So first up was a meeting with the Awesome Mr Bowden of Vita Nova Films, just a quick catch up, over a Coke and a Mars Bar... sitting outside the Clock Tower Cafe in the glorious sunshine with one of the most generous filmmakers in our Region. Hatching plots, catching up on the gen and just generally shooting the shit - hopefully planting a few seeds that’ll take root in the coming months.
Then just enough time for a quick phonecall to La Duncanson to discuss potential collaborations and then on to the main event - an NFM sponsored seminar called “A-Z of Distribution” delivered by Ed Fletcher from Soda Pictures. The NFM offices are in a building called The Kiln - and let me tell you there couldn’t have been a more apt name for the place on a roasting hot day like today! Ed was a trooper though and kept going through it all, 3 hours is a long time to talk without a break (and without the comfort blanket that is Powerpoint), yet somehow he managed and was entertaining, informative and rather candid in equal measure... a real star in fact!
For all of you who have no intention of going down the DIY/ self distribution route, I have some bad news for you. Ed’s top tip was know why you are making a particular film and who your audience is!!! I found this both reassuring and funny in equal measure - seems you can’t dodge that question even if you want to hand the reins of your project over to a distributor. And why would you want to do a thing like that? Well here are some ideas... A distributor - make that a good distributor should give you two very key things
- Expertise - at the end of the day if you choose to do anything DIY whether it be building a patio, landscaping your garden or distributing your own film - often what you lack in said area is expertise - so it might work (if you follow some form of guide) or it might not.
- Access - whether it is to festival or cinema programmers or to DVD buyers, a good distributor should have contacts and relationships with those key gatekeepers between you and an audience.
Remember even the greatest proponents of DIY say it’s not really Do It Yourself but Do It With Others or DIWY - and even Mr Reiss himself advocates using a distributor if they meet two criteria:
- They have a good reputation (ie do your research, ask around)
- It makes financial sense to do so
I’m not gonna turn down a decent deal just to pursue a DIY strategy for the sake of it - the way I look at it is if Pissheads doesn’t get a distributor then at least the ball for DIY is already in motion and if it does get a distributor then at least I can discuss marketing and P & A spend with them from a position of knowledge rather than ignorance.
What else did I learn from Ed yesterday? What is he looking for in a film? He’s looking for the usual elements:
Cast and genre. (With the addition of "talented" director)
You see even a fairly art-house distributor like Soda is still in the business of selling, they have to convince exhibitors to show your film and they have to convince retailers to stock your DVD - so they have to know who the audience is, whether they get their information from and how they consume media - which is essentially the three questions Sheri Candler expected us to be able to answer about our films during the TOTBO workshops in London in May.
So from now on, that is my challenge to ALL filmmakers, big, small, high brow, low brow, art-house and mainstream...
Think about your audience, who are they?
Where do they get information from?
How do they consume media?
Now stop reading this shit and go and make your movie!!!