Movie-theater-224x149Since the signing on of truly-free-film's Ted Hope as Executive Director of San Francisco Film Society, a lot of people have been excitedly awaiting for something cool to happen. Last week SFFS announced the unveiling of a new program called the A2E (Artist to Entrepreneur) Digital Distribution Lab and this may be Hope’s first coup. The pilot program promises to come up with fresh practices for filmmakers through big ideas and tech world entrepreneurs. How do I sign up?  Read more about the upcoming distribution experiment below.

The idea behind Ted Hope’s new brainchild is this: unlike in the indie salad-days of the 1990s, today’s saturated market and antiquated distribution standards mean filmmakers get squat. (Note to self: WHY DID NOBODY MENTION THIS WHEN I DECIDED TO BECOME A FILMMAKER?) The A2E premise is that by combining entrepreneurs and distribution start-ups, filmmakers can work on release strategies that get butts in seats, make money back, and consequently -- with artists being able to maybe, just maybe, quit our day jobs -- elevate the art of independent filmmaking.

From the SFFS press release via Indiewire:

Through an “open source” collaborative approach, the Direct Distribution Lab will not only connect artists, services, tools, and tech partners but also build custom plans for each filmmaker to utilize. At the end of the process, select projects committed to a direct distribution approach will then be presented to potential funders and collaborators in the hope of making their engagement strategy a reality.

The A2E Distribution Lab will take place from May 2-5 amidst the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival in conjunction with A2E Launchpad: two days of 20 minute meet-and-greets (a la Independent Film Week) between filmmakers and tech partners TBD in the next few weeks.

Ted Hope about A2E:

“When we first started designing this program, we were particularly inspired by Sundance Institute's community-minded approach to their #ArtistServices distribution platform. Just as they invited us and other organizations to participate, we are doing the same with A2E. This is a new era of cooperation—not competition—among support organizations in film. For this initial pilot program we've invited Sundance and our other #ArtistServices collaborators—IFP, FIND, Cinereach, BritDoc and the Bertha Foundation—to work with us, and have invited projects from BFI, Film London, Frameline and the Canadian Film Center."

This year, participating projects will be narratives and invite-only (boohoo) so I’d imagine they will consist largely of films screening at SFIFF56 and picks from BFI, Film London, Frameline and the Canadian Film Center. If these films are matched with the guidance, tools, and funds to pull off really ballsy and innovative release strategies, it could be very interesting to watch. And if it goes well, not only could SF International Film Festival really up the ante in their desirability for independent filmmakers, but it might actually “trigger flashpoint of creative innovation and artistic expression in SF Bay” as SFFS puts it. That would be neat. And then hopefully next year they'll let some average Joes in.

Will pairing more filmmakers with entrepreneurs change the distribution landscape? What do you think we need to be able to make our films successful? And seriously, what's it going to take for filmmakers to make a living at this thing?


[movie theater pic via Oakley's Collection of Ol' Amateur Daguerreotypes]