May 28, 2014

'Menthol' Micro-Budget Film Case Study Part 4: Meet the Cast & Crew (Video)

Our festival run is almost complete and we're preparing for our imminent online launch. Direct distribution is a moving target, and we're constantly shifting our release strategy and making adaptations we feel are necessary. Our latest adaptation is going to be making the film available on more than one platform when we release. For this post I've also put together the first of three videos from hours of interview footage on the cast & crew's experience of making Menthol. Click through to keep following along and to watch the video.

Direct-distribution = Adapt or die.

We initially decided to distribute the film ourselves online because, well, it's all we had access to. We didn't have the money for a "proper" release or to pursue traditional distribution, so we used what we had. In our research we found and chose Reelhouse as our distribution platform under the philosophy that channeling all your traffic to one destination is best to prevent fragmentation of your support base. What I feel now, however, is that it's more important to have the film available across a variety of platforms, so we're expanding the film's presence to Vimeo on Demand and (hopefully) Fandor.

Reelhouse is a nice platform and it's got great tools, but honestly the community is still a bit of a ghost town. Despite the fact that we had to throw down $200/year for Vimeo Pro, we feel it's important and can't hurt us to have the film available in more than one place. Vimeo and Fandor have built excellent communities around the voice of independent film and I think our film just fits better in that context. So don't be afraid to rethink your approach, as things change quickly. I think a successful direct-distribution launch will be re-examining and fine tuning its approach constantly.

Now it's time to introduce ourselves (NSFW language):

For the purpose of comparison, here's the same video via Reelhouse:

Releasing a movie is its own project.

We don't have technical tutorials, in-depth behind the scenes or interviews from set, so at first thought we didn't have much bonus content to offer to people. Then I decided to go out and interview almost everyone who worked on the film to get their point of view on the making of the film; their memories, their lessons learned and advice they might have. Our strength was in our ability to share honestly and openly about our experiences of making the film, and hopefully by seeing it all together it will give the audience a feeling of what it was like for us.

It's scary to think that once you finish your film you might have to spend another 6 months or a year (or more) just releasing it, but the sooner you embrace the release of your film like its own project the sooner you can move on from that. I spent a lot of time being really intimidated by the release process, thinking that I didn't have the energy for it. Despite the malaise over releasing, I am dragging myself through this process the only way I know how: by doing it!


Menthol is screening at this year's Brooklyn Film Festival at the following dates & times:

Mon June 2nd @ 8:00pm @ Windmill Studios

Wed June 4th @ 6:00pm @ Windmill Studios

Ticketing info & more can be found here.


While I'm out at the Brooklyn Film Festival (May 30th-June 8th) I will be doing video interviews with other filmmakers on the circuit for a new series, so what I want to ask you is: What topics are of most interest to you right now that you'd like to see explored? What parts of the process do you want to hear most about? Add your thoughts or questions in the comments below and I will try to include them in my interviews.

Links:

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5 Comments

Great article once again. Some questions for the interviews I'd be interested in knowing is how does a low budget filmmaker make a living of his work? That's the dream for many of us. Another question is how big was there overall crew on set and things they've learned through the process of filming and going through the film festivals that we might not know?

It's a bit much but I appreciate the great articles for the rest of us to learn from.

May 28, 2014 at 1:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Hussain

Thanks for the feedback, I definitely wonder about these things too. Will try to return from the fest with some insight...

May 28, 2014 at 2:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

Fantastic behind the scenes film! Really looking forward to the next instalment and will definitely rent your feature when it comes out.

May 29, 2014 at 3:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jonathan

Thanks Jonathan! Stoked you like it. We have two more videos coming as we ramp up to release.

May 29, 2014 at 3:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
director, producer, dp

Just read parts 1 - 4 of your series on Menthol! Thanks for being so candid and thorough. I have to say, one thing I wish I had learned in undergrad film school was Festival 101 and Self-Distribution 210. I learned all about how to make a short film, especially the technical side, but the real-world business side has been a huge learning experience for me. My thesis short got picked up for distribution by Gaiam TV before it ever got into a festival, and out of the 50+ festivals I submitted to, it only got into 2. I was shocked. I got distributed and won Best Director at one festival, and rejected by almost all others! "How does this make sense?!" I thought. Still, getting my first royalty check in the mail was pretty nice. I won't give up!

Luckily, all of this has taught me a lot, and I'll certainly reference your articles once I move onward to my first feature (which will have to wait until after grad school. Haha).

June 11, 2014 at 12:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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