By lance weiler, August 31st, 2008

This edition of TCIBR is brought to you by IndieFlix – Hunter Weeks left a cubical job to embark on a filmmaking career and within a three years has completed two documentaries and is in post on a third. One of the core elements of his strategy is to mix a DIY production and distribution approach with a variety of promotional partners. Hunter and Josh Caldwell his producing partner, have structured numerous partnerships with brands that have created funds for production, post and distribution. In our discussion Hunter shares how he crafts his sponsorship / promotional deals, why he’s bypassing the festival circuit and how his newest doc 10 yards is being released for free online prior to hitting DVD on Sept. 30th.

For more on Hunter and 10 yards visit www.10yards.com

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Posted in BTS audience biz community deals digital downloads distro diy doc dvd online podcast promotion sponsorship web 2.0

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

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By lance weiler, July 29th, 2008

Over the next few days we’ll be posting various videos from the DIY DAYS LA event. The day consisted of a number of keynotes (Robert Greenwald, Marshall Herskovitz), panels (Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting, Alex Johnson, Micki Krimmel, Mark Stolaroff, Ondi Timoner, Hunter Weeks, Saskia Wilson-Brown), case studies (M dot Strange, Arin Crumley, Lance Weiler), a series of special video presentations (Matt Hanson, Brett Gaylor, Brian Chirls, Christy Dena, Timo Vuorensola) and a conversation with director Mark Pellington.

diy days M dot Strange, Hunter Weeks and Ondi Timoner – photo by Mike Hedge

The Realities of DIY
There’s been much discussion about the democratization of the tools but what’s really involved in taking your film from a concept to something an audience will pay to see? How can you fight your way through the clutter and what are the pitfalls to avoid when you decide to go it on your own?

Discussion Leader: Mark Stolaroff – panelists Arin Crumley, Ondi Timoner, Hunter Weeks and M dot Strange.

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Posted in BTS DIYDays animation audience biz case study deals discussion distro diy doc dvd education event festivals funds how to narrative online panel podcast producing production promotion resource sponsorship tech theatrical tools tv web 2.0

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

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By lance weiler, January 6th, 2008

At the beginning of 10 MPH you’ll see Josh and I trying to get sponsors to help out with the whole Segway thing. It was really tough as many of the companies we talked to felt there was no opportunity for ROI. Independent art was not worth their investment. But over time with some work on our strategies, we’ve learned how to intrigue sponsors more and were actually able to generate some significant funding for 10 Yards. As we were getting ready to release 10 MPH, our initial sponsors came on to help us out. We got some product for giveaways and some commitment to buy DVDs from us. This was the first time we got Segway to formally help us out; about three years after our first contact with them. They gave us a Segway to give away and jumped on to co-develop a ‘Do Your Thing’ blog and summer giveaway promo. The giveaway was a huge success and helped generate thousands of leads into our database, which we can develop relationships with as we release future films.

Sponsorships have always helped us create more opportunity for ourselves. Many fellow filmmakers, reporters, and others in the industry are intrigued with the types of companies that have signed on with us. We’re always insistent on working with brands we love and look to local brands first when setting up sponsorships.

n March of 2007, we got word from my connection at Blockbuster that we’d be hearing from a company called RepNet. They are a sub-distributor that helps sell your DVD into places like Blockbuster, Netflix, Hollywood Video, Amazon, Ingram Micro, etc. They allow you to retain all rights on distribution of your DVDs, so you can continue to sell to whomever and however you want. This was especially attractive to us because of our database and sponsorship connections. We’d retain the right to sell directly to these groups, which would equate to higher profit margins and more flexibility on pricing.

The disadvantage to this direction was that we’d have to do all the work to author our DVD, create a master, buy in mass quantity, and maintain and control inventory. So for all orders coming from RepNet, we’d get a Purchase Order and then send off the requested quantities to various channels they were selling to. Not the easiest process.

After talking with RepNet, we finalized on May 29 for a good release date. I didn’t realize the importance of the date at the time, but as things progressed it became very apparent that we lucked out and got a release date that had very few interesting releases. This increased our chances of getting mentioned in DVD columns and reviewed on DVD websites. To prepare for May 29, RepNet would do the work to make sure our film was represented in various databases that many major online sales points get their data from and they’d work on selling the movie into their main channels. We’d do all the PR and promotions to make sure there was demand for and interest in our release and we’d get the DVD authored and replicated.

Sounded pretty easy, but it turned out to be two very tough months. We were also really getting into the edit of 10 Yards, so it was an all out effort just to keep everything happening. Josh was leading the 10 Yards post-production efforts and I was in charge of leading the 10 MPH launch. We both did a lot to help each other and for the most part I was pretty impressed with how we pulled it all off. At one point, though, I found myself learning how to design and author a complex DVD menu in DVD Studio Pro and then a few weeks later learning how to use Adobe After Effects to work with a template our motion graphics designer had created for 10 Yards in order to create several similar transitions for a rough cut deadline we were trying to reach. It was many late nights that often ended when the sun was coming up.

Besides getting a really good looking DVD with extras and commentary from Josh and I ready and replicated for May 29, we focused a lot of attention on getting good press and review coverage of the launch. A little over a month before the release we started sending DVDs out to everyone we thought we could get to review the DVD. This included relying on some connections we had developed from the festival circuit. We also mailed a DVD and press kit to most of the major DVD columnists and followed up with them a few times prior to May 29. Additionally, we got a list of 2000 radio DJs and Producers from around the country and sent a mass email with our press release announcing the availability of 10 MPH and offering stations an opportunity to interview Josh and I. This campaign worked brilliantly. We had dozens of interviews in major cities for days and this drove huge demand on Netflix and Blockbuster.com, which resulted in a decent bump order from Netflix. In addition to the radio interviews, we netted a ton of newspaper mentions and articles, got picked up in some major magazines, and had some killer DVD reviews. Likewise, we scored on the blogs (which was a focused campaign after newspaper, DVD review sites, and radio).

Here’s a list of some of the press we got for the 10 MPH launch:

Boston Globe
“Amusingly offbeat documentary”
-Tom Russo

Paste Magazine
“Trading cubicles and lattes for road-trip thrills”
-Rachael Maddux

LA Times
“A quirky documentary”
-Susan King

Denver Post
“10 MPH with its wit, beckoning shots of splendid landscapes, and impromptu interviews, might have you humming Woody Guthrie, This land is your land, this land is my land.”
-Lisa Kennedy

Christian Science Monitor
“Scenic photography and lively side characters make for a diverting trip.”
-Stephen Humphries (Monitor Picks)

Film Threat
“You’ll dig every minute of it”
-Eric Campos

DVD Talk
“It’s every bit as triumphant touring America as it is extolling the virtues of relishing time and embracing freedom. Highly recommended”
-Brian Orndorf

Village Voice Syndicated Column
(Dallas Observer, The Pitch Kansas City, Miami New Times, Minneapolis City Pages, Denver Westword, Cleveland Scene, East Bay Express, SF Weekly, Houston Press)
“It’s hard not to be drawn in by the film’s good-natured vibe.”
-Jordan Harper

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
“It almost made me stand up and cheer.”
-Betty Jo Tucker

Blogcritics.org
“It is a very likable film featuring likable people.”
-Damian Penny

Idaho Statesman
“10 MPH succeeds on many levels. For one, it’s a terrific American travelogue, taking the viewer through small-town charm, purple mountain majesty and the big city’s vibrating pulse. More importantly, it’s an inspiring story about cutting through the stagnancy of 21st-century life to follow your dreams.”
-Chad Dryden

Next Week: Digital Downloads 

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Hunter Weeks made his feature-length directorial debut with 10 MPH. He’s also the mastermind behind the creative marketing and distribution efforts that led to national recognition and critical acclaim for the film. Photographing the world since the early nineties, Hunter Weeks has developed an eye for capturing moments of humanity in off-the-beaten-path places, like Croatia, Morocco, and Indonesia. His photography background influences his work on documentaries, which currently focus on American pop culture subjects. As the follow-up to 10 MPH, he’s working on a documentary about fantasy football, currently titled 10 Yards.

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Posted in BTS biz diy doc dvd how to resource sponsorship

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

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