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TFC December 2018 Newsletter

The Film Collaborative would like to wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy holiday season. We look forward to many great collaborations in 2019!

— Orly, Jeffrey, David, Lynnette, Sheri, Kathy, Jen and Mia

But before we say goodbye to 2018…

  • Check out our End-of-Year Tips.
  • And, in the spirit of holiday giving, please consider supporting TFC’s Educational Resources, or our new Fiscal Sponosrship project, FACES, a nuanced and ultimately inspiring documentary about women survivors of acid attacks in India.

End-of-Year Tips for 2018

  1. Spend more time creating stories for your social media accounts rather than just publishing to the newsfeed.
  2. In creating social media videos, think square and vertical formats (see example here) rather than 16:9 style and ALWAYS include captions for silent viewing. It is possible to take a horizontal video and put it into a square/vertical frame, it just means an added step in the video editing process.
  3. Set aside additional money (take it out of your production budget if you have to) for targeted, paid social advertising. It is the most cost effective way to reach an audience and make them aware of something they should find interesting.
  4. If anyone is considering DIY releasing, there’s some good news, and some bad news. The good news is that there have been a lot of distribution case studies published recently…here are 4 recent ones, and an interview with an aggregator that every filmmaker considering DIY should listen to: ( UnrestColumbusThunder RoadAggregator Interview). The bad news is that these case studies give the mistaken impression that these efforts can be recreated by the masses. Not true. Filmmakers who don’t earn enough revenue to make their aggregation fees back are not writing case studies. Especially with only a small or no theatrical, getting placement on platforms is not easy. And even if one is lucky enough to get placement, that usually only lasts a week or two. A sustained marketing campaign takes knowledge, time and effort, and more money. And even with that in place, there are still no guarantees.
  5. The most eyebrow-raising thing we heard from our aggregator this past year is that Netflix has told them that they are not seeking material in the following genres: dramas, dramedies, comedies, and foreign language documentaries. Say what now? TFC has never gravitated toward horror, thriller, sci-fi narratives, so what does that leave? English-language documentaries??? So what films from top festivals is Netflix taking for SVOD, aside from Originals? Well, as Rachel Maddow always says, there is an empirical answer to this. Only thing is… we just don’t have it. Yet… Any programmers or filmmakers out there with an encyclopedic knowledge of the festival circuit willing to lend a hand and go through these to make a list from Netflix’s monthly list of 2018 releases? (010203040506070809101112) (If we were to wager a guess as to how many jellybeans we are talking about, though, our instinct is that the number is going to be shockingly low.) The bottom line is that the days of counting on a Netflix deal as the cornerstone of one’s distribution strategy are sadly behind us.
  6. IDA has a really good blog on Tax Code changes and what this means for filmmakers.
  7. We have been hammering this point since our beginnings, but it bears repeating: always have great stills from the production that can be used to market and publicize your film. These images should be taken for that purpose (i.e. not random crew shots or behind-the-scenes images). Pulling stills from the film may be fine for the festival circuit to round out your selections, but that alone will not necessarily lead to good marketing. They should be taken with all the various usage needs in mind (poster, press, key VOD platforms, etc., where images can work on both a large and a small scale, and can be adapted for various orientations [vertical and horizontal] for social media platforms, digital platforms, perhaps merch, etc.).
  8. Filmmakers, do not simply clear music for festival use and hope things work out later. Assume you will not get a huge MG (Minimum Guarantee) or even any licensing fee and plan accordingly. Clear your music so that your film can actually be distributed, or else, why bother making it! There are many ways (music for film services, composers, music supervisors) to get great music for not a lot of money. At a minimum you should at least have clear and affordable option prices for the remaining rights for each song (though not all labels will give you those for a long enough window of time).
  9. Are you asking the right questions? We get a lot of filmmakers telling us that they’ve screened the film for a test audience to positive reaction, and that they are sure that people will watch. But focus grouping one’s film ignores that the hardest part of distribution is getting the film to a level in the zeitgeist where it is in people’s brains in such a way that they will a) seek it out b) be willing to shell out rental or purchase money for it; and c) recommend that others in their world do the same, and where iTunes and SVOD platforms know that there is enough demand for it to consider featuring and/or licensing it. It’s about creating a brand, and all that entails.
  10. TFC has some really great FREE resources. Are you taking advantage of them? Check out ResourcePlace, our new Digital Distribution Guide, and our TFC Blog, including our two recent blog posts on Social Media (SM01SM02) and three on Blockchain Technology (BT01BT02BT03), with a fourth coming very soon.

And speaking of our FREE resources, although Giving Tuesday has already passed, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are both on Tuesday this year, so perhaps it isn’t totally random to give this another push…

The Film Collaborative (TFC) needs help to maintain and grow our year-round educational activities and programs, including our Digital Distribution Guide (part of Distripedia™), ResourcePlace, and our information-rich TFC Blog. We would also like to produce a new cross-section of useful case studies and to launch a distribution lab.

TFC has been providing educational resources at no charge since 2010, and with your support we can continue to pursue our mission of empowering and educating independent filmmakers, helping them to build sustainable careers and audiences for their films. TFC also provides all categories of distribution without taking rights, with a slate of films that predominantly address social justice, environmental, and other critical issues.

We know there are so many vitally important charities in need of donations this season, including those that support victims of the devastating California fires, and we at TFC personally support various charitable causes.

Thank you for your generosity and for any support you can offer.

If you’d like to make a donation, please go to our #GivingTuesday page.


FACES is a nuanced and ultimately inspiring documentary about women survivors of acid attacks in India.

On a recent trip to India to speak at the national film festival / market, TFC Founder Orly Ravid connected to this important and inspiring project. This film is important and only needs $40,000 to finish, so, if you want to donate more this year, please consider FACES. And, via TFC you can enjoy the deductible. Please click the link below to read the full desciption of the film and watch select scenes from the work in progress.

Please visit the Faces Fiscal Sponsorship Page to support the film.