INDIESTREET

Last week, both Slamdance Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival announced their exciting 2017 feature film competition lineups. This week, both followed up those initial reveals by rounding out their full festival programs with the unveiling of their much anticipated short film and special screening lineups. Dozens upon dozens of both new and familiar names and their films (including Indie Street Film Festival Favorite Jim Cummings, director of this year's narrative short winner "Thunder Road") will be making their way to Park City next month. Indie Street can't wait to see the crop of talent that blossoms out of what looks like another amazing launch to the festival season and new year! Check out the full lineup of shorts for Slamdance Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival and get ready for an onslaught of new narrative, documentary, off the wall, and animated talent!

Being honest about your motives is the first step toward a clear path to a successful film production and distribution.  And it’s a healthy habit for anyone entering a new life-consuming project; starting a new company, getting married, or in this case, shooting a film.

Do you want your film to change the world?  Do you want to make money so you can make your next film?  Do you have something to prove to yourself?  An honest answer in the early stages can do wonders for a filmmaker in finding a workable distribution path, uncovering a forthright story, and figuring out an appropriate amount of money and energy to expend on the project.  (Please note: An answer like “I am creative and want to express myself” misses the scope. This is a reflective question for professionals or budding professionals who live in the reality of scarce resources and time who will express themselves creatively regardless of their path)

Human beings are motivated by different factors, but when I was only 19 years young, a drunk man who I was serving steak to explained to me that motivation could be broken down into the ‘4 Fs’.

The guy seemed like a good tipper, so I let another table’s diet coke die at the service bar.   He told me, “Son, if you remember anything in business remember the four F’s…everyone is motivated by one of ‘em and when you figure out which one, you can get them to work for ya…” “Fortune, Fame, Familiarity, and Fear” he said. This lonely, mouse-nosed gentleman was speaking a little more on negotiations or employee motivation I think, but here I am going to examine the 4 F’s in relation to filmmaking…Again, it is understood that your underlying motive is to tell a story that can touch people, but that in itself is not enough reason to make the movie you want, and surely is not enough information for you to know how to distribute this story.   Motivation:  Fortune Suggested Path:  Use all available connections & extensive market research to build a choice business plan, then start making (many) movies. If you can’t raise money: Network further, design a new business plan, & repeat til movies and money are made.    To make money is typically not the first-time filmmakers motivation, but it can become so quickly for those that want to continue to make films. I have a friend who is a part of a company that started with two feature films from a slate of 10 films. Both flics caught some critical acclaim but lost money.  The CEO realized that he was not in this business to get a pat on the back from someone he didn’t know or care about: he gained clarity of his motives and scrapped the rest of the film slate.  He realized that his motive was, and had to be, to make a profit.  This sounds extremely cold and capitalistic for an ‘artist’, but in truth he just loved making movies so he knew he had to make money in order to keep doing it.  He wanted to put out good films of course, but the perfection of the product was not as important as the pleasure of the process, and there was no shame in that especially if he could make select audiences happy while profiting. The company gained some important foreign sales and TV contacts through the first films, so decided to start making low budget films on advances and eventually started producing films for TV.  The company is flourishing now and the partners are happily making a few pretty good films each year because they were honest about motives.   Motivation: Fame (Recognition) Suggested path: Varies depending on from whom you’d like recognition.   Everyday fame is becoming a more fleeting enterprise.  There are numerous niche pockets of fame that develop and disappear on a daily basis, so we will go with ‘Recognition’. The term recognition is even quite broad, but I think this is where most will fall into when thinking of approaching a new film.  And no matter how selfless the product, there is still some ideal recognition that will follow if all your goals are reached.  If you can figure out where your film would be ideally recognized before embarking on the filmmaking journey, you will have a more reasonable time creating the story and finding that story’s distribution path. For example, maybe your film aims to bring awareness to world hunger through glaring statistics and a precise plan of action.  Of course the best reward would be the end of world hunger, but if your film had a huge hand in this, of course you will be recognized...so maybe your ideal recognition might be from Action Against Hunger.  How can you create your story and distribute your film in order to directly make that type of impact?  Maybe you need to adjust your million dollar budget and forget the Oscar qualifying theatrical push- cut production down to 100k and allot 900k to pay ninjas to deliver the heartbreaking film at night to the 100 richest men in the world. Or maybe when you realize that the end of world hunger is your true motive, you decide that a film might not even be your most effective route to effect change.  Maybe you remember you have a connection high up at a fast food giant who would be turned off by your biased film, but might actually help you get a meeting to make a proposal to change some of their processes in order to cut waste and feed the hungry. Be honest about what you want to change, what you have at your disposal, and then figure out if and how you can make the best film to tell the stories that will make that change.  Getting your film shown on the big screen might feel good to you, but is it the best way to get your film to the desired audience?   Motivation: Familiarity Suggested path: Don’t make the film.    Individuals that are motivated by familiarity, in my opinion, should not make films.  These humans make wonderful programmers, mechanics, general store owners, and a slew of other jobs that are helpful to the community. Likewise, filmmakers that have made films and are motivated to continue to do so because they are comfortable should not continue to make films…it is one of the reasons that Hollywood puts out a significant amount of crap. If you have no passion about making a film and are just going through the motions, please find something else you are passionate about.  Executives need to find the balls to recognize this complacency in directors and producers and take risks on fresh, risk taking talent. Maybe then we would start to see some change in story, technique, and overall product innovation in Hollywood.   Motivation: Fear Suggested Path: Make an inexpensive but passionate film about, for, or in dedication to your family.   This is the hardest motivating factor to be honest about, because it is most primal and it is probably true that we are all motivated in part by this type of fear:  the fear of being forgotten.  You have amazing thoughts and stories in your brain and what happens if it is never published or put into a film? There are hundreds of thousands of films being made that will not achieve any type of timelessness, but if you create an amazing film for your family, yours will. If you can be honest with yourself and say that this is a main reason that you want to make the film, then congratulations on your honesty. The path is simple, you need to create a micro budget film with the utmost passion, care, and relevance to your own family and your/their story.   Who cares if it takes years to perfect, it will be there for generations. Put your love and passion and every ounce of storytelling brilliance you can muster into it, and then distribute it to your family.   You will never be forgotten by the people that matter the most: your family & their descendants.  They may even send it to others and with that much genuine attention it surely has a chance of becoming loved by outsiders too.  Even if it is just a 5 minute long, but genuinely crafted story that is a message from you to your wife (or son who passed, or brother who went to the marines, or…) your family will pass that down forever just to show the type of love and support that your family was built on years prior. There all types of viable reasons to do things, but if more people who created Indie films laced their films with the candid fear of being forgotten and the resolve of a letter to family descendants, then even if Indie became more specific, the world of film would be a far better place. Indie Street is still searching for these authentic filmmakers to round off our group of award winning storytellers.  Be honest about your motivation, create a film & goals that best fit, then put all of yourself into it.   Looking forward, Jay Webb

Will the signature be in yellow??? All jokes aside, Shelley Jackson has a very unique story telling style.  Even if it is a bit hard to follow (read backwards on her Instagram feed), her creativity and dedication is unquestionable. Her first piece was via tattooing  words on skin, this edition is written in snow, we are probably following her to follow her storytelling techniques (what's next?) than we are following her actually stories.

Louie Psihoyos' follow-up to his academy award-winning documentary promises to 'change the way we understand issues of endangered species and mass extinction.' Premiering at this Years Tribeca Film Festival on April 25th, Psihoyos declares that "We’re going to give people happy tears and yet everyone will be on the edge of their seats. I still can’t believe we’re doing what we’re doing. The last four years we’ve been creating a film that I want people to throw down their hard earned money and feel it’s the best money that they ever spent." They were still shooting footage just a week ago, which is really the type of perfectionist passion and disregard for timelines that we should expect from a great documentarian.

Are you a freelance creative but in between jobs? Creative Cares is a Non Profit Organization that connects designers, Indie filmmakers, photographers, and artists to Non-profits in their community that can benefit from their craft. Not only will they connect you with something you feel is a worthy cause, you will probably make some connections with amazing individuals who will want to promote your awesome work (and heart) to others they know. You Win, an NPO wins, and society wins.

Allan Teger is one of those artists that starts with a beautiful backdrop, and let's his imagination run from there. His "bodyscapes" series is a re invention of one of the most depicted subjects throughout the history of art: and that is the female form. We are just glad he stuck to females…no offense guys but a jungle scene on a man's body just might not strike us as art. You can buy Allan's discussion starting coffee table book here on Amazon.

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There is no such thing as art without audience.  A motion picture does not even exist without its impact on human viewers. As an independent creator without established lines of distribution, how do you build an audience that yearns for your specific stories? How do you keep them excited about your stories of the future? In today’s market, your response to this question may be the difference between a “one & done” and having a long, sustainable career as a filmmaker. Rather than answer the question in hypotheticals, I will instead take look at a film that has been particularly innovative in their building of a core audience. Hopefully from this others will be inspired to create their own authentic KickStarter campaigns within their self distribution efforts.  Ownership equals accountability: DIY distribution and marketing liberates a filmmaker from an evil third party who might mis-package their film, deliver it to the wrong audience, or even worse not give their seedling the attention it deserves. While this ownership sounds grand in theory, there are 2 catches: (1) there will be no-one else to point the finger at if your film fails and (2) you are going to have to do much more work. Yes, at IndieStreet we champion a group mentality and “do it together”(DIT) over “do it yourself”(DIY), but even on IndieStreet if your film release does not meet your expectations, there is really only one person that is held accountable. Your sisters and uncles and cousins in the Indie Street family will help as much as they can, but this is your baby.  The two IndieStreet partner filmmakers we will feature probably couldn’t be any more different individuals or have more distinct films. The first, “Cam Girlz” directed by Sean Dunne, tackles selling sex on the Internet and emerging forms of human connection. The next, “Tanzania: A journey Within” directed by Sylvia Caminer, documents an African voyage and the resulting personal and societal inner reflection. One of their crowd building campaigns was in the middle of production and the other was leading up to a limited theatrical release. The differences between these two documentaries and their directors only strengthens my encouraging argument: No matter the stage of your career or the stage of your film, you have the ability to execute innovative & authentic strategies to build a sustainable audience.  Film 1: Cam Girlz Documentary (www.camgirlzdoc.com) Director: Sean Dunne – (Oxyana, winner of Best new Doc filmmaker at Tribeca 2013) Promotional Campaign: Crowdfunding campaign that doubled as an audience building promotion. Sean completed a $65,000 KickStarter campaign by partially targeting an untapped audience market. Stage of film during campaign: in Production  1. So Sean, After deciding on your subject matter for Cam Girlz, did you take time to figure out the core audience for your film? If so, how did this help in these early stage promotional efforts? The great mystery and challenge of being someone who makes films for an Internet audience is figuring out exactly who is watching your films. It’s really important for a director in my situation to understand their audience, so I can more effectively hone my message toward them during fundraising and marketing. It’s not always going to be the case but with Cam Girlz we have a bit of a double edged sword in terms of audience – film lovers who have followed my work through the years and the built in viewership that the women we are documenting bring to the table – with very little overlap. The Kickstarter campaign was the perfect opportunity to bring those audiences together. One of the strategies that really helped was launching the campaign after we had a good portion of the film shot and had teasers and trailers in the bag. We needed to show both audiences how we were going to treat this subject matter, not just imply it. In the end that’s what led to the film being successfully funded. 2. This was your second successful KickStarter campaign. What can you share about your experience to date with crowdfunding (as a community growth tool)? What we learned with the Kickstarter campaign for Oxyana was that it was about so much more than just raising money. The Kickstarter established a dialogue about the issues raised in the film and ultimately proved to be PR that we could have never otherwise afforded. Even if the dollars came up short, we were raising awareness about the social issue and attracting passionate supporters even before the film was made. That first campaign helped us identify our core audience and build a grassroots effort that led us to Tribeca, and eventually, to successful self-distribution. Without traditional resources at our disposal all we can do is absorb and assimilate, so when it came time to fund Cam Girlz it was a no brainer to go back to Kickstarter. This time around we really understood the power of crowdfunding and what it meant for growing our audience. 3.  The path for Cam Girlz is still unwritten, but can you discuss why you decided to jump into a self self distribution path with Oxyana so shortly after it won awards at the Tribeca film festival? The idea of taking Oxyana on the film festival circuit for a year or more seemed unnecessary given where my audience comes from in the first place…the Internet. Rather than chase something that others said we were supposed to, we decided to trust ourselves and what we knew. We knew we had the means to self distribute and some good buzz coming off our success at Tribeca, and we knew that all of the initial deals that were put in front of us were bullshit. Putting our film into the machine would have only slowed the process of getting it to a wide audience. So we stayed small, focused, and in the moment. Eventually we had an epiphany of the obvious…that the film should be available to audiences while it still had all this momentum. And the decision paid off. There are a lot of old guard ways of doing things that filmmakers blindly subscribe to when it comes to getting your work out there. We don’t have to be beholden to festival programmers or sales agents anymore. We need to take the opportunities in front of us, and not be afraid to start from scratch and make this more sustainable for ourselves. We have personally been lucky that Oxyana has been successful, but honestly, even if our means of distribution was an utter failure, I’d wear it as a badge of honor. I’d rather retain ownership and fail hard than buy into a system that never gave a fuck about me to begin with. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sean’s final statements should hit home for all filmmakers. Do not be afraid of failure or of what someone will say if a big studio does not pick up your picture. With current technologies, by branding yourself as a filmmaker or group of filmmakers, you can become your own studio machine. This is of course only if you put out quality content and focus on building your audience in authentic ways like Sean and his wonderful producer, Cass Greener, have done. By tackling a unique subject matter, Sean and Cass have not only fed their craving for spelunking the caverns of human character, but they have also tapped into a whole new market. Probably half of the audience of Cam Girlz will be from the world of internet sex, not from the already saturated indie film community. In my opinion, at least a quarter of them will be so intrigued by the film’s non-boob storyline that they will start to follow the film’s director and his career.   Easily thousands of viewers that probably have 0 interest in indie film, but now they have an interest in Sean Dunne.   This new audience segment, on top of the fans from Oxyana, on top of the fans from IndieStreet and even this simple post will all roll Sean over into his next film and continue to grow his core audience even further. Uncovering an untapped market segment isn’t easy, but if you are a great storyteller and you focus on strategic audience building at the early stages of your film…you can create a sustainable filmmaking career and gain some invaluable Indie street cred like my man Sean Dunne. -Jay Webb