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Indie Marketing Returns to Word of Mouth

Thompson on Hollywood By Marian Koltai-Levine | Thompson on Hollywood April 9, 2010 at 9:34AM

Ex-Fine Line and Picturehouse marketing executive Marian Koltai-Levine founded Zipline Entertainment "to fill the much needed void between content creators and content providers," she says. After attending the recent SXSW Film Festival, Koltai-Levine sent me this essay about the new state of the indies: I am no longer a South By virgin. A couple of weeks later, I’m still jazzed by what I experienced in Austin. I was amazed at the infinite possibilities and the cross-section of media-- technology, music, film and television--being distributed on platforms today.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Ex-Fine Line and Picturehouse marketing executive Marian Koltai-Levine founded Zipline Entertainment "to fill the much needed void between content creators and content providers," she says. After attending the recent SXSW Film Festival, Koltai-Levine sent me this essay about the new state of the indies:

I am no longer a South By virgin. A couple of weeks later, I’m still jazzed by what I experienced in Austin. I was amazed at the infinite possibilities and the cross-section of media-- technology, music, film and television--being distributed on platforms today.

Although I’ve attended well over a hundred varied film festivals, watched countless independent films and participated on panels, one common denominator strikes me.

In the world of entertainment – specifically independent film – marketing once again is the cornerstone. We no longer have the luxury to “buy a gross.” The days are over where we could spend our way into convincing people of the desirability of our films. Quite simply, the game has changed. We have evolved into a time when marketing has returned to its most organic form – word of mouth. But now, it's immediate…global…scary…and exciting.

Good old-fashioned showmanship will never go out of style. Not long ago, people actually travelled across the country from town to town with films, talent and “a show.” Now, with more efficient and advanced delivery systems available to us, the “show” is far more efficient, targeted and fiscally responsible.

People are looking for unique opportunities to both distribute and market their films. There is no longer alternative distribution, but rather, distribution opportunities. And social networking seems to be the most efficient way to target your audience and create positive word of mouth.

We are in the middle of a true renaissance: a time to experiment and see what models will work and succeed financially. The creative voices I heard and the visionaries I met truly seem to be setting the stage for the future of entertainment.

This article is related to: Independents, Guest Blogger, Media, Marketing, Production , Digital Future


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.