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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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 19, Taking our film to Eastern Europe

buzz_mclaughlin_producerAfter our American premiere at the Starz Denver Film Festival we continued to tour the festival circuit for well over another year. The entire list of seventeen festivals can be found on this website’s film festival page.

It was quite an adventuresome time for us as we always had at least two more festivals looming as another one was wrapping up.

Probably the most fun experience for us was a trip that Aaron and I made with Ian Somerhalder and his father Robert to the Vilnius International Film Festival in Lithuania. And it serves as an excellent example of how being selected at one festival Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 18, Playing the film festival game

buzz_mclaughlin_producerWhen you’re just starting out with your first feature film, playing the festival game can be a bit daunting.

The dilemma, of course, is to know—especially at the front end of a film’s festival run—which invites to accept. Everyone told us to be careful and strategize how we wanted to play this. The premiere only happens once and until that card is played, it has great potential value. Once it’s played, the top festivals are pretty much off the table, as “premiere-itis” among the major festivals is very much alive and kicking as it has been for many years.

So from the beginning the question was: given our Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 17, Hanging out at the San Sebastian Film Fest

buzz_mclaughlin_producerOnce our opening night was over all of us breathed a sigh of relief and set about having a good time at the festival in one of most beautiful cities in Europe. The festival itself helped out in numerous ways by supplying us with great hotel rooms with ocean views, passes to everything, and numerous dinners and parties in various tucked-away places in the oldest section of town. We enjoyed seeing films from around the world and caught glimpses of film actors and directors there such as Jeanne Moreau, Max von Sydow, Matt Dillon, Tom DiCillo and Steve Buscemi.  One night we wandered back from a screening of “The Children of Men,” amazed at Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 16, How we almost missed our world premiere

buzz_mclaughlin_producerAaron and his wife Keri and me and my wife Kris flew from Boston to Paris, then took a connecting flight to Berlitz in the far southwest corner of France. Picking up a rental car, we drove into Spain from there, arriving in San Sebastian about an hour later.

Ian Somerhalder and fellow “Lost” star Maggie Grace arrived separately, as did Ron Wyman our documentarian and Mark Constance, one of our producers. Ron suffered quite a trauma getting there as his cameras were lost in transit (and never recovered except for insurance replacement months later) and Mark’s plane connections delivered him to the hotel in the middle of the night, long after Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 15, Sneaking into a major festival

buzz_mclaughlin_producerAs September approached and the San Sebastian International Film Festival was rapidly coming into view, a whirlwind of activity commenced for us.

People in the film industry were excited for us and everyone was giving us tips on how to best “play” the festival. Being the innocent greenhorns we were, we listened gratefully and tried to implement as many suggestions as we could.

One of the interesting episodes we encountered in these final weeks before the festival was a meeting we had with one of the top movie PR firms in Los Angeles. Having heard of our selection Read the rest of this entry »

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