Got together with Olga Valanos, producer of Generation Red Nation, to chat about the ins and outs of independent film distribution. We’ve got different pathways – her movie is a documentary, mine is a narrative feature – but it all comes down to similar things: film festivals, identifying potential interest groups that will support what your film is about, seeking out individuals who are connected in some way to the film industry who might be able to help. Upshot: it’s a lot of hard work, no matter what, and it’s important to find ways to keep your spirits up while continuing to put one foot in front of another.
Also spoke with Jacob Roebuck, who is finishing post production on his second film, Camp. For his first film, he set up screenings in about ten cities. Some of the screenings were very well attended, others weren’t, but as a result of this he got a distribution deal that wasn’t so great but brought in a little cash. Now, with the same distributor, the deal is somewhat better, and may become a lot better because of his own efforts. His movie has a Christian theme, so he is going to use a network of churches to help distribute the film. He’s remarkably energetic and focused, and has a great business mind, so is doing a kind of meld between traditional distribution and his own thing.
My third “conversation” was via e-mail, with Norma Smith, who attended the Taos Writing Retreat for Health Professionals, an annual retreat I co-created and directed for twelve years. I showed Warrior Woman the summer Norma was there, and now she ordered a DVD and contacted me about possibly getting some screenings together in the Bay Area. Norma heads up The Edge of Each Other’s Battles Project, which brings together academic and community-based projects that work toward social change. The title of the project is a quote from Audre Lorde, poet, educator, and activist who ultimately died from breast cancer, and whose work was an inspiration to me when I was first diagnosed. I’m honored that Norma wants to put some energy into getting Warrior Woman into the wider world, and our conversation about how best to do this will be ongoing.
A lot of people have told me that the reason nobody knows what to do about distribution of independent films is that a “right way” doesn’t exist these days and each film finds its own path. I have decided to enjoy whatever this journey brings me