30 April 2008

Twas the night before the premiere...

Many doc filmmakers complain about bad distribution deals. I am convinced now more than ever that doc filmmakers need to make their own distribution deals. Just like we find a subject matter we are passionate about filming. On the back side, we must be equally passionate about identifying and seeking out the core audience that will be interested in our film. There are credible indie distribution companies that will help usher your film into theaters, but it is up to us to get butts in the seats. My friend, Jim Tusty, made a film about Estonia and its heritage and that doc will outgross 3 of the 5 2008 Academy Award nominated docs. His subject matter is very targeted and so has his distribution. There is no reason with a great subject and strong production value all docs cannot have success theatrically. Just like music and publishing, self-distribution is real and attainable for doc filmmakers. The morning meetings we had truly reinforced my belief that box office success is attainable and that great theatrical will have great effects later down the distribution food chain. Later this week, we have meetings set-up with traditional TV distributors at Tribeca and it will be good to get their perspective on the viability of indie docs in the small screen landscape.

At lunch, I finally got to see our main character from Mali, Madame Urbain. This is her first trip to America and she is truly humbled by the attention her work is receiving because of the film. Her humble nature has not quelled her great spirit and energy that seems to be thriving in New York City. I was glad to hear one of her students we met during filming is being trained as a seamstress and that her training centers are trying to expand out to the northern regions of Mali well outside Bamako. She is an amazing woman and I cannot wait for America to be exposed to her Wednesday night at the premiere.

Our day ended with a screening of Simon Brand’s “Paraiso Travel”. It was a wonderfully shot indie film about Columbian immigrants who get separated upon arriving in Manhattan. The film intercuts Marlon’s present day experiences in Queens with flashbacks to his memory of the harrowing ordeal to cross the border. The flashback scenes have some wonderfully haunting moments that bring home the border crossing experience with a realism I have yet to see on the big screen. After the screening, Allison (my wife and production manager on "A Powerful Noise" ) and I went to a celebration dinner for the film and our Executive Producer, Sheila Johnson. It was great fun to hear everyone’s excitement about seeing the premiere and how they want to help bolster the women’s empowerment movement our film promotes. It was also great to recognize Sheila whose all encompassing support made this film and its distribution to the general public possible. Without her vision, our very determined and dedicated crew would never have had the freedom and focus to make the film a reality. We will be forever indebted.

Wish us luck. Tomorrow is the big night! Tribeca 2008…Here we come!