Release your film straight to DVD

What are your favorite films?

How many of them do you own on DVD?

How many of them have you actually seen on the big screen?

If you want to be an independent filmmaker, don't try to compete with the big studios or buy into their system. The movie theater experience is great, but it's no longer necessary.

In order to truly be independent, you have to let go of the standard procedures. If you release straight to video, you won't get the same trendy reviews and the art-house premiere and the parties and blah blah blah. But if you make a good film, it will still be good on DVD. And it will be exactly the same to all the people who would have rented it anyway at the local video store.

If you're independently wealthy, you could do both. But if you're on a budget, just make the DVDs and sell them.

Last movie I made, I rented a nice projector and projected it on to the side of a two story building. It was awesome. Not quite the same thing as a theater, but it was a cool party atmosphere.

That actually sounds better than a movie theater. But still, you made a movie and you didn't have to show it in the traditional setting.

Of course as long as you have it transferred already you could show it in a normal theater, but then there's the hassle of getting theaters to show it. You spend all your time and effort convincing 5 venues to screen your film, and maybe 200 people end up seeing it? Why bother, when people can buy or rent a copy for the same price as a ticket, and screen it at home?

And it doesn't apply to your case, but part of my point was that you could shoot with digital and avoid the expense of all the film production.

Another consideration: if you put all of your money into prints of the film to send to various theaters, what if it's not a hit? What if there's no buzz and nobody sees it?

Then it runs for a week or two and you lose all your money.

On the other hand, you could spend that money on DVDs. And if they don't sell during the first 2 weeks, you lose nothing. The DVDs are still there, unlike the local 4:50 showing at the theater. You still have time for word to spread and people might eventually buy all the DVDs over the course of a year.

Not to mention the worthlessness of your prints once the movie's not new anymore. A year after your big-screen release, you will never ever ever need those 10 or 20 copies of your film because 10 theaters will never show the same old movie at the same time.

It was a digital projector, showing a DVDr of the movie. About 100 people were there. One of the coolest things I have done is watched one of my movies with a big crowd and seeing/hearing their reactions.

The first movie I made that was shown to audience, I watched it with them and realized that I should have spread out the jokes a bit, the timing was off. It was like people were still laughing their asses off at the first thing when they should have been laughing at like the third joke or whatever. The next movie I did was much more thought out in this regard, and the jokes worked much better.

Digital projector? That's awesome.

Before there were lots of movie theaters, people would take a screen and projector around to country stores or any local gathering place where people wanted to see a silent film. Maybe more independent filmmakers could do that, screening their work at little punk-rock concert halls or clubs or high school gyms. Take it on tour like a rock band.

And of course you could sell the DVDs at the "concert".

exactly. When I have shown my movie, at least half the people there would buy DVD's on the spot, but so far its always been pushing the deadline limit, burning the final cut of the movie to DVD an hour before the screening. But if I had my shit together, and made 20-30 copies, I could probably sell them all on the spot for $15-$20 each I bet.

A great way to be shown is also doing festivals. There are many
festivals out there that will take digital versions or analog. Some
like: Tromadance, don't require any entrance fee. The point is,
just go out and make a movie. If it is solid, it could get picked up
and then you won't have the expense of transferring to film for
theatrical release.

We have something here in NYC where many filmmakers get
together on a rooftop and show their films via projector. It is
pretty solid.

Fast and Bulbous, I don't want to sound like some sort of know it all here, but that isn't really the way it would work. If you were lucky, you may get one theatre to book your film. If that one theatre ran your film for a week or two and there was some sort of "buzz" about your movie, you would probably get picked up by a distributor, who would take on the expense for prints and advertising, etc.

A better route to take is to submit to film festivals (Lynn mentioned this). Depending on what you shot on, if it's DV and you are just dumping from your editing eqt. or something, it's very inexpensive considering the alternative, and if it's a big festival you get accepted to, there is a chance you may get noticed there by a distributor and it is then time to consider whether or not to make the transfer (unless they have digital projection). But, to be frank, a lot of the digitally projected films don't get the attention the film films get. It's changing some, but slowly.

CatDaddy1...thanks for the input on that one. One great thing about
shooting on the DVX100 in 24Pa is the drop down rate in editing on it
in FCP HD. It makes the transfer to film much easier and less

I know there are certain ways to get famous, but I was talking about staying independent. You know, in case you don't want to work for a big studio or depend on distributors.

Lynn, yeah, I've heard that about the DVX100. Definitely a consideration if there is a potential transfer to film down the road. A couple of movies you guys may want to check out are 1) a doc called "Speed" that follows a tour bus guide in NYC. and 2) "The Celebration", one of the original dogma films, I think it's Danish, but not sure. Both were shot on really basic DV cameras, found quite an audience, and had film transfers that looked great.

Fast and Bulbous, I'm not talking about getting famous either. I'm talking about having your work seen. Isn't that why we are in this medium? To tell stories? And if we are driven to spend so much time, energy, money, blood, sweat and tears telling this story, don't we want someone to see and hear what we have said?

If so, there are certain ways to make that most effective. There are certain things you can do to reach a larger audience. If we are just sort of making a little film for a few specific people to see, obviously my prior statements don't fit.

Well, one advantage would be the advertising.

If you show the film one town at a time, you can use the profits from the last town (if any) to buy radio ads or TV ads on local stations.

And even if you don't have much money, you can always put up flyers or meet a few people and tell them to come see the movie, give out a few free tickets or whatever. DIY promotion is easier in a smaller community, so you can just create a buzz a couple of days before you hit town. Plus, you can use the short notice to your advantage. Telling people that it's one night only creates a sense of urgency, and you only have to sustain the buzz for a day or two and then you're moving on to another town.

Something similar was done in the UK by Nick Moran(Ed in Lock stock) he and the director went around with a warm up band and did showings of the film with a Q&A afterwards, it was quite good from all accounts.