By Jenny Abel, March 30th, 2010

Whenever I sit down to write a post, I always freeze. I transform from ‘loudmouthed truck driver’ to Cindy Brady the instant that record light turns on. Some of you may be wondering where the hell I’ve been for the last year. The answer is (usually delivered monotone), “Working on Abel Raises Cain.” And in return, the incredulous response from family and friends is always, “What? Still?”

Yes, it’s true. It turns out that the finish line is nonexistent, the definition of success is completely nebulous, relative and random. At what point do you stop? Never. Once you make a film, you’re chained to it for life. While the preceding sounds grim, I’m actually enjoying the journey, although I’m tired as hell. The high points have overshadowed all of the ‘no’ men, naysayers and other assorted sour grapes who tried to thwart me along the way. Their feeble attempts to rain on my parade only made me stronger and more persistent.

While I may cry myself to sleep at night over our declining DVD sales and pray that all of the nice people out there who have watched torrents or free streams of our film (our anonymous ‘fans’) will one day send us even just a few pennies, I remain optimistic that our small little movie that has taken on a life of its own will indeed survive another decade.

I’ve kind of resigned myself to the fact that it’s impossible to track all of our ‘fans.’ (BTW, my parents ask for everyone who has seen the movie and laughed out loud at least once to send them a dollar in the mail.) The current issue getting everyone riled up is CreateSpace’s recently revised policy to no longer share buyer data with its clients, claiming that information sharing is a breach of consumers’ privacy.

I handle our own DVD fulfillment, so I develop a ‘personal’ relationship with all of our direct sales customers. Amazon is a different story. I supply the stock to them (through my Advantage account), so at least I know how many units are moving, but the buyers remain faceless and nameless. On one hand, I feel good about being partially involved in the process. But it’s like a one-night stand after a drunken night on the town. No phone number and you never see that person again. Not that I would know, of course.

Right now, we’re totally reliant on word-of-mouth in terms of people stumbling upon our film. We never had a budget for Publicity and Advertising. Our DIY journey has been an ever-morphing experiment with a million different variables at play. I continue to figure things out as I go. I struggle to embrace even just a few of the incredible tools at our collective disposal, some of which Lance Weiler talks about in a recent Culture Hacker article. The dizzying array of possible directions any one filmmaker can take in order to reach his or her audience is mind-blowing.

One of the last frontiers that I’ve been obsessing over, wondering how in the hell we’re going to crack this ‘old world’ nut, is the esteemed educational market. To my question posed prior to the Filmmaker Summit, Is it possible for filmmakers to independently tackle educational sales and succeed, the answer is a resounding YES! I’ve recently been shown the light and have begun to embark on this journey with the help of another filmmaker, Ashley Sabin of Carnivalesque Films. Please stay tuned as I report back on our progress…I don’t want to jinx anything, but it’s looking like I may not need to raid our penny jar for groceries this month.

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Jenny Abel graduated from Emerson College with a degree in video and television production. Moving to LA shortly thereafter, she coordinated overseas productions for Nu Image and Millennium Films and helped the company produce twenty-six pictures over the course of several years. Saying goodbye to the 'glamor' of Hollywood, Jenny soon shifted her focus toward the completion of her first independent feature documentary project, ABEL RAISES CAIN.

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  • lovely post! lots of good info. =)

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