By lance weiler, August 28th, 2007


Jennifer Venditti’s directorial debut, BILLY THE KID is a touching and haunting portrait of a small town underdog named Billy. When we saw the doc at SXSW, we were struck by its depiction of teenage angst, love and awkwardness.

WHY: The DIY film is currently in limited release in select theaters in a bid for Oscar consideration. For dates and screening locations click here.
THIS CONFERENCE IS BEING RECORDED – Our guests today are festival programmers Doug Jones (LA Film Fest) and Matt Dentler (SXSW). Doug and Matt share their insights into the festival process and how filmmakers can best prepare for their journey on the festival circuit.. LISTEN


Bside offers a number of interesting services and solutions for filmmakers that range from festival submissions, to enabling sales and audience building. They also handle digital downloads, burns to DVDs, physical media sales and merchandise fulfillment.

WHY: Gives filmmakers control over their own distribution. Bside uses direct filmmaker feedback to shape their offerings.

* WEB 2.0
Loopnote makes it easy to send updates quickly to a group of people – via sms, email, IM or RSS. Notifications are short 100 characters or less, with the option to easily expand the message. The expanded message is delivered as link that brings readers to a special message page.

WHY: If you need a simple way to update a group of people quickly, then loopnote is worth a look. Has a variety of uses – send a call time to your cast and crew, use it as a way to build an audience around your festival screenings or a theatrical tour or just use it to stay in touch with a group of friends.


Celtx is a FREE open source program that combines full-feature scriptwriting with pre-production support and online collaboration. It offers scripting, outline tools, scheduling, storyboarding, and media rich breakdowns that allow for audio, video and stills.

WHY: It’s a great free resource that can help to streamline the pre-production phase of the filmmaking process.


If you’re looking to create your own social community site then you should checkout Crowdvine. This free and simple solution allows for group blogs, universal commenting, question / tagging and the option to pull in a feeds from flickr, blogs, and social bookmarking accounts.

WHY: Crowdvine can provide a nice outlet for cast, crew or investors as a way to stay updated with the progress of a project. It’s also an a easy way to build a community around your own work.

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Posted in distro diy doc production resource software theatrical tools

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

By lance weiler, June 17th, 2007

Scott Kirsner from CinemaTech was kind of enough to share the following interview. The interview is broken into 3 sections. Make sure to stop by Scott’s blog and to check out his newest book “The Future of Web Video.”

From Scott
“I sat down with Peter Broderick in Santa Monica this month, to talk about what’s changing in independent filmmaking, with a special focus on finance, distribution, and marketing. Peter is president of Paradigm Consulting, which works with filmmakers and media companies on distribution issues, and in 1999, he started the world’s first entity devoted to financing digital features, Next Wave Films‘ Agenda 2000. Peter is also a frequent speaker on the festival circuit; June started for him at Cannes, and will end at the LA Film Festival.”

PART TWO – Film financing

PART THREE – Marketing and audience-building

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Posted in audience digital downloads distro diy dvd funds interview promotion theatrical vid

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

  • POV: Distribution Value Added
    For anyone who isn’t reading Brian Chirls’ blog you are missing out on a valuable resource. He’s a self professed Indie Nerd Filmmaker (Director, Distributor, Technologist) with a unique perspective on the emerging digital DIY movement. In addition to contributing to the Workbook Project he is also the Head of Theatrical for From Here to Awesome. by Brian Chirls –… read more
  • BTS – 10mph DIY part 2
    With the advent of the Internet, we make instant judgments on something after viewing its website. Especially movies. Before making films, Josh and I both worked for a software company managing websites. Between this and numerous things we tried to do on the side, we learned how to design websites and master web marketing. This, in my opinion, is… read more
  • TCIBR podcast: Chris Saad on DataPortability
    This edition of TCIBR is brought to you by IndieFlix – Today we are joined by Chris Saad co-founder of the DataPortability project and APML (attention profiling markup language). Over the course of the discussion we cover a wide range of topics concerning the issue of open standards, the importance of audience portability and how metadata will impact storytelling and… read more
By lance weiler, June 13th, 2007


In this editon of “TCIBR” we are joined by two established documentary producers / directors – Esther Robinson (A Walk Into the Sea, Home Page) and Doug Block (The Heck with Hollywood, Home Page, 51 Birch Street). Today’s discussion is devoted to the art and craft of the documentary. A range of topics are covered such as; fundraising, producing, festivals, distribution and the importance of community.

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For more info on Esther visit or

For more info on Doug visit, and

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Posted in biz community diy doc festivals funds interview podcast theatrical

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

By lance weiler, April 29th, 2007

flyer.jpg bardo8.jpg lance1.jpg

A few weeks ago the HEAD TRAUMA mashup / cinema ARG had its first screening. The event was a collision of movies, music, gaming and theatrics. In a previous post I questioned the viability of traditional theatrical releases for “truly” independent films. The mashup / cinema ARG has promise and event driven theatrical experiences could in fact become an interesting model for independent distro.

- The event attracted regional and national press. Not only reviews but a collection of articles that explained the event. Even though I received press during HT’s theatrical release in Sept. 06 the mashup resulted in even more press.

- The ticket price was $14 dollars and over 150 people attended the event – one night was better than the average gross of each of HT’s traditional theatrical week long runs. The event also allowed me to sell DVDs, Posters, and copies of the HT soundtrack.

- The HT mailing list grows as audience members sign up to receive updates about the film

- The evening was recorded and now there are more promotional materials for the film – a behind the scenes doc, a new alternate soundtrack that syncs with the movie and a couple hundred photographs

- National press leads to a number of amazing opportunities. I’ve been contacted by managers, agents, advertising agencies, additional venues and sponsors that are interested in taking the cinema ARG on the road.

- The success of the first Cinema ARG leads to bookings in NYC, London, and San Francisco

- The Cinema ARG is picked up by a number of trend tracking firms who have the following to say:
“Director Lance Weiler has created a “remix” presentation of his cult indie horror flick Head Trauma, the result of which sounds like a good approximation of the future of film. …As theatres increasingly compete with home entertainment, we believe live film presentations such as this could be a way to keep audiences going out to movies.”

- Wired sends a reporter to the event. To read his take click here.

OVERALL: Even though it was a lot of work, I think an event based theatrical model can be the right answer for films looking to stand out in a crowded market. The important element is finding the right event to center around your work. A good starting point is to identify your film’s hooks. What is it about your film that people will find interesting? Once you figure out the hooks then you can start to build an event. If you do move forward with an event based screening we’d love to hear about it. Send your emails to work [@]

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Posted in arg audience case study development distro diy gaming promotion remix theatrical

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

  • INTERVIEW – Tim Partridge and the future of 3-D
    Scott Kirsner of CinemaTech sits down with Dolby EVP Tim Partridge as he lays out his vision for how digital 3-D moviemaking will take over the world. Partridge says that in the early days of Dolby’s audio noise reduction (and later, Dolby’s digital sound), industry insiders predicted that the new technology would only be used for big action pictures. These… read more
  • this conference is being recorded – DIY roundtable take 1
    Today’s podcast is a special DIY roundtable on film production with Mark Stolaroff (producer and founder of the No Budget Film School), and Paul Harrill (filmmaker and blogger Self Reliant). Over the course of the discussion we cover a number of topics such as; fundraising, producing, directing, casting, working with cast and crew, and how to obtain high production… read more
  • this conference is being recorded – Tom Wilson
    Today we are joined by writer / director Tom Wilson. Tom has made two feature films They Shoot Movies Don’t They and Sleep Across America. In our discussion we cover a wide range of topics such as mock docs, self distribution and working with sponsors. For more on Tom Wilson and his work click here. To listen NOW click… read more
By lance weiler, March 29th, 2007

I’ve heard a lot of people challenging the theatrical experience – box office numbers are down from previous years, and home theater systems are only getting better. Not to mention all the competition for viewers attention thanks to a 500+ channel universe, broadband and a shrinking amount of free time. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that people still want that communal experience that a theatrical film can provide. But I think that filmmakers need to make the theatrical experience their own and find interesting ways to engage their audiences.

After doing a 17 city, DIY theatrical release for HEAD TRAUMA, I think that traditional theatrical releases of “truly” independent films are a dangerous proposition. It’s next to impossible to pull people into a screening without P&A money. I harnessed the internet to help with grassroots promotion, my social networking friends helped to flyer and sticker for me, they also brought their friends. But a theatrical release is a humbling affair. On average we’d have nights with 25 to 30 people in a screening. On a rare night, we’d have over a 150 people in attendance but often we’d have only 10 or 12. In the end I made money but it was not because of the box office take alone. It was a combination of speaking engagements, poster sales and the fact that I didn’t spend anything on promotion or renting the theaters. I did 50/50 splits with all the theaters to help reduce my risk.

What I think is a more interesting theatrical model is an event driven one. For instance, I’ve been staging a number of one off live events. They are special theatrical events that use a mixture of multimedia, performance, and technology to remix the movie in a new way. Some people have called the events Cinema ARGs (alternate reality games) because of the way they engage the audience in the theater and after they leave.

This coming Saturday, we’ll be doing a special remix screening of HEAD TRAUMA in Philadelphia. It is broken into the following parts.

The evening will consist of Bardo Pond, Espers, Fern Knight and a DJ providing a live score to the movie. I’ve separated the dialog and sound effects tracks, so we can do a total remix of the movie live.

The current remix shows came from a concept we had called CURSED. CURSED the HEAD TRAUMA movie project started as an alternate soundtrack experience for the movie. Similar to how Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon lines up with the WIZARD OF OZ, we created a soundtrack that could line up with HEAD TRAUMA. Turn down the volume on the TV and turn up the volume on the stereo. The following behind the scenes short describes the process.

The night will include a number of theatrical elements. On stage, we’ve constructed a tent which is key to the story of the film and the hooded figure who is the protagonist’s nemesis will emerge at different times through out the night within the audience. There are fog machines, lighting effects and physical scares. The theatrical elements borrow from a cross between dinner theater on acid and the school of William Castle. William Castle was a famous showman who actually wired the audience’s seats to shock them during screenings of his classic THE TINGLER.

The last element of the evening is a high tech one which allows viewers to use their mobile phones to interact with certain characters from the film. Since I’m working with the IndEx media server to project the film, I’ve been able to easily add subtitles. On screen at key moments a phone number appears. When audience members call the number they’ll hear the hooded figure from the film. Depending on their answers they’ll receive a number of clues. At the conclusion of the movie we’ll ring all the phones in the theater at the same time. Then for the lucky few the film will follow them home as they receive additional calls and text messages that lead them to hidden elements online.

This coming show is the first in a series of remix screenings. The release will target universities and museums. Since it is an event the ticket prices are more than double a traditional movie ticket. We’ll see how it goes, but I think it’s an interesting concept that points towards a new type of theatrical experience.

I’ll let you know how it all works out.

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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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