Audiences: Making Film Pay and Play in the Digital Future

Producers, distributors and exhibitors are all using digital marketing tools to promote films and get them seen by audiences. Too often, however, they are working in isolation from one another. This pioneering programme will bring together professionals from across the film industry chain to explore a cross-sector, streamlined approach to building audience interest in independent film.

It will be a unique opportunity for film companies to foster partnerships on joint initiatives, at the same time as being inspired by case studies of innovative practice in digital marketing.

Who is it for?

We are seeking around 35 forward-thinking professionals working in production, distribution and exhibition who are interested in exploring new business models and industry partnerships for using digital technologies to engage audiences. Roles of participants may include CEOs, acquisitions, sales, marketing, press, communications, audience development, programming, plus professionals from film industry support agencies. While we would encourage participants to attend the full series of six workshops, a single place on the programme can be shared between colleagues within the same company if appropriate.

How is it structured?

The programme comprises six one-day workshops spread over one year. Each day will offer inspiration from digital experts, case studies of innovative models from within the film industry and other industries (eg. music, TV, advertising…), plus practical group sessions to explore new ways of working together. Between workshops, participants can continue conversations and update each other on projects through an online forum.

What does it cover?

The programme will retain a degree of flexibility, responding to participants’ own business needs, project proposals and emerging ideas. Topics will include:

  • What digital marketing techniques are producers, distributors and exhibitors using to build audiences for independent film? How can they combine forces to work together on long-term, strategic promotional campaigns?
  • What does each sector know about audiences for independent film and how can we share this information?
  • How can crowdsourcing and crowdfunding ensure audience buy-in from the outset?
  • What is the potential of on-demand cinema and other flexible programming models?
  • What lessons can be learnt from TV, music and advertising industry experiences of cross-platform promotions?
  • How can collaboration across the film industry be built into working practice?

The workshops will be hosted by BBC Radio 4 technology journalist Simon Cox and will feature presentations from creative digital thinkers.

 

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Exhibition and Distribution: dirty words?

Laurence Boyce, regular Netribution contributor and former director of GLIMMER: The Hull International Short Film Festival, give his opinion on the worrying trend to ignore exhibition and distribution in the UKFC debate.

(EDIT: Since being published, this article has also appeared on the Encounters International Film Festival website at www.encounters-festival.org)

 A recent letter to Sight And Sound from the British Federation of Film Societies pointed out a crucial omission in many of the discussions surrounding the demise of the UK Film Council. Whilst its importance in the production of UK films has been justifiably analysed, it’s significance in the exhibition and distribution within the UK cannot be understated. Either directly or through Regional Screen Agencies, the UKFC has part funded almost all of the film festivals in the UK from the likes of the London Film Festival to dozens of regional festivals bringing movies and events to local communities. The aforementioned British Federation of Film Societies has received UKFC funding for a decade to help bring cinema to rural areas and give people access to film that they otherwise may be denied. It’s P&A fund has helped small films increase the number of screens they’ve been able to book whilst magazines such as Little White Lies have received funding from the UKFC’s New Publications Fund. With support such as this in danger, there is a huge chance that – in the UK at least – audiences are going to be denied the opportunity to experience a wide ranging choice of films from the UK and beyond.

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Multi-platform business training - August 2010

Multi Platform Business School is a five-day workshop for producers of audiovisual media to enhance their skills in building business models for the development of 360º - content, the financing and marketing of linear and interactive formats and the distribution in more than one market.

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Crossing the Pond: Ten Tips for Making it in LA

sunsetEver considered trying to launch your film career from LA? Concerned about the outcome of the next British election and considering your options? Alan Denman was a pivotal part of the London indie film community, notably as Chair of the Screenwriter's Workshop and Head of Development for Euroscript until he left to the US in 2004. Tom Fogg interviewed him here, long ago, and indeed when I started working for Shooting People he offered me free desk space. Now, with his wife Ayesha Walker (pictured below), he runs Stinging Bull Films from Hollywood and has already made his first feature.

Alan has written for Netribution a fascinating and in-depth account of his experience as a Brit in LA, learning to speak 'American', getting a Visa, writing a sellable script, as well as ten tips for making it in a very different film environment. It's 4,000 words of insider gold-dust, and worth bookmarking and reading fully when you have the time.

Six thousand feet up in the San Bernadino Mountains of Southern California. Day One of Principal Photography: a long shot of our young lead actress walking along a deserted forest road. She goes ahead on her own – and suddenly screams. That wasn’t in the script, I think to myself. I look past her to observe a large brown bear crossing the set. Principal photography is suspended as she runs back to join the main party. Fortunately she hasn’t been mauled or eaten. Indeed, the bear seems not even to have noticed her. Nervously we all creep forward to watch the creature happily snuffling around in a neighbour’s garden before moving off. Such are the dangers, thrills and indelible memories of filmmaking. 

I was there in California, a British director, shooting my first feature, which I had also written. The crew worked like Trojans, and the young American cast had so much energy it was impossible to persuade them to get to bed at night. Then in the morning they’d be up early to go through their lines with me and help rewrite my very British dialogue.

This was my first experience of how different filmmaking in America is.  Though obvious to me now, coming then from the only culture I knew – Britain – it was a big surprise to realize how differently people spoke on the other side of the Pond. You think Americans speak English? Think again – they speak American, and I needed to learn their language. The first read-through of the script was a comedy of confusion. We might as well have been speaking French and Greek, for all we understood each other. In a combination of wisdom and desperation I gave them free rein to improvise. It worked. What resulted was dialogue that was vibrant and fascinating, something I could never have dreamed up in my drafty North London flat. It was, to quote my American cast, “awesome”.

alan_ayeshaI had been writing screenplays and making short films for ten years and had reached a sort of glass ceiling: I could have gone on making shorts in Britain, but what I really wanted to do was shoot a feature. So I wrote a micro budget, small-scale sci-fi thriller, a sort of “UFO Blair Witch” about young people in a remote place looking for aliens and disappearing one by one. My original plan – a very rough one – was to take a bunch of young actors to Cheshunt Marshes, a strange area outside North London with murky lakes and towering pylons, and, hoping for the best, shoot a semi-improvised script. Not a great plan, maybe. But then I sent the script to a good friend of mine who was studying screenwriting at UCLA, one of the big universities, in Los Angeles. There he passed on the script to a producer, who loved it and was himself looking for a project of that scale and budget to produce. The timing was perfect. Serendipity. Click.

And so, four months later, in the summer of 2003 I flew to LA and then drove out in convoy with the producer, cast and crew to the San Bernadino Mountains to direct my feature film, which, after much discussion and development, was now called Alien Game. The shoot was immensely hard work and at the same time hugely rewarding, a practical degree course in filmmaking compressed into four weeks. The skies were high, blue and empty, and the mountains epically spectacular. I loved being there. Thus in innocence and hope began my journey cross the Pond.

With growing self-belief and a magnetic curiosity towards Los Angeles, the heart of the global film industry, and the vast opportunities available it offers, my wife and I relocated there in the summer of 2004 and have been living there ever since....

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Maligned Midnight Cult Classic

There was a time up until the late 90’s where late night television cult oddities were shown to fill out the schedules. To most people this was just fodder but for some people this was THE place where b-movie fanatics discovered cult classics like Race with the Devil, or The Keep and the now forgotten classic Night of the Eagle with Peter Wyngarde. Appearing in the graveyard slots, these films were in their element for those who stayed up in the ungodly hour and are 200 percent better and scarier than anything released in recent memory.

In America there has been more of a foundation for cult movies like the Golden Turkey Awards and Joe Bob Briggs getting airtime. In the UK some took a masterly appreciation of the art form such as Alex Cox’s Moviedrome which started its movie night in 1988 on a Sunday evening with a great incisive intro. Previously tossed to the side classics were brought centre stage such as The Parallax View and various Robert Aldrich films with full appreciation but nowadays these films are rarely shown in these slots that are now filled with reality TV and cheap TV repeats.

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