During my talk at the Filmmakers Forum I presented OpenIndie.com to a room full of filmmakers and got very positive response including someone cutting me a check for 100 dollars to join the list of pioneering filmmakers that will launch the site.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him it’s actually better to make the donation through the site so it counts towards our goal of raising 10,000 dollars to build the site.

The session I was a part of was moderated by Peter Broderick who also had invited Lizzie Gillett from Age of Stupid to discuss their recent synchronized world premiere in 63 countries featuring green carpets, celebrities arriving on elephants and satellite connections creating a “not stupid” dialog after the film that let people know the actions they can take to prevent premature human extinction.

After our talk someone asked me how I felt about major studios coopting the campaign that was used to distribute Four Eyed Monsters.  He was referring to Paranormal Activity released by Paramount Pictures who used a campaign very similar to the Four Eyed Monsters theatrical self-distribution where we asked online fans to request our film and then booked screenings in their area.

Here is a video recorded in september of 07 explaining what we done in 2006 releasing Four Eyed Monsters.  You can also watch a full case study video of the entire distribution process.

So to see Paranormal Activity take a somewhat similar approach was extremely flattering. Here is a quote from a recent LA times article by Ben Fritz:

Whatever savvy went into distribution and marketing — and there was certainly plenty of it — Paramount indeed has a miracle on its hands with “Paranormal Activity,” a movie produced for $15,000 and acquired for $300,000 that vanquished four new pictures with combined production budgets of more than $155 million to finish No. 1 at the box office this weekend.

When asked if  I was upset the studios had co-opted our technique, I explained that it’s not my technique, although we may have been the first film to show a list of cities allowing people to request the film, the basic concept of finding out what your community wants and giving it to them is community organizing 101.  The concept is simple.  Give the people what they want.  So it’s really just the way it should work.  And now apparently studios agree.  It’s the people that should get to decide what shows in their local cinema, not the marketers or even theater owners.  When people curate a series with special attention and care, that is obviously really cool, but when executives sitting in offices try to guess what people want to see, well they clearly can only guess. So thanks to social networking it is possible for everyone to know what people want to watch in various geographic areas.

But we can’t applaud ourselves yet because what we need to remember about Paranormal Activity is that they had a multi-million dollar ad campaign promoting the idea of demanding the film in your area.  The real question is how can films with a studio marketing budget successfully track and then act upon demand for their film.  This is much trickier.  Right now there is no easy answer.  There is what we did with Four Eyed Monsters, but that was a lot of work to manage and we needed a full time computer programmer who had to also know the film world and have a good sense of marketing savviness.

>Enter OpenIndie.com.  A simple way to give this function to a filmmaker.  They enter the details of their film and then get a button they can spread around the web.  When ever anyone clicks that, they can track that there is a new person that wants to see their film.  But more importantly then that, it’s also a helpful tool for audiences.  A way to keep a list of films that the person wants to eventually see when they get a chance.  And even a way to automatically be notified of screenings taking place near where they live or near where they have traveled too.  So like many web tools, it’s an organizational tool combined with a community and a full range of ways participants can get involved.  They can simple flag films they want to watch, or they can put on a screening causing invitations to automatically deploy to near by fans of that film or they can even make their own films and put them on the network providing a license and file to anyone who’d like to organize a screening.  There is even a revenue model attached to help filmmakers sustain themselves by accepting donations from audience members and hosts of screenings either at the venue or online afterwards with reminder emails encouraging those who RSVP’d to a screening to provide a one sentence review and optional donation to the creators of the film or causes the film is promoting.

So anyway, it’s a very neat project that I’m proud to be a co-founder of and hopefully you, the reader of this post, can be a part of.  All you have to do to get into this community now is make a small donation to help us fund the creation of the site.  1 dollar or more gets you early membership.  15 or more gets you a bonus CD from Four Eyed Monsters in the mail.  And 100 dollars or more gets you one film that will be one of the first 100 films that will launch the site as well as 1 hour of my time as a free online social media consultant for your film, organization or business.  And each 100 dollars gives you an extra slot for a film and an extra hour of consulting.

3 Days remain to get the above listed perks, so please, act now and come on over and donate.

And special thanks to the Filmmaker Forum for being the platform for announcing OpenIndie.com and allowing us to show the above video.  Thanks also to all the other Filmmaker Forum speakers I’ve listed below partly to get a google alert going to them so they are sure to understand the scope of what we have planned.  We need help getting the word out as this site is being built buy the film community, for the film community and the only way we’ve raised 75 percent of our goal has been through people referring the site to others as well as blogs and articles that have come out about the project.  So please, blog away, embed away, twitter away in these last 72 hours.

Looking forward to comments to this post people might have and to keep up with everything on my blog, add your email address to the side bar and you’ll be kept in the loop.

Thanks again!

Richard Abramowitz, President, Abramorama
Claire Aguilar, President, ITVS
Mark Ankner, WME
Ami Armstrong, producer, Mr. Nice
John August, writer/director, The Nines
Sara Bernstein, Vice President, HBO Documentary Films
Peter Broderick, President, Paradigm Consulting
Seth Caplan, producer, In Search of a Midnight Kiss
Nicolas Chartier, President, Voltage Pictures
Michael Cieply, contributor, The New York Times
Dave Cole, Dave Cole, colorist, Pride and Glory, Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Arin Crumley, director, Four Eyed Monsters
Morgan Dews, director/producer, Must Read after My Death
Joe Drake, Co-COO/President, Lionsgate
Michael Farah, producer, Funny or Die
Laura Gabbert, director, No Impact Man
Lizzie Gillett, producer, Age of Stupid
Liane Halfon, producer, Mr. Mudd Pictures
David Hays, producer, EFILM® Hollywood
Alex Holdridge, director, In Search of a Midnight Kiss
Steak House, producer, Weather Girl
Jay Van Hoy, producer, Treeless Mountain
Kevin Iwashina, Partner, IP Advisors/Hunting Lane Films
Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, CAA
Scott Kennedy, director, The Garden
Laura Kim, Publicity, Inside Job
David Klein, cinematographer, Clerks 1and 2, Zak and Miri Make a Porno
Richard Klubeck, UTA
Ted Kroeber, producer, American Gun
Gina Kwon, producer, Me You and Everyone We Know
Sydney Levine, blogger, “Sydney’s Buzz”
Linda Lichter, attorney, Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler & Feldman, Inc.
John Lightfoot, Programs Manager, California
Council for the Humanities
Michael London, CEO, Groundswell Productions
Julie Lynn, producer, Mother and Child
Luis Ortiz, Managing Director, Latino Public
Tina Mabry, writer/director, Mississippi Damned
Brian O’Shea, Executive V.P of Worldwide
Distribution, Odd Lot Entertainment
Heather Rae, producer Frozen River
Jon Reiss, director/producer, Bomb It
Danielle Renfrew, producer, Waitress
Rena Ronson, previously of WMI
Elisabeth Costa de Beauregard Rose, SVP of International Sales, Lakeshore Ent.
Chris J. Russo, Independent Features Rep, Kodak
Scott Sanders, director, Black Dynamite
Steven Schardt, producer, Humpday
AJ Schnack, director/producer,Convention
Cathy Schulman, producer, Darfur Now
Jon Stern, producer, Centrifugal Films
Morgan Stiff, producer/editor,Mississippi Damned
Mary Sweeney, producer, Mulholland Drive
Johnny Symons, director/producer,Daddy & Papa, Ask Not
Ondi Timoner, director, We Live in Public
Matt Tyrnauer, director, Valentino: The
Last Emperor

Sharon Waxman, journalist/author, The Wrap
Blayne Weaver, director, Weather Girl
Jason Weiss, producer, Humboldt County
Steve Williams, Director of Sound Operation, NBC Universal
Laurie Woodrow, President, Trans-Pacific Media
David Worthen, SVP, Fox Digital
Ron Yerxa, Partner, Bona Fide Productions