Les Deliverables

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Blumenthal has officially closed its deal for distribution. We are beyond thrilled... and that is all I'm allowed to tell you for now. An official press release will come out in the new year at which point I can give you all the nitty gritty details of the cutting-edge distribution company that we are partnering with and the nature of the deal itself. So for now, forget I even said (typed) any of that. The important thing is that you will ALL be able to see the film!

Any indie filmmaker probably thinks that the closing of a distribution deal for his or her film is the point at which they can finally sit back, put their feet up, and give a sigh of relief that it wasn't all for nothing. Not the case.

The moment after the terms of a distribution deal are finalized, an indie film producer is sent a document from the distribution company. On the document is a list of DELIVERABLES. Deliverables are all of the materials that must be delivered to the distributor upon execution of the agreement so that they can perform their duties. Deliverables are also the final obstacle in the life of an independent film. The reason that it's an obstacle is that it forces a filmmaker/producer to confront any corners that may have been previously cut just to get the film done and save as much money  as possible.

A perfect (and common) example of what I'm talking about is the issue of music rights. Sometimes, a filmmaker will put a popular song in the movie with an idea to pay for the rights to that music once the movie sells. Now, this assumes that the film is being sold with some sort of advance or minimum guarantee that would afford the producers money to pay for it. But, even in such a case, the distribution deal would be contingent upon the film having rights to the music in the first place. Not only is there the issue of coming up with the money, but what if the rights to the music aren't available? Then that awesome song that makes the climax of the film so great is all gone. That's a hypothetical here, but stuff like that happens all the time.

For those of you who are curious what sort of deliverables are required for a distributor, here is some of what's on the list:

1. Video Content: Video assets must be original dimensions and frame rates from production. Accepted tape or digital delivery formats include:

  • Tape Delivery: HDCAM, HDCAM SR, Digital Betacam
  • Digital Delivery: Container: QuickTime.mov or AVI, Codec: ProRes HQ or Cineform, Standard: NTSC, PAL, or HD

2. Audio: Must deliver 5.1 surround and M&E track if created 5.1 audio should include L, R, C, LFE, Ls, Rs channels.

3. Trailers/Preview Clip: One (1) trailer, or a generated two-minute preview clip delivered. Must be the same aspect ratio as the associated feature.

5. PUBLICITY / PROMOTIONAL / CREATIVE

  • POSTER/KEY ART: One (1) layered poster Photoshop (.psd) or Illustrator (.ai) image 150dpi minimum, One (1) flat (single layer) 2143x3000 (jpg, tiff) image 150dpi minimum. Flat image must not contain release date, credit block, DVD logo, film rating, website, and/or promotional tagging (but OK on layered file).
  • COLOR PHOTOGRAPHY: Twenty (20) or more different production digital photos depicting key scenes in the Picture and/or behind-the-scenes with members of the cast appearing therein. The photography shall be delivered digitally in the highest resolution format possible (preferably 300dpi). Necessary for service specific promotions.

6. CLOSED CAPTIONS / SUBTITLES:

  • SUBTITLES: One (1) subtitle file in .SRT or SAMI/.SMI file formats that conform to Picture time code.
  • CLOSED CAPTIONS: One (1) caption file in .SCC (Scenarist) or .ASC (Cheetah ASCII) - must conform to Picture.

7. LEGAL DOCUMENTS:

  • PRODUCER’S ERRORS & OMISSIONS (E&O) INSURANCE
  • CHAIN OF TITLE DOCUMENTATION
  • MUSIC CUE SHEETS

8. INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION: 

  • M&E Audio Tracks - Used for dubbing content in different languages.
  • Written Script
  • Textless movie file. Used to add credits in alternate languages
  • Subtitles or Dubs required on a territory specific basis.

Like any other small indie film, we have a couple of snags on the delivery list (though nothing like the music scenario above). For our part the only real issue will be dealing with the closed captioning, which we may or may not end up letting the distributor handle and recoup the cost. C'est la vie...

All the exciting details of our distribution deal to come!

Blumenthal in Boston

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Just finished a terrific Boston premiere this past weekend at the historic Coolidge Corner Theatre where BLUMENTHAL screened as part of the 25th Annual Boston Jewish Film Festival. I've been floored at the level of organization, press attention, and filmmaker hospitality at many of the Jewish film festivals and Boston is at the top of the list. When we started the "Jewish" touring San Francisco a few months ago, I didn't know what to expect. It's been fascinating to see the response to the film from predominantly Jewish audiences and the Q and A's after screenings have been more vibrant than ever before. The best part? Jews don't wait for a Q and A to ask their questions. When I was standing at the back of the crowded theatre in Boston, a middle-aged woman entered the cinema about ten minutes into the film. She walked right over to me at random, tugged my jacket and whisper/yelled, "What did I miss?" Only at a Jewish film festival...

Interviews

Since premiering Blumenthal in Santa Barbara, I've being doing some filmmaker interviews for various websites and film blogs. While I am always happy to talk about my movie, I really don't like to read what I say in these interviews.  Assuming the writer has given an accurate account of the interview, I tend to be redundant, inarticulate, long-winded, and redundant. Reading my answers to some of these questions, I think "Gee, that answer sounded fine when it came out of my mouth. But looking at it on the page, it doesn't make much sense at all."

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 2.14.25 PMSo I've been trying to pay closer attention during these (usually phone) conversations. I think that actually might be the problem, paying close attention. I'm always interested to hear the interviewer's thoughts on the film, and if they make some insightful observations I get sucked into their thoughts and opinions and forget what the original question was. Then then I start talking, but I'm thinking about something else already, wondering: Did the interviewer just tell me something about my film that didn't already know. And if I did know it, what did I mean by it? And if I didn't know it, how could I have missed it!

Anyway, good problems to have. Here's one of the more palatable interviews I've done posted by the good people at www.Buzzine.com.

More stuff in the pipeline. We are starting to get into the nitty gritty of getting our film out there beyond the festival circuit. Stay tuned!

 

NY Screening Awesome

Blumenthal Film - Seth Fisher I was a little nervous as to what the turnout would be at our East Village screening of Blumenthal this past weekend. I'd been extremely busy leading up to the event and I hadn't been as aggressive on the invites and social media promotions as I had originally intended. Add to that, the theatre we were screening in was huuuuge.

Myself and the rest of the cast arrived early for press photos on the second floor, so I wasn't able to see anyone coming in to the actual theatre downstairs on the main level. By the time the press stuff had wrapped up and I headed down for the screening, I was pleasantly surprised to find there was no where left for me to sit. In fact, they were bringing in folding chairs to accommodate more late-comers. Of course, the fatalist in me looked at the large audience and thought "Great. If these guys don't enjoy the movie, the silence in the theater will be that more deafening."

Not the case.

They responded beautifully and seemed to have a genuinely great time. Additionally, the vast majority of the audience were not friends or familiar faces, but rather strangers who were just interested in seeing a Scotsman play a Jewish New Yorker. Afterwards, we did a Q and A with me and the cast. I was thrilled at the response to the performances in the film. It was the first time for many of the actors to see the finished film, and it was awesome to see how pleased they were with the final product.

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The response at the screening was beyond generous. I had an amazing conversation with legendary cinematographer Ed Lachman outside the theater that absolutely made my day. Most of the questions and comments I've received thus far on the film have been in relation to the script and the actors, so it was great to hear someone's reaction to the visual aspects of the movie. Zak and I put so much thought and work into the picture, and to hear the DP who shot Virgin Suicides compare your camera work to that of Gordon Willis (Manhattan, The Godfather) was just insane and humbling and I don't know what else.

A terrific day all around.

 

SB Screening #2

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I was initially bummed when I saw that our second and third screenings at Santa Barbara were in the morning. Specifically, our Wednesday showing. The last time I saw a movie at 10:00 AM on a weekday it was Tim Burton's Batman. I was eight years old and one of maybe ten people in the movie theater. With that as my frame of reference, my expectations for turnout were low. I told people it would be easy to get tickets and that if they wanted an easy day to catch BLUMENTHAL, Wednesday at 10am was it.

After speaking to a group of film students from Santa Barbara Community College, I strolled leisurely down State Street to meet Zak, Garrett, and Jesse for the screening. After realizing that the crowd was largely there for BLUMENTHAL, I smuggled Zak and a friend into the theater with me so we could save seats for the rest of the team. I had paced in the aisle throughout our first screening, so I thought I'd sit for this one...maybe even sleep. After people started pouring into the cinema, a festival coordinator walked up to us and said "Congrats. It's completely sold out." 

Eat that, Tim Burton.

The audience was awesome. Lots of laughs and lots of love during the Q and A. It's next to impossible for me to watch the movie now without agonizing over details outside of our control. Sometimes it's the contrast of the projector or sometimes it's the old woman walking out of the theater during the sex scene (what year is this?). Today, it was the fact that our film was inexplicably screening in stereo and not 5.1 surround sound. Oh well. No one seemed to care too much but me, so I wont dwell on it beyond this post.

Our final screening is this coming Sunday at 10:00 AM again. Yeah. Super Bowl Sunday. Go big or go home!

 

Almost There

805995a1db68caf1cd47d35f5ff0c5b49589b66b-1359352311 Where to start? There is so much to tell, I'm going to break this up into two posts.  Part One starts now...

Remember all that drama with our DCP (digital film print)? Well it arrived on Friday, just enough time to make sure everything worked for our Sunday screening. Altogether now, "NOT SO FAST!"

At approximately 10PM last night (Saturday) just as I was settling in for an early night, I received an email from the Santa Barbara festival director. It read:

"Just got word that the DCP for BLUMENTHAL is not working.  Not a KDM issue.  We received it yesterday afternoon.  It is scheduled to screen tomorrow at 2pm, theater 4."

Ouch. I'd love to say that we all sprang into action, but that would be false. Ryan and Garrett sprang into action while I, Mr. Director, curled into a fetal position on my bed and tried my hardest to hide from the angry film gods.  Garrett ran to the theatre to confirm that this was not a practical joke, while Ryan desperately called everyone at the post-production house in NY, where the DCP was made. Keep in mind that it was 1AM in New York on a Sunday, and everyone was either asleep or drunk or both. Naturally, no one was answering their phone. Eventually, after confirming the problem with the DCP at the theater, Ryan managed to get someone in NY who got someone else who got someone else who eventually woke up someone else who could begin to trouble-shoot his problem.

After an all-nighter, Garrett and Ryan managed to get someone to get someone in NY uploading the movie file (HUGE) to their Burbank location beginning at 6AM Pacific Time. The plan was to get the file to Burbank, make a new DCP (yeah, our third one) and courier the thing up to the theatre by 12:30PM so the projectionist could load the film into the system. Fingers crossed, everybody nauseous.

As we all waited by the phone, at 10AM we got the update that the file has been downloaded to Burbank and that a new DCP would be ready in an hour, putting us at 11AM. Enter E. McCabe Walsh. This young man and old friend of Garrett's answered the Red Phone in his bat cave, and came to the rescue. There was no way we would trust a random courier after all this. McCabe, fresh from a Saturday night on the town in LA threw on some flip-flops, hopped into his car and headed for Burbank. From there, he strapped our new DCP into the passenger seat (seatbelt and all) and drove like a madman up Highway 101.

Meanwhile in Santa Barbara, we were pacing outside the theater, handing out guest tickets to family and friends who had no idea that they might be watching Blumenthal off of a DVD of which 20% has messed up audio. Then, McCabe arrived at the curb blasting "Ride Like the Wind" by Christopher Cross. It was 12:20pm. A line for our movie, BLUMENTHAL, was already long and steady outside.

After handing the drive to the projectionist, he told us "I can't promise this will load in time." Apoplectic us, we walked down to the theater lobby and waited. "What a fatalist," I said. "Don't listen to him," said Garrett. "He's from Jersey."

Then we  stood in silence and waited and I took this photo of two exhausted men.

Stress