A Guerilla Guide to the Cannes Film Festival and Market, by Chris Jones

This seventeen-minute video was made at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival by the coäuthor of the Guerilla Filmmakers Handbook. Although the video may be a bit out of date in some of its particulars, it remains a canny and thoughtful introduction nevertheless. It follows director Chris Jones as he gets his credentials, and sets up a screening for his short film, GONE FISHING. Worth a look.

 @livingspiritpix Chris Jones on Twitter

Independent filmmakers panel at TromaDance Press Conference at American Film Market 2010


BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA (CINEMA MINIMA) — A panel of independent filmmakers — headed by director Lloyd Kaufman, and including actress Jaime King, producer Richard Saperstein, director Darren Lynn Bousman, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Josh Olson, writer-director Adam Rifkin, and FilmThreat publisher Chris Gore — will convene at the 2010 American Film Market to discuss the state of independent art and filmmaking during the TromaDance Film Festival press conference.

Filmmakers are invited to attend the event, which will start at 3 o’clock in the afternoon of November 4, 2010, in the Press Room of Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel in Santa Monica, California. Space is limited; filmmakers who wish to attend should RSVP to Anne Koester at [email protected] as soon as possible.

The annual event promotes the TromaDance Film Festival as a beacon for truly independent cinema. Each year, the fest showcases groundbreaking new films, and new and talented filmmakers — all for free.

Besides the filmmaker panel, the conference will —

  • Present the Soul of Independence Award, bestowed upon one young, deserving filmmaker for embodying the spirit of TromaDance.
  • Present the break-out filmmakers Astron-6 — Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Matt Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, and Steven Kostanski — who were discovered at TromaDance 2010, and who have been hired by Troma Entertainment to make their first feature, FATHER’S DAY.
  • Explain why the TromaDance Film Festival has moved from Park City, Utah, in the western part of the United States, to Asbury Park, New Jersey, in the northeast.
  • Announce the latest news about the 2011 TromaDance Film Festival.
  • Sceen a new TromaDance Public Service Announcement

Inspired by Trey Parker and founded in 1999 by Lloyd Kaufman, TromaDance is the first film festival wholeheartedly devoted to filmmakers and fans.

Unlike every other film festival, TromaDance does not charge filmmakers a fee to submit their films. Entrance to all screenings is free and open to the public. The organizers of TromaDance believe that films are meant to be seen, especially when it comes to new filmmakers.

The TromaDance Film Festival Committee is now accepting submissions for TromaDance 2011. Deadline for submissions 2011 February 11. [Entry form].

As the largest film market for independent films, the American Film Market complements the ideals of TromaDance; it serves as a meeting ground for contemporary independent minds. In previous years, the TromaDance panel at the AFM has boasted the contributions of Jenna Fischer, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, James Gunn, Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, Penelope Spheeris, and The Toxic Avenger, among others.

Josh Olson received an Academy Award nomination for his adaptation of the graphic novel A History of Violence for David Cronenberg’s A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. He contributes to Joe Dante’s Trailers From Hell. He is preparing to direct an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane story, “Until Gwen.”

Adam Rifkin wrote, produced, and directed LOOK, The Series for the American cable-TV network, Showtime. Based on his film of the same name, the series explores America’s camera-crazed and surveillance-based culture. Rifkin wrote DreamWorks’ MOUSEHUNT and SMALL SOLDIERS, and directed DETROIT ROCK CITY.

Lloyd Kaufman — celebrated as a co-founder of Troma Entertainment — is the director of THE TOXIC AVENGER and TROMEO AND JULIET. He is the chairman of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, which produces the American Film Market.

American Film Market 2010 Favorite Film Pitch contest for filmmakers November 6-9

American Film Market diary BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Movie makers who attend the 2010 American Film Market (AFM) in Santa Monica, California, will have an opportunity to pitch their movie ideas to the fans of an American television awards pageant, “The People’s Choice Awards.”

“Imagine the winner telling a producer, The public voted my project the film they most wanted to see get made. That’s powerful,” said AFM Managing Director Jonathan Wolf.

The 2½-minute pitches will be recorded on a set in the AFM Filmmakers Lounge at Le Merigot Beach Hotel. An AFM pass will not be required — a contestant can just show up November 6 – 9, between 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM, fill out an entry form, and make her pitch. Information and contest guidelines.

Five finalists will be selected by a panel of movie business experts. Each will receive one Full Market pass to the 2011 AFM, including tickets to all conferences and seminars.

Finalists’ pitches will be posted to the The People’s Choice Awards Web site after the broadcast of the pageant in January 2011, on the American TV network, CBS. Fans will vote online to determine the “Favorite Film Pitch” award winner.

The winner will receive full access passes for two to the 2011 American Film Market, hotel accomodations, and scheduled meetings with producers and distributors.

The 2009 winner, David Minnihan, will be presented his People’s Choice Award during the 2010 AFM Pitch Me! seminar on Saturday, Nov. 6. He will also shop his winning project, “Father John,” during meetings with producers and distributors throughout the market.

The “People’s Choice Awards” pageant is produced by Procter & Gamble Productions, a subsidiary of the eponymous household packaged-goods giant, whose productions of daytime melodrama broadcasts in the twentieth century — such as As the World Turns — were known as soap operas.

The AFM is produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance, which represents the world’s producers and distributors of independent motion pictures and television programs.

House of Film’s fusion distribution strategy optimizes revenues for quality independent films

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. 2009 AMERICAN FILM MARKET, SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA (CINEMA MINIMA) — House of Film — a new film distributor headed by veteran distribution executive Ava B. — offers a bold and comprehensive strategy to address the new challenges faced by independent filmmakers in a volatile market.

The formation of this firm, and its new, “fusion distribution” strategy, throws light on the dramatic changes in the market for independent films.

The 2009 American Film Market was a laboratory for producers and distributors (and a few filmmakers) to discover precisely how the market has changed; to experiment with new ways to get films before audiences; and to devise new methods to recoup investments and to realize profits from their productions.

The new market for independent films

In 2009 the market for independent movies is smaller, and heterogeneous. A producer cannot depend on a single big sale to Hollywood to recoup her costs or make profits; nor can she afford to “leave money on the table,” in smaller markets, new media, or new venues for exhibition.

Now, a filmmaker must begin early — in preproduction — to think about how she will sell her movie, get it distributed, and market it to an audience. Putting off those questions until after a film would have been completed is no longer a practical option.

Audience development

With so very many different kinds of entertainment competing for time, attention, and dollars, a movie audience is no longer a given. Nowadays, a movie does not find its audience, nor does an audience discover a movie; instead, an independent movie production must develop an audience.

Independent filmmakers must start to do what Hollywood has been doing for decades — start to work early with media, advertisers, and sponsors to develop audiences using coherent combinations of publicity, promotion, and co-branding. These relationships would not only provide financing; they would also leverage partnerships with established brands to seize public awareness — and amplify a film’s marketing message far beyond the reach of publicity and advertising.

House of Film’s new strategy for a new market

Ava B. House of Film In an exclusive interview with Cinema Minima, founder Ava B. — previously, Vice President of Sales and Acquisitions at LongTale, a foreign sales and intellectual property asset management company — explained her firm’s “Fusion Distribution” strategy.

“House of Film connects independent movies with both traditional and non-traditional distribution. We can reach the widest possible global audience and maximize producers’ revenue in a new ‘fusion distribution’ model.

“This new business model underscores our ability to incorporate product placement and integration, as well as sponsorships, into the production of quality independent films.

“Watching what’s happening to distribution these days — traditional distribution does not work any longer, but new distribution does not work yet,” she averred. This refers to the fact that — although the number of persons who go to the movies continues to decrease, and DVD sales are declining — the number of persons getting movies online has not increased so much as to make up the difference. In short, the total audience for motion picture entertainment is shrinking. As Ava B. puts it, “Filmmakers are independent, but filmmakers are lost: There is no good solution to make enough money from their content.

“So, putting together my experiences — and learning from the mistakes of other companies — I thought, all right, let’s put this together: What can work? The business model of this company, is basically, optimizing profits from any content; to look at the content and see how much it can carry:

  • Find the optimum distribution strategy.
  • Combine digital technologies with the best of the traditional methods, for both USA domestic and international distribution.
  • Negotiate contracts that provide the most lucrative return.

“First, start at the top with the best options of traditional distribution, then go one level lower, one level lower, like television, then DVD … and go through all the levels of traditional distribution. We have something like eight thousand buyers in our database — we are rather well-connected, especially with Academy Award-worthy content [i. e., SUNRISE/SUNSET] that brings in the important buyers.

“Once we have finished with the traditional distribution, we monetize the content as much as possible across all media. We switch over to non-traditional distribution for the content,” she said, “and we are trying to find other ways to monetize the content, for example, sponsorships, or cover-mount deals.

Product Integration and product placement

“And, we are looking at movies in development, where we could do product integration or product placement. That is why it is important for the company to pick up quality movies, so that it would be well-positioned to be attractive to high-end brands, so that — the Chanels, the Diors, and the Pradas of the world would not mind being associated with our company. That’s the vision. That’s what we are aiming for. …

Worldwide distribution under the House of Film brand

“… And we pick up the content accordingly. House of Film offers worldwide distribution to films — of any genre — that meet the highest standards in aesthetics, with a special focus on movies that relate to design, fashion, or the arts. Visually, quality has to be ‘A-plus'; or, a picture must be innovative in its presentation. We can pick up high-art movies, or a horror movie — if it is quality — or even an action movie, or a documentary.”

House of Film’s current lineup reflects its openness to different kinds of films — as well as its insistence on superlative visual quality. “These are all pearls here,” Ava B. remarks.

  • SUNRISE/SUNSET: DALAI LAMA XIV follows the iconic Tibetan leader for one day for an intimate — and revealing — portrait.
  • BELLADONNA is a feature which uses time travel to examine the moment of a wedding to contrast the evanescence of courtship with the permanence of love.
  • FOR THE NEXT 7 GENERATIONS presents 900 years of wisdom and prophecy from the 13 most-powerful female elders on the planet.
  • TATTOOS is a gripping documentary enlivened by celebrity cameos.
  • MILAREPA is the epic story of Tibet’s greatest yogi and saint.
  • THE RAIN is a wordless, all-dancing sequence of ravishing tableaux of love and passion.

Fashion + Design + Filmmaking

In this new environment, a distributor must be more than an efficient business opertion. To be a nexus for buyers and sellers, a market-maker must have a recognizable identity, a theme, a focus.

“Since we are aiming at establishing relationships with advertisers and sponsors,” Ava B. explains, “I thought: There is something no one is doing yet — and there is such an obvious need for it. To connect the three big businesses — fashion, design, and filmmaking/film distribution — under one umbrella. I would like this company to be the connecting point.

“Buyers would know that — when they come to House of Film — whatever they find here will be beautiful. It can be the beauty of the soul; it can be the beauty of the form, or the design, the fashion; or it can be via the participation of an artist. … Sooner or later, we will be identified as the meeting point. There’s no company that does that. It is an interesting niche; a new concept.”

A return to quality

“These days, everyone is going for quantity over quality — they’re aggregating bigger and bigger,” she observes. “If everone is going one way, there is room for someone who is doing exactly the opposite — quality over quantity.”

A focus on quality is a welcome development. The recent glut of undistinguished motion picture entertainments — created by financial, not business, considerations — has damaged the “brand” of cinema. Audiences no longer trust the movies to reliably deliver the high-quality confections of spectacle, drama, meaning, and pleasure which had made the cinema the unrivaled form of popular entertainment throughout the twentieth century. This has been especially destructive of the interests of independent filmmakers and distributors. At the Independent Film & Television Alliance’s 2009 Production Conference, independent producer (and former studio head) Bill Mechanic complained that the principal challenges to independent films are neither finance nor distribution nor piracy, but poor quality and lack of originality.

If cinema is to retrieve its privileged place in the popular imagination, and to resume its stature as a business which attracts the best and the brightest, it must again invest in the fundamental mythic and visual qualities which are meaningful to its customers. Also, it must promote business practices which foster its long-term prospects, and deprecate decisions which are motivated by short-term, financial considerations.

House of Film comes to market with a powerful strategy, singular films, and savvy, experienced management. Navigating by the pole star of æsthetic quality, it is well-positioned to prosper in this new and challenging market.

Services offered by House of Film

Distribution under the House of Film label

  • Worldwide, U.S. domestic, or international distribution for feature-length motion pictures — of any genre — that relate to fashion, design, or the arts; or that meet the highest æsthetic standards; or whose approaches are innovative or groundbreaking.

U.S. Domestic distribution

  • Submission of films to more than 20 of the best Internet/DVD distribution companies
  • Transfer of film to digital format to meet submission requirements
  • Completion of all paperwork
  • Marketing in concert with Internet/DVD distributors
  • Insertion of search-engine-friendly metadata
  • Transfer into appropriate formats of artwork and supporting materials
  • Negotiation of all deals to ensure the best possible terms for the filmmaker
  • Client approval of every deal
  • Quarterly progress reports

Producer’s representation

  • Submission of movies to multiple distribution platforms — U.S. domestic, and international
  • Contract negotiation
  • Consulting on all things distribution
  • Consideration for international sales representation by high-end distribution companies

Content management

  • Devising the optimum distribution strategy for clients’ films
  • Monetization of content by creation multiple revenue streams


  • Product placement/product integration and sponsorships for movies with majority financing secured but still in development or post-production
  • Cover mount deals
  • Public Relations
  • Alternative marketing
  • Consultation on marketing strategy, including viral marketing and festival strategy


  • Editing (or re-editing) of trailers or movies
  • Format conversion

Production and creative development

  • House of Film evaluates projects for their commercial viability. In addition, it facilitates creative process with screenplay coverage, cast, and project evaluation.

Strategic alliances

  • House of Film will find — and introduce its clients to — synergistic partners within the design or fashion communities. Clients’ films benefit from creative, non-traditional advertising via sponsorships or product integration.


24 Films To Compete For The 3rd Lola Kenya Screen Golden Mboni Award

BY OGOVA ONDEGO. NAIROBI, KENYA (CINEMA MINIMA) — Eastern Africas premier annual international audiovisual media platform for children and youth, Lola Kenya Screen, has announced the films to compete for its 3rd Golden Mboni Award. Some 24 films out of the more than 389 submitted shall seek to outdo one another during the festival that runs August 11-16, 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya. This award has been won by Ukraine and Israel in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

For a film to make it to the official Lola Kenya Screen competition, its content must be creative, demonstrate artistic and technical mastery, speak positively to children of diverse backgrounds and cultures and should provide strong role models for both boys and girls. Additionally, the action of such a film should be child-driven, with the stories being culturally authentic, timely, and of universal appeal. Above everything else, such films should be made by, with and for children and youth rather than about children and youth.

The films competing for the 3rd Lola Kenya Screen Golden Mboni Award are:

  • SUBIRA by Ravneet Chadha, Kenya
  • MANPASAND/The Perfect Match by Dhvani Desai, India
  • I AM ZEINAB FROM LEBANON by Salwa Saab, Lebanon
  • HELLO SPRING by Masoone Jafari, Iran
  • THE MAGIC TREE: DEVOURERS OF BOOKS by Andrzeej Magescka, Poland
  • WORMHEAD by Manauvaskar Kublall, USA
  • STI SKIA/In the Shadows by Dimitris Apostolou, Greece
  • MAX’S WORDS by Galen Fott and Jerry Hunt, USA
  • MIT MEINEM VATER LEBTE ICH AM MEER by Anke Lanzon and Jan Stutz, Germany
  • JOURNEY OF A RED FRIDGE by Lucian Muntean and Natasa Stankovic, Serbia
  • SIRI RAJA SIRI/King Siri by Somaratne Dissanayake, Sri Lanka
  • GAROTO COSMICO/Cosmic Boy by Ale Abreu, Brazil
  • QUAMAR/Working to Live by Preeya Nair, India
  • HOPPET/Leaps and Bounds by Petter Nss, Sweden
  • FORORTSUNGAR/Kids in da Hood by Ylva Gustavsson and Catti Edfeldt, Sweden
  • SUDEN ARVOITUS/Mystery of the Wolf by Raimo O Niemi, Finland
  • CYKELMYGGEN OG DANSEMYGGEN/A Tale of Two Mozzies by Jannik Hastrup and Flemming Quist Moller, Denmark
  • ONNI VON SOPANEN by Johanna Vuoksenmaa, Finland
  • STANDING ALONE by Gholam-Reza Ramezani, Iran
  • KARLAS KABALE/Karla’s World by Charlotte Sachs Bostrup, Denmark
  • PORQUE HAYCOASA QUE NUNCA SE OLVIDAN/ Because There Are Things You Never Forget, by Lucas Figueroa, Spain

Besides the official competition, Lola Kenya Screen 2008 plans to shows films in seven other categories: Films by Children, Kids for Kids Africa Competition, The Prix Jeunesse Window on the World, Eastern Africa Prism, Shorts of Africa, World Panorama, and La Matatena Associa De Cine Ninas Y Ninos. The full list of selected films is online.

All the films submitted to Lola Kenya Screen 2008, even those that did not make it to any of the eight official sections, will be available for private viewing during the festival.

The film submission to Lola Kenya Screen has for the third time demonstrated that Africa has a long way to go in the making of and promotion of films for children and youth. Only a handful of films came from Africa out of which only one made it to the 24-film official competition.

The countries continuing to register their interest in Lola Kenya Screen have increased from 39 and 46 in 2006 and 2007 to 53 in 2008.

The 2008 film submission came in from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Burkina Faso, China, Colombia, Congo-Kinshasa, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Scotland, Senegal, Serbia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Tanzania, Uganda, USA, and Zimbabwe. [Artmatters.info]

2007 American Film Market: supply and demand in changing times

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. SANTA MONICA (CINEMA MINIMA) — The 28th American Film Market (2007) took place at a watershed moment in the business cycle of independent film. “Now, too many movies chasing too few outlets,” was the blunt summary by one participant. “It has been relatively easy to find money to make a movie; but the money for distribution has been limited. Big media around the world have been consolidating, and they are not looking for as much independently made stuff.”


On the one hand, a market table groaning under a splendid mass of more than 500 features — more than a hundred world premieres, more than 350 market previews — on offer to distributors. An excellent synchronization of the market with the American Film Institute’s AFI FEST 2007 added a gloss of nighttime publicity and prestige to the daily business of deals and distribution. The market and the festival together make the largest such event in North America, and constitute the largest gathering of film industry professionals. This 2007 AFM offered abundance and variety in the merchandise brought to market by producers and filmmakers from around the world. The supply side of the market is the sunny side of the street.


However, the demand side of the street was under the shadow of severe constraints. As multinational corporations consolidate their ownership into vertically integrated monopolies (or near-monopolies) — which is to say, they can manufacture the content that they show on the media and in the venues they already own — they have less need to pick up content produced independently. International markets for home video are limited as never before.

New Media

New media has been seen on the horizon as a distant, approaching rescuer of independently produced motion pictures. Now, as it gets closer, it offers some small prospects of new channels for distribution, but with considerable constraints. A tremendous amount of time has been spent (and will be spent) negotiating new media rights. In this respect the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) — which organizes the AFM — makes significant contributions by offering the benefits of its research — and the experiences of its members — in the form of model contracts. Notwithstanding the resources available to grasp and to trade rights, revenue and revenue turnover — “How much? and When?” — are still complex issues which have yet to be resolved for efficient deal-making in the still-emerging new media environment. [Cinema Minima archive story 2007 November 6]