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Sub-Genre Media Newsletter:
Semi-frequent musings on indie film, media, branded content and related items from Brian Newman.

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Brian Newman & Sub-Genre Media

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Keep Up With Brian:

On Not Submitting to Sundance

On Not Submitting to Sundance next week:
Next Friday, September 14th is the official, public deadline for all projects to submit to Sundance (unless you asked for and received an extension). Which means just about everyone I know in the industry is rushing like mad-folks to finish a rough cut of their film that is good enough for Sundance.
Up until a week ago, I was doing the same, with an unnamed team of filmmakers on an unnamed project. But then we realized we just couldn’t finish a good cut of the film in time for the deadline (even if we had an extension), and that there was a good chance we wouldn’t have the best cut possible for the festival in January. So we pulled the plug, slowed down, took a deep breath, and… it’s the smartest thing we’ve done, and I encourage more of you to do the same.
I’ve been involved in some manner with at least twenty, if not 100, films that have rushed to get a good rough cut submitted to Sundance by the deadline. And a few of them have gotten in and done just fine. But I’ve also seen way too many that not only didn’t get in, but had no business trying with the cut they had by the deadline, and I think it’s a mistake to succumb to the pressure. Heck, I see at least 3-4 films at Sundance that aren’t ready for viewing and feel like they need a few more rough cuts, and that likely would have performed better if the filmmakers had just waited for another festival.
You only get one chance to put your best foot forward, and you’re doing yourself no favors by submitting something that was rushed and not ready for prime-time.
Sure, you still have time to make it better before the festival, so why not give it a shot, you might be thinking. And I’ve been part of teams that had films accepted into a festival (not Sundance) based on a rough cut of just a segment of the film (yes, that also happens), but far more films are rejected because they weren’t ready than are accepted on a bad rough cut. Remember, Sundance isn’t the only great festival out there (I don’t need to name the others, we know who they are), and with the current changes in the marketplace, you could even argue that you might end up showing the film to buyers before a premiere elsewhere. You have lots of opportunities, but only one chance to premiere the best film possible, and no one knows you’re even close to done yet, except for you.
We all thrive under pressure and deadlines, or we wouldn’t be in this business, but most films need a lot more time in post than anyone budgets for, and your film will have a better chance of getting in, and then getting seen and brought to market, if it’s as polished as possible.
If your edit is really tight, and you’ve locked in most of the story and just have finishing work to be done, then by all means – submit by next Friday. But if you’re debating whether your cut is ready, it probably isn’t, and my recommendation would be to slow down.
End of Social Media and Newsletter Writing Vacation:
Every year, I take a break from all social media for the entire month of August and until just after Labor Day. And this year, I paused this weekly newsletter as well. I’m back from that vacation, but I am not back on social media. As I have hinted before, I am finding that I don’t miss Facebook or Instagram at all anymore, and have no interest in Twitter or other platforms at all. I have to use them for client work – part of my job is marketing films on these platforms because that still works (as of this moment, but it’s getting less effective daily); but in my personal life, I’ve found that there’s no news that I need to know about that doesn’t eventually make it into the NYT, trade publications, and/or a few other newsletters I read (Redef and Unsupervised Learning being my current faves). The updates I used to love from friends and family have been drowned out by the vitriol that’s taken the place of normal discourse. I’ve also found that every second not spent online is another moment I can use for something more meaningful and creative, and I’m much happier, so I highly recommend you consider doing this as well.

Stuff I'm Reading

NYFA made a series of videos about Audience Engagement. Eugene Hernandez moderates them quite well, and they’re worth a watch.
Vimeo offering stock footage for sale: I guess if you can’t make a run against Netflix, then building more tools for creators is a good thing, and now Vimeo has launched a service where filmmakers can sell their footage as stock footage. This is actually something I’ve hoped they’d offer for a long time, so kudos to them. Hint hint: you get more for 4K and there’s actually a big market for that stuff.
Alamo Drafthouse is opening in Lower Manhattan. YAY! I’ve been saying for years that we need a great theater in Downtown Manhattan now that it has become more residential than commercial/business oriented (it’s stroller central down there). And now Deadline reports that Alamo is taking a space on Liberty Street, along with a video store (with free VHS – yes, VHS- rentals to boot). The smartest folks in the business make another smart move. Will Amazon buy them before the end of 2019? That’s my bet, and you heard it here first.
Kenny Shopsin has passed away. Ok, this is tangential to film, but if you’ve been around the festival circuit as long as I have, you’ll never forget seeing I Like Killing Flies, the great documentary about the legendary Kenny Shopsin of Shopsins. I was lucky enough to meet him a few times, thanks to a regular who had an office next door to me years ago, and took me for multiple profanity-laced life-lessons over awesome meals (every obituary is about name dropping…). I’ve also become quite a fan of his daughter, Tamara Shopsin’s books. If you haven’t seen the movie, watch the film. Here’s a great clip where he explains why you’re a piece of shit (I am too), and that’s ok. Trust me. Watch the film.
Blatant self-promotion: I’m producing a new film, The Outside Story, with Frank Hall Green from director Cas Nozkowski, and while I was on vacation, we announced that Brian Tyree Henry (Paper Boi from Atlanta, among many other roles) has joined the cast. We shoot in November, and I can’t wait.
Branded Content
AdWeek Reports on Grindr’s moves into content: By far, one of the most interesting talks I’ve seen at a conference was Grindr’s Editor in Chief speaking at BrandStorytelling about the launch of their digital news magazine. Now AdWeek has a great little article about what they’re doing. You wouldn’t expect great content from a dating app, but you’d be wrong.
Nike and Kaepernick: This is more of an ad than branded content, but kudos to Nike on making the smart move of the year with Colin Kaepernick in their new ads. AdWeek has a rundown about lessons learned, but let’s be honest – Nike is just taking a page from Patagonia (another client), with their smart embrace of controversial causes – such as suing the President and announcing he “stole your land” in their ads. Nike isn’t dumb. They know their younger consumers want brands to stand for something, and take on controversial causes. They also know that the backlash from Trump supporters is just amplifying their message to the consumers that matter. It also gives them quite a press/buzz bump at a time when they’re struggling from poor sales and poor management (with a #metoo problem as well). The lesson for brands is clear – don’t be afraid to be an activist company, because that’s what your core customer wants. From my perspective – brands are having more impact on social issues lately than the usual players (foundations and nonprofits), and it’s about time.
What I’m Reading: VR
VR is Dying… because of short-term thinking. Or so says Nicolás Alcalá
in a fantastic post from early August announcing both the death of his VR company and the many reasons why he thinks the industry is struggling. His main message: we didn’t say the iPhone was dying when it “only” sold 1.39M units upon launch and 11M the next year. And we shouldn’t say VR is dying when Oculus Rift launched in 2016 with 6M units and is now at around 20M. It takes time. And it takes a big investment in great content, places to see it, and in marketing to see it. My take: Amen brother. I’ve been a fan of Nicolás’ work since The Cosmonaut days, and he’s always ahead of his time and right about what needs to be done. Content and marketing are the answer, along with thinking bigger. And best of luck to him on his new venture.
Copyright © 2018 Brian Newman, All rights reserved.

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