Early on this Cannes we had drinks with Paul Federbush and Laura Kim at the Grand; Ryan Werner joined us, fresh out of his long time stint at IFC Films. As you would expect, talk turned to distribution, an always exciting topic especially with them because they are at the forefront of what is happening in this constantly changing universe.
Aside from running their own distribution company, Red Flag Releasing, Laura continues to do publicity for indies and Paul is heading the international side of the Sundance Labs. He will now be speaking at BAM (Bogata Audiovisual Market) along with a new acquaintance whom I met at a wonderful dinner in Cannes, Donald Rabinovitch (any relation to our buddy Mark, I wonder?). Donald is the co-founder of QUADFlix a "game changing" new distribution model for high quality Indie features and full length documentaries based at the QUAD Theater in New York, a theater that has been there in Greenwich Village for over 40 years now. Now, they have created a unique distribution/ exhibition business called QUADFlix SELECT, a "new and amazingly successful program". Donald's business partner, Elliott Kanbar has just written a new book on the subject of distribution as well, So you Finished your Film.....Now What.
So Donald writes me today from Dominican Republic to tell me he is off on the 7th to BAM to speak on the panel "The Reality of Film Distribution..... and Finding an Audience in North America” with Paul Federbush from Sundance. BAM is an initiative of Claudia Triana de Vargas, the Director of Proimagenes Colombia. Colombia is on the move as one of the hottest countries for filmmakers along with Chile, and soon-to-be-there-too, Panama. You can see Claudia discuss the current Colombian film initiatives during the Berlinale 2013 here: Claudia Triana de Vargas.
Donald sent me his talking points which coincidently includes mention of Adam Leipzig, formerly President of National Geographic Feature Films and now Publisher and Managing Editor at Cultural Weekly and Guiding Entrepreneurs & Creatives whom I will see July 26 and 27th --- while we indulge ourselves at the La Jolla Fashion Film Festival. We will have much to discuss and in the best place in the world to do it, so I just got over my envy.
SUBJECT: THE TOUGH JOB OF MARKETING A FILM
You're a talented filmmaker and you've just made an excellent film. That's for certain. But effectively and economically marketing the film is just as important and, NOW, even more daunting than making the film. Adam Leipzig, a noted film producer, wrote the following in a recent column in The New York Times:
"The challenge isn't getting your movie made. All it takes is a personal time commitment to the process and access to a credit card, a digital video camera, and a computer loaded with editing software. The challenge is actually getting your movie seen." Leipzig also pointed out that of the 12,613 films submitted to this year's Sundance Film (2013) Festival, only 130 were selected and not more than 10 of these received significant distribution agreements for money. Following that, in April, we note that the Tribeca Film Festival, which has grown to be a 'hot market' in NYC received 3,150 submissions , granted 89 selections..... and had only 8 films finding distribution in 2013 for money.
Additionally, he then wrote something that we at the QUAD have been saying over-and-over again, that "without the marketing push, awareness, and word-of-mouth generated by a theatrical release, it's not feasible for video chains [and digital platforms] to stock your picture."
But, alas, the question is, how best to market the film? This challenge can overwhelm even the savviest filmmaker. Often, what happens, is that a ton of money is spent, the wrong way, with very disappointing results.
One solution is to join the QUADflix SELECT Program. They will handle the entire job of marketing AND releasing the film in North America. www.quadflixselect.
com lists all the program features and the cost. The box office success is most determined by the reviews…especially the review from The New York Times. If the filmmakers do not think their film will receive good reviews, they should not book the QUADflix SELECT Program. QUADflix will make the same determination. They actually turn down 4 out of 5 films submitted. But some which have been accepted are Deadline, Bill W., One Day on Earth, Side by Side, Harvest of Empire, and Long Shot.
Here are the highlights of the program:
(1) A full one-week, GUARANTEED run at the prestigious QUAD CINEMA in New York, from 1:00PM to midnight-typically 5 screenings daily.
(2) 100% of the box office income, payable within 7 days after the completion of the run.
(3) The services of the QUAD's professional film publicist to set up press screenings for the critics, write and mail press releases, and compile and distribute production notes. The goal is to get the film reviewed in most of the major New York media. To date, every QUADflix SELECT film has been reviewed by The New York Times.
(4) With the filmmaker's approval, they will encode, package, and submit the film to 11 major digital platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HuluPlus, YouTube, Vudu, Sony Entertainment, XBox, and Google Play.
(5) With the filmmaker's approval, they will submit the film to the major Cable VOD stations like Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and Verizon.
(6) They will market DVDs of the film to the major retail chains such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble, both in-store and online.
(7) They will market the film to the Institutional Market consisting of schools, colleges, universities, and libraries.
(8) They will include the film in the regular QUAD ads in The New York Times and the Village Voice.
(9) They will qualify your documentary for consideration for an Oscar nomination.
(10) For a minimal cost, they will book the film nationally, in every major North American market.
The total cost for the entire package is $11,000.00. Remember this: since the filmmaker will be receiving 100% of the first week's box office income this cost will be reduced. Also, the cost of hiring a film publicist and encoding the film for the digital platforms would cost thousands of dollars on the open market. They accept credit cards and wire transfers.
Interested filmmakers can mail them a DVD screener (NTSC only). Also, if the filmmaker includes an address, they will send an INFORMATION KIT, which includes comments from filmmakers, tips on self-distribution, past reviews, and much more.