7 Questions with Producer: NEAL FISCHER FFF: How did you get into this industry? FISCHER: Since I was 10 years old, I've had two dreams, first was to live in Japan and the other was to be a story teller of some sort, be it creating comic books and graphic novels, video games, television, feature films, etc. So, after graduating from the University of Iowa, I moved to Japan, where I taught English for the Ministry of Education via a program called JET. While living and working in Japan, I was able to make my first dream come true, for about four years I studied martial arts directly under some of the very best teachers in the world, visited nearly every corner of Japan, lived in a buddhist monastery for a month, learned how to play the Japanese flute and taiko drums, climbed Mount Fuji to the very top, ate Japanese food every day, made some of the best friends I've ever had, and was actually living my dream. It also inspired me to make my other dream come true... so while still living in Japan, I studied about filmmaking, screenwriting and producing from books I had my mother send me, and taught myself how to produce and write. I had taken writing classes through the Iowa Writers Workshop program, but screenwriting was a different beast. So I started writing scripts... lots of scripts. FFF: What do you like best about producing? FISCHER: In short, I get to tell stories. There are many aspects to producing, and there are many kinds of producers. I actually enjoy all aspects of producing, from discovering a property, developing it, finding the [...]
2015 is the start of a new era for Independent Film! (Part 4) by Benjamin Oberman April 1, 2015 FILM FESTIVALS Today there are an estimated 3,500 film festivals in the United States with more than 5,000 worldwide as noted by Sundance Institute Executive Director, Keri Putnam at the 2015 Art House Convergence. There can’t possibly be room for more? Wrong… New festivals appear daily. And yes, we’re joining those ranks, but with a spin, ours are completely online. During my tenure as a distributor I’ve seen a major shift in the role of film festivals. Once about discovery of films, they now serve as a powerful marketing tool for the release of major films and, as a circuit, are often the dominant revenue source for many independent films. While first time filmmakers are spending through the nose to submit to festivals in hopes of being accepted, distributors and sales agents are marketing highly credentialed films to be booked from city to city. We use new names, but we’ve returned to the original way a film print was toured around the country playing at special events for the public. As you complete your film and plan for your distribution, your festival strategy is potentially the most important decision you’ll make. If you’re not extremely well versed in the festival world, it’s worth considering engaging a festival consultant, sales agent, or distributor who understands the strategies, impact on release and revenue potential, and has deep relationships with the various festival directors, programmers, and publicists. You may notice when looking at the line-up year to year that the same distributors, sales agents, Producers, and directors have films in competition. Are they truly the best year [...]
Last month I spoke about the myriad of changes that render the major platforms useless for most of your films. But it’s not doom and gloom. During times of great change come great opportunities. So let’s talk about potential solutions and the many opportunities that are available to you as an indie filmmaker. INTERNET VOD PLATFORMS: Since the major VOD platforms have reached critical mass and either don’t want your film, or are not a viable option due to your inability to build critical awareness among their audience, you’d think this is a bad thing. But, in the same way we saw the boutique / mom and pop shops emerge from the big box retail landscape, we’re seeing boutique / specialty platforms appear online daily. Each of these VOD sites has a targeted and loyal fan base. You also have DIY platforms such as Vimeo On Demand, Reelhouse, VHX, and DotStudioPro who enable you to have your own VOD platform and reach your direct audience. You have more options than ever that are perfect for your film. All you have to do is a little research. These companies want your films! SMART TV, WEB, AND MOBILE APPS: There are more platforms emerging daily than you can count and it’s difficult to resist the desire to be everywhere. Focus on those platforms that hold the audience you know is right for your film. Consolidate your efforts in those few places to maximize your revenue and begin a trend of success. These apps are connecting you with an audience who will love your film, but may or may not have been willing to watch on a computer! SOCIAL MEDIA: Although not effective in the way social media [...]
2015 is the start of a new era for Independent Film! (Part 1) by Benjamin Oberman January 4, 2015 Whether you realize it or not, the world has changed. The release of The Interview at the end of 2014 confirmed my theory and signaled the end of the digital infancy. According to the LA Times and FOX Business, the “day-and-date” release of THE INTERVIEW, forever changed the game. The close of 2014 signaled the end of an era for the Indie. For those of you who don’t know all the details… Following the major theater chains and digital platforms canceling the Christmas release, deeming the film too risky for exhibition, the Art House Convergence community and the Alamo Drafthouse theater chain, rescued Sony with a petition to screen the film and stand up against Cyberterrorism. Not only were the participating art house theaters sold out, the initial digital release of the film on Google Play and YouTube was the top performing movie on these platforms for 2014. Before expanding to iTunes, the film set Sony’s all-time record for online sales. Following the successful release, major theater chains were angered and an expanded digital release was announced as the major digital platforms rushed in. 2015 begins a new era for Independent Films. In the midst of this changing landscape, we see great opportunity for the Independent film community.Film Festival Flix is building a parallel universe, seeking to be your trusted resource to discover and watch quality indie, art-house, foreign language, and niche market films. We are launching a number of initiatives to champion the Indie. In 2015 be sure to check out our theatrical premiere series, award-winning films, online film festivals, short film competition, and join our [...]
HOW TO CONSTRUCT YOUR FILM FOR FESTIVALS AND DISTRIBUTION… by Benjamin Oberman, CEO - Film Festival Flix Viewer habits have changed. If you want your film to have a chance to break out, here are five elements you need to be aware of... I could not have built the distribution system I have without having spent 14 years producing, but I sure wish I had the knowledge I have now when I was producing; I would have done everything differently. The world has changed, festivals have changed, and viewer attention span has changed. It’s important to understand how the world works to give your film the best opportunity to succeed in the marketplace. You ask… How can major festivals process 10,000 submissions each year? What do distributors look for in films? Below are five points to consider when developing the structure of your film to help you with the festival process, distribution process, and building trust with your audience. 1. Festival screening committees watch 2-5 minutes of each film to determine if it is worthy of progressing to the second level of selection. (Protocols are being talked about to ensure all films are watched completely, but not all festivals may be able or willing to institute such practices.) To be noticed, you must have something good happen in the first five minutes. You have a very short window of opportunity to engage your audience. This is often why you see selected films start in the middle of the story, go back to the beginning, and proceed to the resolution with some twist or reveal. Take a card from TV and save the title sequence for after the opening teaser. James Bond films open with [...]
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