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New Day Films

With all the recent talk about new forms of distribution, producers sometimes forget the tried and true alternative distributors that have been making money for independent filmmakers (and collecting data, no less) for decades. New Day Films is a veteran distribution company that has been operating as a filmmaker-run collective since 1971. With decades of results to showcase their success, New Day is less of a gamble for producers whose projects are selected to join the elite roster of social issue films. “Member-owners” put more time into personally marketing their films through New Day, but their efforts are more effective than some third-party distributors because of that personalization. Steering committee chair Ellen Frankenstein gave NFS the lowdown on member-owner marketing, the benefits of a collective knowledge-base and the differences between New Day and traditional distribution. More »

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img-dj-spooky-1_09501789140IFP Film Week wrapped up Thursday with a keynote by DJ Spooky, marking the end to the Filmmaker Conference, Project Forum and Festival Forum for which worldwide creators converged at the Lincoln Center over the past five days. The week brought together industry veterans with first-time filmmakers in a series of panels densely packed back to back. Though some regretted that the conference frequently seemed to skirt issues dealing with the inequities built into the industry, those able to afford or steal a pass found certain key ideas exchanged worth the several-hundred-dollar ticket price. Read on for our top five takeaways. More »

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Tom+Hall+Sarasota+Film+Festival+2013+Red+Carpet+cG9kkP5pMEklDirector of Sarasota Film Festival Tom Hall gave an upbeat and honest speech at IFP Filmmaker Conference today, encouraging filmmakers to build relationships with programmers at film festivals long before they apply. He acknowledged the “inherently arbitrary and subjective process” of film festival selections, and said what we all know, but never hear: the best way to get your film selected as this year’s industry darling is to make friends with the industry. More »

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codependentYesterday IFP Film Week brought together aesthetic experts to discuss key digital art and how it should differ from the physical art representing a film. Sundance’s Director of Digital Initiatives Joseph Beyer, Director of American Astronaut Cory McAbee, Zak Soreff of Sawyer StudiosRyan Werner, and Director of The Foxy Merkins Madeleine Olnek  traded personal stories and industry secrets in front of a packed audience. For their stories, you’re going to have to wait for the IFP video to get released. For their best advice, read on. More »

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Strategies for Video Marketin Buzz IFP Film Week1IFP Film Week delivered the lowdown on building audience buzz with online video from CEO/Founder of BOND Strategy & Influence Marc Schiller,Creative Director of Film & Video at Vimeo Jeremy Boxer, and some guy named Ryan Koo. I guarantee you haven’t heard all of these tips before (and if you have, I’ll hire you to be my Social Media Manager.)  So, it’s a win-win. Read on for some great marketing advice  that may help you to garner attention for your project. More »

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IFP Documentaries Disturb Power Structure PanelDirectors threw caution to the wind Monday at the IFP 2013 Film Week, engaging in a heated on-stage debate during the “When Documentaries Disturb the Power Structure” panel. The heat was no surprise, given the recent controversy over ITVS’ decision to withdraw support and public television broadcast for Citizen Koch, after David Koch – who is not shown in a flattering light in the film – withdrew a large anticipated donation from PBS flagship station WNET (read the full story reported by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker). More »

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investors IFP

IFP Film Week has brought us a roundup of investors and financiers who spoke candidly about best practices for wooing the moolah towards low-budget feature films (<$1 million). Carol Ann Shine, Co-Founder of The Blackhouse Foundation, James Janowitz, Senior Partner at Pryor Cashman LLP, James Belfer, CEO and Managing Director of the Dogfish Accelerator, Michael Hansen, Managing Director of Three Point Capital, and Amy Hobby, Producer and “Instigator” of Tangerine Entertainment gave us their tips for attracting investors and keeping them satisfied long after the returns come rolling in. Their best advice after the jump. More »

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World Map

Hollywood’s blockbusters no longer cater towards Americans. That’s fairly old news; overseas markets have ruled the box office since Titanic swept international audiences into movie theaters in record numbers for the time. With the majority of modern moviegoers living abroad — 80% of box office figures, according to veteran producer Lynda Obst — one might think that a more diverse selection of films would emerge as a result. But as some might have noticed by the slate of mega-movies and sequels this summer, just the opposite seems to be happening. Americans and international audiences agree that this summer’s ‘hits’ were mostly misses, producing box office figures that were, in Obst’s words, “pretty catastrophic for the movie business.” Why did it take Hollywood over a billion in losses to realize what most sentient earthlings could have told them from the script?  Obst describes “the new abnormal in the movie business,” and why it’s bound to change. More »

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AbelCine doc grantAbelCine has extended their documentary grant deadline, giving applicants another week to upload a Vimeo pitch for the chance to win a $33,000 Canon C300 rental package. They’ve also added another prize to the mix: Unlimited DPX access to cloud-based rolling credits service Endcrawl, which includes all the 2K, HD DPX, and 1K H.264 renders your little heart could desire. Read on for the details. More »

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DollarRecently Catherine Rampell of the New York Times published a chart that should make documentary and horror producers smile. Horror has long been known as a cash cow for Hollywood, but documentary is rarely mentioned when it comes to return on investment. Rampell found that in her sample of films released in the past decade, documentary box office returns far outweighed other genres when expressed as a percentage of production budget. Sound surprising? Misleading, perhaps? Hit the jump to take a closer look at the numbers. More »

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Midnight in Paris Woody Allen

Recently Sony Pictures took home a fair use win over a Faulkner quote in Woody Allen’s 2011 flick Midnight in Paris. There’s been a fair bit of chat about fair use recently, especially after Andy Baio’s unfortunate out-of-court settlement over an infringement which he possibly could have established as fair use, had he hired the army of lawyers and consultants that Sony Pictures used to spar with Faulkner, Inc. Still, Sony’s win is a small step forward in a much larger war, so let’s celebrate with a look at five court cases upholding our right to reference and remix others’ art in our own art. More »

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Seed and Spark Emily BestWe are back to play hardball with Emily Best, Founder of Seed&Spark, a new crowdfunding and digital distribution platform that claims to be part of “the future of filmmaking.” Yesterday we explored the genesis of the website and its differences with other crowdfunding giants. Today, the conversation gets more interesting. More »

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Emily Louise Best Seed and Spark

Seed&Spark Founder Emily Best was fundraising for a feature film when she had a moment to which most producers can relate. In an industry with over 15,000 independent films made each year, where only 1% of US releases get picked up for traditional distribution and only a fraction of those actually make any money — where do we draw the line between independent and idiotic? Even after successfully green-lighting a film, getting a full house to watch it can be like extracting teeth if it doesn’t feature zombies or Ryan Gosling. Best decided to put two problems together to create a solution for all filmmakers in the form of Seed&Spark, a new crowdfunding and digital distribution model that puts audiences center-stage in the filmmaking process, rallying supporters to engage beyond the usual credit card transaction. Read on for Seed&Spark 101. More »

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AbelCine doc grantFilm and video equipment and service provider AbelCine announced the 2013 AbelCine Documentary Grant yesterday, calling on filmmakers to submit 2-5 minute Vimeo videos pitching their longer documentary projects. Each of three winners will receive $33,000 which can be applied to their choice of a Canon C300 rental packages and lenses from AbelCine. US Residents 18 years and older are eligible to apply; hit the jump for deets. More »

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VideoBlocksNeed to stock up on stock footage, but you’re running low on couch-quarters? Video Blocks has got you covered. The “first subscription-based” resource to provide stock footage, sound effects, motion backgrounds, and more, Video Blocks offers a 7-day trial subscription — which means 7 days of up to 20 free downloads. That’s 140 downloads total. So, do you need some free stock footage stat? Are you new to Video Blocks? If so, we’ve got details on how to get your hands on a free trial subscription after the jump. More »

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NYT Op-DocsThe New York Times’ documentary series Op-Docs is calling for applications to compete in the first-ever Op-Docs pitching event. Taking place at the Points North Documentary Forum this September, The New York Times Op-Docs Pitch will allow selected filmmakers to contend for the chance to produce an opinionated 3-10 minute Op-Doc to premiere on NYTimes.com. Read on for the deets and how you can apply. More »

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points north-pitch forumFor all the producers who ever wished that a common application existed for documentary film grants, pitching forums might be as close as we’re gonna get to efficiency in the fundraising process. It’s like an elevator pitch in the best possible elevator a documentarian could hope to get stuck in. There’s only room for 6 pitches at Camden International Film Festival’s Points North Pitch this coming September, but those selected will have a captive audience of representatives from the likes of HBO, ITVS, Participant Media, and ARTE.  Details after the jump. More »

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Running Wild Roy W Dean Grant Winner
Self-described as “a covert underground operation started by a gentle 76-year-old man who just wanted to help give passionate filmmakers an opportunity to be heard,” the Roy W. Dean Film and Video Grant is no ordinary endowment. The large majority of the winner’s reward is not in the form of cash  – but if $30,000 in industry favors means anything to you, like getting your film’s trailer edited by the trailer editor of The Usual Suspects, then read on. More »

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chicken-egg-pictures-logoChicken & Egg Pictures doled out $2.8 million in funding for women making documentaries over the past eight years, and they’re closing in on the big 3M this year with their three grants and two film funds. They’ve just sent out the open call for “women nonfiction filmmakers whose diverse voices and dynamic storytelling have the power to catalyze change, at home and around the globe.” Grants range from $5,000-$25,000 and come with mentorship, creative collaboration and access to the dynamic Chicken & Egg community. If you’re a woman making a non-fiction feature, short, hybrid, new media, or multiple-platforms piece (or if you’re working as Co-Director with a woman on one of these projects) read on for Chicken & Egg’s tips on snagging that cabbage. More »

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pov-callforentries-2013PBS’ independent documentary series POV has opened its doors for submissions to the 2014 broadcast season, and you’ve got until the end of the month to finish that masterpiece before they slam shut again. And with a mission like “telling stories that are not often seen in the mainstream,” who wouldn’t feel inclined to enter? So if you have a doc in the glint of your eye, holla at POV right now like you know what’s up.  As always, details after the jump. More »