You are viewing the old version of the Film Festival Secrets blog. Please visit the new site and sign up for the newsletter with exclusive content.

Distribution & Consumption in 2009

The face of yesterdayRoger Erik Tinch (art & online director at CineVegas) pens a few thoughts on the future of how we will consume films in the next year and how they'll be delivered to us. Most interesting to me were his thoughts on physical media:

Most recently THE DARK KNIGHT, selling 10 million units, and MAMMA MIA! THE MOVIE, selling 2 million units in it’s first day, have done huge blockbuster sales amidst a grim economic backdrop. The fact that these films exist in HD on iTunes hasn’t slowed down their plastic disc counterparts. Now I’m not saying online distribution won’t succeed, I’m just saying it will succeed, but only in the rental realm. Instead of popping on down to your local Blockbuster you’ll instead power up your Xbox or TiVo and order something while in your pajamas.

While this makes sense from a certain perspective, I have become completely disenchanted with the idea of owning a DVD library. Maybe it's just the fact that this panoply of DVDs overwhelms my smallish living space or that being a new parent has made movie-watching time a rare and precious thing, but I'm looking forward to the day when these shiny plastic discs can be housed completely on a vast (and cheap) hard disk or, better yet, hosted in "the cloud" for quick and easy retrieval on command.

Read Distribution and Consumption in 2009 on the CineVegas Blog.

BTW, that's not Roger in the picture, that's my former college roommate Scott -- but the fact that movies were once stored on laserdiscs bigger than the human head always makes me laugh.

Why didn't I get into Sundance/Slamdance?

HeidiFilmmaker and author Heidi van Lier has a new blog over at Film Independent and her first subject to tackle, naturally, is the immortal question: "Why didn't I get into Sundance/Slamdance?"

There are a lot of hurt feelings out there this week, some people are actually questioning if they should ever even attempt another film, others are pissed and shouting how much they despise the programmers of either festival (I’m included as one of those programmers), and still others are just depressed, feeling defeated, and not sure what to do next.

You should certainly read Heidi's answer (and check out her book), but I have to turn the question around. With thousands of films submitted each year (about 8000 to Sundance alone, according to a recent estimate) and only a few hundred programmed (even if you include Slamdance's 100+ titles), fewer than 1% of the films received by these festivals are programmed. In what other kind of competition do contestants enter knowing that they have less than one chance in a hundred of getting in (based solely on the judgment of other human beings) and then get sore -- in some cases even violently angry -- when they don't win?

This is meant more as a reality check than a lecture, though there are certainly Sundance rejects who could use the lecture. Those, however, are the people who will not pick themselves up and move on to the next thing. Those are the people who won't look at the year's worth of worthy festivals laid out before them and decide that there are exciting and prosperous days ahead. Those are the people who will fail to buckle down, create a festival strategy for themselves, and apply accordingly.

And guess what? Those are the people whose films you won't see at SXSW or IFF Boston or Oxford or Seattle or Austin or Ann Arbor or the multitude of other deserving festivals that kick ass each year. Sure, it would be nice to play Sundance or Slamdance and take part in the madness that is January in Park City. It would also be nice to win the lottery or find yourself at a dinner party seated across from Scarlett Johansson. The difference is that with talent and persistence you can work your way up to Park City. Persistence applied to the other dreams will net you an empty wallet and a restraining order, respectively.

Sorry, Scarlett.

Creating reminders for film festival deadlines (screencast)

Creating Reminders for Film Festival Deadlines from Film Festival Secrets on Vimeo.

The first of a series of video tutorials on useful tools you can use to make your life on the festival circuit easier. With Sundance and Slamdance announcing their slates, a number of filmmakers are looking into their festival options for the rest of the year -- only to find that the deadlines for many Spring festivals have already gone by.

Don't miss any more deadlines! Use these free web tools to send yourself automated reminders when the dates approach.

This video is available to share on Vimeo and YouTube.

Rant on The Death of Indie Film as a Business Model

HD for Indies founder Mike Curtis:

I’m not saying it isn’t possible to make a good, worthy, financially successful independent film.

I’m just saying there’s no proven, valid, viable business model where it makes sense for investors to put money into it.

And in this wretched crashing economy, I think the days of the vanity, ego-driven, support-the-arts investor support of indie films are OVER.

My friend wondered what this would mean for moviemaking in the future - would this kill off future generations of talent?

In a way, I kind of hope so. A lot of movies are being made that, frankly, shouldn’t be. We can count on the talented and committed making the effort to get their stories told. Bravo. But probably 80+% of film school grads are going to be moths to the flame - poof - nobody saw that tiny flash of color, weren’t looking, and it is gone forever.

I'm going to pass this one on without comment, except to say that Mike must have had one helluva bad day.

Read Mike's entire rant.

Tom Hall on The 2008 International Film Festival Summit


I left the IFFS wishing I could stay and do more. I have already made plans to attend in 2009 and would recommend the experience to any film festival worker; It is a terrific opportunity to talk about nuts and bolts away from the pressure of film markets and festival screening schedules.

This is exactly the way I feel about IFFS in general. Though I and many others have thoughts regarding the panels and general format of the annual conference, this year's event proved invaluable as a chance to touch base with old friends, forge new contacts, and put faces to the personalities I only meet by phone or e-mail. I hope everyone else finds it as useful, and that they'll keep coming back even as the conference struggles towards the ultimate goal of making all of its component events relevant to a wildly diverse set of attendees.

For the rest of Tom's thoughts click here. I have more detailed notes (including the notes on my own panel about new media and marketing) that I'll be posting later this week and early next.

Tomorrow is the final postmark deadline for submitting to SXSW

The details are here, but the basic info is that you need to fill out the form online and get your DVD in the mail by tomorrow, December 12 2008.

The Film Panel Notetaker: top panels of 2008

If you're unfamiliar with the Film Panel Notetaker, it's time to fire up the bookmark machine and get yourself a cup of coffee. With coverage of film-related panels from festivals and conferences across the country, this site will keep you reading for a while.

This week Chief Notetaker Brian Geldin reflects on the what happened on the site in 2008 and on his favorite panel discussions. It's well worth clicking over, so long as you're prepared to lose a few hours looking over the notes.

International Film Festival Summit Day 1

If what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, then we're all wasting our time.

If, on the other hand, we all retain memories of these three days, then a lot of good could come out of the Film Festival Summit held in Vegas this week. The Summit, positioned in early December when very few festivals are held and just about anyone in the film fest industry could participate, is a chance for festival staffers and other industry types to get together and talk shop. Though there are occasional grumbles about the location, programming, or expense of attending, no one denies that the chance to be in a room with a 200+ other festival directors -- from the smallest startup to the biggest of the big boys -- is invaluable.

The first day was technically only a half day but when it bleeds into the late night you can definitely say you've put in a full day's work. The keynote speech by Rick Allen of Snagfilms was followed by a panel about the relationship between panels and distribution. These, however, felt secondary to the networking marathon that took place immediately afterwards on the exhibit floor and then migrated to a nearby restaurant.

I'm going to spare you the gory details in favor of getting down to the show in time for the morning panel with programmers Trevor Groth (Sundance, Cinevegas) and Gary Meyer (Telluride) speaking on "The Art and Philosophy of Curating a Film Festival." I'm guessing that those of you reading will care more about that than about "Board Development for Your Festival" or "Creating Value for Festival Sponsors."

Ultimately, however, this is good for filmmakers. Smaller festivals will definitely benefit from learning about the conventions created by their larger counterparts (even if they decide to flaunt those conventions) and the larger fests will be reminded that filmmakers have a world of choices (large and small) outside their own events. More to come.

Live in or near Vegas? Volunteer for the International Film Festival Summit


The International Film Festival Summit (IFFS) is currently seeking volunteers for its upcoming 5th annual edition taking place December 7-9 in Las Vegas. Volunteers at the IFFS will be engaged in a working atmosphere that exudes passion for the promotion and advancement of film and, in particular, film festivals. And, this is an opportunity to work at a one-of-a-kind Summit geared specifically towards film festival professionals – actually it’s the ONLY event of its kind! To learn more please visit their website.

Volunteers will also have some of the same opportunities as the IFFS attendees, which includes being able to sit in on various educational and inspirational keynotes, presentations and panel sessions designed specifically for film festivals. The overall experience will allow participants the chance to meet numerous professionals in the independent film, entertainment and film festival community. Truly a unique opportunity to hear insights on an industry that one might not normally have the privilege of having access to. If interested in being a valuable member of the 2008 IFFS, please contact: Lori Douglass at 702-430-6113 or

I will be in attendance at the Summit this year; this will be my third year returning to the Summit and I can vouch for the fact that it is a one-of-a-kind event.

[via the Cinevegas newsletter]