Dave Nuttycombe posted notes from the panel session “Distribution Now: Strategic Thinking for the Feature Doc” at the recent Silverdocs documentary film festival and conference (via Scott Kirsner).
The other painful insight came from [Emerging Pictures president and CEO Ira] DuBowski, who noted that “the era of just attending a movie is over.” The theatrical market is “screwed up,” said [documentary film producer Sandi] Deutchman, and picking up on DuBowski’s “event” point, noted that with more big screen TVs and home theaters, there is less reason to go out. […]
So the new distribution strategy is “all about what you can do that’s analog.” That is, bringing people together and offering them something that “they can’t get from the Internet.” Loyal audiences love community. To that end, Browne mentioned the film Note By Note: The Making of Steinway L1037. The piano company agreed to support the film by putting the namesake product on “tour,” trucking it to screenings and hiring Steinway artists to play it at shows.
[…] DuBowski’s idea is to turn cinema into a town hall experience, “turn the movie into a movement,” creating “evenings” with activists and other organizations simpatico with the film’s subject. To that end, he looks for a partner rather than a distributor. And do not give away exclusive DVD rights, he cautioned.
These thoughts closely echo the views expressed in the recent Business Online article, “Indie Filmmakers Hit Their Target.” Filmmaker Lance Weiler has also been advocating this approach to building on audience for independent films.
While both the BusinessWeek article and the Silverdocs panel focused on documentary films, Weiler points out that the same approach can work for narrative films — particularly (as I argued in an earlier post) in genres with a loyal fan base like horror, sci-fi, and film noir.