmakers struggle to get their projects seen by as many people as possible. A distribution deal with a mainstream distribution company is, of course, the Holy Grail. And in the quest for a deal, a filmmaker's family ties will often get strained, their bank accounts will dwindle, and their stress level will surge.
Advice on film distribution from Cynthia Close, executive director of Documentary Educational ResourcesMarch 26th, 2008 | Cynthia Close
So you want to get distribution for your film? In a letter to filmmakers seeking distribution, Cynthia Close, the executive director of Documentary Educational Resources, offers tips on how—and how not—to approach distributors. Close's company has a focus on international fare and often picks up films at festivals in places such as Brazil, Toronto, and Beijing. According to Close, you should do due dilligence on the company you're approaching. Make sure you label your DVD properly. And do you really have to have an agent? Part 3 of our special report on independent film distribution.
Dear Filmmaker, I just got off the phone after talking to you. You had called our company asking to speak to someone about our potential interest in distributing your film. When I asked you if you had visited our website, you seemed slightly confused and said no, but that you had a few questions for me anyway.
How Joseph Spaid's documentary became the toast of 25 film festivals and countingNovember 7th, 2007 | Fernanda Rossi
In a new monthly feature, the Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi presents a case study of a successful documentary film. Her first patient is Joseph Spaid, the producer and director of Kiran over Mongolia, a film about eagle hunting that has been screened at more than 25 film festivals from Estonia to Dubai. The Doc Doctor notes that Spaid filmed Kiran in less than four months spread over a four-year period. The filmmaker also discovered that a fire-proof safe was a wise investment.
About this new column: Many filmmakers ponder in anguish, How do other people—celebrated people—do it? Am I taking too long to make this documentary? Does everybody spend as much money as I am spending, or am I spending too little? And when filmmakers share their lessons learned in interviews in the glossy trade magazines, their tales seem to follow the arc of otherworldy heroes rather than real documentary makers, i.e. human beings like you and me. So starting this month, the Doc Doctor decided to go out into the world (this real world) of filmmakers who are successful and find out how they made it. Each month, her "anatomy" will be a chance to learn from their hits and misses in real life examples. —Fernanda Rossi, story consultant a.k.a. the Documentary Doctor
Ask the Documentary DoctorJuly 1st, 2006 | Fernanda Rossi
Dear Doc Doctor:
My documentary has three potential endings. How do I choose one?
False starts, fake endings, such are the tricks that storytelling—and life—plays on us. But it’s important to remember that endings are choices, even when documenting real events.
The Documentary Doc outlines how you can get on PBS, and the difference between the network's hard and soft feedsApril 1st, 2006 | Fernanda Rossi
How can I get my work onto public television?
The Documentary Doc answers that question, plus whether you should tell people if you're pregnantMarch 1st, 2006 | Fernanda Rossi
Im a cinematographer, and I just found out that Im pregnant. Should I tell people? I cant afford to lose any jobs right now.
The Documentary Doctor assesses a filmmaker's early editing jittersJanuary 1st, 2006 | Fernanda Rossi
Dear Doc Doctor:
Im in my first week of editing, and I have this horrible feeling that my 100 hours of footage wont be enough even for a short. How can I stretch my film beyond the short format?
Plus, the Documentary Doctor tells you how to say no to a project gracefullyDecember 1st, 2005 | Fernanda Rossi
Dear Doc Doctor:
Ive been asked for a business plan for my documentary. I thought those types of things were only for fiction films. Do I really need to write one?