We know that filmmakers are looking for new ways to think about distribution. We hear it on our consultations, at film festivals and our residencies that we host. We often hear questions like: “Should I consider a non-exclusive agreement with a distributor?”, “How can I use Facebook and YouTube to release my film?”, and of course, “How can I increase the access of my film to organizations who are working on the issues?”
These are great questions, and we’re seeing many filmmakers creating new paths and finding innovative solutions to these questions.
I talked with Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar, the filmmakers of Made In L.A., about their audience engagement campaign. They told me that it was important for them to consider how distribution and audience engagement could work together, and this is exactly what they are doing with their screening kit. The kit is available to grassroots organizations and comes with six DVDs plus promotional materials and a toolkit on how to host a screening that’s tied to action.
You may be thinking: why would an organization want six DVDs? Well, they can use one for the event, and sell the other five to make their money back. This reduces the hurdle of paying for the film’s screening rights – an obstacle that too often acts a barrier for small organizations that need relevant media. Almudena and Robert spoke confidently about this distribution model being a piece of their fundraising efforts, demonstrating that it meets their needs as working artists.
To find out more about the distribution and funding model that Made in L.A. is using, you can check out a field report by the Center for Social Media and an article on the International Documentary Association’s website.
Another innovation we’re seeing is the release of chapters of a film during its production. This is currently being put into play with Robert Greenwald’s Rethink Afghanistan. The New York Times wrote:
“Rethink Afghanistan” is being shaped both as a film and a campaign at the same time. Mr. Greenwald is already posting installments on the film’s Web site, RethinkAfghanistan.com, and also on YouTube… His current subject, Afghanistan, is especially time sensitive. President Obama has already ordered 17,000 more troops to the country and is on the verge of outlining a new strategy. Given that backdrop, “it didn’t seem to make sense to make a film that would come out even six months from now,” Mr. Greenwald said.
Although the film will be released in chucks online, Greenwald is still planning on releasing a DVD and opening the film in theaters. With over 41 thousand signatures to a petition asking for congressional hearings on Afghanistan offered on the film’s site, a community is already building around the film.
As new models emerge we will continue to highlight them, and we welcome you to share your thoughts with us – and the field – by leaving a comment below.
Keep trying ; social media can be a powerful distribution mechanism for cuase related films.