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Old 05-28-2018, 10:56 AM   #1
Georgii
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Festivals, streaming, theaters, TV in this day and age

Hello all...

I'm in preproduction on my microbudget feature film and am returning to film production after a long 12 yr hiatus. I've been living under a rock when it comes to the business end of things. It's very exciting these days seeing things like HD streaming, but on the other end it seems the usual trends in business hold true: low barriers to entry create more competition, so we have the same dilemma: distributing independent films is still HARD, lol.

So essentially here is what the dilemma is:

1) Theatrical. Probably not something I will do well with unless I do a four wall situation for publicity purposes. And in this day and age of digital projection I could just set up a screening at any hall that has favorable projection conditions, and rent the gear (none of this union projectionist nonsense).

2) Festivals. The last time I tried for a festival I ended up starving myself of attention for a year just to find out I didn't get in. It seems it's a big gamble to take and even though people swear by them, the problem is that I have product that is not moving while I'm waiting to hear from them. I don't like the idea that the cut is finished but I have to sit on it for months with fingers crossed hoping for a miracle.

3) Streaming. Personally I haven't bought a DVD in ages. I stream everything. I don't see myself reaching into my pocket and paying for a DVD unless it's something so extremely rare and a 'gotta have' that I'll do it. Otherwise I pass. Naturally I would expect my audience to be the same way. I will have no recognizable talent so the big streaming companies like Netflix are not likely to be interested. At the same time I want to be able to make my content available in a way where people don't have to be a member of a site to watch it. One of my concerns is any 'exclusivity' - I want to be able to have a situation where I can be watched on multiple platforms so I'm not limiting my audience in any way.

4) Television. I would love to get this to play on TV, but do TV companies have issues if my content is already streaming somewhere?

5) Piracy. People are going to upload the film if it's worth watching, so how do I go about fighting this?

6) Distribution. Is it possible to start self distributing and then if a distributor likes the film, they pick it up? Or are distributors only interested in virgin content, like festivals?

Any advice is very much appreciated!
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Old 05-28-2018, 06:09 PM   #2
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Old 05-29-2018, 03:36 PM   #3
directorik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgii View Post
1) Theatrical. Probably not something I will do well with unless I do a four wall situation for publicity purposes. And in this day and age of digital projection I could just set up a screening at any hall that has favorable projection conditions, and rent the gear (none of this union projectionist nonsense).
Damn unions! Pushing for a living wage for skilled labor. Nonsense!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgii View Post
2) Festivals. The last time I tried for a festival I ended up starving myself of attention for a year just to find out I didn't get in. It seems it's a big gamble to take and even though people swear by them, the problem is that I have product that is not moving while I'm waiting to hear from them. I don't like the idea that the cut is finished but I have to sit on it for months with fingers crossed hoping for a miracle.
Nothing has changed. It still takes a long time for the festival
programmers to make the decision. I think it's even more difficult
these days because there are far more entries. It's so inexpensive
to make a micro-budget feature that many more filmmakers are
doing it. A small festival that 10 years ago got 200 submissions
now gets 1,000. Sundance got 2,300 feature submissions in 2015
and 4,000 in 2016. In 2005 there were a total of 2,613 and that
includes shorts and docs.

It's a gamble for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgii View Post
3) Streaming. Personally I haven't bought a DVD in ages. I stream everything. I don't see myself reaching into my pocket and paying for a DVD unless it's something so extremely rare and a 'gotta have' that I'll do it. Otherwise I pass. Naturally I would expect my audience to be the same way. I will have no recognizable talent so the big streaming companies like Netflix are not likely to be interested. At the same time I want to be able to make my content available in a way where people don't have to be a member of a site to watch it. One of my concerns is any 'exclusivity' - I want to be able to have a situation where I can be watched on multiple platforms so I'm not limiting my audience in any way.
Each streaming platform has their own rules. There are some
that want exclusivity. As you mine your way through the options
you know what you have to look for.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgii View Post
4) Television. I would love to get this to play on TV, but do TV companies have issues if my content is already streaming somewhere?
Many do. Most do, I think. for obvious reasons. If they pay you
a fee to show your movie and the audience is diluted by several
streaming platforms the movie is worth less to them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgii View Post
5) Piracy. People are going to upload the film if it's worth watching, so how do I go about fighting this?
You can't. Todays consumer feels everything should be free to
them on line. If the major distributors can't do much about
piracy with hundreds of millions at their disposal, it's pretty
bleak for us micro-budget filmmakers.

I've got some personal "horror" stories...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgii View Post
6) Distribution. Is it possible to start self distributing and then if a distributor likes the film, they pick it up? Or are distributors only interested in virgin content, like festivals?
Yes.

Again, the more people who have seen your movie the less
valuable it becomes to new players.
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Old 05-31-2018, 09:52 PM   #4
Georgii
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Thanks directorik for the feedback and advice, much appreciated!

Regarding unions, I have total respect for their existence and understand why they are there. But there are times when they simply make it impossible for people in the micro budget space to get things done, and some resort to either blocking you from renting equipment and in some cases even violence/sabotage (talk to anyone who's stepped on the Teamsters). Some unions make provisions (SAG-AFTRA is perhaps the most benevolent), others are ruthless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by directorik View Post

A small festival that 10 years ago got 200 submissions
now gets 1,000. Sundance got 2,300 feature submissions in 2015
and 4,000 in 2016. In 2005 there were a total of 2,613 and that
includes shorts and docs.
Aye. There's another reason to be nostalgic for celluloid, lol. I would argue that the amount of films has increased but I'm not sure the amount of quality films has. Most of the indie stuff still has bad script, bad acting, bad sound, bad cinematography, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by directorik View Post
Each streaming platform has their own rules. There are some
that want exclusivity. As you mine your way through the options
you know what you have to look for.
I see. So being choosy is important, understanding what your market is more likely to view seems to be a critical factor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by directorik View Post
Many do. Most do, I think. for obvious reasons. If they pay you
a fee to show your movie and the audience is diluted by several
streaming platforms the movie is worth less to them.
That makes sense I guess. Although in some foreign markets I don't imagine people use pay streaming services like Amazon and Vimeo as much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by directorik View Post
You can't. Todays consumer feels everything should be free to
them on line. If the major distributors can't do much about
piracy with hundreds of millions at their disposal, it's pretty
bleak for us micro-budget filmmakers.
I was wondering if it is at least enough to put in a violation notice with the major streaming services to have them take down any illegit uploads. Going after people on Peer to Peer and doing IP traces is probably a futile business.

Thanks again for your input.
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Old 05-31-2018, 11:18 PM   #5
Sweetie
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Quote:
5) Piracy. People are going to upload the film if it's worth watching, so how do I go about fighting this?
Wack-a-mole with the resources of a large corporation is next to impossible. As an independent without those resources... What do you think?

Quote:
6) Distribution. Is it possible to start self distributing and then if a distributor likes the film, they pick it up? Or are distributors only interested in virgin content, like festivals?
This is a tricky subject. If you mess it up, you ruin your opportunities. If you nail it perfectly, you can get a run away success in which a distributor will be happy to jump on board and exploit your success. That leave a lot of middle ground.

There are some success stories that started with self distribution and became success stories. If I remember right, most of the ones I've read about are documentaries. They are also few and far between.

Quote:
4) Television. I would love to get this to play on TV, but do TV companies have issues if my content is already streaming somewhere?
Quote:
Many do. Most do, I think. for obvious reasons. If they pay you
a fee to show your movie and the audience is diluted by several
streaming platforms the movie is worth less to them.
There's an additional issue is the TV station (like some over here) who also wish to have it available on their streaming. Licensing issued to others can limit your options.

Quote:
I was wondering if it is at least enough to put in a violation notice with the major streaming services to have them take down any illegit uploads.
Sure you can. Keeping up with the volume of infringements is where you'll fall into a never-ending pit of pain, not to mention services that fall outside the jurisdiction that respect DMCA.

Quote:
Although in some foreign markets I don't imagine people use pay streaming services like Amazon and Vimeo as much.
Some do. Take Australia for example, we stream a lot here, though there are services that geo-deny access to a large percentage of their content to us. So streaming services that support those options aren't as large as they could be over here.

One last thing that you haven't mentioned. A films value is usually determined by it's success in the box office. Without those numbers, or named talent attached, it can be really tough.

There's a website called Filmspecific that may be worth joining (paid site assuming it's still around). It's the best I've come across to help you navigate the world of distribution/sales agents/film financing. If you have a film, it's well worth the money for a month or two. A little knowledge can help you avoid getting ripped off if you have a smash hit on your hands.

Good luck.
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Old 06-01-2018, 10:18 AM   #6
Georgii
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Thanks Sweetie for the feedback!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetie View Post
Wack-a-mole with the resources of a large corporation is next to impossible. As an independent without those resources... What do you think?
Agreed it must be very difficult to nail certain types of infringement. In some ways at this stage it's not the end of the world as I'm trying to get my work known, so piracy will offset some of its losses by building awareness.

Quote:
This is a tricky subject. If you mess it up, you ruin your opportunities. If you nail it perfectly, you can get a run away success in which a distributor will be happy to jump on board and exploit your success. That leave a lot of middle ground.
I see, so if a distributor sees you not doing too well that may be a signal to them that you are not marketable material.

Quote:
There are some success stories that started with self distribution and became success stories. If I remember right, most of the ones I've read about are documentaries. They are also few and far between.
That seemed to be the case in the 'old days' as well. Back then it was all about four-walling theaters and then doing direct VHS sales (boy, glad those days are over). Nowadays it seems even DVDs are on their way out. Streaming video seems like the way of the future so that at least makes it easier in the sense of not having to worry about physical inventory, taking on inventory risk and dealing with duplication issues. And four-walling no longer requires worrying about the issues of film projection, I've seen very high quality projections done from digital equipment in non-theater spaces. So these factors do make the case for self distribution more strongly than in the old and golden days. But the problems of marketing do remain for sure.

Quote:
There's an additional issue is the TV station (like some over here) who also wish to have it available on their streaming. Licensing issued to others can limit your options.
Interesting point.

Quote:
Some do. Take Australia for example, we stream a lot here, though there are services that geo-deny access to a large percentage of their content to us. So streaming services that support those options aren't as large as they could be over here.
I see. I'm aiming for smaller European countries that aren't into streaming from what I know (I'm trying to see if I can find a free report on video streaming stats for various world markets). In those cases the TV stations are doing the local market and the diaspora.

Quote:
One last thing that you haven't mentioned. A films value is usually determined by it's success in the box office. Without those numbers, or named talent attached, it can be really tough.
Yes, this is a problem because I do not have access to name talent and frankly, for this project I don't want to worry about the fuss of attracting someone with a name. My goal is simply to make a good film with no-name actors, and that will serve as a calling card so I can raise money for bigger and better things in the future. It's going to take thinking to get the marketing right, of course, but I'll do my best.
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Old 06-01-2018, 05:16 PM   #7
Sweetie
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Quote:
But the problems of marketing do remain for sure.
That's show business.

Quote:
I'm trying to see if I can find a free report on video streaming stats for various world markets
Last time I looked, there's not even paid versions. There's the occasional case study. I hope your search yields better results than mine did.

Quote:
My goal is simply to make a good film with no-name actors, and that will serve as a calling card so I can raise money for bigger and better things in the future.
If this is your goal, why are you worrying about the rest?
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Old 06-24-2018, 02:51 AM   #8
Modern Day Myth Prod. LLC
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In as far as a place in NYC to screen your films for the cast and crew, this place worked out well for me in the past.

Helen Mills Event Space and Theater

137 W 26th St, New York, NY 10001
(212) 243-6200

https://g.co/kgs/jXSntp
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Old 06-24-2018, 05:00 AM   #9
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DVD is masively overlooked, its still a $15 billion industry in america alone

I just spoke to my partner who said the same as you that he streams everything and cant remember the last time he bought a DVD to which I pointed out he bought at least 3 box sets, 2 trillogies and a handful of single DVDs alone this year (I know becaue we watch them together) to which he responded 'oh, yeah I forgot about those but they dont count for x,y,z reason' thats not to mention all the ones ive bought for my young kids who dont have access to streaming and just want films to watch in their room or on the car DVD player

people make up reasons all they want to think its a dead avenue but the truth is DVD is very much still alive (and a lot more is made from a DVD sale than a streaming)
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Old 06-24-2018, 04:58 PM   #10
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If anyone is looking for a reasonably priced space for a screening in NYC, I'm a huge fan of Anthology Film Archives. I've done many screenings there - they have 2 auditoriums and can accommodate anything from a DVD to DCP.
http://anthologyfilmarchives.org/
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Old 06-25-2018, 01:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBfilms View Post
DVD is masively overlooked, its still a $15 billion industry in america alone
I wonder what percentage of that $15 Billion is no/low budget movies
made by first or second time filmmakers what a cast no one has heard of.

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I just spoke to my partner who said the same as you that he streams everything and cant remember the last time he bought a DVD to which I pointed out he bought at least 3 box sets, 2 trillogies and a handful of single DVDs alone this year (I know becaue we watch them together) to which he responded 'oh, yeah I forgot about those but they dont count for x,y,z reason' thats not to mention all the ones ive bought for my young kids who dont have access to streaming and just want films to watch in their room or on the car DVD player
Not a bad point from your friend. I suspect the vast majority of DVD sales are
box sets of extremely popular film series, "tent-pole" movies from major studios
and kids movies.

My research has lead me to believe DVD's are a "dead" avenue for filmmakers
like Georgii. I agree that streaming is not a good source of revenue for us
but I know from experience that DVD isn't either. And costs more up front.

Maybe I'm just one of those filmmaker who make up reasons, but I have seen
a huge difference between DVD/Blu-ray sales in the 2010's vs. the 1990' for
filmmakers like us.

Do you have any sales states on DVD/Blu-ray numbers for ultra-low movies
without name actors?
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Old 06-25-2018, 02:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlesemann View Post
If anyone is looking for a reasonably priced space for a screening in NYC, I'm a huge fan of Anthology Film Archives. I've done many screenings there - they have 2 auditoriums and can accommodate anything from a DVD to DCP.
http://anthologyfilmarchives.org/
Good to know. I will consider them along with Helen Mills Theater for next year.
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