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Jon Reiss

Jon Reiss

Posted: September 21, 2009 11:03 AM

The Age of Stupid Is the Future of Film

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One of the most important films of the year (perhaps decade) is about to be released. Take note. While this film is about the collective future of humanity, this film is equally or more important because it represents the future of film, film culture and film distribution and marketing.

Since the recent collapse of the independent distribution and monetization model (of about 5000 feature films produced a year, perhaps a handful will recoup their investment), independent filmmakers have been searching and experimenting with new DIY and hybrid models of distribution and marketing. It has become apparent that no longer can filmmakers rely on a white knight to swoop down, pay them handsomely and guarantee them a release (if that ever really happened).

Filmmakers need to realize that getting your film in front of an audience is at least half of their job as filmmakers.

The filmmakers behind The Age of Stupid get it. They get it to the nth degree and it is exciting. They are blazing a trail for filmmakers to not only release their films in their home countries, but around the world.

We are on the verge of a new dawn, where fans support the films they want to see and where those films can create a worldwide theatrical release without studio support.

Premiering on 550 screens in 45 countries today, September 21st, (in the United States) and tomorrow, Tuesday, September 22nd, (in the rest of the world) the hardworking folks at The Age of Stupid have done with limited means what corporations spend millions of dollars trying to do: create a world wide cinematic event.

I've spent the last year writing a book about the transformation of film distribution and marketing for the digital era. A couple of key points about the world of film distribution and marketing and The Age of Stupid:

1. Theatrical is not dead. It is being reborn. Filmmakers must take back the theatrical experience and reclaim it as live events/theatrical.

Live because it occurs with an audience and emphasizes the important communal nature of the filmgoing experience.

Events not only because it happens at a specific place and time, but because the future of the theatrical model for independents are screenings that feel like happenings or special occasions, aka events. The Age of Stupid is the first independent film to do this on a global level.

Theatrical because independent filmmakers like to say that they had a theatrical release. It's a term that has been in use for decades; let's not throw it out yet, let's take it back.

The Age of Stupid is creating this event by having it take place on only two nights, throughout the world, selling advance tickets (you better get your ticket -- my preferred theater was sold out on Saturday!)

They are also having musical performances, live appearances, and environmental events occurring simultaneously: Greenpeace is broadcasting a melting glacier. Thom Yorke is playing live from his studio in London. Kofi Annan is appearing in NYC. And more.

2. Engagement with your audience is the future of film. Do this as early as possible. Any aspiring or established media content create observe how The Age of Stupid got it done:

  • They created alliances with organizations and NGOs such as Greenpeace, MoveOn, etc.

  • They created a dynamic website (that has a great sense of humor but is straight and to the point) that encouraged their audience to get involved, providing clear concrete actions such as:

  • Funding the film. Most of the money for The Age of Stupid, £857,000 for their film, came through direct contributions from their fans. They have even provided a how-to crowdfund on their website.

  • The audience is screening the film. Through indiescreenings.net they are engaging their audience to create screenings for the film.

You should go see this film not because I feel it is a great film (I haven't seen it yet!) but because you will be participating in the rebirth of film culture.

It's not just the film, it's how you get people to see it, stupid!

For more about independent film distribution and marketing go to jonreiss.com/blog You can follow Jon's thoughts on film distribution and marketing at: www.twitter.com/Jon_Reiss.