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Women to Blog About: Stacey Parks – Giving Back to the Filmmakers

by Sydney Levine
August 6, 2010 10:03 AM
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Stacey is L.A. based. She’s a Miami native and received her B.A in Economics from the University Of Florida. She then earned her International MBA from Pepperdine University in Malibu. ‘I always loved business. I am not a filmmaker rather, I am business trained so that’s my basic outlook in all my film work.’
Stacey began in the ‘biz’ by working for 4 years at the William Morris Agency in indie film packaging. She went on to work as a Producer both in TV and film. Then, as an international sales agent for many years, she ‘sold independent films’ (i.e. secured distribution) for a wide range of the best international and US domestic companies.
After spending time in the trenches of independent film production, financing, and distribution Stacey decided to write the book "The Insiders Guide To Independent Film Distribution" (Focal Press 2007), considered to be an essential handbook for independent filmmakers seeking production and distribution insight for their films. Simultaneously she launched www.FilmSpecific.com, a virtual training website dedicated to getting filmmakers’ project made, seen, and distributed worldwide. Since its launch, www.FilmSpecific.com has been named by Moviemaker Magazine "one of the 50 best websites for moviemakers", and "one of the top 25 websites that filmmakers need to know about". Recognized as an expert in the field, Ms. Parks has spoken and lectured extensively on the subject of independent film distribution across the United States and Europe, including at the AFM, Cannes Film Festival, the Berlinale and British Film Institute.

‘So what’s your basic outlook? Who are you? Why are you? Talk to me about commerce vs art in film?’
(SP) What is my ‘why’? I want to teach filmmakers to think more like entrepreneurs. To make better decisions. To evaluate information better. Traditionally filmmakers think about the creative part first, and then they think about the business part almost as an afterthought (sometimes after completing the film). I think they have to put these two aspects of the process together. Then work backwards, i.e. look at the marketplace and then think of where your film fits and how. I call this Distribution In Reverse.
‘What is the main problem for filmmakers today?’
(SP) There are so many options now for distributing your film It’s confusing and hard to understand all the information. Too many choices! First things first: you have to figure out what makes sense for your film? That’s what I help filmmakers figure out.

‘What is your opinion (or preference) on modes of release, i.e. download, theatrical, DVD etc.?’
(SP) Well, that really it depends on the individual film because every film is different e.g., most of my clients will tell me they want a theatrical release for their film but when you examine the statistics you find a theatrical release may not be the best choice strategically and economically.

(SP) So what strategy IS right for your film then? Like I said, every film is different. So when thinking about what type of distribution strategy to pursue for your project, take into consideration the following and try and answer these questions.
- Does your film have a distinct target audience to market to (critical if you want to pursue any type of self distribution) and where can you go to connect with them?
- Have you already started aggregating your target audience? If so, how?
- Are you planning to submit to film festivals? If so, what is your larger strategy around that?
- Would your film benefit from a platform theatrical release? If so, do you already have an adequate budget set aside for that? If you don’t, can you raise more money from investors or sponsors?
- Is your film better suited to go straight to DVD in the traditional sense (carving out the rights of course to sell DVDs off your own website)
- Do you want your film represented to foreign distributors at Film Markets like AFM, Berlin, and Cannes? If so, what is your plan for getting there?
- In what order do you plan to release your film to take best advantage of all the platforms available?
- … and the list goes on…..As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, determining what to do with a finished film (your film!) these days can be overwhelming (Distribution Overwhelm!) -- mostly because there are so many choices and directions you can go and order in which you can do them.

Through her book, lectures, website and consulting, Stacey has become a valuable resource for filmmakers ”trying to figure it all out”.

In keeping with one of the main mandates of this blog, SydneysBuzz.com, we lastly asked Stacey to discuss “The Female Factor” in the modern film business.

‘Talk as a woman in the business. Problems? Future? Issues?’
(SP) Well, in distribution (and sales) there aren’t too many women, proportionally, working in that part of the business, so I believe women have an advantage in that sense. In my experience, people like to hear a woman’s voice and thoughts in the discussion. It brings a good balance to business where there’s definitely a predominance of ‘male energy’. In producing, I don’t believe there is any disadvantage to being a woman in my experience. (again, this is my own personal experience). This is opposed to writing and directing where I have heard there are issues and we’re seeing this a lot lately. In sales I actually found it advantageous to be female and it really worked in my favor.

Stacey’s website at www.FilmSpecific.com is a marvel of information, easily accessible. Among her many virtues she is a born pedagogue, a natural teacher. When I go into her website I find myself spending time there just reading and poring through all of the information she has organized and dispenses from there. Check it out!

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