Digital Distribution: 2 Case Studies: Happy and Iron Sky

Digital Distribution: 2 Case Studies: Happy and Iron Sky

Iron Sky Happy

American filmmakers are eagerly discussing and developing thoughts and strategies for DIY and Hybrid Distribution. New examples are always coming up which should mark the way toward a strategy for such distribution, but as a sort of blueprint, no strategic solution is in sight. I love American enthusiasm and entrepreneurship and I know it will result in something the world will adopt, but the current fragmentation of digital distribution is getting to me. Spokespeople like Ted Hope, Peter Broderick, Liz Rosenthal, Thomas Mai and Stacy Parks are serving a constantly renewing generation of young filmmakers but what is the end result? They are proposing new solutions in which theater going audiences are often discounted, but in fact they are far from dead and should be counted among the living. Old time distribution as such is dead, and yet long living is the notion of getting one’s film to audiences.

What about filmmakers who want just to make films and not to be saddled with two more years of distribution whose rules and constant new developments are difficult enough to master in a lifetime? Aside from such content aggregators as Cinetic or iTunes, etc. where the filmmaker profits nothing, who will become the new distributors? And how will it be standardized enough for a company to incorporate it in a way that will embrace multiple films in a year? Orly Ravid and Jeffrey Winters’ The Film Collaborative or Mark Urman’s Paladin may become the new model for a distribution company. B-Side fell by the wayside. Two case studies from here in Europe (albeit Happy is a U.S. production and even Iron Sky includes Canada as a co-producer) might help formulate a standard of what are the new “deliverables” in terms of getting the film out through social networks and whatever other digital devices are ready at hand.

I think if there were a check list for filmmakers and a plan for meeting realistic and profitable objectives, then some enterprising entrepreneur could create a company to service the filmmakers not wanting to learn it all from scratch.

On June 5th and 6th IFP presented a Jon Reiss weekend-long workshop on DIY hybrid distribution and marketing in New York City. For the first time ever in this country, the distribution expert, author and critically-acclaimed director of “BOMB IT!” presented everything from creating a distribution strategy to advertising campaigns to transmedia platforms from his step-by-step guide, “Think Outside The Box Office“.

In this interim period, I want to put forth these two possible models which are in the making…many lessons will be drawn from them as well.

What luck I got to see Happy here in Berlin in a very private screening held by Simon Chappuzeau owner of the well known hang-out HomeBase. People attending the Berlinale know HomeBase from events, press conferences and parties. The German Film Academy is its upstairs neighbor. Simon, who, in his opinion, is “the one eyed man who is king in the land of the blind”, is handling the social networking aspect of this film.

Iron Sky

Simon also suggests looking at Iron Sky whose use of social media and film is one of the most complete packages. The makers of Iron Sky became known for their parody of Star Trek called Star Wreck which began as a short and was crowdsourced for the production of a feature film which looks very good. Iron Sky is a scifi movie that takes place in the year 2018, when the Nazis, who fled the Earth to the dark side of the Moon in 1945, return to claim the Earth. The film is a Finnish-German co-production with a budget of 6.5 million euros. It’s directed by Timo Vuorensola and produced by Tero Kaukomaa (Blind Spot Pictures), Samuli Torssonen (Energia), Oliver Damian (27 Films), Cathy & Mark Overett (New Holland Pictures), and San Fu Maltha (New Holland Pictures). The cast includes Julia Dietze (1½ Ritter), Götz Otto (Schindler’s List, The Downfall). Tilo Prückner (The Neverending Story, Die Fälscher) and Udo Kier (Dogville, Dancer in the Dark), and the screenplay is written by the acclaimed sci-fi writer Johanna Sinisalo (Nebula Award nominee 2009, Finlandia 2000) and Michael Kalesniko (Private Parts). The film will be released in 2011 and distributed by Stealth Media Group. Iron Sky is very active in the internet and social media – feel free to link to their profiles in all the various web services!

This Finnish-German and now Australian co-production has raised €120,000 of its budget from fans online. This news is from Julian Newby, Cannes Daily, 17. May17, 2010: The studio shoot of Iron Sky will take place in Australia which is covering 20-25% of the film’s €6.5 million budget. The production offers several equity investment packages, ranging from €1,000 to €20,000-plus. These investments come with the offer of a private screening of the movie, dinner with members of the cast and other such privileges — and online investors recoup money at the same rate as the filmmakers. A week after the equity packages were announced, 75 people had expressed their interest in investing, to a total of €120,000. The largest single investment so far is €20,000. Fans can also take part in designing Iron Sky Merchandise. “90% of the funding has been collected and producers are looking forward to using crowd investments to close at least part of the gap,” Iron Sky producer Tero Kaukomaa said. “We could apply for this money via traditional means, but we want to engage our audience and give them a very concrete chance to take a part in the movie production. And the possibility to actually make money out of it.” “The internet is a vast repository of talent and skill, a repository which has been severely under utilized by the movie industry,” said Iron Sky director Timo Vuorensola. “I think the internet is the next big change in the film industry’s future, just like sound, color, television and CGI have been.”

Twitter: @energia, @ironskyfilm

Copyrights & Usage
You are free to use all the photos, videos and materials mentioned in this press site in articles, news items, blog posts, videos and other features about Iron Sky, Star Wreck, Energia and so forth in newspapers, magazines, TV, online-videos, blogs and other such media – both commercial and non-commercial.


Instead of the endless discussions of DIY and hybrid distribution, this film and its obvious transmedia and social networking possibilities should be studied straight from its own website, Facebook, IMDb and Kickstarter pages as they develop.

Compare it to other Kickstarter films you see (Amos Poe‘s for example, or the Kickstarter Project of the Day Must Come Down, make some judgements and proceed to plan your own campaign.

Check out these social network sites for the film:
The Happy
HAPPY on Facebook
HAPPY on Twitter
Director’s Journal @ Tumblr
HAPPY on Youtube

New models can be created from seeing this film’s distribution possibilties and what materializes from them. Written, produced, directed and edited by Roko Belic the brother of Adrian Belic (Genghis Blues, these filmmakers like to travel around to festivals with their films, meeting and discussing the film for up to 2 years. Granted that is a luxury most filmmakers do not build into their lifestyles, so you can disregard that aspect of distribution if you must.

This film by its very nature makes the viewer happy. It is the sort of documentary people will want to see because it makes them not only feel happier for having seen it, but it bestows a feeling of happy empowerment in one’s own determination to achieve happiness. The viewer knows know he or she has the tools to create happiness, and in fact, most likely that are already being used and only need slight tweaking to transform one’s life.

Funded initially by Tom Shadyac, the producer of such films as Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, etc. who went through a deep two year depression as a result of illness, this film has many elements to exploit in the best sense of the word. It’s a must-see and a must-study film for everyone.

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as the film is coming out the reviews don't seem too good. I'm a little sceptical about this film now.

here's revies I found

Luci Temple

Great article :) I had the pleasure of picking the Iron Sky team’s brain about their strategy when they were in Sydney (blog post here

One thing Timo said was “Everything you do should involve creating community around the film. This isn’t just a marketing tool, it’s a way of life.”

i.e. rather than filmmakers thinking this is “two more years of distribution…difficult”, we should be realising the benefits from the beginning…

How many years does it take to find finance for an indie feature film, let alone production & distribution, by traditional means? If you invite the audience in early, they form a fan base around the project that can help the film get made and spread awareness – and this audience may stick with you beyond the one project to support you career (as is the case that Iron Sky benefits from the prior community grown on StarWreck).

Thanks :)

Suzy Noel Benfatto

Great article Sydney! Thanks for the info.

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