to bring attention to the lack of parity between women and men in our industry, I have been putting a ♀ next to women directors, business owners, company heads to bring awareness of what I am calling The Female Factor in the business. To step up upon my soapbox for a moment: I want to assist in bringing a conscious awareness to the fact that if 50% of the population in our target audience is not represented by any where near 50% in the creative input and commercial exploitation of cinema, then the the scales are very much out of balance and the resulting product is also askew. To create is to influence and to influence is to profit. To obtain the most value for the effort, the greatest return on the investments being made in the film business, the points of view of women need to be integrated totally into the fabric of the business (and the society). As a representative of 50% of our population, I’m taking advantage of this blog to serve occasionally as my soapbox and I will sometimes be blogging about the women who are moving our industry forward as team and community members, movers and shakers.
Orly Ravid – Founder, The Film Collaborative
By Guest Blogger Peter Belsito
Orly Ravid and her partner Jeffrey Winter have recently formed The Film Collaborative (TFC), a non profit organization which offers a full range of affordable distribution, educational and marketing services to independent filmmakers looking to reach out to traditionally underserved audiences. TFC is the first non-profit, full-service provider dedicated to the distribution of independent film, including narrative features, documentaries and shorts. We think this is a much needed and very exciting development in the independent film world. The idea that knowledgeable, honest, caring professionals could fashion a service that fits all filmmakers’ marketing and distribution needs at low cost, in today’s marketplace and business environment, is just too good.
Orly was born in Israel and came to New York as a child. She studied Literature and Film at Columbia University (in part with Producer James Schamus). After school, she moved to Chicago where she worked some years in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in the ‘Swiss Franc Futures’ pit. Thus, she describes her film and world outlook from the perspective of a business person combined with an instinct for art which can lead to the best results for both endeavors.
Her professional resume is long and distinguished. In the ‘90s, she joined Doug Witkins’ Amazing Movies. She also worked for Sunmin Parks’ Maxmedia ♀ which co-produced Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others and were active in the Asian and European markets. She and Jeffrey Winter co-founded New American Vision, a boutique niche marketing and distribution consulting service, and through that company worked with many important U.S. companies such as Wolfe, Kino, Zeitgeist, and Roadside Attractions while also acquiring features for Germany’s Senator Entertainment. She has worked on festival hits, commercial and genre pictures including Cannes discovery Eyes Wide Open (currently in theatrical release), Sundance hits The End of the Line and Brother to Brother, Nadine Labaki’s Caramel, Alex De La Iglesia’s Crimen Ferpecto, Tom Gustafson’s Were the World Mine, and the cult French film Baise Moi. In early 2010, she founded TFC with her longtime business partner Jeffrey Winter.
TFC was formed in response to the increasingly difficult distribution environment that many filmmakers find themselves in now. The company presents clear options for filmmakers to investigate and helps to negotiate favorable terms for the creator. “Film is an expensive medium. It is difficult to recoup investment. Digital has only meant more competition in the market as it has made it easier to make more films, due to lower production costs. With TFC, we want to help filmmakers in a variety of ways. We want to encourage filmmakers, especially in beginning production, to ‘think marketing’ in the earliest possible stages of a project’s life. This means connecting to your fan base, creating an online presence, forming organizational partnerships – all this must be begun as early as possible…,” said Ravid.
We have all noticed the recent changes in traditional distribution. Despite all of the current activity, Orly notes that prices have changed (i.e. lowered) drastically. It is difficult now more than ever to recoup production costs, let alone make money from a film. Though new deals have been on an upswing lately compared to last year, they tend to have no ‘Minimum Guarantees’ and are mainly ‘service deals’ (i.e. the filmmaker and / or producer pays a service company P&A – prints and advertising – for the cost of marketing and distributing a film). TFC suggests negotiating domestic sales directly to digital platforms which may be aggregated (many platforms) on a non exclusive basis. TFC takes no rights, just a small fee, the question of rights then remains between the producer, who controls the rights, and his buyers.
“The goal is to empower filmmakers by letting them connect directly with audiences, to eliminate ‘extraneous’ middlemen (and their fees) and to free the rights holder from unfair contract terms,” said Ravid. TFC services include every level of distribution work: from educational consultation, low fee or commission only sales support, contract negotiation, non-theatrical and/or DIY distribution and aggregation and marketing for digital platforms.
I particularly liked Orly’s response when asked her opinion on modes of release. Theatrical, DVD, download, streaming? Her response was very quick, and I think correct. “The platforms and methods of release all depend on the film and the opportunities. As for theatrical, well, that’s marketing.” I do love theatrical but could not agree more. The Film Collaborative is working on alternative theatrical releases and is up for a grant to release a series of films directed by women.
Lastly, I asked her to put on her cap as a woman in the biz and talk to me about the problems she saw and her experiences. “The industry is littered with men who know everything better than anybody, especially women colleagues. Women are frequently disregarded professionally, to the detriment of their companies. The bravado spending and bidding wars are all wasteful and, too often, male centric. At the end of the day, there is not enough money to go around to be wasted by exercising egos and / or libidos,” said Ravid. The reason TFC was formed as a non profit entity was to build a more efficient system to get independent films out there in the world and make sure the filmmakers retain control and share in the profits.