Sundance, DIY Film Festival and DIY Distribution...

Interesting article this week in the Los Angeles Times about a Sundance screener, and the 10,000 films that are sifted through to get into the festival.  If you're there in Park City, congratulations, it's a wonderful celebration of film. In light of the bidding wars over the more celebrated entries, we wanted to weigh in on some various DIY avenues open to Filmmakers to distribute your work after the DIY Film Festival.

The opportunities for self distribution have grown exponentially every year.  A filmmaker is truly only limited to his or her imagination as to how they want to get their film out in front of the public.  We've sponsored a number of panels on the subject, and I highly recommend taking a look at what Derek Sivers has to say behind his success at - There are number of his talks posted there about self distribution - albeit that he's talking about music distribution - but his techniques apply to anyone who wants to learn how to self distribute.  His lecture, "How to sell 10,000 CD's a year" applies to filmmakers as well. Here's a list of articles from the DIY Reporter about self marketing, including film.

Recently we received a notice from Quad Cinema Four Wall Select in NYC that offers a unique opportunity - for a set fee, they will screen your film, promote it to the newspapers and allow you to qualify for the various Academy categories for the Oscars.  Here's an article about their service from IndieWire.  The upside is that your film is in a movie theater in Manhattan. If you can get a review from a newspaper, that goes a long way to selling your film to a distributor, perhaps even qualify it for the Academy awards. The downside is that your film is in a movie theater in Manhattan... you have to drum up an audience to come and see your film in that option rich environment - and as you'll see from the listed prices, it's important to fill the theater.  But this is a unique offering, and definitely worth checking into if "four walling" is the route you'd like to take.

There are other outlets that are unique. for example allows you to submit your film, your artwork, and they'll print and wrap your DVD.  It's in your hands as to the quality of the label, the quality of the film, and you're allowed to set your own price for your film.  It's a fairly simple process, that once you've gathered the materials, takes only a few hours to complete.  Their company has been bought by, so that means if you choose it, your film will also be available for paid streaming downloads.  That's a bit different than what is offered at youtube, and other places that you can earn money from the amount of page views of people watching your film.  While that is valuable, being in charge of your own sale of a DVD or streaming video seems to be more immediate.

And once you have your film digitized and ready for sale, then it's only up to your imagination as to how you want to sell it - through facebook, myspace and other social networks, you can immediately reach your audience.  By posting blogs and writing about your film, you also can draw attention to it.  And finally, once you've submitted it to festivals, gotten a positive response, then its a matter of letting those who can distribute films know about it.  But no one will be able to see your work unless you take the time to learn how to make it available to them.  Good luck!

"Film will only became an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper."  Jean Cocteau


Film Fest Celebration Set For March 4th at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood

Just a note from the Festival Programmer wishing you all a Happy New Year.

We've got a fantastic batch of films this year, and just wanted to say thank you to all the filmmakers out there who've submitted to our festival, now in its ninth year.  One never knows where the next blockbuster filmmaker is going to come from, as well as where the next poet will sprout his or her wings as a film maker.

The digital revolution has transformed film making, and by putting the ability to make compelling stories into the hands of film makers has turned out to be a boon for creativity.  Time and again we see films that are not about delivery but about content. As Thomas Vinterberg showed with his opus "Festen" (Dogma #1), which was filmed on single chip hand held digital cameras back in 1995, the more compelling the tale, the more successful the film.

Documentaries have been transformed as well - no longer hampered by the cost of footage, or the size and intrusion of cameras, filmmakers are able to go places and tells stories that were never possible before. And through the ability of story tellers to bring their tales to the public in a DIY fashion - through the internet, through their web pages, through word of mouth - has made the experience of gaining an audience truly democratic.

That being said, the ability to make a living doing what you love has remained about the same - starving artists who could only afford paint brushes and a few colors (Picasso's "Blue Period" for example) continue to make compelling and interesting stories, even if they aren't getting paid for it.  That being said, there's something to be said for doing what it is that you love, whether its painting, music or film - or all three.

The influence of the independent digital movement has been profound; one only has to look at the film makers and film making behind Oscar worthy films like "The Fighter" or "Black Swan" to see films that aren't dependent on huge budgets; they're dependent on good story telling and compelling characters. Both David Russell and Darren Aronofsky began their careers in the super low budget independent world, and their film making styles continue to be innovative and influenced by digital cinema in their work.  The use of digital footage and innovative camera work in "The Fighter" helped keep the story grounded. At the end of "The Fighter" there's even a snippet of the real brothers the story is based on - who wouldn't want to see a documentary about those two characters?

The DIY Film Festival was born out of a desire to honor and highlight those films and filmmakers who didn't spend a fortune to make films or weren't backed by large corporations - the films are made with blood sweat and tears of creativity.  It's also a venue to honor and showcase those films and filmmakers that might be overlooked by those in the so called independent cinema because their stories or format don't fit the paradigm as prescribed by the current powers that be.  As such we've honored some amazing films and film makers over the past decade.  So as we enter into the next decade of 2000, we're please that so many of you continue to craft and create such compelling films.

Last year's winner Jamie Surgener has continued to make short films, and I stopped by his Vimeo page to see what he's up to.  "Avabot" was last year's amazingly clever winner, check out his latest short film "Steve Austin vs. David Banner" here. We're in awe of Jamie's talent, and we love to keep up with previous winners and their work.  It's only a matter of time before Hollywood finds him.

We're pleased to announce that the evening soiree honoring the films has been set for March 4th at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. More details about the evening will be available soon, but last year's awards ceremony was packed, and the festival winners had a fantastic evening mingling with Hollywood notables and celebrating their films.

Home to many a Hollywood legend, the Roosevelt (directions) was also the sight for an early Oscars party.  We look forward to announcing the films and filmmakers who've made it to the finish line in February, and then look forward to spending an evening with you where we honor those films and filmmakers, and mingle with some film industry movers and shakers who can be a sounding board of how to take the next step in your filmmaking career.

Good luck to all of you and keep up the good work!

Best wishes for the New Year,
Rich Martini
DIY Festival Programmer