So you’ve accomplished that Herculean of all Herculean endeavors and finished your film. Now, you’re considering your festival strategy for the coming year and wondering which festival would be the most advantageous, be it a strong regional fest, an important international festival or a smaller festival that really loves your film and wants to partner with you to promote it. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a film festival these days, but there are some that still carry the kind of prestige that all the money in the world can’t buy.
So in thinking about those strategies, where can you find actual statistics on the best running time for shorts at a festival, a CHAID analysis of festival films (Chi-squared Automatic Interaction Detector),–yes, we’re going into unfamiliar territory, but bear with me–festival film titles, language structure and the naming of independent film festivals? With bar charts and other things that will take you back to the algebra and geometry years, Matt Syrett does some number crunching on things that I really didn’t know could be crunched. Used to the dry box office stats, and the other ways and means in which film-related things are tracked, this is quite ground-breaking in terms of what we learn from his conclusions based on how the bits of data reveal themselves.
Matt is husband to documentary filmmaker, Cynthia Wade, director of Grist for the Mill (an intimate portrait of her family, she also met her future husband during the making of this film), Shelter Dogs, and this year’s festival darling, Freeheld (which is one of the best-titled movies, I think, because it speaks to both its subject and its director). Matt’s blog is called Independent Film by the Numbers at www.lathrios.com. Looking up “lathrios,” I learned that it’s a search engine “that instead of finding web pages, allows visitors to mine hidden word associations harvested from blog postings.” I like stumbling upon someone that sheds light on something I never even knew existed.
What this presents are more tools in a filmmaker’s arsenal, in a way, by having access to information like this. Most artists are resistant to a by-the-numbers approach–that’s why they’re artists, after all. However, according to Wade, whom I spoke with the other day, that very much is part of the artistic endeavor. As conversation after conversation shows (particularly with doc filmmakers), the marketing and distribution of independently-produced films without any kind of substantial corporate support behind them, is as wide open to your creativity as is crafting your story, or picking the perfect font for your credit roll. And as one of the godfathers of this stuff (odd, I know, to call such a young man a godfather, but like the SAGindie ads say, “We’ve made 7 films. And we’re ten!”), Arin Crumley, has been wont to say, “A lot of this stuff is as simple as sending an email”–simple to set up, simple to use, simple to track.
Syrett supplies one more resource to help you make savvy decisions when you’re ready to send your baby out there.
Tags: Big Picture, Distribution, Education, Reframe, Technology