COMMUNITY SCREENING CONSULTANT

The Art and Science of distributing your film via Cinema on Demand and community screenings.

WHY CINEMA ON DEMAND? (COD)

After almost three decades, I have seen a dramatic shift in the documentary world. Today, most indie filmmakers rely on crowdfunding and individual donations.  Fundraising and distribution have become as innovative as making the films themselves. The two are intrinsically linked. If your film was funded in part, or in full, by individuals, If you have used any kind of crowdfunding (Kickstarter, Indiegogo, email blasts, etc) many of your stakeholders have been on the ride with you from the beginning. You have built a substantial audience for the film eager for its release. These people are your amplifiers! it is a natural progression to utilize your organic grassroots fan base to distribute your films via Cinema on Demand (COD). 

MY JOURNEY

Thirty years ago when I started filmmaking I luckily received grants to fund my many of films. Television broadcasts, community screenings, universities and film festivals were my goals for distribution. Most of my films were funded and nationally broadcast.

In 2008, with great enthusiasm, I embarked on a new film project, a film about homeopathy. Homeopathy is one of the most controversial forms of medicine ever invented and I thought I would easily secure funding in this day and age of our national ‘healthcare crisis’. Surely, foundations would share my passion. How wrong I was. I was rejected from every grant for which I applied. I then turned to individuals.

Through the span of 8 years, a variety of creative crowdfunding campaigns, email blasts, and a ton of tenacity, we raised over $316,000 from 800 strangers all over the world. Not only did we raise the money, but equally important, we built a group of solid followers.

This ”slow drip” crowdfunding method laid the groundwork for the grassroots distribution of the film. I grew a “tribe” of people who were hungry to share this film with their community, friends and family. 

But many of these people lacked the knowledge and/or resources to produce a screening event. I suspected it could be a potential nightmare if I left them to do this on their own. This is where Cinema on Demand was a perfect match.

MY SUCCESS

The film was released April 2017.

Cinema On Demand (COD). Tour began end of July 2017. Still active. 

100 COD screenings (Australia, UK, NZ, Canada and USA)
Audience average: 110
Total box office gross: over $125,000

Total community screenings (including COD). 

200+ Screenings worldwide
33 different countries
Subtitled into 18 languages

We had no marketing budget, no ads, no publicist and no traditional press. This was all done utilizing innovative and consistent digital marketing: social media and emails. More than just making money, these screenings, followed with Q&A’s build communities, inspire dialogue, raise awareness, motivate change, and educate!  It is an evening of entertainment that brings people together around a topic about which they are passionate. And, it is a lot of fun!

SHOW ME THE MONEY!

I have made approximately 20% of the box office from the COD screenings. Non COD screenings have made a higher % because the licensing fee is higher per screening.  There is a greater incentive for people to do COD screenings because there is no financial risk to them, and all the logistics are set up so the impact was greater and they reached more people. Happy to share my exact figures with you on request. 

HOW CAN I HELP?

I have become deeply passionate about the potential of grassroots driven COD screenings to distribute our films. I want to share my knowledge with you, fellow filmmakers, to maximize your screenings, impact and revenue.

Through a lot of trials and errors and speaking to many of the hosts, I have gathered ideas, tools, and techniques to help both guide filmmakers and encourage hosts to tip their screenings and then aim for a sold out show!  There is a formula to follow, you can be creative within that model, try new ideas, and make each screening a unique event.

Some of the ways I can help you:

  • Figure out a strategy for your COD campaign.

  • Learn how to find your "tribe", grow your "tribe", and keep them engaged. 

  • Identify your Call to Action. Develop clear and consistent messaging.

  • Develop branded promotional materials to use on social media.

  • Teach your hosts how to use the COD promotional materials

  • Brainstorm unique and effective ways to expand your audiences.

  • Explain the nuts and bolts of running a COD campaign.

  • Explore ways to make your screening a unique event.

  • Identify distribution partners and sponsors for your campaign. 

  • If you have started your tour, explore ways to get a higher % of your screenings to "tip" and sell out.

  • Understand the philosophy behind crowdsource distribution and how to use that to your advantage. 

  • Use your film for the greatest social impact. Champion your cause! 

  • How to engage your audiences during the post screening Q&A.

  • Have FUN!

WHAT ABOUT OTHER KINDS OF COMMUNITY SCREENINGS?

What if you don't want to use COD? What about countries that do not have the COD model? Or organizations/individuals who prefer to screen the film outside of the COD? (conferences, private screenings in businesses, small indie theatres, etc. I will help you develop an on-line screening package and system that is unique to your film which will include:

  • A hosting kit

  • Materials to help them promote their event (editable posters, memes, press releases, etc)

  • Template for subtitles

  • Pricing link

  • Screening license

  • System to upload/download your film to clients.

  • Suggestions for how to organize your screenings and revenue.

WHAT WILL THIS COST?

As an advisor, I would help you as little or as much as you need. I could guide you in setting up your campaign and strategy, consult with you throughout your campaign at regular intervals, and be available on a per need basis. 

I suggest at least a 4 hour minimum. Rate is determined by your needs. Contact me to discuss details. (see below)

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO SEEK MY ADVICE?

Great question. 

The best time is before you complete your film. Because crowdfunding is linked to building your audience and using them to help distribute your film, there is no time that is too early.

If you have already completed your film, bring me in when you are starting to think about a distribution strategy.

If you have already started distributing your film, I can help you make your campaign even better, reach more people, and inspire more of your followers to help you distribute your film. We will identify what is unique to your film/campaign, where you feel stuck, your strengths, and how you can create the most successful campaign and experience.

I am eager to help you in any way I can. For maximum benefit, best to work with me at the beginning of your campaign and throughout your run. 

WHY DO WE MAKE FILMS?

"Don't be a dancer" I once heard a great teacher tell a young hopeful. "Dancers live terrible lives. They are always poor. They are too tired to make love. Family live is impossible. Don't be a dancer".  

After a minute she added, "Unless, of course, you must"

Indie filmmakers struggle with finding funds, grapple with hours of footage in the edit room, work on our films for years, and then have to figure out how to distribute them when they are finished! Are we all insane??

We make films because we must. Because we know our films create a powerful impact. COD provides us with a wonderful vehicle to do what we always want our films to do. Change the world. One screening at a time.

WHO AM I?

I have been critiquing and influencing social issues for over 30 years. My high-profile films have screened at film festivals around the world; at universities and medical schools; won numerous awards; been nominated for an Emmy and been broadcast on PBS’s Emmy winning national series, Independent Lens, and POV. My previous films have gained me acknowledgment and respect from doctors, researchers and institutions including Harvard Medical School, UCLA, MIT, and Harvard University.

My newly released documentary Just One Drop: the story behind the homeopathy controversy, is currently being distributed around the world using the Cinema on Demand model. My earlier films include: My Travels with Oliver (2017), a tribute to Oliver Sacks, Reconnected (2010) a movement disorder discovery,  Twisted (2006) about the neurological disorder, dystonia. Touched, (2003) about people who think they have had contact with aliens and the Harvard psychiatrist who believed them. The Jew in the Lotus (1999), about a group of rabbis that met with the Dalai Lama, and Twitch and Shout (1994) about Tourette Syndrome, nominated for a national Emmy. 

The intention in all my work is to entertain audiences while educating them. I have also been self distributing my earlier films as a Member Owner with New Day Films.

INTERESTED? CONTACT ME

I would love to help you. Please send me an email with a brief description of your film and best times and ways to reach you. I offer a 15 minute complementary introductory conversation to discuss rates and determine how and if I can be of help to you to your campaign.