IFP Industry Connect: I Wake Up Screening (original post 7/10/06)
This is the first IFP Industry Connect panel discussion Ive attended since February, when I took notes at the IFP Industry Connect: Publicity & Viral Marketing & Building Audiences, a panel that I helped to coordinate along with fellow IFP Marketing & Publicity committee members. This was also the first time Ive been to the ImaginAsian Theater. There was another IFP panel discussion that took place there recently on film distribution where Caveh Zavedi, the director of I Am A Sex Addict was there, along with the filmmakers of The Puffy Chair. If anyone went to that, and took notes, please let me know, and Id be happy to post them on my blog for you. Thanks! -Brian
The Film Panel Notetakers Notes From
IFP Industry Connect:
I Wake Up Screening: What to Do Once Youve Made the Movie"
July 6, 2006
I Wake Up Screening Co-Authors:
Laura Kim, EVP, Marketing & Publicity, Warner Independent Pictures
John Anderson, Chief Critic at Newsday
David DArcy, Arts Writer & Critic
* Due to transit delays, David DArcy was tardy, and in his place for the first half of the panel discussion was IFP Executive Director Michelle Byrd.
Michelle starts the panel discussion off by mentioning she first heard about Lauras and Johns book while she was in Berlin. She got an email from the books publicist, who asked IFP if they could do a panel discussion.
Q: Michelle How did John and Laura team up?
A: John Laura was a publicist for MPRM in Los Angeles. He knew her for a long time. They thought it would be useful to write a guide together for filmmakers with films who dont know what to do with them once theyre finished.
A: Laura They found an agent and began to write the book.
A: John They wrote it very quickly.
A: Laura Its a how to guide for filmmakers in the last phase of production.
Q: Michelle Did John and Laura have any concerns workwise?
A: Laura They had very few concerns. In terms of whats in the book, she ran into a filmmakers whos mentioned in the book on her way back from Cannes. Theres nothing salacious about what she wrote about that filmmaker or any others in the book, but just the facts. Before Laura started working at Warner Independent Pictures, she had it in her contract that would allow her to write this book, so there was no conflict.
A: John Theres also anecdotes in the book. Need to avail yourself to whats already out there. Try to figure out who would be the best person to handle your film. These things sound obvious to most filmmakers, but sometimes they forget to do it.
Q: Michelle Whens the right time to screen your film?
A: John Filmmakers should show their films first to people they can trust, and who can not be objective, but at least give an inkling of criticism.
A: Laura If you think your film is finished, it might be, but dont screen it to the public, unless its ready.
A: John Example Kissing Jessica Stein It had so much feedback. They kept changing and tweaking it.
A: Laura KSJ got into the LA Film Festival, but had small screenings with friends first. They changed the ending before the festival. Originally ending alienated core audience.
Q: Michelle How do you define the dynamic of audiences who will give you the truth?
A: Laura Invite really smart, real people, outside of the industry.
Q: Michelle - What if KSJ didnt change its ending?
A: It probably still would have gotten picked up by a small distributor, but not a mini-major like Fox Searchlight, which ultimately released the film.
* David DArcy arrives, and takes over as moderator, but Michelle remains. David tells everyone that he was stuck in transit from the airport on his way back from the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic.
Q: David How little do filmmakers know about the business?
A: Laura They should concentrate on making the best movie, but still need to know business basics.
A: John Filmmakers dont necessarily need to know all business, but should surround themselves with people who do.
A: Laura Filmmakers should have chemistry with business people. There should be trust with one another. Filmmakers are auditioning for the producers rep, sales agents, publicist, etc., just as much as they are for distributors.
A: John If you show your film to a rep whos reluctant to rep your film, then its better to find someone else.
Comment: David Not every rep whos had success with some films, will have success with every film. There are still some films that played at Sundance that never received distribution, and even films that do get acquired by distributors are never released. Ex) Double Whammy- Produced by Gold Circle Films. Went to Sundance. Had a publicist and sales agent. Sold to Lionsgate for the complete budget of the film. Starring Elizabeth Hurley, Steve Buscemi, etc. Was an equation that seemed to work, but Lionsgate has yet to release it.
Q: David How do you turn a disadvantage into an advantage?
A: Laura- Theres only a few cases where all distributors vie for your film. Youre lucky if you get just one distributor interested in your film. Do not count on your first film to get you rich. Every distributor is taking a gamble on your film. Costs to advertise have become so high. Its really hard for indie films to make a ripple. At least 12-14 new films open every weekend, where years ago only anout 6-8.
Q: David At Karlovy Vary, there was a Sundance section. Why hasnt the festival circuit expanded? Why so narrow? Getting into a big festival for indie films is equivalent to winning the lottery.
A: Laura Festivals are the ultimate form of exhibition. In order to vie for importance, fests need to have world premiers. Big examples are Cannes, Toronto For indies, its Sundance, Seattle, SXSW
Q: David What does the book do for those who dont get into Sundance?
A: John Alternative modes of distribution and festivals.
A: Laura Think twice before submitting to a particular festival. Determine which festival is best for your film. Any time your film plays at a festival, youre opening your self up for public criticism, or praise.
A: John People are turning to the Internet for distribution. The Holy Grail of distribution has always been theatrical, but there are means to be seen by more people with new forms of media.
Audience Question How do you feel about filmmakers working with the distributor to market their films? Example, Caveh Zahedi says on his blog that he didnt like the DVD cover the distributor is using.
A: Laura Filmmakers better get involved with the distributor. It should be collaborative. They should rely on the filmmakers involvement. If the filmmaker is not passionate about their film, they why should the distributor be?
A: Michelle It was IFCs idea to have Caveh do a blog. Caveh didnt know much about blogs beforehand, but has gotten very involved with it since.