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Range Life Entertainment is a privately held film exhibition and marketing company that tours independent films across the country on a bi-annual basis.
Founded by Todd Sklar after the innovative and successful release of his debut feature “Box Elder,” Range Life focuses on event-based screenings and niche-targeted marketing. The company has released 19 films over the last two years, including JJ Lask’s critically acclaimed “On The Road with Judas,” Ari Gold’s break-out comedy “Adventures of Power” and Bob Byington’s cult hit, “RSO.”
Range Life also has worked with numerous studios and distribution companies as a marketing partner to help them reach college audiences outside of the tour, including Sony Pictures (“Assassination of a High School President”), Roadside Attractions (“Mystery Team”) and Variance Films (“White on Rice”).
Most recently, Range Life worked with Cinetic Media and Richard Abramowitz to help market Banksy’s “Exit Through Gift Shop,” and with Kino International on “Winnebago Man.”
Range Life currently plans to continuing working as marketing partner for other distributors, while re-launching its touring program throughout the scholastic year, and also continue parading through dive bars and karaoke joints across the country in-between. For more information, please visit www.FightYourDentist.com.
Types of films in distributor’s slate:
We tend to work mostly with indie comedies although we’ve also found success working on films that favor street campaigns (“Exit Through the Gift Shop”) or strong niche audiences (“Last Cup”). The biggest determining factor for us is whether or not the film will interest our audience, as we visit between 120-200 campuses annually, and it wouldn’t make much sense to cater our touring slate to a non-college demographic. On the marketing side, we’ve specialized in event-tizing opening weekends and utilizing social media and grassroots marketing to help drive momentum and awareness around a film’s opening, so we tend to work on films that respond to that sort of marketing, and/or play to a younger demographic in general.
Advice for filmmakers:
Three quick ones we’ve learned through working with distributors as both a filmmaker, and also as a marketing partner;
1) Have A Plan
Even if you’re pursuing traditional distribution prior to exploring self-releasing, it doesn’t hurt to have a release plan, or at least the broad strokes mapped out prior to engaging with a distributor. In a best case scenario, you can come to the table with a plan and ask potential distributors how they’d either A) execute your plan, B) modify it to make it better or C) provide a better plan than the one you’ve presented. In a worst case-scenario, you can use the experience of talking through your plan with potential distributors to make it better and stronger — odds are there’s a reason they passed on the plan you proposed, and you now have an opportunity to refine or re-imagine your release based on the conversations you’ve had with experienced professionals.
2) Know Your Audience
The most important part of making a release-plan is knowing who you’re releasing to, that is, your film’s audience. Try to be as precise and as targeted as possible. Figure out who your core audience is, and then the next tier out from that can be your “likely-audience,” and the third tier would be the general public. Forget about the latter two and focus on how to best engage with that inner circle, and then incentivize them to help you conquer that second tier. At that point if your film finds traction and has enough support, you can set out for that third section. If you can come to a distributor with a clear idea of who that core audience is, chances are you’ll be streamlining the conversation, and allowing them to figure out if and how releasing your film fits into their plans much quicker.
3) Be Realistic
Odds are, you didn’t make the next “Clerks” or “The Blair Witch Project,” and even if you did, the odds are even greater that there isn’t a company that’s presently in a position to take advantage of it. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but don’t expect it to. Be realistic about both what you want out of your film’s release, but more importantly, what a distributor wants out of your film’s release. Maybe they just want your film to be part of a catalog. Maybe they need it to be their launch for a new campaign. Maybe they have bigger and better plans for it then you’ve ever imagined. Either way, figure out where your film fits into their plans and help them take advantage of the opportunity of releasing it versus expecting them to make you happy and/or do what’s best for the film. Being realistic about the commitment they’re making before you move forward will save everybody a lot of frustration along the way.
Think of a distributor as a basketball coach, and your film as one of its players. The coach’s job isn’t to keep all of his players happy or to do what’s best for every individual on the team every single night. His job is to win basketball games, which is a constant battle and an endless balancing act, and while keeping everyone happy certainly plays a role in that, at the end of the day, it’s about winning games. Just like distribution is about making money. Or more often, it’s about “not losing money,” so be pro-active about your film’s release (#1) and try to help potential distributors see the opportunity in your film (#2) versus depending on them to find and fight for it, and be realistic (#3) about that process if and when you get into conversations with a distributor. Making sure you look at working with a distributor as a partnership, and not as an end-point, will help both you and them, and ultimately the success of the film.
Who handles acquisitions:
Todd Sklar, Steve Japan
Number of films released theatrically each year:
6 – 12
Distribution platforms other than theatrical:
We primarily stick to traditional theatrical and college campus screenings and depend on partners / output deals for any ancillary distribution.
Number of films released exclusively via VOD/DVD or “alternative” means of release:
Technically, since our tours are made up of several single night engagements across the country, rather than opening a market and platforming out, I’d say that the tour itself is an alternative means of release. Under that notion about half of our films use the tour as their primary means of distribution, whereas the other half use it strictly as a marketing component to supplement both traditional and non-traditional releases.
Number of films acquired at festivals:
We don’t really acquire per se, as we’re more of a marketing partner even when it comes to the tours, but all of our films are selected from festivals. I truly don’t know how we would be able to even attempt what we do if we didn’t have all of the incredible people in the festival world sifting through and finding great content, essentially doing 90 percent of the work for us. Marketing and releasing content is a piece of cake when you have other people doing the hard part of finding the gems.
Festivals where distributor has acquired films in the last two years:
We generally cull most of our line-up from Sundance, SXSW, CineVegas and the Los Angeles Film Festival.
[For more information, visit the company’s website.]