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!
Last year I had the pleasure of working with the No Small Matter team to help them create a theatrical release and then pivot during Covid-19 to a national streaming event. NSM Co-Producer and Impact Producer and I wrote a two part case study for Filmmaker Magazine covering the very practical steps that the NSM team took to lay the groundwork for a very successful release. Here are the first few paragraphs of the article and you can find the full article here.
No Small Matter, Part Two: Four Tips on Releasing an Independent Documentary During a Pandemic
Written by Laura Wilson Fallsgraff and Jon Reiss
Last week, we chronicled the winding but rewarding grassroots impact campaign for our feature documentary on early childhood education, No Small Matter. But we left off at a critical juncture we know many friends and colleagues faced this year — to release or not to release an indie film during a pandemic?
Last winter, our team brought on distribution strategist Jon Reiss to help determine the best way to create a final launch for the film with a theatrical and VOD release to reach beyond our grassroots outreach. With Jon we began working with Abramorama and Passion River to stage one last hurrah for No Small Matter, a film that had already been shown at nearly 1,000 screenings around the country: A 60+ city theatrical release, scheduled for, you guessed it, March 2020, including weeklong runs in New York, Los Angeles, and DC theaters leading into wider release in early April. It would all build up to the VOD release during the national Week of the Young Child, when early education advocates around the country lobby for funding and raise awareness about the importance of this issue.
Everything was looking up; we worked with Abramorama’s bookers to reach out to local early education organizations in every one of the nearly 70 cities booked to host panels and conversations focused on state or local initiatives that could drive traffic to the theaters. Our national partner organizations were ready to promote the heck out of the runs. But before we hopped on our flight to D.C. for our first press screening… lockdown.
Read the rest of the article here in Filmmaker Magazine.
Here are the first paragraphs of part one of the No Small Matter release case study. You can find the full article here.
No Small Matter - Six Tips for A Successful Grassroots Release
Written by Laura Wilson Fallsgraff and Jon Reiss
The past year has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at filmmakers, disrupting distribution timelines, cutting the legs out from under theaters, and depriving our community of opportunities for networking, sales, and press. But there have also been bright spots. While contending with major disappointments this year, many filmmakers have successfully pivoted to unique and impactful releases — models that are worth learning from and iterating on in the years ahead.
It’s tempting to reminisce upon the “before COVID” times with rose-colored glasses, but independent filmmakers were struggling to get by long before 2020. Following its completion in 2018, our own feature documentary No Small Matter had run into the familiar distribution hurdles faced by many other filmmakers. When we conceived of this impact-driven documentary about the importance of high quality early childhood education (ECE) in America, we knew it wouldn’t be a festival darling. Yet despite positive reviews (100% on Rotten Tomatoes) and grassroots energy around the project, nearly a year with a sales agent yielded no results. And then COVID hit, weeks before a nationwide theatrical release in partnership with Abramorama. An outside observer might have assumed that we were, well… screwed.
Yet without those traditional markers of success, No Small Matter has reached millions of people all over the world through more than 1,300 grassroots screenings, DIY educational distribution and 13 million social media impressions.
Read the rest of the article here in Filmmaker Magazine. Part two coming next week.
Nasrin Opens Today in Theaters Nationwide
I have been very proud to work on the campaign for Nasrin since this past summer and I hope that you will join me in watching the film this opening weekend. The film is an immersive portrait of the world’s most honored human rights activist and political prisoner, attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, and of Iran’s remarkably resilient women’s rights movement.
Purchase tickets here.
In addition, Pen America and Ms. Magazine are hosting a conversation moderated by Nicholas Kristof, introduced by Margaret Atwood with human rights advocate Kerry Kennedy, Iranian artist and activist Parastou Forouhar, NASRIN filmmakers Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross with a video message from Nasrin's husband Reza Khandan. You can sign up here.
"Her courage, like that of so many in this film, is breathtaking." NY Times
"This riveting film shines a light on one of the most enlightened, exciting and courageous people in the fight for human rights." Newsweek
From award-winning filmmakers Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross, Nasrin was secretly filmed in Iran by women and men who risked arrest to make this film. In the courts and on the streets, Nasrin has long fought for the rights of women, children, religious minorities, journalists and artists, and those facing the death penalty. In the midst of filming, Nasrin was arrested in June 2018 for representing women who were protesting Iran’s mandatory hijab law. She was sentenced to 38 years in prison, plus 148 lashes. The film features acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, and journalist Ann Curry. Narrated by Academy Award-winner Olivia Colman.
Still in prison, Nasrin recently received the 2020 Right Livelihood Award (considered the alt Nobel Prize) along with Bryan Stevenson, Lottie Cunningham Wren and Ales Bialiatski/Visasna and the Eleanor Roosevelt Prize for Global Human Rights Advancement from the ABA along with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Billie Jean King.
I hope you can watch the film this weekend and join the discussion on Monday.
The Disrupted Opens Virtually Today in Theaters Nationwide
As you know, I help filmmakers with the distribution and marketing of their films, but I only rarely actively distribute films. I came on board The Disrupted because with the election less than two months away, it is crucial and timely. The Disrupted is a beautiful film about the struggles that more and more Americans are facing to find that elusive "American Dream". We are thrilled to be working with director/producer Sarah Colt to bring her film to over 40 theaters across the country. For a full list of theaters click here. If your city isn't listed, don't worry you can access any of these theaters if you are in the United States.
THE DISRUPTED, a powerful, intimate, engaging, and informative documentary, dives deep inside the lives of three Americans working harder than ever, as their place in the middle class slips away. For a farmer, a factory worker, and an Uber driver, rising income inequality betrays the American Dream.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the fragility of the American economy, as we witness widespread business closures, skyrocketing unemployment, and pervasive racism and discrimination. As the upcoming presidential election takes center stage, each of these characters' personal stories of struggle and perseverance is not only timely, but critical to gaining insight into this exceedingly precarious time.
“The Disrupted is an indictment of the neo-liberal system, but uses subtlety, not blunt force, to get its message across. The global forces that are combing to kill the hopes and dreams of these hard-working and disparate characters are never seen or identified. But in a way of far greater reality and relevance to most ordinary Americans than Donald Trump’s odd epithet for the Coronavirus, neo-liberalism is the «invisible enemy» that is stealing American livelihoods while the country’s president fiddles away in the White House like a latter-day Nero.” Modern Times
Director Sarah Colt: "As we barrel towards the next presidential election, I believe THE DISRUPTED has the potential to spark meaningful dialogue and even unite disparate constituencies. The film demonstrates how thoroughly unsettled the middle class has become, dramatically underscoring that we have more in common than we realize.”
I hope you can join us this weekend!