Schiller is one of those affable guys you see at parties whose intelligence is undeniable, even if you don't quite understand what he does. That makes sense; what he's best at is being ahead of his time. In the early '90s, Schiller helped launch the House of Blues concert business and consulted with bands like Depeche Mode who were interested in reaching fans online during the early days of the internet. Twenty years later, when all artists need to understand the digital tools at their disposal, he's reaping the benefits of having a handle on that world.
While plenty of indie film consultants talk about the value of building a community, Schiller finds ways for filmmakers to put that idea into action. Working on projects ranging from "Exit Through the Gift Shop" to last year's VOD hit "Indie Game: The Movie," Schiller has been instrumental in constructing strategies for films produced on a small scale but made successful by supportive niche audiences, largely through online outreach efforts.
"What happened with bands is happening with filmmakers," he says. "They're seeing that their businesses as storytellers are much broader than the films they make. More and more, filmmakers are looking at themselves as entrepreneurs." Crucially, he noted that films he worked on that retained a good amount of their rights, including the racing documentary "Senna" and Banksy's Oscar-nominated "Exit Through the Gift Shop," have made 10 times their initial box office grosses from various digital profits.
Schiller started making an effort to connect musicians with their audiences when he launched his company, originally titled Electric Artists, in 1997. Over time, he shifted his focus to filmmakers, but said it wasn't until he went to the 2013 SXSW Film Festival -- and saw that many movies were taking advantage of the DIY strategies he had been championing for years -- that he knew times were catching up with him. "The energy was extremely entrepreneurial," he said.
Coming up with digital marketing strategies for filmmakers before there were any precedents to use as examples of success. "It's all about experimentation," he said. "There's really not a lot of history for them to look at."
Figuring out a plan that unites films and audiences that stretches across several marketplaces. "The big challenge is creating one cohesive strategy for a film," he said. "Right now, you have separate strategies for theatrical, digital, direct sales and DVD. I think the challenge is there, but the opportunity is huge to really look at films across all those platforms and build one strategy."
Schiller is consulting on the documentary "Particle Fever," which follows scientists on the path to discovering the famous "god particle." The film premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest this month. Additionally, Schiller's company recently launched a new digital initiative, BOND360, designed to help filmmakers maintain control of their films while remaining involved in the distribution plans. He's also assisting New York photographer Scott Cohen on his first feature, "The Red Knot."