16 May 2011

Cannes the beginning

Thursday eve!
Arrived late last night, and promptly ran into friends in the bathroom! Dropped my bags and then off to the Arte Yacht party. Great blagging to get in if I say so myself, they never suspected a thing!
Partying (or Blagging) in Cannes: If you’re invite got lost in the email post or mislaid, even stolen then never fear. You can still get into those parties you were definitely invited to, I understand. Each year there is a coveted list of parties that is released to certain press members, get the list, then start to ask around.
After getting meetings, getting into the parties is the next big thing in Cannes.
Of course you already know that. But I’ve come across people who are too shy, too nervous or just not sure to try.
It never hurts, we are all creatives so find a creative reason to not have your name on the list. Find out who you know is already inside, get them to help you, what was their contacts name, do you have any contacts who might know the company itself, etc etc.
Of course you have to do this with authority, purpose and be surprised when they stop you. Toe the line but don’t go overboard. Some parties are easier to get into and others, well……they are very very strict. But lets face it, in true Studio 54 style, if you have a room full of celebrities no one stands out, but mix in some randoms and suddenly you have an exciting party.
I’ve had some amazing stories in my two years, the best being a friend who blagged his way onto the Paul Allen Yacht party. The Rolling Stones were playing, Kanye West was there too, I think Beyonce was as well – it was last year my alcohol dazed memory can get confused. But that is a pinnacle party blagging, because that is one of the top parties in Cannes!
Here are some of the top parties:
Paul Allen Yacht party
AMFAR after party
Wild Bunch after party and villa parties
Miramax Party
Vanity Fair
Calvin Klein
Playboy Moonlite Party (this year)
Chopard Party
RedDirt Party
There are others but these are the ones that I know happen and are pretty amazing. The size and scope always gets people talking (real tigers at Amfar after party, The Rolling Stones at Paul Allen, Kanye West at Reddirt, Madonna performing at AMFAR after party, celebs at Chopard), not to mention the guest list. You could actually end up talking to Harvey Weinstein (I did), or CEO of Universal, or Eva Longoria, Cate Blanchett perhaps a Jury member like Uma Thurman.
Then further down the list, slightly more accessible:
Big film afterparties (Pirates, Robin Hood etc)
Abu Dhabi Party
Nikki Beach party
VIP Lounge party
Little White Lies & Magazine parties
Sales/Distribution Yacht parties
Various country parties on their yachts/pavilions

Ok so that’s the parties.
Friday – I ended up getting accredited, running into a producer friend Andrea Farrena and finding out there is a free day spa in the palais!
Is this rumour? Or is this for real? I never got a chance to figure that out!
We met up with our Cannes Crew, consisting of Angela Peters (Actor aka Playa), Elisa Armstrong (Actor), Felicity Jurd (Actor), Andrea Farrena(Producer), Matt Mccombs (Sales) and the Spotlight crew (sales) Doug (Director), Zara Symes (Actor), Matt Carter (Producer) and his director, and finally myself . A rather large Cannes Crew this year but still it’s great and important to establish a group, you can exchange party info, get eachother into parties, and find great places to drink.
Like Heaven. Which I will not disclose the location here, suffice to say that Heaven (that’s our nickname) is where you get free champagne, right on water, it is beautiful, sitting in deck chairs sunning yourself next to the ocean with free flowing champagne (and coffee if you need it).
So were spent the afternoon in Heaven, drinking and wondering why this didn’t happen more often to us….

Later on a trip to the UK Pavilion to check in with the events this year, and I ran into producer friends at the South African pavilion next door (which incidently has better wifi!) who were in meetings for the film I was in late last year.
They’ve sold the film to Aspect and are now holding screenings for distributors! Very exciting for us all, if we get theatrical distribution!

That night was Little White Lies and Abu Dhabi, both at the same time, so we legged it and did both. Abu Dhabi was one of the hot tickets last year after the beach swept away and reduced their capacity by half. It was AMAZING night and VIP’s turned up in force, this year, it wasn’t quite as great, although the food was wonderful, alchol plentiful and music awesome. So we danced and danced, with anyone and everyone!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

15 May 2011

Cannes Guide - what to bring in my own words...

Cannes Guide
I started writing this last week. Then time got away from me and I tried to keep writing during Cannes and then....well its 1am and Im home now! 
So I thought instead of letting it linger any longer I'll publish it now!
Below is just an essentials for producers/actors/filmmakers/others to take as a guide of what to bring to Cannes.
Hopefully it helps you on your way, and if you are a longtimer maybe you'll find something new in there, or possibly just find yourself nodding!

What to pack, its simple really, when you are roughing it (which is probably most of you reading this), make sure you remember the little things:
Business cards: Yes if you don’t have any or forgot them or whatever. Sorry if you cant remember this one little thing I probably wont have much faith in your filmmaking/industry abilities.
There are always exceptions to this rule of course, but if you are starting out, then forgetting your cards makes a TERRIBLE impression on the exciting sales agent you just met or the wonderful producer who is keen to make your film……

Sleeping Bag/Sleeping Mat – you might be staying on someones floor (just check this out, don’t let it be a surprise) as its cheap and close to Cannes don’t forget this stuff.

Laptop, Phone – If you’re not here to work, just to chill out then Im not sure why you came. Honestly, if you are coming to Cannes you are trying to meet new people, sell films, buy films, get funding and my favourite work and best work ethic – COLLABORATE! So you need to be accessible via email and you need to be contactable on your phone. (Remember roaming rates are exhorbitant so text pls! Or else an unpleasant surprise can come in the form of a £300 phone bill….; (

Film Material - 
For producers, obviously your one sheet ( a beautifully professionally printed double sided sheet with all factual info on your film like loglines, cast, genre, etc), DVD's of the film, DVD of the trailer, have it on your phone, your laptop and dont be like me and have it on a memory stick that doesnt work ; (
Then ask yourself these questions:
What are you here for?
Who do you need to see to get it?
Why them?
What will you SHOW them?
This will go a long way in helping you find your path in Cannes.
As someone once said, the path is wind-y dont lose your way. Maybe that was me. Anyway, Cannes is a great ocean of sales, films, madness. So DO YOUR HOMEWORK, register to your country's Cannes Pavilion before you go. Then go to said pavilion and look up the sales/distribs/producers and email them early. Try to get meetings, pitch your work to anyone who'll listen and you'll be surprised what you find yourself saying (also a great way to refine your pitch!).
Another way is to hit the Croisette and door knock. I've heard a birdy say that during the first 3 days in Cannes all those big companies doors are fairly open, and getting meetings off the cuff is not so hard. Then after day 3 its lock down and everyone is hard at work. So go hassle your favourite sales agent in the world (even though they dont know you yet), talk to the Weinsteins - at least poke your head in and get rebutted by their interns (its a great story and hey who knows you might get lucky!), annoy Ealing Studios (no dont, just say hi), crash Arte's yacht because all they can do is say "we are busy". If you are smaller producer like me, or filmmaker you've lost nothing but your dignity and maybe pride - which you will get back, after several drinks, I assure you. But you might be lucky like me and in the midst of crashing the yacht looking for a meeting you wind up getting invited to a free lunch! Not bad going.

Then go to the Film Marche (Market) and try those guys, see what is selling, see what is not, then make a film of what will sell. Try picking up goodies in the March, freebies, there is happy hour at the Short Film Corner each night from 5pm I think. So go, drink, mingle with tomorrows talent.

Clothes – Boys Black Tie. Yes the Black tux and bow tie. I’ve seen security refuse red carpet attendees because they wore a tie not a bowtie.
Girls – Dresses Dresses Dresses!!!! This is the time to shine!  You cannot overdo it and you cannot bring too many. Trust me. (And bring flats to wear during the day as the walking is a killer, and you can shove them in your purse at night when the dancing starts!).

Sunglasses / Hat (got a free, nice one from the Kodak pavilion this year).

Chargers for EVERYTHING

Universal adapator for your iphone, laptop and ipad. Trust me these are always overpriced at FNAC so get it at the airport before you come!

Lastly, bring your character - come ready to meet great people, expand your network and Collaborate. I believe creativity is collaboration. You know how people talk about everyone knowing everyone at the top, well its because they've been coming to Cannes for years. They all know eachother, and soon you will know them too. Just keep on coming, keep being yourself and be open to meeting new and interesting types. You never know who you will end up working with, or for!
Bring your best smile, your fun and the party will come to you!

9 May 2011

Sci Fi Genre Filmmaking Day

Recently I was invited to Sci Fi London's Genre Filmmaking Day as part of the festival this year. It was a fantastic day full of interesting panels from different aspects of the industry, distribution, crowdfunding, storytelling.
The only real shame was that so few producers and filmmakers turned up for it (the cinema was about a third full). I highly recommend as something to look out for in 2012, the speakers were a really high level and the lack of a big audience meant that chatting to them afterwards about your projects and getting feedback was much easier.
Here are my notes from the day, they were really for my own use, but I thought someone out there might find something useful!
Especially if you are into low/micro budget filmmaking. Dont miss it next year!

Brought to you by

Sci Fi Genre Film Making Day – put on by Sci Fi London Film Festival 2011
(Unfortunately missed Simon Guerrier and Sable Jak speak about telling the story and writing the fantasy film).

Nic Wistreich – Co Founded Netribution and in 2007 wrote How to Fund your Film sold it details more than 1000 film funds and incentives in over 40 countries.
Gregory Vincent – creator of which is the European equivalent of Kickstarter
Corine Dhondee – Director of Queens Suite (documentary) who raised funds for the film via Kickstarter
Tessa Inkelaar – Producer/Script Developer at Bonepalace Pictures & Production Assistant at Film London for the Microwave scheme
Mark Stolaroff – Film producer and founder of No Budget Film School Producer of Pig which was showing at the festival.

Kickstarter Stats
45% success rate
1700 Films funded so far
100,000k for 6 six projects (2 features, 4 doc’s)

Don’t expect your crowdfunding to bring money into your film. Its better used a tool to promote and the money is a bonus. Mark Stolaroff was very much in this camp and he said that the final figures for Pig were raised this way. He mentioned that crowdfunding $ is also called ‘stranger dollars’ in US.

To really get a kick, try to get on the homepage of the online funding site. It will boost your viewers and you’ll have more chance of being funded by people who are part of the kickstarter community.

Downside is kickstarter is in US dollars (difficult for UK & Europe, as the conversion rates are expensive, paypal charges extra fees and people believe they’re giving £50 when instead they are giving $50 US). I’ve experience this before and also paypal takes a cut, plus the banks do as well for the conversions. So in reality a donation of 50, is $50US which then converted and fees taken out is more likely to equal £25-30.

Mark found that with Pig they were equally funded through their website, as through kickstarter. So make sure you enable people to put money in through bank transfers and various means not just the funding site.
Offering good perks is important $25 for a dvd plus t-shirt plus extra.
Corine, said to sell everything as she did, – sell your cast & crew’s abilities as prizes. She also stressed that the cast and crew need to take ownership of the project. It’s the only way you will get past your immediate network and out to other networks. Once they do this, you need to let them push the project.

Eg. Email, inform your immediate social Network – then go to – Friends of Friends and Friends of Friends of Friends……etc

You can also have the option of putting your project on the sites several times. Once for startup funding, then again for completion funding but make sure your perks match the stage you are trying to fund.

You need to make sure that you followup everyday, update the page, update the funders, spread the word by using bigger blogs to do articles on your project. Write articles about your project, about the websites you’re funding too. Mark being head of the No Budget Film School, wrote an article about Kickstarter and got it published in several big blogs. The article was really to push Pig’s page, but he focused on how kickstarter came about and what it was, then brought in mention of his project being on there.
Be creative in getting the word out!

The Microwave scheme (see their website for more info)
They will only fund films of £120,000 budget.
They will give only £60,000
Approach with a script and director who has good credentials. (This means a director who has worked commercially in music videos, or more recognized and award winning short films.)
Crowdfunding began with Robert Greenwalt, who had a large following from previous films and decided to ‘pre-sell’ his next film to his following.
He raised $300,000 in 10 days from four 4 emails (although he sent out around 150,000 emails).

30 days seems to be the ideal time for crowdfunding a feature. Any longer and the project starts to lag. (according to Mark and Corine).

Hit potential investors 3 times;
1 To tell them about the project
2 To remind them
3 To followup and remind about the deadline.

1 Month, there will be lag in the middle but go hard and go strong.

Try to get onto the Front Page of whatever funding website you are part of. Sponsume is good right now as it is smaller and growing, easier to get onto their front page, wheras Kickstarter is massive and growing every day – therefore making chances of hitting the front page a lot harder.

A couple of Sponsume projects are getting sponsors to match their donations.
Creative Scotland is looking at doing the same thing soon.

Its about a network, building your network, keeping your network and informing them.
Write your emails to different communities, and make it personal to certain people. If you do all the work before hand and then you can just send them out.

MICRO PRESALES – crowdfunding is essentially that.
Reasons to do Crowdfunding on a crowdsource website (indiegogo, sponsorme, kickstarter).
1 Test the Audience – do they like the concept? Is there Interest? If not maybe you should reconsider the project
2 Marketing & Collaborations – You never know who will offer to help out and what they might have to help your project. Printing companies, locations, contacts etc.
3 Money is the last thing you should do it for.

Next Event on the Agenda was;

Social Media Marketing
Tom Hunter - in association with Spread the Word, talks Social Media Marketing: the tools, the techniques and how it all comes together. Tom is a marketing and PR specialist with a background in the arts & cultural sector. He is also the current director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature.

Build a tribe!
(Note must check out what Omelet is doing in the US – Branded Content).

Check out and Daily Motion for up to date info on social media.
Social media is NOT FOR MARKETING!!!!
Social media is for building, joining and participating in communities!

Twitter is for older (29 upwards) professionals
Linked In as well.
Wheras Facebook is for younger audiences.

Ask yourself ‘What do I want to achieve?’

You are all creatives – play, experiment with different ways of media

Give permission to not have to DO EVERYTHING.

Best way to market your film project, is to use existing communities that would be interested in your project, instead of trying to create a community yourself. Find a group, join them, add in your project. Don’t overload them. Its about sharing information. If you are honest and upfront, whilst also contributing to their interests they will be happy to help.
For example on Twitter ask people to pls RT your tweet.
(Keep in mind that it should be short and sharp as more people RT, more the message drops off as only 140 characters are allowed)

Also always share good links, help others, bring the community aspect into it. People are not always interested in YOU! (Remember those tweets from people who only write about themselves, and their projects and eventually you stop following because they are SO ANNOYING?)
Its about adding to the pool and contributing to the community by RT’ing others and adding information, not just your own projects.

For Twitter newbies, start by LISTENING to conversations. Get a feel for it.

Then start to format an idea of:
- the message you want to send out
- the tone of your messages
- who’s talking
- whats of interest

Then think of twitter like a pub conversation between two people about crazy cat videos, don’t barge into it, and tell them about your crazy cat video, but start by RT’ing theirs, talking to them about it and then mention yours. Don’t barge in.

1/10 tweets should be about your message/project.

You can schedule these using Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and others in your lunch hour!

*NB. Google is optimized for Audio and favours the audio links.
Audioboo is twitter with audio
You could use it for:
Dialogue from the film
Fragments of the score

Also try Google Alerts

Thank you for the talk
@clarkeaward @idiottrends
Look at @documentally he is amazing with being on every social media platform.

Go to people who HAVE followers, Don’t do PULL marketing, Work others who have the followings!

Low Budget Film Distribution
Mark Stolaroff of No Budget Film School

Mark used to work for Next Wave Films helping on finishing funds, and distribution.

Mark produced PIG $50-60,000

Reasons not to try traditional distribution
- more films
- less sales
- less advances
- no $ beyond advance

Everyone needs a business plan for their film.

PLAN A - Traditional Distribution
Licence to distribute in overall deal with advance covers cost
- You sell your project for 15-25 years
- You have no control over marketing & distribution
- You only get paid if they’re honest and if you live long enough
- You don’t know who’s buying your film or who’s interested

PLAN B – Hybrid Distribution
- Control all rights and partner with the best companies in each distribution channel
- Sell directly to core audience
- Increase control and profit margin
- Relies on creating a custom marketing plan and marketing to your audience
- Higher profit on sale
- Control over accounting and money
- Control over marking, distribution, P & A
- Best partners in each market
- Names and email address of your audience – so you can follow up in the future
- Empowering approach

If you do decide to go on your own with distribution you need to make sure you are found by your audience:

Service deals – where you hire a distributor to distribute the film. Loads of big US films are doing this now and distributors are offering it too.

You could have semi or nontheatrical – one night only event where you get the filmmakers to do a Q&A, then promote the film using merchandise outside the cinema.

VOD – Cable and Net

TV VOD (cable like sundance, syfy) You could get a sales agent to do this.

DVD retail (stores, Netflix, lovefilm) direct

Digital downloads/streaming

- Reach buyers
- Seal of approval (playing at festivals, winning awards)
- Press – hire a press agent
- Spread the buzz
- Thrusts your film into the zeigeist
- Crucial marketing info. Who likes it and why.
(use exciting and innovative marketing, ‘have you seen this man posters’, badges, cards, posters)

- Discover, aggregate, nuture
- Smaller and more fragmented
- Not demographics – niches
- Audience don’t care how good your movie is
- Build communities of fans, engage and inspire
- Social media – viral, ARG
- Loyal & passionate – spread the word “1000 true fans”
- Broad categories – drilldown and engage
- Organisations, blogs, traditional press, zines, FB, conventions
- Opt-In Email list

The film doesn’t have to be perfect – just make it a BOLD statement.

Kobi Prempeh – Creative Director at a dynamic platform for world cinema, indie films and international documentaries as well as a range of short movies and other types of audio-visual content
Jerome Mazandrani, self-appointed 'King Geek' at Manga UK/ABE UK who has the coolest job in the world! He buys new animated TV series and movies and live-action movies from Asia, North America and Europe for UK distribution.
Mike Hewitt – Home Entertainment Marketing Manager at Revolver Entertainment one of the leading independents in the UK and a multi-award winning, marketing-led all rights distributor who, in recent years, have shaken up the industry with a unique approach to managing releases

Always think about the distributor from start

Preselling territories
Go into Tesco and see films that go direct to video most of those are impulse buys for the customer. Check out those films.

It’s a same day release of:
Mike said it worked really well for their film Mum and Dad.
It also potentially brings down the level of piracy.

Check out Black Death

A recent experiment, where they did a pre-release on VOD before theatrical release didn’t work so well.

Projector TV covers Edinburgh, so you can see films during the festival streaming live for £4-5 per film.

“We don’t necessarily pick up good films, we pick up films we’re gonna sell” Revolver

Thank you to Louis Savy and the Sci Fi London Team 2011