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Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era Paperback – 18 Aug 2011
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Top customer reviews
This guide explains the nuts and bolts of engaging with your audience, marketing, live events, digital rights, territory rights and distributing your film, in an easily navigable format you will return to over and over again with each project you have. You've read this far, just buy it. Highly recommended.
This book gives the independent (and also the big studio/distributor) a list of anything and everything that they need to do to tick all the boxes and integrate distribution into their project from day-one. This book is a must-have text - but it is one of many sources of information that any movie maker must tap into.
The trouble with film makers is that they make films - but seldom are business people. With that in mind, Reiss stresses right from the beginning that selling your movie should involve as much effort as making the thing in the first place and also that marketing has to be integrated into the filming process.
There are three major omissions however, the first one being deliberate, the other two should have been filled -
1. Reiss stresses repeatedly that the quality of the film is the most important sales aid you can have. He deliberately does not detail how the novice movie maker is to go about creating a commercially successful film that gives the audience the eye-candy and feel-good factors that spell such success. There are plenty of books, courses and seminars on this subject, but it might have been a good idea for the author to have pointed the wannabe Spielbergs in the right direction, as far as directing, lighting, editing (he mentions Final Cut Pro, but I would argue that this is not the best system for a proper movie, though great for TV and video) framing and all the other bits and bobs that go to make up a professional looking film. In particular, our inexperienced film maker needs to understand how to create a good soundtrack and music score - it is after all, half the movie experience!
2. Definitely missing from this book, is technical delivery. In the long distant past, it was OK to stick to a reel of 35mm film, but those days are well and truly over. Nearly all movie houses, both large and small, just do not have 35mm projectors any more and require digital delivery, either in the form of disks or via satellite. Part of the trick of indie film making is to keep costs down and that means understanding these technical standards, as well as other technical hurdles, such as DVD authoring, digital editing, encoding for stereo, 5.1, 7.1, Atmos, etc., as well as delivery in 16:9 and 64:27 (Cinemascope) and 2K and 4K for movie houses. To say that you can go to somebody who can solve all these problems for you, is just not good enough. The indie film maker has to understand all the aspects of making a movie and not just the artistic bits.
3. Reiss devotes just two pages to the legal requirements, such as release forms for cast and crew, music licenses, credit lists, etc., but there are no examples of such documents. Admittedly, such things are available on some websites, but good examples would have been better. He does provide a brief check-list on pp 90-92.
Another criticism I have to make, is that the author assumes that foreign (i.e. none English language) releases are just subtitled. Nothing could be further from the truth - other than small markets, the larger territories (e.g. German, French, Japanese) always dub, so the film maker has to provide a dialogue free version, but with all FX, foleys, music, etc., as well as a dialogue list with script for the dubbing house to translate.
It could be argued that making movies is the greatest art form we have ever had. It incorporates drama, visual art, computer art (CGI) music, sound design and a thousand other elements into one two-hour poem of rhythm and movement. It incorporates a team that can be just a couple of dozen, or hundreds of people, each with their own speciality.
The movie industry is going through a period of change, similar to the changes that have already happened in publishing and then in making music and television. At the root of this is the digital revolution. Very few directors are still using 35mm film - Spielberg being the most notable of them - and nobody in main-stream film making is still editing raw footage. It's all in the box, i.e. computers. This book tackles just one part of that revolution.
This book helped me figure out what I was doing right, wrong and what could be done better. Every movie and all works are different, but the writing provided here should give you enough places to start. If your product is right, and you market it effectively, you can outdo the competition, as there is one thing many strive for but can't succeed in creating: Cult value.
Buy this book.
As a short film maker moving into features I found this an essential part of my strategy for getting my films out there and seen by as many people as possible. The author dives deep enough into the material to make you feel confident about his suggestions, while at the same time structuring the book in such a way that it never feels overwhelming. A MUST buy in my opinion.
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