One of Orly’s case studies takes a look at the 2008 Sundance official selection Adventures of Power written, directed and starring Ari Gold. AoP took a long and winding road to market and Ari was extremely open about mistakes he made and things he got right. His film was finally released on DVD in January 2011 by Phase4 and he had a small theatrical release working with Variance Films in the fall of 2009.
One thing Ari shared with us is his experience in handling publicity.
“Having never done [a theatrical tour] before, I thought ‘ok let’s do it, let’s do what an indie [theatrical distributor] would do.’ But what I didn’t realize was how much work goes into putting a movie in theaters than just getting it into a theater. Consistently in our theatrical release, we would do better on the last day than we would on the first day which was a sign that in a sense we were doing the right thing because word was spreading in each town, but because the way the theaters are, they determine whether a film will continue its run within the first 48 hours so that didn’t work in our favor. I would come into a town on Friday when the film would open to try and get some press but [articles] didn’t run until Sunday or Monday and by then they [the theater] had already cancelled the extension of the run. It wasn’t until my last city, Portland, Oregon, that I realized we had structured this incorrectly in the sense that I had to be in each city at least a week or more ahead of time to do press.”
“At the same time, the local newspapers have all been hard hit by staff cuts and we couldn’t get the film reviewed locally. We were playing their theater, but we weren’t deemed press worthy because we weren’t a mainstream release and that is frustrating. Studio indies have the muscle of the studio marketing and publicity machine behind them, they can force a review to be done and we didn’t and that is when I realized I had to turn my focus away from mainstream press and doing what a studio machine would do, instead I concentrated on connecting directly with the people of those communities. That’s what’s good about the internet, you can really pinpoint people in a community who would like your film.”
“The traditional publicity that came with our DVD release was not able to get us much press and not on rock music stations. So my partner and I bought an email list of every radio station in the US and Canada and we emailed them all. I had to use a spam email program to do that and probably about 15% of the emails made it through past a filter and then to actually be read. But it lead to maybe 40-50 radio interviews with college and traditional radio that we got completely on our own. I got an email from one of the colleges after I did the interview with them and they said our movie was the number one movie rental on campus. No one would have heard of the movie much less rent or buy it if I hadn’t done that interview.”
“On the one hand, I can do all of the work that a studio marketing department can do, at home on my laptop and with a camera. But the flipside is, I HAVE to and where will I find the time to do my next work, my next film when I have to spend so much time reaching the fans of the film I just made? It would be great to be one of the few doing this inside of the system or who was plucked out of Sundance to be the next ‘made man’ and you go to premiere and the press just shows up and everything is paid for by Fox Searchlight.”
But he wasn’t the “made man” for this release and most people aren’t with their films so it is better to plan for taking on this work as Plan A and Plan B is that the load will be lightened if you do get the golden ticket.
To read more about the story behind bringing Adventures of Power to an audience including the amount of time, effort and money it took, read Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul Presented by PreScreen coming in September 2011. Also ‘like’ our Facebook page.