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Mark

HOT DOCS DISTRIBUTION GURUS' PANEL TRANSCRIPT




It was so great to be on an IRL panel hosted by Winnie Wang and co-panelists Rachel Gordon and Scott Glosserman at Hot Docs 2023. We talked about goals to creating your own path beyond a dependence on gatekeepers in this down sales market.  We also talked about how funders and film orgs need to step up to start helping filmmakers connect with audiences and not just focus on making more films. 


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Here is an excerpt of one of my diatribes during the panel:

"The key things that are important - I'll probably say this multiple times:  knowing what your goals are, understanding who your audience is, connecting with that audience early and understanding what your resources are and saving resources for distribution and not relying on gatekeepers to decide whether your film get seen or not are essential. Those aspects of your release are fundamentally the same and have been the same for decades and certainly the same since 2007, when the film market collapsed in advance of the overall market collapse. So in a sense, we're going through another film market collapse. And filmmakers, unfortunately, whenever there's a boost in sales (after a collapse) kind of think, "Oh, the halcyon days of acquisitions are back", and then they stop doing best practices such as what I just outlined. People need to hunker down and go back to best practices. The other thing is that, I think it's really important, hopefully we'll talk about this later, is that the distribution community, especially funders and organizations, need to start finally recognizing that distribution of marketing is important. It's half the battle for filmmakers and funders need to stop only supporting making films and need to start supporting the distribution of the films that they helped make and other films as well."

Monday Morning Musings by Ted Hope


As you probably know Ted Hope and I have done some things together - and you also probably know he has a prolific Substack going that he pivoted to when Musk started destroying Twitter. I really loved his post Monday about independent film and end times capitalism - (which Ted jokingly said he wrote for me). Excerpt and link below.

I was going to include some photos from our party at Tribeca which we co-hosted with Portrait, The Film Collaborative and The Gotham. But while it was a great party and I got to meet some amazing filmmakers - I found out two days after our event that two of the most incredible people who have poured their heart and soul into The Gotham (and who I worked with for years as part of The Filmmaker Lab) were fired over zoom just two days before the event. My guess is that the Filmmaker Lab (which these two people were instrumental in running) and which had been put on pause will probably not return. In addition, the week before our event, it was announced that the foundational Gotham Project Market which helped launch so many careers and wonderful films was cancelled this year because of the writers' strike. My fear is that it too won't return as The Gotham pivots to a Gotham Week partnership with Variety.  As Brian Newman intimated about last week in his always insightful Sub-Genre newsletter perhaps Penske (who owns most of the trade publications and SXSW) might just purchase The Gotham (although theoretically non-profits cannot be bought). This would be very sad - but hopefully that won't happen and the Project Market will return.  All of this does indicate changes in our ecosystem - and as Brian, Ted, I and others have noted - this is not always for the best. 

But this newsletter is not all doom and gloom - and there are a number of references throughout about needing to carve paths that are gatekeeper proof - so with that in mind - check out these two new crazy fun paranomal webseries by my former asst Fen Alankus. Realizing that the current funding structures and platforms will not support their intersectional approach they are crowdfunding - going straight to their audience and while I know you are all tired of crowdfunding - I hope you will check out and perhaps support their work on Kickstarter. It's not only a worthy project - but it is time again for creators to support each others work. 12 days left and halfway to their goal - let's try to push them over the edge!
I should try to find the article that I read a number of years ago where I believe it was one of the heads of a major streamer indicating that it was their intention to take over/destroy Hollywood within 10 years. Well they did it a lot faster than I or anyone imagined.  And didn't it seem so good while they and the other streamers were stocking their libraries? Well they not only have taken down Hollywood - but they are in the process of severely impacting - perhaps decimating - the independent film ecosystem.   (Note - it's interesting that this new tech panacea - or so it's purported or starts out to be - often ends up crushing what we love.  Perhaps think about this the next time you use ChatGPT. Didn't the government used to at least try to regulate technology that could destroy us?)

So I was entranced by this week's Monday Morning Musings by Ted Hope on his Substack (and if you don't subscribe already you should): "They Are Looting The Store Or Are The Media Bosses’ Greedy Moves Better Described As "The Great Dismantling"?"

I'll treat you to the first two paragraphs which should inspire you to read more:

"Is it just the FKA The Film Biz, or is it something bigger? Is it End Times or the end of capitalism? Was it a perfect storm of free money and new technology that stimulated an abandonment of what once was a magic beanstalk? By “magic beanstalk” I mean folks earning a decent living doing what they love — that’s what was FKA The Film Biz once was able to deliver. And now it is no more.
Maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe it is the end of the greedy scorched earth attitude of those that pull the strings — those that are willing to burn it all down if they can pad their wallets with a few coins more. Lucky for us that sometimes the ugly others do, shines a light on those that still have a heart. Now that we are losing so much of what we once enjoyed, maybe we can make stronger demands for better behavior from those at the top. Can we now see there is a better way and it is time to build it?"