Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Challenge

We're two weeks out from the festival and the challenge is on. Move over Donald Trump, this ain't no game show. It's the real deal.

Filmmakers are faced with two tasks at any Los Angeles festival. They have to fill the house, and they have to get the Industry to take notice of them.

But really, that's just one job. Of the films that have had the most success after their Dances With Films screening, almost all of them played to overflowing houses.

Think about it. An acquisitions executive sits in an empty theatre to watch a movie with no big names. Eh.

Same executive has to push his or her way through a crowd to find the filmmaker to make sure there's a seat available.

Both movies may be of the same subjective quality. In fact, some might argue that the movie playing to an empty house could be "better than" (whatever that means) the full house, but it is the acquisition exec's job to find movies that people will come out to see.

Filmmakers are artists, yes. They are part of the performing arts, which means they are show people. Your festival screening is a show. It's a show in the theatre and a show in the lobby. As the leader of this show you have to tap into your inner P.T. Barnum.

You have to figure out what is special about your film – above and beyond the thousands of things to do in Los Angeles at the same time as your movie. Then you have to figure out a way to tell the people who might be into your show that it's happening.

None of that is easy.

The only advice I can give is that Los Angeles is a different animal. You tell her you're screening a movie and it's special and great and she needs to get off her couch, or off the beach, or down from the mountains, or whatever to come out and see this amazing event, and she will say, "Hey, that's nice. It looks great. Good for you."

"Are you going to come?"

"No, but ... good for you."

On the plus side, there are over ten million people in the area. If you can find a way to talk to the percentage of the whole that will get off their butts and come to your show, then you're set.

And while you're at it, don't forget to invite an executive or two.

Good luck. Thanks for reading.


RSMellette said...

Some ideas:

Mortem - You're French. There are probably more French nationals in Los Angeles than any other city in the world besides Paris. Find them. Let them know they can spend a couple of hours listening to their native language spoken by two lovely women in beautiful black & white. If that doesn't work, tell them Jerry Lewis will be there. :)

Stalemate: You're from Winston-Salem. The University of North Carolina School of the Arts has a west coast alumni branch. They are on Facebook. Find them and get the word out.

10 Years Later: You have an amazing cast of young professionals. They should be courting a fan base as much as you are. Use that. TMZ's offices are in the same building as the theatre. Not that you want to stoop to that level, but hey, P.T. would.

Charge Over You: You've got the Christian thing going. Those guys are as organized as a Chicago Political Machine. Use that.

New York Movies - You guys often do well in LA. I bet most of your cast & crew know people out here. Often NY cast members come out to take advantage of chance to set up meetings with casting directors. Nobody networks like New Yorkers!

The Corridor: Stephen King fans will love your movie. See if you can work that angle.

That's just some ideas off the top of my head.

Zack Parker said...

SCALENE suggestions?

RSMellette said...

Like 10 Years Later, you have a rocking cast. Talk to them. Most actors who have spent any time in LA have done 99-seat theatre. They know about gorilla marketing.

Also, I bet there are big fans of Forest Gump who have websites. Give them a shout out.

Trick said...

I think I can get bodies in the seats to come see my short, but I'm wondering what angle to take to convince a manager or agent or producer of features to come out and watch some shorts? Any thoughts on that?

RSMellette said...

Just off the top of my head...

Again, use your cast. Their manager might know another manager/producer who might know...

Also, pool your resources. Is someone from the industry going to leave their office or living room to see a single short? No. To see twenty or more in an afternoon on Sunset, maybe.

Also remember, your short is your business card. Use DWF as your introduction, "My film is screening at ... blah, blah, blah." If they get back to you with, "I can't make that, can you send me a copy?" DO IT!

There are times when you want to hold a project close to your chest, but a finished short isn't one of those. Pass those suckers out like candy. Make sure your contact information is on them. If you must have a burn-in/watermark, make is subtle.

JohnW said...

I guess the last comment about shorts should also apply to those of us who didn't make the cut for DWF.

RSMellette said...

True, that. Though, having a good festival pedigree helps tremendously.

Rebecca Norris said...

Thanks, Robert, for allowing us this forum to find crew for the 2-Minute 2-Step Challenge.

Here goes:

My writing partner, Kevin, and I wrote a very funny short film, "Toasted", that was accepted to the 2-Minute 2-Step Challenge. Woo-hoo!

We need to assemble a small crew ASAP.
The shoot is next Friday, June 3rd at 9am. We have an hour to set up and then
we'll take a MAX of 2 hours to shoot. So it would be from 9am-12pm at the latest.

The completed film will be screened the next day at 2:45pm at the Laemmle 5 Theater in Hollywood
and again at the closing awards ceremony on June 9th.

We are looking for the following:

-A DP with experience with the Canon 5D SLR camera
-A boom operator
-Editor who is familiar with Adobe Premiere (would need to be available from 10:30am-2pm.)

If you are available/interested, and/or know others who are RELIABLE who would be available, please let me know ASAP!!

More info at : (official website)

Rebecca Norris
(310) 906-8097