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Case Study: How Richard Ledes connected with his audience for the release of his new film ADIEU LACAN

We have been helping Richard Ledes with the distribution and marketing of his new film Adieu Lacan which launched today on iTunes and Amazon.

ADIEU LACAN, starring David Patrick Kelly and Ismenia Mendes, portrays the successful analysis of a young woman who after two miscarriages and the possible loss of her marriage, travels to Paris in 1972 to undergo psychoanalytic treatment with the maverick French analyst, Jacques Lacan. As you probably know, Lacan, is considered one of the pre-eminent figures of European thought and critical theory at the end of the 20th century.

Richard wanted to not only create an audience for this film, but for all of his films, past and future, all of which touch on psychoanalysis in some way. His next film is Vienna 1913, based on a play of the same name by the late French psychoanalyst and playwright Alain Didier-Weill. Adieu Lacan is based on two works by Betty Milan a Brazilian psychoanalyst and writer, “Goodbye, Doctor” and “Lacan’s Parrot.”

The priority was to connect with people interested in Lacan, psychoanalysis, critical theory, philosophy etc. While these don't appear to be large audience niche's - worldwide they comprise sizeable and vibrant communities. The most logical first step was to connect with psychoanalytic organizations around the world. Richard started a screening series with these groups in September 2021. Since Richard is prepping a new film and the screenings involve in-depth two hour long post-screening discussions, he decided to limit these to three a week and had so many requests that he started turning some down - until I convinced him to let groups continue to screen without him, especially since much of this audience is in Latin America and the film does not have formal distribution there yet.

Based on his audience, his need to collect email addresses to build his email list, and his desire to place all of his films on one platform, I suggested that he use Eventive for these screenings so that he could sell tickets instead of a flat-fee license to the organizations. Note - when you sell a flat-fee license, which is common in our world, it can be more difficult to get email addresses for the attendees.

After each screening, Richard’s team (note he is not doing this himself) emails the attendees to request that they opt-in to his email list and get their feedback to the film. Richard can use this feedback in various ways - for instance quotes from prominent psychoanalysts on his website such as:

“... a gem of a film; in my opinion a true masterpiece that so gently, subtly and accurately portrays an analytic treatment, and more specifically a treatment that proceeds along the lines of a Lacanian cure.” — Mavis Himes, Psychoanalyst and author of "The Power of Names."

“Freud thought a film could never transmit what happens in an analysis...but I am quite sure if Freud saw this film he would fall in love with it... at last psychoanalysis has reached the cinema.”
— Marco Antonio Cortinho Jorge, Corpo Freudiano do Rio de Janeiro

For Richard these screenings have had multiple benefits: “The online screenings with people interested in psychoanalysis have been just amazing. On any given day I am speaking with people in Toronto or San Francisco or Columbia or Mexico. I’ve received numerous invitations to countries around the world and feel intimately connected with my audience. As a filmmaker it's just great.”

One thing that I discovered in working with Richard is that he had retained rights to his previous films and that these rights had reverted to him. These include A Hole in the Head starring Michelle Williams, The Caller and Fred Won’t Move Out both starring Elliot Gould, Foreclosure starring Michael Imperioli, The Dark Side, and the documentary, No Human Is Illegal.

For VOD distribution we reached out to several companies eventually landing with Passion River - not only for Josh Levin’s (Head of Acquisitions at Passion River) love of the film, but because he was willing to take on the distribution of all of Richard’s previous films and place them on Amazon (TVOD - transaction VOD/rentals/purchase) and Tubi and other AVOD (ad-supported VOD) platforms. Older fiction films with notable actors have had a good amount of success on AVOD. This is another reason I advise filmmakers to keep distribution deals short, retain as many rights to your films as possible and track when your deals end.

We revamped Richard's professional website  to include these previous films and where they were available to watch. We also created a low level ad campaign around the release of these films to not only help promote their re-release but to help build audience and awareness for the release of Adieu Lacan. Our CPM (cost per thousand impressions) ranged from a very respectable/low $5.64-$8.43. Our Cost Per Link Click was also very good ranging from $.10-$0.14. What we learned from this campaign allowed us to start our campaign for Adieu Lacan with a cost per Video Thru Play of $0.03 and a low CPM of $4.33.

Press for VOD releases can be very tough - most film journalists are inundated not only with the fortunately increasing number of theatrical releases but with the avalanche of content from streamers. Whether it makes sense to bring on a publicist for a VOD campaign is a case by case decision. However, since this campaign was about building a long term relationship between Richard and his audience - and to expand that audience - Richard decided that it made sense to bring on publicists who would focus on niche press as much or more than film press. We decided to bring on a publicity team who has experience in the film and health space: Prana PR. Because the film concerns a woman turning to psychoanalysis to deal with her inability to get pregnant, Prana suggested that they pitch to parenting and infertility publications and blogs.

However - most importantly we asked them to pitch to a list of publications related to psychoanalysis, philosophy, critical theory and art that most directly pertain to the subject matter of the film and Richard's audience. So far this is the group that we have had the most success with.

If you take a look at Adieu Lacan - drop me and Richard a line if you liked it!