I have the benefit with this Review of not having read the first edition of Stacey Parks's indie distribution primer of "The Insider's". What it basically boils down to is: I have little else to go on other than the easy-to-read practical helpfulness of this 2012 second edition. Whatever "missing pieces" may have existed in Version One are all but blown to smithereens by this latest cut.
Frankly, as a PMD/Producer of Marketing and Distribution who comes deals with this sort of material/contracts/boilerplate on a daily basis for his own clients, I was less amazed by the comprehensiveness of this edition than by the presentation of the information overall. What Stacey succeeds brilliantly with her sophomore effort is to make indie film distribution actually LIKEABLE! You actually want to head out and share what you've learned with your friends and colleagues ASAP. This guide actually makes you *want* to swim with the sharks!
Insider's is easy to read also, which, compared to some of the film books I've read in the past -- especially from the "fluid" early part of last decade -- is an achievement on its own.
Here you've got checklists. Interviews. Case studies. There are heaps of takeaways.
For the price, you're getting a wealth of "free" information (under twenty bucks?!). Even if you spent the $15,98 and didn't read a single page, it's still worth keeping a copy on your bookshelf because at some stage -- whether you distribute your film today, tomorrow, or later, either for your current film or a future one -- trust me, you'll make use of it. Some of Stacey's Film Specific clients have even referred to it as their bible.
No section came off as overly academic. There weren't any pandering sections, either. What Parks seemed to be doing here was to supply a handy blueprint for her fans, her readers, and her Film Specific clients.
Presented here are all the tools you'll basically need as you go about self- (DIY) or hybrid-distributing (DIY and traditional elements) your film once it's in the can. Only thing left for filmmakers to do is make the best movie they can with the time they have available. The distribution part, if you listen to what Stacey and the various professionals in her book are telling you (FULL DISCLOSURE: I am featured in it), is the least of your worries. And you know what? It makes sense.
Hardly an exhaustive list, here are some things you're going to be shocked to discover:
** we already know US distributors aren't buying pictures or paying out formerly lucrative minimum guarantees (MGs)...but Stacey explains WHY this remains the case in 2012. ** reasons why indie filmmakers should begin looking at theatrical runs as MARKETING EXPENSES rather than REVENUE. ** why signing all-important distribution contracts are only the FIRST STEP in getting at your money. Reasons why your money follows only MONTHS LATER, down the line. ** the critical need to PINPOINT TARGET AUDIENCES PRECISELY and why those who fail in this -- from inception -- may as well NOT have made their films in the first place (yes, you read that correctly!). ** why you need to start looking at your AUDIENCE as allies in your film's cause rather than targets of mere marketing "campaigns." ** reasons why having a single A-list star or four B-listers in your CAST enhances your film's marketing cachet by multiples. ** why it's not only about having a FACEBOOK FAN PAGE and/or a TWITTER handle, but the things you're UNDERESTIMATING about social media by not leveraging these to their fullest capability. ** why CROWDFUNDING doesn't work for all films, even yours. ** the right way to cut your TEASERS and TRAILERS (spoilers: don't use your film's editor for that, and why). ** why raising too much EQUITY FINANCING can be hazardous to your film's prospects.
As you turn the pages, you'll be taking extensive notes.
Lessons reinforced for me throughout the read:
** for those going into distribution uninformed, distribution can be a VERY expensive, very time-consuming, and potentially very harrowing proposition. Get educated as much as you can while you have the time. ** marketing your film by 2012 is at least HALF (or more) as important as the process of production. ** for those lucky indies who sign distribution deals, why the work has only just begun (Stacey explains why filmmakers need to remain fully-engaged throughout the marketing process).
I'll be carrying it around over the coming weeks because I can already see I'm going to need to refer to it often.
Five stars for utility. Five stars for readability. Five stars for making a potentially "dry" subject very enjoyable.