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Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era [Paperback]

by Jon Reiss
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 8, 2009 098257620X 978-0982576205
The independent film community is a buzz with the collapse of the traditional independent film distribution model. No longer can filmmakers expect their films to be acquired and released nationally. But just as the digital revolution created a democratization of the means of production, a new hybrid model of distribution has created a way for independent filmmakers to take control of the means of distribution. This hybrid approach is not just DIY or Web based it combines the best techniques from each distribution arena, old and new. Jon Reiss spoke with countless filmmakers, distributors, publicists, web programmers, festival programmers and marketing experts to create this ultimate guide to film distribution and marketing for the digital era. Unlike any other book on the subject, Think Outside the Box Office is the first to address the new distribution and marketing landscape facing filmmakers today. Throughout the book, Reiss redefines the process from a filmmaker s point of view empowering the reader to create unique strategies for their individual films. Filmmakers are hungry for information on how to distribute and market their films. No single resource exists that combines all of the knowledge and tools now available to them. Think Outside the Box Office fills that void. The book is a break through step-by-step nuts and bolts guide to distributing and marketing a film. Each chapter addresses an essential aspect of a film s release and offers specific techniques so filmmakers can take control of their distribution and marketing destiny. Instead of buying multiple out of date books and searching the web for hints and tips now all of this information is available in one place for the first time. Topics include: o Audience identification and targeting o Negotiating split rights agreements for your film. o A reclassification of film rights from a filmmaker s perspective. o Your distribution and marketing team. o Integrating marketing into your production and post o Social networking crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. o Budgeting for distribution and marketing. o Redefining the theatrical release. o Booking a conventional and unconventional theatrical release. o The new role of film festivals. o Conventional and web marketing. o How to sell DVDs with a distributor and on your own. o How to negotiate with digital distributors and aggregators. o How to DIY your digital rights. o Using transmedia for marketing and expanded creativity.

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Editorial Reviews


It s no secret that indie film has gone through an amazing period of growth for any number of reasons, not least access to cheap but high quality cameras and computers/editing systems. The way we watch indie film has changed drastically too, from art house cinemas to DVDs that arrive in the mail or from a kiosk in a supermarket, on demand via your cable or satellite TV provider, or online via iTunes, Netflix, or, gasp, Bit Torrent. . . Now that the retail DVD market is dying we re finding new ways to bring our films to their intended niche audiences, and that s exactly what Jon s book is all about. What worked yesterday is failing today and won t work at all tomorrow. The only hesitation I have in recommending this book to every single independent filmmaker today is that armed with the information in this book, a filmmaker is potentially equipped to bypass distributors like Disinformation completely! But, in the spirit of information should be free, buy a copy today

Filmmaker-turned-author Jon Reiss has just released his new book, Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distributing and Marketing in the Digital Era, which aims to put the current independent film distribution crisis in better perspective. Having been through the wringer with his own documentary Bomb It, Reiss has done a lot of work to study the situation from many different angles and come up with ways for filmmakers to think creatively and proactively about getting their work seen. I was just in Cophenhagen at CPH:DOX, where Reiss presented his latest 10-point manifesto. You can buy Think Outside the Box Office right now at the book s official website, which includes many bonus gifts if you buy it there. I look forward to reading it myself, because my natural instincts are to run flailing from anything involving self-promotion, outreach, marketing, and distribution. But to shun those concepts these days isn t just silly. It s suicidal. The main revelation I had while listening to Reiss talk in Copenhagen is that these post-film duties, which have always felt like brutal chores to someone like myself, should in fact be considered part of the fun, as creative a task as writing the screenplay itself. It will be fascinating to look back on 2009 in five or so years to see what happens. For now, all we ve got is our instincts and Reiss book to help guide us along. ----Michael Tully Hammer to Nail

Written in a light conversational tone and beautifully organized over 354 pages, Jon, a noted filmmaker (Bomb It, Better Living Through Circuitry) and CalArts teacher, passionate about connecting filmmakers to their audiences, arms filmmakers with the arsenal needed for a killer DIY direct to fan film marketing campaign. This book drills down to specifics that allows the reader to form an actionable strategy, and is destined to become required reading for all filmmakers. The book also includes steps to create better engagement on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube, and then in the next breath puts a call out to festival directors to see themselves as distributors, aggregators of quality indie content for traditional and new media. It seems so complete I m still reading on hoping he addresses ways not to trip up Oscar qualification with day and date online screenings. An incredibly valuable resource. --Content NOW

About the Author

Jon Reiss is a critically acclaimed filmmaker who has produced and directed feature films, documentaries, shorts and music videos in a career that spans nearly 30 years. Named one of the 10 Digital Directors to Watch by Daily Variety, Reiss also teaches in the Film Directing Program at the California Institute for the Arts.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Hybrid Cinema (December 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098257620X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982576205
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jon Reiss is a critically acclaimed filmmaker who has produced and directed three feature films, including most recently "Bomb It 2", the follow-up to the acclaimed documentary "Bomb It" about graffiti and the battle over visual public space throughout the world. His experience releasing "Bomb It" with a hybrid strategy was the inspiration for writing "Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era, the first step-by-step guide for filmmakers to distribute and market their films."

Reiss now works with numerous film organizations, schools and film festivals to present a variety of distribution labs and workshops around the world. To date, Reiss has held his "Think Outside the Box Office: The 2 Day Workshop" in London, Amsterdam, NY, Los Angeles, Vancouver, San Francisco, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, and Atlanta, among other cities. The IFP recently brought on Jon to help transform their Independent Filmmaker Labs into year-long completion, distribution and marketing labs.

Prior to "Bomb It", Reiss produced and directed the documentary film "Better Living Through Circuitry", a startling, humorous and entertaining glimpse into the exploding rave culture featuring Crystal Method, Roni Size, and Moby, among others acts. The film played at such festivals as RESfest, Rotterdam, Sao Paulo, Copenhagen, Los Angeles Independent, Seattle, Vancouver, and Sheffield International Doc Festival before being released theatrically in the United States and on DVD worldwide. The film also screened on the Showtime and Sundance Channels.

Reiss' first film, "Cleopatra's Second Husband", is a dark psychological drama, which screened at the Los Angeles Independent, Seattle, Montreal World, Hamptons, Houston, Sao Paulo and Bangkok film festivals. The movie won Best First Feature at Cinequest before being released theatrically in the United States and on DVD by First Run Features. Cleopatra's Second Husband was subsequently broadcast on IFC/Rainbow.

An award-winning music video director, Reiss has directed videos for Nine Inch Nails, The Black Crowes, Danzig, Slayer, and the Kottonmouth Kings. Reiss' "Happiness in Slavery" video for Nine Inch Nails received awards at the Chicago and San Francisco film festivals and was voted Top Ten by the Village Voice Critics Poll for Best Music Video. In 1995 the Toronto Film Festival curated a retrospective of Reiss' music videos. Jon's shorts have screened at festivals throughout the world, including Sundance, Berlin, New Directors/New Films, Edinburgh, and Chicago. Reiss received his MFA from the UCLA Film School.

Reiss received his MFA from the UCLA Film School and currently teaches in the Film Directing Program at the California Institute for the Arts where he created the class "Reel World Survival Skills: Everything I Wish I Had Been Taught in Film School." This course covers the practical aspects of surviving as an independent writer/producer/director in today's economy; topics include finding a job, pitching, script development, financing and new models of distribution. He guest lectures at universities around the world including UCLA, USC, NYU, Tisch Singapore, AFTRS in Sydney and Melbourne, among others.

Jon Reiss' early credits also include four hour-long documentaries concerning the notorious performance group Survival Research Laboratories. These documentaries have screened in festivals, theaters and cultural centers throughout the world. All were included on a compilation DVD 10 Years of Robotic Mayhem released in the summer of 2004. Reiss got his start in filmmaking at Target Video, a San Francisco based alternative video company where he covered much of the West Coast punk explosion.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable information at a crazy value December 8, 2009
I ordered Reiss' book as soon as I heard about it, as I had just finished shooting my first feature film this summer. I wish we had this book last year! But we are still in post-production so we'll get at least a metric ton of valuable information even at this point in the process to put into use before we finish the final edit and release our film. Now, the question is: how will we release it?
Many people would tell you the film business is somewhat broken and you cannot rely on a huge win at a festival and having your film bought and vaulted to hundreds of screens. This being the case, you have to work a little harder, you have to know how to manage your rights (digital and otherwise), how to market and reach your audience yourself and more than you ever thought as a filmmaker. Jon's book is very timely, full of current information (but he should sell it with a PDF update for future revisions!) and has answers to all types of questions. Theatrical? Festival? DVD? VOD? Streaming? BitTorrent? And how much time and money does this all take to do this DIY (do it yourself) anyway? How do I use social media to reach my audience? There are a million questions and Jon covers them all, and ably, too. I cannot recommend this book enough, especially for the price. Get yours now before Reiss figures out what a goldmine he's got here and starts charging $2,995 for a seminar that covers the same! Seriously, you could spend a lot of money on seminars and such and not get as much value as you get in "Think Outside the Box Office."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I sleep next to this book December 8, 2009
Everyone knows that no one knows exactly where the independent film world is heading - but the people who help it find its way will no doubt be greatly influenced by this book.

For the past year I have been reading all the great blogs and information that is out there. Among the best: Ted Hope's Truly Free Film, Power to the Pixel, The Workbook Project/ DIY Days. This book along with Scott Kirsner's "Fans, Friends, and Followers" are, in my opinion, the two most important books to have if you're committed to creating and building an audience for you and your film.

John's book contains the best current information and tools from all over the web in one place. This combined with his own personal experiences in DIY make it a bible for a new generation of filmmakers. But as he recognizes, this is a work that will continue to grow as filmmakers experiment with new tools and strategies.

Yes, it is dense. Good. We don't need more endless circle jerk conversations where everyone leaves more confused than when they entered. Lets start getting stuff done.

I've recently finished my first feature script and am in the process of putting together a strategy for my film using many of the ideas contained in this book. I keep it next to me 24/7.

The most exciting part of the book for me is that John recognizes that this industry is in flux - and therefore the conversation doesn't end with the book. He'll be launching a website soon where all of us can come and add to the conversation the book starts. What works, what doesn't, what are new tools we can use to make sure we're laying the foundation for long careers and not financial ruin.

I highly recommend ordering this book.

Jesse Shapiro

ps. I recognize I'm the first review and that always looks fishy. Full disclosure: I've never met John or spoken to him. I saw him from afar at the filmmaker forum this year. He looked like a nice enough guy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars baby steps December 9, 2009
I'm just into reading this book, but find the step-by-step instructions/information very helpful. Reiss is not only an excellent filmmaker, he also knows his stuff here. based on my own research/knowledge the information presented is complete and maintains a conversational approach and independent perspective. For newcomers, the step-by-step method makes the BIG process of filmm aking and DIY distribution feel achievable and accessible.

Good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep this a secret February 27, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are an indie filmmaker or producer, don't get this book. It's so full of amazing information that I don't want you to have it, too. It contains everything you should know about film distribution RIGHT NOW. Everything. It's an easy and quick read, but very dense with valuable facts and statistics that will give you the advantage over the sea of other struggling filmmakers.

Marketing has always been hand in hand with filmmaking, but this book proves that marketing is potentially more important than the film itself, if you want to see success. The best thing about the book is that it defines different kinds of success. Success doesn't just mean money. There are more significant measurements of success for the indie filmmaker depending on what level you are at and what your goals are.

Okay, I've said enough. Please don't buy this book. It will unlock too many secrets of film distribution and put you ahead of the game.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An indie filmmaker's best friend. April 21, 2010
This book was recommend to me at a film distribution seminar taught by Allen Chou. The book takes a different method from other similar books by presenting a step-by-step method for distributing and marketing your own film. The book also includes some topics not covered in Chou's seminar. Reiss' experience as a filmmaker really helps with real world examples of how he marketed & sold his film, rather than just "text book talk" from authors that have a primary background in education or journalism.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Professional Hold-No-Secrets Layout of Film Distribution and Marketing
"Think Outside the Box Office" is written for Producers and Directors alike. Film Distribution and Marketing is a subject that is so important to the filmmaker and cannot be... Read more
Published 16 months ago by msquidward
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Jon Reiss has created an entirely new production position - the Producer of Marketing & Distribution - it's an idea whose time has been around for a good long while and mercifully,... Read more
Published on November 11, 2011 by paula landry
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this book
If you are a filmmaker and you plan to make a feature film (which is basically the definition of a "filmmaker") you should get this book. Read more
Published on June 28, 2011 by Laura Newman
1.0 out of 5 stars WARNING about supposed .pdf version
I was looking forward to reading this book right away, so I ordered the .pdf version. Only it's not really a .pdf version. Read more
Published on February 16, 2011 by Kristine Enea
5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable resource
I recently was brought on a Producer for an independent film that's in preproduction. I thought that I might want to get a jump on marketing on the movie and purchased this book. Read more
Published on February 14, 2011 by Dale Adams
3.0 out of 5 stars Irony? Maybe....
The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era doesn't seem to have Kindle edition...ironic. Wanted to buy this but it's not yet available digitally.
Published on February 7, 2011 by Tim
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Researched, Very Helpful
A recently self-distributed a feature film and after spending 3 frustrating months, I picked up this book on recommendation of a friend. What a find! Read more
Published on August 31, 2010 by A. Stoll
5.0 out of 5 stars VERY Informative - Highly Reccomended!
Think Outside the Box Office is a must read for anyone considering self distributing their own films. Read more
Published on July 21, 2010 by Jacob A Tapia
5.0 out of 5 stars Think Outside the Box Office is your map to the future!
"Think Outside the Box Office" is an ESSENTIAL book for any filmmaker learning about self distribution. Read more
Published on July 3, 2010 by Daniel Raim
5.0 out of 5 stars Indie filmmakers NEED to read this book
As someone who works as film distribution and audience engagement consultant, I highly recommend Jon's book: the most complete, clear and helpful guide to DIY and hybrid... Read more
Published on June 23, 2010 by Laura Costantino
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