PBS – On the Verge of Something New?

PBS – On the Verge of Something New?

Today I attended the PBS Listening Tour in NYC, a forum for PBS executives to hear ideas from filmmakers and community members on creating national strategies to highlight independent films. A lot of documentary heavy hitters showed up to this meeting, and made direct complaints about a schedule change (which has been temporarily revoked) in New York that would take P.O.V. and Independent Lens (IL) off of prime time. They complained about how the show would lose prestige and have less of an audience, in turn affecting filmmakers ability to drum up future funding. One filmmaker threatened to pass on Independent Lens in the future because he could get more money elsewhere, and it wouldn’t be worth the sacrifice if he wasn’t getting the eyeballs. A woman on the panel then spoke about a filmmaker at Sundance passing on their bid. It’s possible that they may lose the type of programming they generally air with this programming decision. I started to think about how the face of these PBS shows would change if these popular filmmakers were no longer interested in airing during these time slots. And I got excited about it. I got in line to share my ideas, and of course, the event ended as my time to talk approached. So here are my ideas. Yay for blogs. PROGRAMMING A majority of the documentaries shown by both POV and Independent Lens (IL) are films that perform well on the film festival circuit, are made by popular filmmakers, and receive major funding. If these filmmakers no longer think POV and IL are prime spots, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF the...
“Facebook Fraud” as it Applies to Independent Film

“Facebook Fraud” as it Applies to Independent Film

The first time I used Facebook Ads, I was very gratified by the numbers it brought in, but it was also clear that something was amiss. When I looked at followers’ profiles, they didn’t make much sense. Just like Veritasium‘s video reports, these “individuals” also liked a bunch of very random pages, none of which suggested that a real person was behind the profile. Watch this video to learn why you shouldn’t waste your time and money setting up ads. Being able to purchase followers wasn’t a concept (to my knowledge), although it was pretty clear that Facebook was being clever/deceitful with their “advertising” model. But for us, at the time, it didn’t matter. We were still in development, were getting bloggers to write about the film, and could boast how many people “liked” us. We ended up attracting a lot of talent to the project, and I like to think that our audience engagement practices were a part of the draw. Our short film, America 1979, currently has over 250 followers, au natural. I think this is pretty good for a short film that is in post production. I find that the following helps: Post content consistently. You will stay in the algorithm. If you go dark for a while, you may find that less people are seeing your posts. That is why it’s good to have a specific member of your team assigned to social media. Post photos or articles and tag members of your community. It will force the content into their streams and their friends will be interested in a project that they are involved with. For...
A Grant does SO MUCH MORE than Financing Your Film

A Grant does SO MUCH MORE than Financing Your Film

Often times, there is a very noticeable trend with successful documentary films: they all get the same big grants. A combination of ITVS, Just Films, MacArthur Foundation, Cinereach, Fledgling, Chicken and Egg, and others. Not only are these films funded, but they are seen – at top tier film festivals, on television and sometimes in theaters. How does this happen?You need a great story, and a great pitch. None of these films would be successful if they weren’t telling an interesting or important story. The pitch for your film has to be ultimately engaging and well written, otherwise you don’t have a chance. You have to be able to be very clear about your story, your audience, and your goals. No one buys if it isn’t already sold. Once you get one of these large grants, it’s easier to get others because your project is now a known quantity. If Just Films is has enough confidence in you to fork over a large sum, it will probably instill confidence in other organizations. You also become part of the larger conversation about independent film. Your project is talked about, and you float to the top easier. Getting grants is challenging, but getting that first big grant is the hardest part. One door opens another which opens another. Consider that many of these large granting entities are very well connected and also be funding festivals and programming. For instance, both Cinereach and Ford Foundation support Sundance. “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which was produced by Cinereach premiered at Sundance. “My Peristroika” also premiered there, and received funds from Just Films which...
Desconstructing the Reality of the Sundance Film Festival

Desconstructing the Reality of the Sundance Film Festival

This statistic will either frustrate or relieve you: you have a 2% chance of getting your film into the career-changing Sundance Film Festival. They select 200 of the 9000 entries they receive. If  you are basing your goals around getting into Sundance, you better strategize to make that happen, or you better change the way you think about success. A few years ago I made a chart of all of the films in competition in order to detect patterns. What I found was startling: only TWO films were not alumni of a Sundance program or did not have recognizable talent or producers attached. Boom. There it is. If you don’t fit in those categories, your strategy better include working with people who are already in the loop. It’s still not a guarantee, but the odds show it will get you closer. The other option is to rethink what success means to you. Is Sundance actually the goal? Or is distributing your film the goal? Are you trying to get your name out there to make your next film an easier sell? Are you trying to start a social movement based on your film? All of these things, albeit easier with Sundance under your belt, are still possible. I’ll give some examples in a future post. Create a film festival strategy that takes into the reality of your film and your resources. That means doing some leg work and looking past the reputation of a festival and researching what types of films they actually program. When you look at the most current line up, can you see your film in...
Why Largesse?

Why Largesse?

Largesse means “generosity of spirit or attitude.” In addition to offering knowledge and know how, we offer our passion for your project. We do everything we can to help your film succeed. A few years ago a filmmaker named Jon Reiss came up with the idea that independent filmmakers need to start putting time, money, and attention into marketing their films if they wanted their projects to be successful. He wrote a very influential book called Think Outside the Box Office that has been a part of the shift in the independent film landscape. Considering I enjoyed the marketing aspect of my own feature film High Life a few years prior, it was clear to me that this was an avenue I should pursue. I found an immediate need for my services and have worked as a freelancer and consultant for over five years. It’s time to expand my knowledge and my practice, so, here’s Largesse!...