I’ve written a lot about the increasing responsibilities of filmmakers and the absolute need to focus on audience/community building. How to we get our work seen in an entertainment economy that has shifted from being based on scarcity and control, to one of super-abundance and ever-increasing access? The tools get better daily, and slowly we start to map out a series of best practices.
In today’s guest post, filmmaker Ari Gold writes precisely of that challenge and how he’s managed to find some success without following the standard release plans. Ari directed one of my favorite all-time shorts (Helicopter), so I am excited to see his feature debut ADVENTURES OF POWER.
In a case of life imitating art imitating life, my air-drum comedy “Adventures of Power” is now launching a real air-drum competition [http://AirDrumBattle.com]. Rock-star drummers are lining up to participate. How in hell did I become an event planner? I used to think you just made a movie, and watch it go to theaters. But that’s not how it works these days, not for most of us. Independent filmmakers who can’t afford advertising have to find a way to get the word out about their movies – I’ve decided to become an event planner in order to do it. “Power’s Air Drum Battle” is the second initiative that I’ve done during the slow-burn release of the movie: we’ve already saved a music school with our charity auction, and so now we’re just going to have some fun. Anyone want to become a star by air-drumming?
They used to say you write a film 3 times: when you write it down, when you film it, and when you edit it. Making my movie, I learned that the first and third “writes”, you can be a perfectionist. But the second time (the shoot) you have to be a philosopher, because you’re not the one doing the writing. The shoot takes on a life of its own – often like a minor apocalypse. I would now add a fourth time you “write” a film – and that’s when you bring it to the world. That’s another one that’s hard to write yourself, even when you’re doing it yourself. Getting people’s attention without having the traditional press in your pocket is not easy to do.
I first conceived of “Adventures of Power,” a spiritual/political/absurdist fable about air-drumming and the American Dream, while living in a copper-mining town in New Mexico. The miners were going on strike; there were fights in the street. The story about a copper-mining dreamer making something out of nothing seemed to me to be a perfect combination of the ridiculous and the sublime. I don’t think I could have predicted the wild journey of bringing the “little epic” to the masses, and how much I’d feel like that miner. Broken bones, lightning strikes against the crew, death threats from copper-factory bosses (and eventually, on the plus side, invitations to countries from Finland to Thailand) were not what I expected. I wasn’t expecting my rough-cut to be reviewed (mostly badly) and the final film which I love to get no press whatsoever. But suddenly I have 100,000 fans on Facebook. How’s that work?
The sleepless, terrifying night before my shoot started, I received the following email advice from my brother: “Have fun, have fun, have fun.” And my friend from Germany wrote that before he shot his last film, he told himself “things will go wrong. not work out. i will be disappointed, frustrated and lost at times. but thats not bad. or wrong. as long as i can lay in bed at nite and honestly tell myself: i gave it all i got.’ this is not about winning. this is about doin´ it. with all your might and love. than the gods will look after you.”
Both of these emails were incredibly helpful. The winds of fate, weather, casting, financing, and distribution are often out of our control. I’ve had fans begging to buy my movie for many moons, while it navigated the perils of a distribution business in transition. I realized I couldn’t just walk away from the movie when I finished it. It played Sundance, won a bunch of prizes, and then I still had to put it out on my own. I have no idea if 100,000 new fans will ever pay the bills, but it’s great to know that all the hard work is finally bringing the fable to the masses. Every once in a while, people take power into their own hands. Power to the people!
— Ari Gold
Ari Gold’s first feature film “Adventures of Power”, an epic comedy about air-drumming and the American dream, won best-of-festival prizes at film festivals around the world, and was called “One of the funniest films in recent years” by New York Magazine. His short films “Helicopter” and “Culture” won prizes around the world, and he is currently at work on a new feature. AriGoldFilms.com
Now on DVD
DVD includes 2 full hours of bonus materials, making-of, Ari’s student Oscar-winning short film “Helicopter”, interview with Neil Peart, bonus scenes with Jane Lynch, Adrian Grenier, Tim & Eric, and more.
Follow Ari Gold on Twitter at @AriGold
Ari’s site: http://AriGoldFilms.com