We’re in a slightly quieter period now with The Last Lullaby, so I figured I’d switch formats again for this week’s entry as I look back and examine some of the decisions I’ve made. I will soon be starting my next movie and, as with anything, I do hope I’ve learned from some of my mistakes.
Q: Is there an ideal week to open an independent movie?
A: I think, unless you have a major publicity and advertising (P&A) budget (over a $1M), I would probably encourage you to stay out of the crowded indie market that begins in early September and goes until the end of the year. Other than those four months, I would encourage people to release their movie when they’re ready, regardless of the month. For instance, we released our movie right in the middle of the summer blockbusters, and I think that was just fine.
Q: Is it difficult to get exhibitors’ attention if you’re self-releasing?
A: If you are putting up solid numbers each week, the exhibitors don’t care whether you have a distribution company behind you or not. Don’t worry about that. Worry about trying to figure out a way to average $3,000 to $4,000 per screen each week. If you can keep up that average, I’m convinced you can find a theater in almost any city to give you a screen. Now, granted, I wasn’t able to hit this sort of per-screen average each week. But I think with a little more P&A and a more identifiable niche market, I could have attained these numbers.
Q: What will you attempt to do differently the next time out?
A: I will try to do a few things differently:
1. I will definitely try to determine our niche markets earlier and try to form alliances with them as early as pre-production.
2. I will also try to have our Website up as soon as pre-production begins and begin gathering e-mail addresses at that time.
3. I will have a Facebook group, Twitter account, movie blog and any other major social marketing accounts as soon as I have the funding in place for my next movie.
4. I will have a trailer up as soon as I possibly can.
5. I will have a DVD of the movie for sale from the time of our very first festival screening and at every screening thereafter.
6. I will have a graphic designer on staff and consider them as important of a hire as my producer or cameraman.
7. In my own assessment, we did ourselves a disservice with Lullaby by making a genre movie that wasn’t even more edgy. In general, film festivals are not terribly partial towards genre movies, particularly horror and crime movies. Meanwhile, the key genre festivals, like Austin’s Fantastic Fest and Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival, that do make horror and crime movies their focus seem more interested in those movies that really push the envelope. Next time out if we end up making a genre movie, I will make sure either I downplay the genre elements or make an even edgier, genre movie.
8. I will have even more money in the budget set aside for P&A.
I have learned a great deal. Now, I just hope I can convince people to take a chance on me again. We, as moviemakers, have to accept that we’re in a high risk/high reward venture. And just as we can’t totally control how our movies turn out (although we can exert a great amount of control), we also can’t control whether audiences will accept the movies we have made. However, times are changing. I think, at the very least, we have to try to exert the same amount of effort in trying to make audiences find our work as we have for years in trying to make our work match our visions.
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors.