If You Build It They Will Come: Bunk Busting Indie Myths and Fables!
[Editor's Note: Sheri Candler, Orly Ravid, and a number of other brilliant folks are working on a book for how to properly market and distribute your film in a way you can live with called, Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul, which will be distributed free of charge. Orly's initial overview was so much in keeping with MFM's heart, that we decided to reprint his early overview as a guest editorial here at MFM.-JH]
[Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul, as book] is just the beginning. In the beginning of September of 2010, I thought of the idea of writing a case study book. I immediately discussed it with my business partner Jeffrey Winter (TFC Co-Executive Director). Very quickly I shared with social network marketing strategist Sheri Candler and then Jon Reiss, filmmaker/professor/consultant/author of Thinking Outside the Boxoffice and more books to come.
I wrote to them:
“The concept is this:
- It’s both an E-book and a V-book…
- The goal is to have very thorough and detailed analysis of film releases that are either only DIY or hybrid releases but in a filmmaker empowering way.
- Not all the cases will be as successful as others but the goal is to have enough of a cross-section of cases whereby one gets a lot of education of various ways to reach audiences, monetize a film, create a filmmaker brand and achieve other success (defined by the filmmakers themselves). It will be a lot of ‘this worked well’, ‘this less so’… and real details and real numbers.”
And then I wrote…
“Sheri said this book should be a ‘MYTH BUSTER’ and I like that phrase and think we should consider it for part of the title*. I also think the message should be that this book helps filmmakers make their own dreams come true and not passively hope for others to do it, which rarely happens”.
(We went through a lot of title options, even ones that had the word “Deconstruction”… and then thanks to Meredith Scott Lynn and the Survey Monkey results that helped us select it, we have SELLING YOUR FILM WITHOUT SELLING YOUR SOUL.)
It will be available September 13, 2011, a full year almost to the day after the idea gestated, a year after a tremendously pleasant collaboration.
You deserve transparency. You deserve to have a sustainable creative career if you work for it authentically. BUT! You are also responsible! You want distribution. Worldwide distribution ideally. Well, please note: if you do not share the real information about what happened with your film with your fellow filmmakers. If you do not read, listen to, and internalize the real information about what happened with other filmmakers. If you do not ask the hard questions that don’t always lead to the rosiest picture for your investors or potential investors or always justify a 7-figure budget or even high 6-figures, than you are not helping yourself and you are not helping your fellow filmmaker. SELLING YOUR FILM WITHOUT SELLING YOUR SOUL is the start of an ongoing series of works that we will create, collectively, collaboratively and also individually. Many details will be shared. Many lessons will be shared and learned. Occasionally some details will not be legally printable (but call me, I’ll whisper them to ya :-) )
But what am I driving at? It’s still a confusing time. Things looked bleak and then people got excited again with lots of deals being announced. The key is, understanding what the deals really mean, what they really amount to, and what is going to lead to success (by your standards). It’s not black or white in my book. Not all deals are bad but not all deals are good and all rights deals are more often than not a mistake or cop out in my view. What I have noticed time and time again is that fear and / or simply not knowing has left filmmakers often entrusting their work with others who do not service the work nearly as well as it could be or should be. AND here is the real crux of my point, the utility of Hybrid, DIY, and P2P distribution will be greatly enhanced by use and sharing of information and empowering others with that education. And so doing will elevate those potentials, making them more appealing, and the often deleterious cop out less tempting. If you build it they will come. Train your audiences. They want to support you, not some rights baron.
We must get to the bottom of the real details and the real numbers and the real career building or career crippling experiences and learn what leads to what… but in any case, it should never be that selling your film = selling your soul so I’d say buy this book and your soul will be set free but so is this book.
Orly Ravid is the co-executive director of The Film Collaborative, the first non-profit organization devoted to distribution-education and distribution of independent cinema.