2012 IFTA Conference

2012 IFTA Conference
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By Will Nimmow Hello all, I just got off the road from the Independent Film & Television (IFTA) 2012 Conference in Beverly Hills. The purpose of the conference was to bring together top producers with finance, distribution and digital marketing experts to discuss the current state of film financing. As I arrived at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills, I was surrounded by a plethora of $50,000 plus automobiles. Sitting down to eat my complimentary breakfast of perfectly cut fruit and petit pastries, I began conversation with Marvin Towns Jr. who has been in the film industry for over 30 years, working on such films as Wildcats, Weird Science and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Also at my table were a couple people from a new production company, A.C.I Films, who had been working with Marvin to produce their latest movie, The Wicked. As I was speaking with them, Lawrence Goebel, President, of Imagination Films sat down and discussed The Wicked. The estimated cost of this movie, so far, was at one point five million dollars. Marvin didn’t understand how anyone could make a movie for less than one million. It is not that he didn’t think it’s worth it, but only that he has not figured out a way to do so. As we were all talking, people continually came up to the table to speak with either Lawrence or Marvin, (and they did not care if they were interrupting), It was easy to tell these two gentlemen had a reputation within the industry. The conversation was rich with information for a guy like me who had never been to a conference about independent film; and clearly everyone at my table was knee deep in the industry. As we all moved into the conference room to find our seats for the presentation, I thanked everyone for the enlightening conversation and quickly scanned the room. I noticed a gentleman with a Chicago Cubs hat and worn out camouflage pants. Using my keen profiling and stereotyping skills, I figured he would give me some ideas on how you could make a feature length film for fewer than one million dollars. I sat down next to him and started conversation. Sure enough, his name was Rick Almada and he had produced and directed one film, and the budget was thirty thousand dollars. As the presentation began, I quickly got his email so that we could continue our conversation online in the coming weeks, (I’ll let you know how he did it…stay tuned for future posts). The keynote speaker was Producer/Director, Eli Roth. Instantly, he captured the audience with tales from his childhood and excessive use of the word f*&k. After he had everyone’s attention, he held up the Canon 5D Mark II and proclaimed “this is your friend,” also stating, “the best thing about this camera is everyone can make movies, the worse thing about this camera, everyone can make movies.” According to Eli, here are the main components to being successful in the film industry.

  • Your job never ends. In order to make it in the industry you will always be working, looking for work, or learning. If you love what you do and you are passionate about your films, then you will make it through. The film industry is not an eight to five job.
  • Realize that you have to know a little bit about everything. Even if your goal is to be a director, you better have a good understanding of the editing process, costume design, cameras, sound equipment, schedules, budgets, make-up, acting,…etc.
  • Get involved early. No matter what the job, paid or unpaid, get involved in the filming process right away. There is only so much you can learn in school; you have to be on-set, to really learn the process.
  • Keep your eye on the doughnut, not the hole. According to Eli, “the doughnut is your movie and the hole is all the s&%t that goes with making the movie.” Eli stressed to the audience that you have to focus on the passion for your film and the reasons why you are making the film. Therefore, do not obsess about all the irritating aspects that are inevitably going to happen along the way. Otherwise, he says, it will beat you up and tear you down to the point where you will never finish the movie and you will begin to resent the industry.
  • Get in touch with your business mind. It was clear listening to Eli’s stories and the approach he took when trying to sell himself and his films that he clearly was a smart business man. He knew how to utilize any opportunity to its fullest. If you do not consider yourself a business minded person…start learning…Check out the EMB program here at MMI.

The next presentation, from 6String Media, was all about marketing yourself and your movie via social networking. I can wrap that presentation up in one sentence... If you and your movie do not have a facebook page, twitter presence (everyday), Pinterest one sheet, and a Youtube trailer, you are missing the bus. These sites provide a ridiculous amount of exposure at no cost (or very little) to you. Lastly, the presentation ended with a panel discussion from a number of industry professionals regarding increased commercial distribution opportunities for films, as well as the unconventional resources available for financing, producing and distributing. One notable panelist was Adam Chapnick, Principal/Business Development for indieGoGo.com, the leading global platform for crowdfunding. Adam’s motto is “your list is your life.” All of your contacts, including, friends, family, bosses, co-workers, colleagues, lovers, haters, and everyone who knows you is the potential for money. Adam stressed to the audience to use your “list” as a way to promote your movie, make those people brand ambassadors for your film and for you! Among some of the discussion many of the panelists agreed that the theater is not the only place for your film. Remember that there is VOD, Netflx, Amazon, and many of the cable channels, like the SyFy Channel are always looking for content. The main theme from the panel was to never give up. If you believe in your film and you believe in what you are doing, never give up, someone will buy your film!