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Filmmaker Magazine: "Look Your Customers in the Eye"

"Look Your Customers in the Eye" is an article by Paul Devlin, published in Filmmaker Magazine.

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Independent filmmaker Brian Paul is a man who lives his films. In that spirit, he has taken DIY film distribution to a whole new level. Street level, that is.

For the past two years, Paul has made a comfortable living by selling his hybrid fi lm Cure for the Crash…The Art of Train Hoppin’ directly from art market street stalls in New Orleans. His unique distribution strategy has proved remarkably successful. Paul claims to have sold thousands of DVDs of Cure for the Crash by personally engaging more than 100,000 people face-to-face.

“When I was a teenager in West Philly,” Paul explains, “I used to work in a pawn shop, where I learned how to help people make a decision.” Later, his aggressiveness evolved into charm as Paul took a job selling art at high-end galleries on Royal Street in New Orleans. Paul went on to use these sales skills to move DVDs of Cure for the Crash from his Vespa at historic Jackson Square in the Big Easy while simultaneously pushing hard with mailings and email blasts to attract a distribution deal.

Read the rest here!

Kickstarter Thoughts #1

Posted by Paul Devlin:

As I take my Kickstarter campaign out into the world, I have encountered what may be a fairly common sentiment among filmmakers regarding crowdfunding.  It’s paraphrased here:

“Hey your Kickstarter looks great!  Here’s the problem: I get asked so often to join crowd-funding campaigns that I have made it a policy not to back any. But I wish you the best of luck with your project!”

Here is my open response to that response:

I understand that point of view completely! In fact that was my policy exactly for the longest time.

Until of course, I started my own Kickstarter campaign...

Now, I have a new appreciation for what a nervy, risky undertaking crowdfunding is. Not only is the life of the project at stake, but so is one’s self-esteem. As filmmaker Allison Berg says, "It's like losing a popularity contest every day." The “ask” is so difficult – who wants to hassle family, friends and colleagues for money? And then what message does it send if the campaign ultimately fails? I have great respect for anyone who makes a serious effort. So I have dropped my rule and now evaluate crowdfunding requests I receive on their individual merits.

This is reinforced by the buzz at IFP Film Week a few days ago that crowdfunding for independents may have a limited window of effectiveness. Big players like Sony Pictures Classics and Disney are sniffing around crowdfunding as a potential tool to supplement their mega-marketing campaigns. Maybe there’s room for everyone. Or maybe independents will get crowded out of crowdfunding, as the whole world applies this policy to all but the loudest campaigns. It won’t be the first time artists get squeezed from the space we pioneered. So, I will embrace the moment while it lasts.

In the meantime, crowdfunding is rapidly becoming essential for independents. Not only is it the only funding option for many projects, but gatekeepers may soon be expecting it as the first step of a distribution strategy. They will be looking at the success of the campaign and the dollar figures, but also the number of backers. These will be used to evaluate the filmmaker’s social capital and the viability of his or her project. There may come a time when every independent film needs to start with a crowdfunding campaign.

As filmmakers, we may want to support the health of independent film generally by applying an alternative rule of thumb that increases backer numbers: Back every crowdfunding request with at least a single dollar.

So I encourage you to reconsider your policy and start your first crowdfunding campaign sooner rather than later.

What is your personal policy regarding requests to support crowdfunding? Are we approaching a point of saturation where filmmakers will start to withdraw from the funding process? Or will the necessity to create our own campaigns encourage us to back others more consistently?


The Front Man

 

Music Video: The Goats - "Typical American"

Post by Paul Devlin:

I used to love cranking out music videos when I was freelance editing at post-houses around New York City back in the '90s.

Here's a fun one from The Goats, directed by Richard Murray.

Freestyle - "Mr. E" (12 of 14)

Posted by Paul Devlin:

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Mr. E 'transcends' in this virtuoso improvisational performance excerpted from Freestyle - The Art of Rhyme.

The Making of Freestyle (continued)

Eventually, the hard work on the re-edit of Freestyle paid off and the movie was accepted into the Slamdance Film Festival in 2002. We had to work hard to finish, we recruited graffiti artist, EQ to do the titling work for the Chapter headings. (EQ was also a shooter and provided some priceless historical footage, including one of the angles of the Supernatural vs. Craig G battle. It took a lot of to convince him to give that up). I took EQ’s work to my edit room at CBS to trick it out with video and effects.

Check out Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme
Buy the DVD

Slam Poem: Team Albuquerque - "Calling America"

Posted by Rina Svet:

"Calling America" is a great and entertaining group effort by Team Albuquerque which comments on the state of the American society. 

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

Tame @ Lollapalooza

Posted by Paul Devlin:

Director Mark Pellington, walked into my edit suite at Chromavision one day with a bunch of surreal B&W footage, and a wild spoken word piece written and performed by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. The task was to create some interstitial content for the big screen at the Lollapalooza shows. After a few hours of editing improv, this is what we came up with.

Slam Poem: Monica Copeland - "Working Girl"

Posted by Rina Svet:

A fiery gem from Monica Copeland! As Taylor Mali put it, "Here's an example of a slam poem from 15 years ago that might well have been performed today! It is suffused with the kind of self-righteous anger that slammers would soon discover was the key to getting a high score."

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

SlamNation Outtake - Jim Fitzgerald coins the phrase Generation X

Posted by Paul Devlin:

My friend Louisa McCune introduced me to the talented literary editor, Jim Fitzgerald who was working at St. Martin’s Press when I was making SlamNation. In the movie, he gets into an interesting debate with poet Jessica Care Moore about the state of publishing and the literary merits of slam poetry. During the full interview, Jim had many great tales didn’t work in the final movie.

In this outtake, Jim tells the story of how he coined the phrase “Generation X.”

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

 

 

Freestyle - "Juice" (11 of 14)

Posted by Paul Devlin:

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One of the most talented hip hop artists ever, Juice’s rhymes are stunning. Written or Free? You decide.

The Making of Freestyle (continued)

Kevin Fitzgerald’s passion for hip hop sometimes created tension between him and the producer Henry-Alex Rubin and myself. Kevin was all about the integrity of the complete performance. Henry and I were all about structure, pace and story. We felt it was our job to make the material accessible, Kevin felt it was his job to honor the performers and their performance. One time, the night before submitting to a crucial festival, Kevin re-edited the movie without telling us, including dropping in a 3-minute freestyle into the midst of a very tightly structure sequence, building to a climactic battle. Luckily we caught the change before the cut went out, and convinced Kevin that the sequence should be restored. Often Henry and I felt that we had to fend off Kevin for his own good.

Check out Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme
Buy the DVD

Slammin' - Cheryl B - "Female Ejaculation"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

It's been two years since the passing of our friend poet Cheryl B. In honor of her memory, we offer this short excerpt from the TV pilot Slammin', in which she appeared.

SlamNation DVD 
Slammin' Trailer

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