I thought a good topic today would be a discussion of the various mistakes I made along the way. Or what I will do differently the next time around. I actually feel like I have done pretty damn well, given that really this was the first time I have navigated this crazy world. But, there are a few things I’ve learned that I will take into account, and probably even change, for the next movie.
First off—and probably most importantly—next time I will do my HD masters and have a professional DVD from the time of our festival premiere. We premiered The Last Lullaby in late March 2008 as part of the Target Ten Narrative Feature Competition at AFI Dallas. Since then, we have played at 10 other festivals, and I have been in attendance at every single one.
However, at this point, all I have done is put money into making and promoting the movie. And, aside from the Louisiana tax credits my investors are about to earn, the movie has received no money coming back to it. Who knows how many DVDs I could have sold by now if I was selling them after each positively-charged Q&A—or if they had been available on my Website since March 28, 2008?
I’m just taking a guess, but I would say at least 5,000. And at $20 each, with approximately an $18 profit margin, that’s $90,000 my investors would have already seen coming back to them.
So why didn’t we do this? Mostly because my team was still thinking about things in an old way. We can’t sell DVDs at festivals because once we do that, no distributor will be interested in taking our movie out theatrically. And they might not even be interested in the DVD rights since we’ve already begun exploiting that market. All I can to say to that now is, “Wrong.” That’s an old-fashioned way of looking at things. I promise you, it’s out of date. Distributors nowadays want to know that the moviemaker is out there building an audience. Because at the end of the day, the more work the moviemaker is doing to build a core group of support, the more everyone benefits.
That leads me to the next major thing I would change: Next time around, I won’t wait to have our Website up until after the movie is completed. I will have it up while I am raising money and evolve it as the movie comes together. That way, I will have an extra year or two to build interest and our audience.
Same thing with my monthly update list. I will start adding people to the new movie’s list and begin updating them as soon as the money comes together (if not sooner). That’s just another year or two I have to build momentum. So why not, right? And, hopefully, all of the people who are currently Lullaby fans will agree to join this new list as well.
That’s really the secret, I feel. You want to be like Woody Allen or Stanley Kubrick? David Lynch or David Gordon Green? You have to build your audience and know the size of them as you move forward. That way, you can perhaps remain an independent—making movies how you want to make them that actually pay for themselves.
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.