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The Best Payoff of All

Since the release of The Sensation of Sight we’ve received countless comments and reviews from what appear to be ordinary movie lovers around the globe. Here’s an example that posted last week on IMDb at the start of 2011:

“Well, this is kind of an odd movie. A group of people, all in some kind of emotional turmoil, meet and as the movie evolves you find out that they all have something in common. Now, I’m not good at interpreting stuff and I’m not sure if I’ve got this one right. But nevertheless it has touched something deep inside me. This movie is so beautiful, depicting the chaos on the inside of supposedly normal people. It has great acting, beautiful pictures and a touching story. Finally a movie without the usual drama and love stories.  If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, something unique, I will recommend this movie.”

In a lot of ways this is the best “payment” a filmmaker can get. Happy 2011.

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Pitching our next film at Film-Com

My producing partner Aaron Wiederspahn and I recently had the privilege of attending a rather unique film event in Nashville, narrowly missing the devastating floods that have inundated Music City, USA in recent days.

Unique is a good word to describe this three-day gathering—as far as I know, something that has never been attempted before. Called Film-Com, it took place just prior to the Nashville Film Festival and consisted of bringing together two dozen film executives from Los Angeles and from other points around the country—major players in established production and Read the rest of this entry »

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Patience and filmmaking

One of the things I’ve learned as a producer of low budget features is the degree of patience it all takes. A patience that allows one to keep his or her sanity as a project creeps along at a snail’s pace even though you keep pushing as hard as you can on a daily basis to make it breathe and take on a life of its own.

Of course this is not a new concept. Every producer knows that tenacity and perseverance are primary ingredients if a good film is ever going to materialize. But let’s take a closer look at the kind of patience needed to work in this industry and then how it should be applied.

I used to be struck by the sheer amount of time Read the rest of this entry »

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The Netflix dilemma for filmmakers

In following all that’s been transpiring regarding current distribution paradigm shifts and the like, the most perplexing aspect for me is what is being said or, more accurately, not being said about Netflix as it affects filmmakers’ bottom line.

It’s pretty much a given that Netflix some time ago won control of the rent-by-mail DVD business in this country. With 12 million subscribers, half of whom stream movies online, it is also rapidly commandeering the Internet streaming business.

For the consumer, Netflix is a wonderful and convenient way to have access to just about every movie out there in release, new and old. In fact, the company has become a household mainstay, much like Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s the ideal future scenario for filmmakers?

As our company struggles to raise the financing for our next feature, we’re spending a lot of time and effort asking ourselves—and lot of others who are following the rapid changes in our segment of the industry—just what might be the ideal set up for us in the future from the development phase of a project through distribution.

Mind you, we’re a small production company operating outside of the Hollywood “system” trying as best we can to produce films of artistic Read the rest of this entry »

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What history can teach filmmakers

As is hinted at by the comments attached to my last post (Musings on the future of independent film distribution), all of us in the “indie” filmmaking arena are alert to the fact that everything is changing, and that this is especially the case at the distribution end of the pipeline.

A myriad of good ideas are being floated around (thanks to all who are joining the conversation), not the least of which is the need for all of us to continue sharing and discussing what we’re discovering as we march forward. I couldn’t agree more. In a very real sense what we’re all in the middle of is history repeating itself in the entertainment industry albeit in new and digital 21st Century terms. Let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 24: Musings on the future of independent film distribution

Since the release of The Sensation of Sight in the summer of 2008, the independent film industry has been pretty much turned on its head.

And this is especially true regarding distribution. It comes as no surprise to anyone who has been following the independent film business that the last couple of years have seen a long-awaited and much-anticipated disintegration of the old distribution model and the beginnings of a new era in terms of how filmmakers are finding access to the global marketplace.

As I sit here writing this post, I find myself thinking back to when we first launched Either/Or Films five years ago and how different the landscape was then. It’s pretty amazing all that’s happened since. Putting together a distribution strategy when we were raising financing for Sensation, our first feature film, was a no-brainer: Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 23, From DIY to distributor to domestic release

Six months after our DIY release ended, our newly signed distributor Monterey Media began a limited theatrical release, commencing in the late summer of 2008 in several cities throughout the country.

We had traveled to California that spring to meet with the Monterey Media staff, spending the better part of a day at their offices in Thousand Oaks. This was a very productive time as we met almost everyone in the company and had the opportunity to talk through the approach to the marketing and release of the film in some detail.

All of our deliverables had arrived (the long list of items that we, as producers, are contractually obligated to get to the Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 22, Our DIY release leads to a distributor

As described in my last post, our theatrical world premiere opening night at The Colonial Theatre in Keene, NH was a big success.

We sold out the nearly 1000-seat house and turned hundreds away. We were fortunate to have our congressman Paul Hodes join us along with the state’s first lady Susan Lynch, Keene’s mayor and many other dignitaries. The local daily paper carried the event as their lead front page story. Our spotlights beamed through the sky and our red carpet was rolled out in style for actors David Strathairn, Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 21, Our DIY release begins

buzz_mclaughlin_producerFrom the beginning of this project we were fairly certain that one way or another we going to have a special premiere for the film here in New Hampshire.

After all, the film was entirely shot in Peterborough—the same town Thornton Wilder used as his model for his wonderful play “Our Town”—and we raised roughly 90% of our financing in the state. In a very real sense, the production was a grand partnership with many NH people and organizations and we knew we wanted somehow to celebrate that fact when the film was finished.

With no indie distributors knocking on our door offering us a decent deal, we finally decided to take matters into our own hands Read the rest of this entry »

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