The inaugural edition of the San Francisco Film Society's A2E: Artist to Entrepreneur labs took place during the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival and attempted to tackle head-on issues of economic sustainability for independent filmmakers and how digital distribution is changing the industry. (Read Indiewire's report from the event and our interview with its creator Ted Hope.)
Today the SFFS announced the outcome from the four-day program of presentations, network events and one-on-one discussions, which let to the participating companies, including Vimeo, Gravitas, Kickstarter and Indiewire's parent company SnagFilms, making serious commitments to the program's 12 filmmaking teams in the form of discounts, marketing and promotional opportunities, consultations and more. All platforms agreed to work together in such a way that none of their offers would require exclusivity, while A2E direct distribution consultants, among them Peter Broderick, Paola Freccero, Dylan Marchetti, Marc Schiller and Ruth Vitale, have pledged to make themselves available for private consultation with all the A2E filmmakers.
"I've heard it said that only 100 people or so saw the Velvet Underground or the Sex Pistols play for the first time -- yet those bands formed and went on to change the world," said Hope in the announcement. "We had 12 platforms, 12 filmmaking teams and eight consultants, and all committed to work together to build a better infrastructure for indie film. The shift won't happen overnight, but something started in that room. Indie film has changed its game, if not its name."
Here's a look at what the A2E partners have offered the filmmakers:
- Vimeo has already provided upgraded Vimeo Pro accounts to A2E filmmakers to enable them to use their tool for all aspects of their projects. Jeremy Boxer, Vimeo Creative Director, film + video, has also pledged to personally work with the A2E filmmakers and be available for more detailed conversations about their project, and to work alongside them so that they will get the maximum out of the Vimeo platform.
- Fandor will provide a detailed case study to A2E filmmakers, which, in conjunction with ongoing marketing efforts and a business model that shares revenues with filmmakers, will demonstrate the long-term success technology platforms can bring to independent film.
- Gravitas has agreed to distribute any of the 12 A2E films over the next year to its 100+ cable, satellite, telco and online VOD partners, which means each film will be available in more than 100 million North American homes. The company will guarantee that each film will also be distributed with at least one of its primary subscription VOD entities (Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Redbox Instant). Gravitas will also pledge meaningful collaboration with other A2E tech partners to help orchestrate a high impact multifaceted direct distribution release for interested filmmaker teams.
- Elisabeth Holm of Kickstarter has pledged to help A2E filmmakers strategize their direct distribution raises on their platform and map out the best way to use Kickstarter as tool to engage with their community around that release. They will also highlight A2E projects on a San Francisco Film Society–curated page.
- KinoNation will waive its 20% commission for film submitted for VOD distribution for a period of 36 months beginning June 1 2013. The company will give "premium status" to A2E films, providing much elevated visibility in each of KinoNation's U.S. and international VOD outlet partners.
- SnagFilms has agreed to distribute all participating A2E filmmakers' short films and to feature and program them in a designated A2E collection. SnagFilms promises to program this collection of shorts both to support A2E on an ongoing basis and also to promote the filmmakers feature film release plans.
- Tugg has offered A2E filmmakers discounted DCP creation services, featured placement on their company's homepage, social media and newsletter mentions.
- VHX will provide dedicated, one-on-one consultation with all A2E projects and offer all of their services at a reduced rate.
As to how the participating filmmakers felt about the event, Tommy Oliver, the director/producer of "1982," said that "A2E was quite honestly a watershed moment for me as a producer regarding the way I think about financing and distribution." "This is an incredibly exciting time for filmmakers. But it's also unrealistic to expect them to wake up one morning, take off their creative hat and put on a marketing one, and know what to do next," added Marchetti. "That's why filling a room full of filmmakers, distribution experts and technology innovators for a weekend at A2E seems like such a simple idea -- after the experience, I think it's borderline criminal it hasn't been done until now." "Car Dogs" director Collis called A2E "a giant step away from the abyss into which the indie film business and the culture of cinema is rapidly slipping," while Gravitas founder and CEO Nolan Gallagher said that "A2E and the San Francisco Film Society share a sense of purpose for the future of independent film and I was honored to share the ground floor with other innovators helping to mold what can happen next in direct distribution."
Many of the A2E filmmaking teams have offered to share case study data about their direct distribution experiences with their projects.