Using Social Currency to Market Your Film

March 15th, 2017

How Sharing Something Remarkable and Unique About Your Film Can Bring Attention…And Money

By Carole Dean

What we talk about influences how others see us.  When we talk about cool things, others want to repeat what we’ve told them to their friends. 

That is called Social Currency and you can use it to get people to notice your film. 

Get People Talking About Your Film to Get it Attention and Funding

What is Social Currency?   

People want to share compelling, exclusive content that makes them look smart and in on a secret.   That type of content is social currency.   

Wharton professor Jonah Berger, author of the brilliant book “Contagious” explains how, by using social currency, you can get more people talking about your product or idea.

Here’s an Example

Crif Dogs, a NYC Hot Dog restaurant, has a vintage phone booth in the corner.  When you enter and dial the ancient rotary phone, a voice answers and asks if you have a reservation.  If you are lucky enough to have one, a hidden door opens and you find you are in a posh 45 seat exclusive restaurant no one knows about.

The name?  Please Don’t Tell.  It makes you feel like you found a great secret.  There is no sign on the street or ads for it.  It takes bookings only for each day and only at 3pm.  By 3:30, all spots are gone. 

The restaurant does not publish its number.   It’s all word of mouth; the most powerful way to market. 

Rules of Social Currency:

  1. People share things that make them look good to others.
  2. People share things that make them seem entertaining and clever.
  3. People use social currency to achieve desired positive impressions among friends & family.

How to Mint Social Currency for Your Film

Find your film’s inner remarkability.   Give me some astonishing facts or an incredible statement I can repeat.

The Key to finding inner remark ability is to think about what makes something interesting surprising or novel. What is interesting about your film or your cast?  What is remarkable about your characters?  What is remarkable about the subject of the film?  

How about is it fiscally sponsored? 

You want to create social currency so people talk about your film and your crowdfunding campaign.  You want them to say I donated to a film and I got a tax deduction.  Or I donated to a film that raises awareness of Veterans suicide. 

That may be what gets people to talk about your film.  Then, they donate too because it’s cool to support your film and it’s cool to get a tax deduction.

By finding your film’s inner remarkability, you can use it to go viral and create social currency.

Do it right and you will end up with a different currency to use to make your film!

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcast, The Art of Film Funding, interviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.

SEPARATING THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF

February 13th, 2017

Don’t Let the Naysayers or Lack of Money Stop You From Pursuing Your Dream

The most important thing I can give you is a lesson I learned early.

Back in the 70’s, I created a multi-million-dollar a year sales company with an investment of $20.00 (from my grocery money) and a good idea.

intentional class separating the wheat from the chaffIf I had let money or the naysayers stop me, I would have never created a $70 million a year industry consisting of buying leftover, discarded, what everyone called waste “short ends” of film stock.

Those who insisted it would never work didn’t know that there were thousands of talented independent filmmakers, desperate to make their features and documentaries, that needed every penny available to get it on the screen. These budding producers and directors snapped up the “short ends” at a fraction of the cost of new Kodak stock, made their films, and started a revolution in filmmaking.

My greatest asset was the fact I knew I could do it.

I never doubted that I had a good idea. I found ways to make it work. I needed cash to buy film stock so I would find where film was available for sale. I’d buy it on a handshake, and then sell this same film using the money from the incoming sale to pay off the purchase. In the beginning, I can remember days when I had the seller in one room and the buyer waiting to pick it up in another room!

This idea developed into three productive sales offices in NYC Film Center Building, Hollywood and downtown Chicago. I managed all three of them. I ran this business for 33 years until I had almost 10 million dollars a year in sales.

Why only 10 million? Because I hired a VP from ABC Television News Division as an advisor and he said that “Getting over 10 million a year in sales was very hard.” I found that to be true. But, now I know that this information of hitting a wall at $10 million was his experience. Unfortunately, it became my belief and then the outcome.

Please be careful of what you hear and what you believe.

Remember, when listening to other people, that what they are telling you is not your experience, it is theirs. The universe could have something different in mind for you. You must know you can create a better outcome for yourself with your belief.

Discern what is fact and what is belief.

What do you believe you can do? Think about that. Can you make this film? If yes, then what’s the actual budget you need? Can you raise that much money?

Consider, are other films made with that budget? If the answer is “yes” then it’s a fact that this amount has been raised for other films, right? So, it must be your belief that says you can’t do it because it is a fact someone else has raised this money and made a film at this place in their career.

Work from this principal to separate belief from fact. Work from fact, not your own belief system. That’s something you created early in life probably from your parents or society. You may have unconscious programming to overcome and you can do this by separating fact from belief.

Your belief in yourself and your film are paramount to production and completion.

You must know that you can raise the money to make you film and then you will find a way. Turn your filmmaking creativity into funding creativity. All that talent you have you can use to find ways to fund your film.

That includes finding high net-worth Individuals or investors for features to using funding parties, grants and donations for docs. Have fun with it. Look for lateral ways to fund your film and your distribution.

You have the talent, it’s a matter of believing in yourself and the quality of your film.

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcast, The Art of Film Funding, interviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.

Plan of Attack: Starting to Raise Money for Your Film

October 3rd, 2016

by Carole Dean

Ok, you’ve got a great idea for a film.  You’ve created a fantastic proposal and you’ve perfected your pitch.  You’re next move should be to create a captivating trailer.

Now, you need a plan of attack because now you need to start raising money.

Your Mission to Get a Great Trailer Needs a Plan of Attack to Get Funding

As I mention in my book, The Art of Film Funding, 2nd edition: Alternative Financing Concepts, there are so many things to do when you start to make a film.  You need to know the order of your priorities because they come at you from every direction.  When you just work with these immediate items you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

You must have a fantastic trailer to make money.  So, how much is that going to cost you?  For a doc your budget should be around $10,000 and for a feature about $20,000.  This must be your first and foremost goal, especially for a documentary, after you get your proposal and pitch to a brilliant level.

Alright, Now How Do I Get The Money?

Fiscal sponsorship is a great foundation to build your fundraising.  I know because my non-profit, From the Heart Productions , specializes in fiscal sponsorship for filmmakers.  We’ve helped them raise millions for their films.

Under fiscal sponsorship, you will align your project with a non-profit that will give your donors a tax deduction for the money they donate to your film.  That means more and perhaps larger donations.

When filmmakers apply to From the Heart Productions for fiscal sponsorship, they’ve got a choice on how to get paid.   We tell them that if their checks are to be made to them personally we must issue a 1099 at the end of the year for miscellaneous income. Or, they can get an LLC.

The LLC filing at www.ehow.com is inexpensive.  You can get one online under $300.00.  You can also get a DBA (Doing Business As) from the city you live in.  It’s even less money. Both of these take about 4 to 6 weeks to complete.

You Mentioned Something About a Plan? Right?

1. Start by getting your bank account.  Where’s the money to open the account? Try your mother or grandmother and tell them you need this to become an entrepreneur.

2. Now, you’ve got a film bank account and/or an LLC or your DBA, so you are a real company.  Find a fiscal sponsor that you like, that supports filmmakers, will give you help, and be available to answer any questions you may have.

Did I mention that From the Heart is a great fiscal sponsor for filmmakers?  Ok, maybe I’m prejudiced.  But, it does fit perfectly the necessary criteria I just listed because From the Heart Productions was created specifically to help filmmakers get funded.  We’ve done a really good job of that too for the last 11 years.

We are constantly putting information on our web site to help you raise money. We also review your proposal and your trailer and tell you the honest truth about your chance for success and we give ideas to improve what you have.

You really need this. You are out there in a vacuum and you need people who see hundreds of proposals and know what grantors want. This is where a thick skin is required.

I know from talking to hundreds of sensitive artists that we’ve fiscally sponsored or who’ve applied for our Roy W. Dean Film Grant that when you start telling them that their favorite scene in the trailer doesn’t work; most of them just grin and bear it. They don’t have to take my advice, but many do.

In fact many people just apply for the grant to find out what we think of their materials. That’s a very good thing to do. I recommend you apply for lots of grants and get feedback, that’s how you learn to improve your work.

When looking for a fiscal sponsor, say to yourself, “What’s in it for me?” Make sure you feel you are getting something for your 5 to 7% fee.

3. Time to start building an audience and network of potential donors.  Facebook is a must to fund your film. Create a fan page for your film.  Use their landing page to advertise your film and collect fans.  Start a dialogue.  Try out artwork, ads, and even ask for advice.

Use Google to search for organizations, website, bloggers, and forums on your subject matter.  Post on these forums and reach out to the bloggers.  Get information out about your project and send people to your Facebook page and web site. Try to get as many people that are interested in your subject to join your page.

Read my blog, Mining Your Audience for Gold as another way to discover who your audience really is.

4. Create a budget for the trailer. See the chapter on film budgets by award winner Norman Berns that I’ve reprinted on our website.  Check out Norman’s site www.reelgrok.com and Maureen Ryan’s www.producertoproducer.com site for sample budgets for features and documentaries.  Stay focused to get that brilliant money-making trailer made.

5. Set up your email names on an email marketing site.  You want to stay in touch with your donors every other month by always giving them the latest and greatest news on your film.  I use www.constantcontact.com.  They are very helpful. (work with a fiscal sponsor that already uses Constant Contact and you’ll get a discount).

Don’t think its way above your level to create a fantastic newsletter, it’s actually easy.

6. Decide how best to use your time. Morrie Warshawski, author of “Shaking the Money Tree” draws a circle and says you usually get 60% of your money for docs from people. So, how much time do you want to put into people?

If you decide to put 50%, then cut the pie in half and write PEOPLE. Next how much time to you want to spend on grants? Is your film a good fit for a lot of grants? If so, put 20% GRANTS. How about Corporate donations? What amount of time do you want to give that? Put it on the chart.

Letter writing is a brilliant way to get money.  Funding parties can bring you people to support your film and money. Chart it out and tell yourself what you will do with your time. If you are making a feature then you know it’s 100% from people.  I don’t always recommend a trailer for features for many reasons.

7. “What’s in it for me?” Crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo have shown us how much people will give if they get something back. We always knew it was all about, “what’s in it for me” and they are using that gift to the donors to raise tons of money.  So, think about what you can give back to your donors and put it on your web site and your Facebook page.

Example; an Indian man I know was making a film called Bollywood to Hollywood.  In our brainstorming session, he revealed that his mother and brother are excellent cooks. So we set up a price for him to come to your house and cook an authentic Indian dinner for 6 people.  Use the idea of your film as much as possible and create gifts around it to make people want to gi ve you the larger checks.

8. Now you need to collect some sponsors and partners for your film. This means you look for nonprofits that are supporting your same issue. Kitty Farmer was making a film on the healthcare, or lack of, that the US Government promised the American Indians. She calls it her circle of partners. She focused on this for several weeks and each day got on the phone and pitched her film to like-minded organizations and she came up with 20 organizations who want to support her film.

How does this help you? Well, if each organization has 2000 members or more multiply that by 20 and now you have a large data base of people who care about your issue following you. Your job is to keep them informed with your newsletter or email blasts of the status of the film while you are making it.  Your real support will come when they can see some of the content of the film and fully support you.   Always list these names on your grant applications and on your web site as strategic partners.

Finding these people is easy. Start with some of these nonprofit web sites like www.guidestar.org and www.councilofnonprofits.org for the subject matter of your film. Each organization has instructions on site to help you. Then, get on the phone and pitch that brilliant money making pitch you created.

You want them to know you are making this film and usually the first contact is to introduce yourself and tell them about your film.

Remember, they don’t know you from Adam and this is your first contact.  They don’t need you, you need them.  At this point only ask if you can keep them informed about your film as you make it.  Once you have a trailer to show them then send that and keep your contact going until they learn more about you and trust you.  Then they will put you on their web site and mention you in the newsletters, etc

9. Now you need the money to make the trailer. Your platform is set, you have a bank account, a pitch and proposal, sponsors, web site, Facebook page, perhaps a blog and you have people connected to you and your film. That’s perfect.

Review your time table telling you how much time you want to put into each area of fund raising. You may want to focus on the PEOPLE section first. Decide if you want to call people to donate to a yard sale, create a funding party or a dinner funding party or do a letter campaign.   Make plans, set dates for these events and start your first funding adventure.

10. You may want to listen to my online information on Manifesting and creating your future at www.fromtheheartproductions.com it’s very important at this phase to be able to receive. You want to be sure that you are functioning at the highest level possible and as Dr. Chopra would say that you must know there are “infinite possibilities” waiting for you.

11. Before you shoot anything for your trailer, I recommend you have a consultation with a trailer editor and find out just what he/she advises you to do to get what you need before you go out to shoot. Read Bill Woolery’s information on preparing to shoot. www.billwoolery.com to see some great doc trailers.

12. When you shoot your trailer you will have an outline of just what you want before you shoot. After your trailer editor is finished, add this trailer to your web site and post daily about producing the trailer in your blog.

Consider creating a 90 second trailer for sponsors to put on their web site to send people to your site. Now you are really networking.  Remember the people reading your web site and blog don’t know that filmmaking is 90% hard work and 10% filmmaking. So dazzle them with production information so they keep coming back to your site or Facebook  page. Then tell them where you are now in the funding process and make another “ask” as you need more money.

13. Look for development money from places like www.sundance.org or http://www.thefledglingfund.org or  www.chickeneggpics.org and go to the back of the book for a list of funding organizations.

14. Celebrate you have just reached your first milestone. The rest can be a piece of cake.

Remember, it’s the journey not the destination. Enjoy every moment.

“The Coverup” Wins Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant for 2016

October 3rd, 2016

Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant Winning Documentary Uncovers Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Oxnard, CA  Oct 4, 2016  From The Heart Productions, the 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission to help filmmakers get their films funded, has awarded the Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant of 2016 to the feature documentary, The Coverup, and its mother and daughter filmmaking team of Lynn Pelletier and Malina Fagan.  For winning the grant, they will receive $30k in cash, film products and services to complete their film.

Started in 1993, the Roy W. Dean Film Grant is awarded 3 times each year to films that are unique and make a contribution to society.  There is a Spring, Winter, and Fall Grant.  The grants are open to all types of film projects including documentaries, short films, features, and web series in any stage of production.  225 films were submitted for this year’s Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant from the United States and around the world.

"The Coverup" - 2016 Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant Winner

“The Coverup” – 2016 Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant Winner

“The Coverup” reveals that the average person is exposed to about 126 chemicals a day, just from their cosmetics and personal care products (soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, makeup, etc.).  Scientists have linked some of the chemicals to serious health effects including cancer, infertility, and birth defects. The documentary seeks to empower consumers and companies alike and challenge our government to protect the public.

Filmmakers Lynn and Malina had previously applied several times to the Roy W. Dean Film Grant.  Like all other applicants, were given a free consultation to improve their application. They persisted and made the appropriate adjustments and eventually won the grant. 

“These two women are talented and determined.” admired Carole Dean, president and founder of From the Heart Productions. “Those are two traits that always equal success in film funding.  It’s especially nice for myself and Carole Joyce, my daughter who helps with grant outreach, to be able to give the grant to another mother and daughter team.”

“The Coverup” reveals that the average person is exposed to about 126 chemicals a day, just from their cosmetics and personal care products (soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, makeup, etc.).  Scientists have linked some of the chemicals to serious health effects including cancer, infertility, and birth defects.  The documentary seeks to empower consumers and companies to challenge the government to protect the public.

Filmmaker's Lynn and Malina Fagan

Malina Fagan and Lynn Pelletier

Lynn Pelletier and Malina Fagan are the dynamic mother-daughter duo behind “The Coverup”.  Lynn is a health practitioner of over 30 years who specializes in acupuncture and allergy treatments.  Malina is an award winning filmmaker who is passionate about health, the environment and human empowerment. Having lost several people in their family to cancer, they are committed to raising awareness of environmental toxins and disease prevention.

Malina’s films have premiered in IMAX at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, aired on Rocky Mountain PBS, and been selected at festivals across the country, winning awards for their cinematography and storytelling. 

For winning the Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant, they will receive $3,500 cash donated by From The Heart Productions.  The grant also includes a hard drive from G-Technology, tape stock from Media Distributors, discount on color, editing and production services from Promedia, equipment rental from Alpha Cine NY,  and much more from many heart-felt donors

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Now in its 23rd year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to films.   The grant has been an important lifeline for filmmakers needing help to continue working on their film and to get it completed.  Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films may never have been made. 

Past winners of the grant that have been completed include the Emmy winning Mia: A Dancer’s Journey, the SXSW Best of Fest Music Film The Winding Stream: An Oral History of the Carter and Cash Family, and the now in release on video and on demand The Brainwashing of My Dad

About From The Heart Productions

From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects funded and made.  Besides providing funding through the grant, they are also a fiscal sponsor which allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From The Heart has raised over $2.3 million for crowdfunding films as a partner with Indiegogo.  President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts

For More Information, please contact

Richard Kaufman

www.fromtheheartproductions.com

Your Mind is Your Greatest Asset for Filmmaking

August 14th, 2016

Use Your Knowledge and Intention to Get Films Funded

by Carole Dean

In the beginning was the word…..

I am lucky to be able to teach indie film funding in our Intentional Filmmaking Class with actor/writer/producer Tom Malloy.  Tom is owner of Trick Candle Productions and has raised over $20 million for his films as well as having produced, Screamers, Hero of the Underworld, and Fair Haven.

We both believe that your mind is your greatest asset for filmmaking.

RD IntentionIn a recent episode of my podcast The Art of Film Funding, Tom covered How to Devlop a Feature Film From Scratch.

“Everything you can see was an idea at one time” he started,” that chair you are in, the computer you are using, everything in your room started as an idea.”

“When you get a compelling idea for a film he says you should feel the energy of the universe in it. That’s when it can be powerful.  That’s when it’s worth the time to seriously consider it.  You need to be completely sold on this idea and know that it can be made and you are the one to make it.”

Once you feel an idea this strongly you need to get it on paper.  Moving that thought from your head onto paper will start the process of bringing your film into this third dimension where you can birth it.  Pull out your notebook and start to write about it.  Put down all the information you get.

Then start considering, is this something that I could really create, is this for me?  Start visualizing yourself making the film and see how it feels.  If that works then go to the next step start to develop it.

Most importantly, don’t tell anyone about this in the writing stage.  Keep all of that energy inside you and use it to create.  You are not ready for rejections.  Just use this energy for creating.

I know from reading many applications to the Roy Dean Grant that this is where the rubber hits the road.  Many people have ideas and only a few have really developed them.

Tom puts his full attention on the project when he gets that idea and feels the universe is behind it.   Documentaries and features.  He stays on the project while the energy is there and he knows that it will work.

This has helped him make many films. The secret seems to be, “is this project for me?”  “Is it worth my full time and attention over everything else in my life?”  It’s either dive in with 100% dedication or let it go.  Only you know the answer.

In our Intentional Filmmaking class Tom and I take people by the hand and walk them through the funding and the attachment process.  It’s amazing to watch how filmmakers develop themselves while developing their film.

Our next class starts in late September 2016.  I teach the Trailblazer Class for documentary filmmakers and Tom is my co-instructor for the Mastermind Class for Short and Feature filmmakers.  Full information is at http://fromtheheartproductions.com/intentional-filmmaking/

If you are passionate about your project this class will take you to the next level.

 

Creating a Logline

July 20th, 2016

courtesy of Kathie Fong Yoneda

author of THE SCRIPT-SELLING GAME (2nd edition)

When queried by an editor, agent, producer, novelist  or exec, the experienced writer can usually summarize his/her project in just one or two sentences.  Encapsulating the essence of your story is creating a logline, a fast, effective, attention-getting selling tool for your book, movie, tv or web series project.

The easiest and most successful method I’ve used with my clients to create a logline is by starting off with a short simple sentence, then having them building upon it.

Here is an example using the film AVATAR:

Marine gets new assignment.— We know the main character is a Marine

Paraplegic Marine is sent to foreign moon on assignment. — We now know the Marine is a paraplegic and that the story takes place on a foreign moon.

Paraplegic Marine in an Avatar body is sent to a foreign moon to infiltrate a colony of aliens. — We learn that he’ll be encountering alien life and to he will be using an Avatar body to accomplish his mission, but we need to know what that mission is.

Paraplegic Marine in an Avatar body  is sent to a foreign moon to infiltrate a colony of aliens who pose a threat to Earth. — This version now tells us that the aliens could be a threat to Earth.

Paraplegic Marine in an Avatar body is sent to a foreign moon to infiltrate a colony of aliens who pose a threat to Earth, but eventually questions his mission. — The additional wording lets us know that our hero faces a moral challenge and that there is more to his assignment than initially realized. We just need to know why he questions his assignment and what will be at stake.

LOGLINE:  Paraplegic Marine in an Avatar body is dispatched to a foreign moon to infiltrate a colony of aliens who pose a threat to Earth, only to question his mission when he realizes he is being used to extract a valuable energy source  which will result in destroying the aliens and their peaceful world. — In this final version, we now have a compelling story as the hero realizes his initial assignment is bogus and that he will ultimately need to make a difficult decision as he faces a crucial crisis of consciousness by story’s end.

You will note that each successive version gains more importance and gives us:

*         a better understanding of the character,

*         knowledge about his goal

*         what challenges he will face.

From a simple sentence, use colorful, descriptive adjectives, active verbs and creative restructuring of the logline to obtain more flow, intensity and interest which will hook and entice the person hearing or reading your project.

If your project is a TV or web series, here is an example of the “simple sentence” approach for the TV show, THE MENTALIST:

Former psychic gets job at investigative bureau.

Fraudulent psychic helps the California Investigative Bureau to solve crimes.

Fraudulent psychic helps the California Investigative Bureau to help solve crimes, but has a hidden agenda of his own.

LOGLINE:  In this investigative drama series, an admittedly fraudulent psychic joins the California Investigative Bureau, using his keen observation skills and deep insights into human behavior to help the bureau solve crimes — hoping one day to ultimately solve the murders of his late wife and daughter, victims of a serial killer.

Here are three other popular film examples in different genres which started out with a simple sentence and became the following loglines:

MAMMA MIA Hotel owner prepares for daughter’s wedding

LOGLINE: In this musical-comedy, the owner of a small hotel on a Greek isle prepares for her daughter’s wedding, unaware that her daughter has invited three men from her mother’s past, hoping that one of them is her father and will walk her down the aisle.

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL Retirees go to India

LOGLINE:  A group of British retirees are lured to India to live in what they believe is a newly restored hotel, only to discover it is far less luxurious than they thought. But as they are forced to settle in, they slowly allow the Marigold Hotel, its staff and the culture of India to charm them in the most unexpected ways.

THE KING’S SPEECH Prince is forced to become king

LOGLINE: Following the death of his father and the scandalous abdication of his brother Edward, Prince George VI, who suffers from a debilitating speech impediment, is forced to overcome his handicap to become King with the help of his wife and an unorthodox speech therapist.

Kathie can be reached at: . Copies of THE SCRIPT-SELLING GAME can be purchased at a 25% discount at:  mwp.com
Kathie-Fong-Yoneda-500pxKathie Fong Yoneda is a consultant specializing in development and marketing of live action and animated film, television, literary, and web projects. A former exec at Disney, Island Pictures, and Disney TV Animation, she has taught workshops worldwide. A partial list of clientele includes Singapore Media Academy, RAI-TV Roma, National Film School of Denmark, Women in Film/Television Atlanta, University of Hawaii, Romance Writers of America, Smithsonian Institute, Scriptfest, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Digital Media Academy Jakarta, and the Marseille, Melbourne, Roma and LA web festivals as well as several award-winning writers. Kathie is a popular jurist and panelist for many film festivals and screenwriting competitions and serves on the boards of Imago and the LAWEBFEST. She is the author of The Script-Selling Game and co-exec produced the series Beyond The Break.

 

 

Keeping Faith

June 27th, 2016

By diane estelle Vicari

I was inspired to make my documentary Imagining a Better World in 2006 when I first read Dr. Nelly Toll’s award winning biography Behind the Secret Window: her remarkable story of hiding from the Nazis in occupied Poland alongside her mother during WWII.

Painting by Nelly Toll

Painting by Dr. Nelly Toll

Still a child during this terrible ordeal, with her mother’s love as her only protection, Nelly created a body of sixty watercolor paintings depicting what her life would resemble under normal circumstances.

Without the kindness of a Catholic family, who risked their lives simply by hiding them, Nelly and her mom would not have survived.

Today, a renowned art therapist and teacher, she believes strongly in emphasizing the positive values she took away from her experience to triumph over adversity as she goes and visits schools, of all levels, across the country to share her story.

The Nelly Toll Story is another example of “one man can make a difference”, a theme explored in my previous work, Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness.  This documentary film relates the story of Japanese Diplomat Chiune Sempo Sugihara who risked it “all” acting against government orders during WWII to save the lives of strangers, by writing visas for escaping Jews.

He did so with the belief that somehow these strangers would find their way to safety.  Were it not for his courageous actions, some 60,000 people would not be alive today.

As a storyteller, I am constantly reminded that FAITH is a critical tool in my work as well.   Without it, no matter the value of our vision, it will not bear fruit.  If courageous individuals, like Dr. Nelly Toll and Chiune Sugihara could “imagine a better world” under some of the worst circumstances in our history, well, so can we.

As a filmmaker and a messenger, my subjects teach me through their stories, to have faith in a better humanity.

diane estelle Vicari, Director / Producer is an award-­winning filmmaker and is internationally renowned for her work in promoting the production and advancement of the documentary film genre.  Now in production on Imagining a Better World, her last documentary, Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness, won the Hollywood Film Festival Award for Best Documentary and the prestigious IDA/ Pare Lorentz Award. It has also been honored by the United Nations and aired nationally on PBS.

How Filmmakers Can Benefit From LinkedIn Groups

June 23rd, 2016

LinkedIn Groups are Great For Sharing Filmmaking Info, Getting Tips, and Finding Work

by Carole Dean

Independent filmmakers seeking for social networking opportunities should not overlook LinkedIn Groups.   (And no one should overlook LinkedIn now that Microsoft paid $26 billion to purchase it).

LinkedIn Group Members Can Get and Give Advice on Story Structure, Budgets, and Funding

LinkedIn Group Members Can Get and Give Advice on Story Structure, Budgets, and Funding

There are groups to join for documentary, feature, and short films as well as crowdfunding and financing.

On my weekly Art of Film Funding  Podcast , I was lucky to spend some time with a cherished friend, Norman Berns, an Emmy award winning producer who is head of the LinkedIn group for Film & Television Professionals.   They now have over 200,000 members.

Norman shared with me his insights and tips on how best to use LinkedIn Groups.

Why should filmmakers join online groups?

“Why do people go to the town square and hang out for the evening? You do it because that’s where the people are.” suggests Norman.

“If you want to find out from filmmakers, where do you find a whatever, anything from a prop to a location to a producer, those are the people you would ask.  And if you sell it well enough, if you present the information well enough, you’ll get a good answer.”

What should you do when you join a LinkedIn Group?

“Alright, we have this town square”, said Norman “If you rush into the town square and you say, ‘I’m here, I’m here, look at me,’ people will wander away.  You have given them nothing.”

The best way to start is to share something that you learned.  Share your experiences in filmmaking.   The easiest thing people can do in groups is to share knowledge and come off as the wisest person in the room.

How can you get people to give you advice on your film?

If you want people to look at your film, if you want to utilize the group, explain what you did.

“Say, ‘Look, we had to go to this location, we only had xxx dollars. We climbed a mountain. We used this camera and these lenses and we put the camera “here”.  You tell me how difficult it was to film in this location. Then I’m interested.”

But, just saying “Hey, look at my film!’” Norman warns, “Doesn’t work well.”

So, if you’re free with information, if you give, before you ask to get, you will get a good response.

How do you market yourself and actually make money for a professional4 service in a group?

Norman said his group has a lot of people in it who work closely with story structure, who teach writing, who talk about protagonists, antagonists, all the pieces that make up a good story.  They’re really incredibly generous and some have workshops.

But, if you want to get people into your workshop, you have to set out a lot of breadcrumbs of wisdom to attract them.  As they come in picking up all these bits of knowledge you’ve laid out, they will eventually come through your door.  It takes some effort.

This is the helpful and the respected way to promote yourself online in groups.  Then you can tell people when you have a seminar and you have a much better chance to get customers.

How do you promote your talents to get work?

Norman’s advice is to answer:  “Who are you? What are you talking about?”

“If you come to me and you say, ‘I made a film for $20,000. I had these people in the cast. We shot for these many days, and I used this special crane that I had my grips build.’

Well, all of a sudden I really am interested, I really want to know.”

The people who say, “hire me, hire me”, are missing the point.

“If I like what you’re telling me, if I like the product that you’re delivering, I’ll hire you. But, I’m not going to start the conversation by hiring you, and then figure out whether I like your stuff.”

Can you talk about funding for your film?

Norman said that he limits this discussion to technique rather than making an “ask” from the group.

What’s fair and acceptable is for someone to say, “If I were looking for money for my film, where would I go?”  That’s worthy of a discussion.

“But please do not say,” Norman chides “Go to my Indiegogo campaign and donate!”

You can check out the entire Art of Film Funding podcast with Norman Berns for insights on LinkedIn and producing.

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcast, The Art of Film Funding, interviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.

Successful Self-Distribution: When You Do it With Others

May 31st, 2016

By Carole Dean

In a recent episode of my Art of Film Funding Podcast, I interviewed Nick Gonda, President & Director of TUGG.com, an expert on self-distribution for independent films. He spoke of a filmmaker who had over 500 screenings set up by other people for him in cities across the US.

This is the new world of self-distribution for indie films and Tugg is one of the leaders in the field.

Here’s how it works.

Self-Distribution

Collaborate with Groups That Can Use Your Film To Motivate Their Members to Attend Your Screenings

Tugg encourages filmmakers to think about who in your community doesn’t just want to buy tickets, but who would like to share and evangelize around your event on your behalf.

That’s the mentality of a promoter. Tugg gives you the tools to collaborate with people or groups and to do so in a way that people are incentivized.

Touch the Wall was one of Tugg’s most successful films last year.  It’s about swimmer Missy Franklin and it documents her journey of becoming an Olympian. This incredible filmmaking team set the bar high in terms of entrepreneurial mind sets and other types of outreach.

They knew they had a certain amount of people through their direct community.  But then they thought, how could we collaborate with swim organizations and swim teams around the country?

They created a system and a campaign where swim coaches could promote the screening as an event.  They participated not just for their love of the film or love subject.  They were also able to use these events as fundraisers for their local issues and needs.

As a result of that campaign and being able to approach swim coaches with that value proposition, they’ve had about 500 events around the country.

After all of those events, the filmmakers were able to get every email address from every ticket buyer and every promoter.  That’s because Tugg provides that transparency to its filmmaking partners.

Now, when they do their home video and VOD release, they are not going with just the financial success generated from all of these events, but with an expanded community as well.

By using the social connections of other organziations, Touch the Wall was able to financially reward themselves, gain a massive data base of people interested in the subject of their film, and give back to the community by letting locals use their film as a funding event.

Tugg also helps migrate that community into other auxiliary buying experiences. At the point or purchase, Tugg has a screen for you to sell your merchandise items with your tickets.

Nick says that the Girl Scouts have raised over $5,000 in donations at one of these events.  So, your film is helping fund other important issues while you are getting paid for the screening from the box office and merchandise sales.

This is a wonderful way for you to reach your audience, make money, build a data base and give back to communities across America.

Please listen to the interview for more wonderful ideas on marketing your film via Cinema on Demand.

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcast, The Art of Film Funding, interviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.

Your Film Can Set Hollywood on Fire…If You Know What You’ve Got

March 13th, 2016

by Patrice Hall

A revolution is occurring in the way films are marketed and distributed.  Direct to Video, Day and Date, Streaming, Self-Distribution are just some of the options popping up and new ones are added seemingly daily.

If you are a filmmaker who can navigate the changes, there are significant rewards.

Does Your Film Have the Necessary Buzzability?

Does Your Film Have the Necessary “Buzzability”

At the same time, savvy investors want a clear understanding of how they can profit from their investment.  As I create the business plan for my documentary, The Shamans of Rock & Roll, it’s crucial that the marketing and distribution section provide background on how to achieve that goal.

To get an idea of what to say to investors, I refer to the great insights provided by Kevin Goetz of Screen Engine at the ITVA’s 15th Annual Production Conference.  Kevin’s company specializes in market research and he believes that “every movie can make money as long as you know what you have.”

In today’s marketplace, Kevin says it’s the Big Idea is the single most important indicator of a film’s success.  More than even the story – it’s the idea of it all – the DNA.

The Big Idea motivates a big audience.

Also, filmmakers should know just who makes up their audience.  Who are they making their film for?  How large is this audience?

It’s important that their film is “comp’d” (using examples of other films that are similar) correctly.  You should not use “aspirational” comps –what they wish it could be.  But, filmmakers should choose films with similar genres and similar budget ranges.

To be successful, a film needs at have at least one the following:

*Capability – the DNA measurement, the gut.

*Playability – the audience’s experience when they sit down and watch the  film.  How well does it “play”?

*Marketability – the ability of a film to attract an audience.

*Buzzability – what critics and social media want to see.

I’ve found that it’s been extremely useful to include a discussion of these ideas in conversations with potential investors – especially those from outside the entertainment industry.

It gives them an understanding of today’s marketplace and just how successful my film can be.

Patrice Hall is the writer and producer of the feature documentary The Shamans of Rock & Roll  that explores the shamanic influences in the early lives and music of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, and John Lennon.  You can contact Patrice at hello@shamans-of-rock-and-roll.com