Do you know your indie marketing and distribution all-stars? Can you recognize these saints at a film festival? Do you know them by name?
If you play in this indie sandbox as often as certain PMDs and other marketing practitioners do, you’ll quickly realize the countless number of pros plying their indie “M and D” craft. So much so, in fact, it’s often hard to know who’s-who in this biz.
If you intend on being any sort of force in our smallish industry or if you intend on being successful with marketing and distribution of your film/doc and in garnering a unique audience, you’ll want to know all the popular players in this business – by name – and you’ll also want to know what they specialize in and how they achieve their goals. Even if you won’t be availing yourself of their services directly, you’ll want to know how they spend their time and what sorts of research materials they get into or the events they attend. Lest you think otherwise, indie film indeed has its pantheon of all-stars. There is a clergy and there are deities. I have seen them with my own eyes.
A ranking system is a paradigm well-suited to indie film, since our business – especially indie film’s US mecca – is chock-full of this sort of thing.
There’s the inscrutable star system.
There’s the sweat-inducing box office leaderboard.
There are all manner of awards ceremonies and talk shows.
In other words, there’s a pecking order and it’s rock-solid.
Meanwhile, back at the indie film ranch, there’s a hierarchical structure too. So what I’m suggesting here is that if you call yourself an indie filmmaker, better get to know what being “indie” entails and who the sector’s primary “M and D” movers and shakers are.
But why am I talking about this today? It’s because it actually leads into something I’ve been chewing over ever since I started PMDing more than a deuce of years ago…
You see, there are docs and then there are features.
There are PMDs, sales agents, distribution representatives, PR experts, press aides, content aggregators, and all manner of subordinate personnel who help gain traction for indie projects and grow their audiences.
There’s a veritable network of worker ants darting frantically operating under the placid surface and behind the scenes to make filmmakers’ dreams become reality. These people toil to help you make money, while, in the process, siphoning off some for themselves. In fact, there’s win-win across the board.
Still, there hasn’t been a documentary about the people who promote your documentaries and films. There’s no interview series showcasing the best M & D talent production staffs have to offer. No movie of them speaking direct to camera about what they do and which projects they’re particularly fond of. No human interest sort of stuff. No laying out of their backstories or what made them into the dominant industry forces they are today. Nothing about what impels them forward and why they’re so darned dogged about remaining on the blunt edge of agonizing indie hip, eschewing the usual “one for me, one of them” studio sell-out approach other indies, by necessity and due to economic circumstances, seem to gravitate towards.
In my experience, I feel there are plenty enough indies who would be wildly curious about this sort of film, who would clamor to grab a peek behind the wizard’s curtains to see how we do what we do.
In fact, I suggest a working title of “The M and the D: A guide to recognizing your marketing and distribution saints,” narrated by one of our industry’s champion practitioners. Of course, I’m referring to:
- Jon Reiss.
but the doc will also conduct on-camera debriefings with
- Ted Hope.
- Peter Broderick.
- Sheri Candler.
- Scott Macaulay.
- Chris Jones and the entire Guerilla Film (#GFilm) crew.
and others who make it their daily business to help you be successful with yours.
Think about the behind-the-scenes features on this one?
Think about how audience engagement would be conducted here?
Think about how Jon Reiss’ 2008 vision for the above-the-line role of Producer of Marketing and Distribution would come full-circle with the bright beam of attention shone directly on how we PMDs conduct our day-to-day affairs?
Think of the leg-up “The M and the D: A guide to recognizing your marketing and distribution saints” would give to indie marketing and distribution efforts?
Think about the discussions this would engender at festival Q&As and how it would profoundly affect artists’ thinking about the way they raise funds, gather an audience, and wage their careers?
Because after more than four years of activity and now a firmly entrenched fact on the ground – not to mention a fact of above-the-line film crews – I feel the time has now arrived for this. We are all primed and ready.
Now the only thing remaining to be asked: do you agree?
Adam Daniel Mezei, PMD | Producer of Marketing and Distribution
Indie Audience Engagement Services for Independent Feature Films and Documentaries
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