Studios vs. theaters. NATO vs. Netflix. AMC Theaters vs. Universal. The stakes are high and the rhetoric is getting more heated as old economic models give way to new. And while the independents have more flexibility to experiment and challenge the established order, there are Big Guns in the indie world too: iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and Hulu.
Indiewire Influencer Marc Schiller, CEO of BOND360, is taking what he learned about fan engagement online in the early '90s, when he helped to launch the House of Blues concert business and later launched Electric Artists, to the indie film world. Now all artists are figuring out how to be entrepreneurial and deploy digital tools to reach out to fans and build an online community.
Now applying his DIY music strategies to film, Schiller has learned the digital film marketing ropes on such innovative releases as "Exit Through the Gift Shop," Formula 1 racing doc "Senna," and VOD hit "Indie Game: The Movie." "We're exploring new business models and technologies," Schiller says on the phone. "We've already benefited from that early jump into a new world."
Going forward, Schiller believes that hanging onto multiple rights is important so that a filmmaker can strategize cohesively over the entire life of a film, in every platform and market. Now Schiller is moving from niche marketing with BOND Strategy & Influence into distribution with BOND360. The first collaboration between BOND360 and custom website builder VHX was the November 2013 release "East Nashville Tonight." Now Mark Levinson's festival hit doc "Particle Fever" launched the new distribution model Wednesday. It starts out at New York's Film Forum before broadening out to key markets. (The NYT's A.O. Scott calls the science doc "mindblowing.")
The film tells the story of the six scientists who set out to prove the existence of the “God Particle.” In fact Schiller and Richard Abramowitz's Abramorama announced that would jointly market and distribute the film on the same day the Nobel Prize was awarded to the physicists who first proposed the Higgs boson particle.
Schiller experimented with making the film available for pre-orders on its VHX website early on, even though there's still no date for the digital or home entertainment release. "I wanted to see from the data where preorders were coming from," says Schiller. "And it proved out the hypothesis we had, that preorders would come in cities where we would never release the film-- Idaho, Wisconsin--not coming from cities with theater bookings. They're reading the NY Times review, seeing blog posts, and preordering the movie right away, as opposed to typically waiting 120 days."
Schiller and Abramowitz also booked the film not only in top markets like Chicago, Toronto, Seattle and San Francisco but also in cities where the scientific community has a big presence, such as Naperville, Illinois, and reaching out to scientific organizations with marketing assets so that they could be supportive with newsletter blasts and social media.