DAVID WILSON: To use a recent example, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's "Detropia" received funding for production through a traditional means. The filmmakers handled the release. They funded it via Kickstarter. They worked their asses off but they were incredibly successful in the context of theatrical docs, which is not a very high bar. But they worked it. I think it's hugely problematic to think that should be every filmmaker's job, but there will be filmmakers for whom that works.
CHRIS HORTON: We helped those filmmakers out through our partnership at Sundance with Kickstarter and helped them raise a little over $70,000, which they used to hire a theatrical booker, a publicist, and to get the film in over 100 theaters. It ended up grossing over $100,000 at the box office, which is great for a doc. That's fantastic. They said, "We have no regrets at all. We just don't know if we'd do it again." Results really worked in that case but it's not for everyone. The reality is that filmmakers have to be their best marketers and you do have to know a helluva lot about distribution now. At the same time, at Sundance, we want our filmmakers to be filmmakers. But unless we arm them with as many tools as possible to navigate the marketplace, they're screwed and we're screwed.
JVH: The only way you can afford to do that is by paying for it yourself. Pick one of the most successful films acquired at Sundance. They may have understood the options for self-release but they chose to go with a seemingly more efficient system for distributing the movie. Whatever was on the table was so compelling that they made the decision to go with Fox Searchlight or whomever.
EB: But that only applies to .01 percent of the films made every year. That's only a tiny fraction of the films that are being made. When the "Indie Game: The Movie" guys went to the table, they passed on all these deals, but that was just because they had done all their work in advance.
SP: 10 years ago, I think a lot of the innovators had been hoping Hollywood would be completely changed by now. It hasn't changed. Everybody here knows how difficult it is to move the fulcrum up the mountain. There's no sudden exponential growth going on with all of our business models yet. Netflix is probably the biggest champion that has made everybody realize how things have changed. Even a couple of years ago, when their stock dipped because of that ridiculous name they came up with for their DVD service -- Qwickster -- the reality was that the CEO was trying to push that this was a streaming business now.
NICOLAS GONDA: If this event weren't going on tonight, a weeknight, this theater might be empty. Yet we have tons of independent filmmakers trying to get their work into theaters right now. There's been that pain point that nobody has the answer for. We came up with the idea at Tugg that if you could take away the question marks by presenting a theater with a guaranteed audience, then they could get what they want when they want it. In terms of where we see that fitting in, it's very much along the lines of what we're talking about. We're all fascinated by what's to come with more direct engagement with fans. Some people have been complaining about the vernacular of "self-distribution." As it is with filmmaking, nobody's doing it on their own. There's a new role emerging now that's the equivalent of a hospitalist. When you walk into a hospital, there are actually people there to help you navigate all of its resources. Right now, when independent filmmakers reach distribution, it's like walking into an emergency care unit. What we're missing is a curator of these services.