In the process of doing research for possible outreach and grassroots distribution of our documentary All God’s Children, I somehow came across a post on the blog of screenwriter and director John August.
The post titled Sundance, The Nines and The Death of Independent Film is a post-mortem recap of the premiere and distribution of his film The Nines and lists five key lessons:
1. Sundance buzz is annoying and meaningless
2. Theatrical release is kinda bullshit.
3. The DVD should have come out much sooner, maybe simultaneously
4. I should have paid a lot more attention to foreign
5. Without an alternative, everyone will just pirate it
I really enjoyed reading this article, not only because of a tiny bit of “Indiefreude” but because the post is full of insights that might be based on discouraging experiences but are rather encouraging if you are considering alternative means of distribution, including self-distribution, anyway.
Fascinating is the rather controversial notion to actually leak a version of the film to be downloaded for free via bit-torrent sites shortly before the official release:
To my thinking, leaking a decent-quality, watermarked version7 would have greatly increased the awareness and discussion of the movie, which could have paid off if the DVD and/or iTunes version were available shortly thereafter.
Ultimately what resonated most with me based on my experience with All God’s Children and then shooting and editing my current projects All’s Well and Fair and Five Sisters, was the last paragraph titled “Should anyone bother making an indie film?” in which he writes:
My advice? You should make an indie film to make a film. Period. Artistic and commercial success don’t correlate well, and at the moment, only the former is remotely within your control.