When your money actually matters

As I’m sure all of you who know me are well aware, July 22 is a pretty big day. A film I produced, A Little Help, is opening up in 12 cities, and 13 more on July 29, for a grand total of 25 cities that we are guaranteed to open in. Is it a big opening? Well, it’s certainly not the smallest I’ve been involved in…nor the biggest…but it is truly one that I am personally asking each and every one of you to find time in the first weekend it’s in your city to go see.

Now for those of you who aren’t in the film world (or even some of you who are), you may not realize exactly what it takes to get a film out there. Most “independents” that you see come out in theaters (Juno, Black Swan, Little Miss Sunshine) are backed by an indie division of a major studio. Actually in all three of those cases, it’s Fox. So even if the production budget was relatively low, there is a ton of money thrown at the marketing and distribution.

Now with a truly independent film, like A Little Help, first we raised the production finance. No small task. It took us 18 months, and 3 separate collapsed deals to finish of the finance of the film. After the film was shot and posted, our sales agent started shopping it to domestic distributors. Did they like it? Very much so. Enough that we got a couple of offers on it. The problem? The offers sucked – taking most of the upside from our investors, and not advancing enough to make it a worthwhile proposition. They were the kind of offers that make investors in independent films get burned. Where the movie could have made 20 million in theaters, and the investors still may not have been made whole. So, while having these offers in play, we did the other thing that can be done in today’s film marketplace. We raised our own P&A (Prints and advertising, the money spent to distribute and market a film) Our investors saw the difference in what the upside would be if we did NOT give away the majority of the film to one of the offers that had come in.

So, we now have a limited bucket of money to put the film out there, and promote the film. I’m super grateful we’ve been able to figure out how to still be effective over those 25 markets, but the fact is, there’s no way to afford a media blitz. We’re buying 1 primetime commercial instead of the 8 Sony can buy. Our street teams are out, our promo videos are launched, our press day interviews are going to print…but it’s never going to be the kind of saturation a studio can buy. So part of what we rely on is word of mouth. Me asking you (yes, you) to go. And you going. And then telling people if you liked it.

See, with this kind of independent finance, sometimes the film can keep going as long as it’s making financial sense to the investors. So if our weekend per screen averages are high, will we go into more markets? Super probable. More screens in the markets we’re already in? Highly likely.

When you go to the theater, it’s easy to think that you are just handing money off to large corporations where it doesn’t make a difference. But with this, you can help have a direct effect on the success of the movie. And honestly, you’ll have a direct effect on the success of my business. Happy investors = more investment = making more films = good business.

And it’s a good film. But don’t just trust my word on that, go see it for yourself.

Here’s where you can find where it’s playing: http://alittlehelpthemovie.com/theatres/

and here is the Jakob Dylan music video with one of the original songs he wrote for the movie:

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21 Responses to “When your money actually matters”

  1. Fernando says:

    Wow, Dena, it looks awesome! Count on 2 tickets in Arlington, VA!

  2. Barbara B. says:

    Dena – holding my breath for you and lining up people to go…already broadcast to a local list of people for Shirlington, and sent it to NY as well……it’s an opportunity to use social networking at its best!

  3. [...] a post from Dena about why independent movies need our [...]

  4. Mandi says:

    It was a great movie, lady!!! I’m psyched for your next venture!!! :) :) :)

  5. Mike Bolger says:

    Wow! Congratulations on your success, Dena. I was home for the holidays and we ended up renting A Little Help from the Blockbuster across the street from Bonita Vista High. Yes, there’s still a Blockbuster and there’s still a Bonita Vista High. It was one of those Life Comes Full Circle kind of moments. I’m really looking forward to following the rest of your career. Rock on.

  6. Dena says:

    Mike! I just saw this comment…wow! So good to hear from you. Rock on.

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