I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Stolaroff recently after a screening of his latest project, Pig. The film has won a myriad of awards and played at festivals around the globe. It's an ambitious film, wonderfully executed and realized - all done on a shoestring budget.
This isn't Mark's first lap around the festival circuit. He's become quite an expert in navigating the treacherous waters of not only making a film for a price - half the battle - but getting the work seen. As is his generous fashion, Mark offered to share his film festival strategies and his festival experiences with the Stage 32 community. Part I of his guest post appears below, Part II will debut this Friday.
Mark is also the founder of the No Budget Film School. His series of classes on how to make a film with little to no budget have launched the career of many a filmmaker, including quite a few right here on Stage 32. Signe Olynyk, a 32 member and recent guest blogger, was a participant in Mark's class before writing and filming Below Zero, her festival darling seen 'round the world.
Mark's next class, The Art & Science of No-Budget Filmmaking, takes place in Los Angeles on August 4th and 5th from 9:30am to 6:00pm. Stage 32 subscribers are eligible for a special discount: 20% off the regular prepaid price. Those signing up before midnight July 21st and receive an additional Early Bird discount. And students with a valid Student ID save even more. You can attend both days or either day individually.
My thanks to Mark for offering 32'ers this generous discount and for sharing his knowledge with the Stage 32 community.
As always, Mark will be available for questions and remarks in the comments section below. Ask away...
I don't consider myself a film festival expert, necessarily, compared to those who work or have worked for festivals, or those who write about them extensively or exclusively, or have written popular books about them, or teach courses on them, or whatever, but after attending countless film festivals for well over 20 years, often with films of my own, I've certainly accumulated a number of pointers with regard to developing a festival strategy for your independent film. The first rule is: develop some sort of a strategy! Too often filmmakers just dive into Withoutabox with no rhyme or reason, clicking the next deadline that comes along. I hope this article will give you a basis to put a plan together, and provide you with some helpful tips to make your festival experience a success.
First a little about me. I'm an independent producer in Los Angeles and I also teach no-budget filmmaking through something I created called No Budget Film School. I first started attending festivals in the late 80's when I was in Houston. Before many of today's top festivals were even around, (SXSW, Tribeca), WorldFest Houston was putting on a pretty good festival in my home town. When SXSW created the film festival portion of their annual music celebration in 1994, I was there, and attended religiously the next nine consecutive years. Once I moved to LA and began working at Next Wave Films, a finishing funds company financed by the Independent Film Channel, I started attending festivals all over the world, often to be on panels or juries, and most often with films. We put together the sales and festival strategy for the films we invested in - which included the first features of filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Joe Carnahan - and took seven films to Sundance and five films to Toronto. I have attended Sundance 17 years in a row now, and have gone to Toronto 10 times. I honestly can't count how many other film festivals I have been to.
When I became an independent producer, I was required to put together festival strategies for my own films, (my most recent feature, Pig, has been to over 30 festivals worldwide and won 9 awards), and here's where it became more interesting. When your film gets into Sundance, choosing festivals is a matter of process of elimination - festivals invite you to attend or apply and you decide which ones of those you want to consider. When you don't get into Sundance, like my last two features, (and while that doesn't mean the end of the world), you have a very uphill battle ahead of you to get your film noticed, and you can spend a lot of money and go through a lot of heartache in that process, even with a good film. I hope to minimize that frustration and cost with these tips.
Mark Stolaroff is an LA-based independent producer. His most recent project is the award-winning feature Pig, written and directed by Henry Barrial. He is also the founder of No Budget Film School, a unique series of classes specifically designed for the no-budget filmmaker. Stolaroff was formerly a principal of IFC's Next Wave Films, which provided finishing funds to exceptional low-budget films, including the first features of directors Christopher Nolan, Joe Carnahan, and Amir Bar-Lev.
NO BUDGET FILM SCHOOL PRESENTS:
"The Art & Science of No-Budget Filmmaking"
Saturday & Sunday, August 4 & 5, 2012 * 9:30am - 6:00pm
Raleigh Studios - Los Angeles, CA
For more information and to register, visit: http://nobudgetfilmschool.eventbrite.com/
No Budget Film School presents its famed two-day micro-budget filmmaking class in Los Angeles August 4 & 5, 2012. Specifically designed for no-budget filmmakers who are ready to finance their own projects, the lessons, tools, and techniques gained will maximize limited resources and minimize critical errors that can doom otherwise worthy projects. Producer Mark Stolaroff - former principal of IFC's Next Wave Films - and guest experts teach the specific methods, models and priorities unique to micro-budget filmmaking, whether the budget is $200,000 or $2,000, in this in-depth, one-of-a-kind class. Attendees will walk away with powerful ideas that they can use immediately, saving them time and money. These cutting edge techniques can NOT be found in a book, at film school, or in other film classes. Guest speakers include:
Peter Broderick (President, Paradigm Consulting). Considered one of the world's leading authorities on alternative distribution strategy, Peter will be giving an empowering presentation on Hybrid Distribution and Crowdfunding.
Drake Doremus (Writer/Director). Drake's micro-budget feature Douchebag, premiered in Competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. His next no-budget feature, Like Crazy, won the Grand Jury Prize there the following year and was released by Paramount, grossing several million dollars.
Michael Mohan (Writer/Director). Mohan's no-budget feature One Too Many Mornings premiered at Sundance in 2010 and his follow-up feature, Save The Date, premiered there this year, and was picked up for distribution by IFC Films.
Jacob Rosenberg (Chief Technology Officer, Bandito Brothers). A post production expert who devised Bandito's innovative workflow for Act Of Valor - a studio film shot partially on inexpensive DSLR cameras - Jacob will discuss no-budget post production.
Louise Runge & Samantha Housman (Producers). Their production company OneZero produced the recent no-budget Sundance hit 28 Hotel Rooms, written and directed by Matt Ross and starring Chris Messina and Marin Ireland.
FREE SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE
No Budget Film School has partnered with Write Brothers to bring you an incredible offer. All attendees will receive Movie Magic Screenwriter software absolutely FREE! (a $250 Value!). Attendees will also receive special discounts on Budgeting and Scheduling software by Showbiz Software, on Quick Film Budget's innovative budget-making tool, and on LightSPEED eps' new cloud-based production management system.
If you're through talking about being a filmmaker and ready to become one, this will be the most practical filmmaking course you will ever take!
STAGE 32 DISCOUNT:
Stage 32 subscribers are eligible for a special discount: 20% off the regular prepaid price! Sign up before midnight July 21st and receive an additional Early Bird discount. And students with a valid Student ID save even more. Attend both days or either day individually.
To get the discount:
1. Go to No Budget Film School Event Registration/Payment page: http://nobudgetfilmschool.eventbrite.com/
2. Click ENTER PROMOTIONAL CODE at the bottom right-hand corner of the Ticket Information section. Type STAGE32 and click APPLY DISCOUNT. You will see the prices adjust for your discount.
No Budget Film School is also presenting Tom Provost's "Cinema Language: The Art of Storytelling" class the following weekend, August 11-12, and I am offering a special discount for students who take both classes. More information on Cinema Language can be found here:
Can't make the class? For more information on future classes and to sign up for the No Budget Newsletter, please visit: