Tagged indiefilm

Why Producers Shouldn’t Ignore VidCon

When I bought tickets to my first VidCon last year, I was very excited. I had been interested in the online video revolution for quite a while and as a burgeoning video producer myself, I was convinced years ago this was the wave of the future of digital distribution and entertainment. However, when I’d eagerly tell friends and professional colleagues I would be attending, most hadn’t heard of it, didn’t think it was for them, or didn’t think it a credible or serious industry event. However, after only a few years, I could see that VidCon was quickly becoming the hub for online entertainment. So, with a Creator badge around my neck, I dove into something very new, vibrant, and innovative. After my experience last year, I knew I had to come back and I will be attending this year’s convention in Anaheim this June 23rd-25th. I feel that even “serious” independent video producers should not ignore what VidCon has to offer.

VidCon started as a fan convention founded by noteworthy YouTube celebrities Hank and John Green (Vlog Brothers). The first convention in 2010 had 1,400 attendees and an “industry day.” In 2016, more than 20,000 attendees are expected to attend and there are now separate Industry and Creator badges with their own content.


As the convention has grown, so has its incredible offering of insightful panels and workshops. This year, Industry track attendees will have access to “22 master classes taught by top industry experts,” as well as the inside scoop on what’s new in the business of online video. The Creator track, which was started last year, acts as a video production school, teaching up-and-coming vloggers about cameras, lighting, and script writing, while improving the skills and knowledge of veteran producers with tips on branding, legal concerns, and expanding production. Creator track workshops and seminars are taught by YouTubers and online video producers which give you a look into online production workflow.


I attended last year as a Creator and personally found a lot of the workshops to be fairly basic, having been to film school. However, these teenager to twenty-somethings were receiving a pretty comprehensive crash course in video production. With dedication to producing regular content, taking an iterative approach to their craft, and checking in yearly at VidCon to learn more and receive advice from other content creators, I could see that these young creators had the potential to outperform and outgrow the current media industry, without having to pay for a film school education! For me, and those of us who had experience with production, I found some great insight from attending Q&As of noteworthy creators. Other creators and I had the opportunity to ask questions about the process and received a transparent look into what it took to make videos like theirs.


The entertainment industry has taken notice of VidCon. Many of the large media companies have digital or online production arms and many of them are setting up shop at the convention. The Hollywood Reporter even ran a story on VidCon in its 5th year stating, “VidCon Matures as Hollywood Descends.” The Reporter sees, “VidCon’s growth [as] symbolic of a larger shift in online video.” I’ve even written about brand collaboration and integration in online video, citing the development and success of YouTube channels like “Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” Influencer marketing, internet optimization, transmedia storytelling– these are the trends being developed and discussed at this convention.

As a content creator, I would highly recommend staying abreast of what’s happening at VidCon. When you stand in the convention hall, you can feel the pulse of innovative energy that will sustain new media growth. The information available from industry professionals, creative content producers, and interested fans is incredibly valuable. Be warned! A majority of attendees still are those tweenage fans of internet celebrities and a huge portion of the convention is dedicated to their enthusiasm and entertainment. (See inflatable fun zone below.)  But, the potential for networking in and learning about a powerful media sector shouldn’t be passed up. I got my tickets early and badges are currently sold out, but you can tune into the live stream. Plus, there’s always next year.


I want to close with a quote from Hank Green, co-founder of VidCon, who revealed during 2014’s keynote speech a bit about the incredible momentum there is in online video creation. He said, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I have no idea. I don’t think that any of us know what we’re doing. There is a wave, and it’s made of technological things and sociological things, and it’s individual people making individual decisions about how they’re going to spend their individual time. And we are riding it. And that’s impressive. But it is not as impressive as understanding the wave.”

The wave originates at VidCon. Cowabunga.

Film Insight Season 2 – Episode 12 – Scott McMahon AKA Film Trooper

This week on Film Insight, we have some excellent Independent Film Marketing Advice from the one and only Film Trooper.  Scott spent nearly a decade at Sony before branching off on his own to make a feature on his own with only 500 dollars.   After that, Scott found himself in the trap most Independent Filmmakers do, which is how to market your film.  Scott chronicled his experiences in learning how to market an independent film through his website, and cultivated his own community online.

Scott also wrote a book on the subject, How to survive the Hollywood Implosion.  

Get Scott’s FREE Gear Guide through his website so you can make your own 500 dollar feature!

Follow Scott on Twitter here,

If you listened to Ben in our commercial breaks, and would like to check out his book,


Also, Check out Ben’s Workshop on The American Film Market here.

Save 10 dollars with code FilmInsight!

Film Insight is Hosted and Produced by Ben Yennie (@TheGuerrillaRep) and Randy Hall (@RandyHall)

Edited by Alex Nigro

Film Insight Season 2 Episode 9 – Leah Meyerhoff.


In this week’s episode of Film Insight, Randy and Ben speak to Leah Meyerhoff about Theatrical Distribution for her Independent Film, as well as the importance of community building.  Leah just released her independent feature film I Believe in Unicorns which premiered at South by Southwest (SXSW).

We also talk about ways for independent filmmakers to get people out to see their independent film in the theater, as well as ways to help people find ways to build community and spread word of mouth about your independent film.  If you’re interested in Independent Film Marketing, it’s a great listen.

Later, the conversation shifts to Women’s growing role in independent film and media and particularly Leah’s organization Film Fatales.

Follow Leah on Twitter

If you listened to Ben in our commercial breaks, and would like to check out his book,


Film Insight is Hosted and Produced by Ben Yennie (@TheGuerrillaRep) and Randy Hall (@RandyHall)

Edited by Alex Nigro


7 Ways to become a Leader in Your Filmmaking (Or Any) community

Photo copyright Producer Foundry 2014, taken by Evan Pleger
Photo copyright Producer Foundry 2014, taken by Evan Pleger

In any community, there are members who get more done than others. Some people rise to the top of the pile, while others tread water and don’t move their projects forward. Some people are only tolerated in their community, while others become leaders. It’s not random, the people who become community leaders do certain things to set themselves apart from the pack.

Successful entrepreneurs and filmmakers have a way of becoming leaders in their communities. The qualities required for both are remarkably similar. What are those qualities you ask? Fear not my intrepid reader, what follows is a list of the 7 ways to become a leader in your filmmaking (or any) community.

1. Show up.

The old adage of half the battle being showing up is very true. If you always show up, then the community will begin to know you. After a while, you’ll become a face. You’ll get to know the other members of the community. If you’re always there then the organizers will eventually trust you with more responsibility. As you become more ingrained in the community, you will naturally figure out how the community functions. Once you know how the community functions, you can begin to become a leader within it.

2. Learn People’s Names

I’ll admit that I’m kind of bad at this one, but it really does make a difference. When you can greet a person by their name, then you’re going to forge a much better connection and business relationship with them. It can be hard to remember everyone’s names when you meet a lot of people at a networking event, but it really is worth the time and mental energy.

3. Actively participate

If you want to become a leader, you need to be noticed. It’s been said that only about 1 in 10 members of a community actively create content for it. If you sit in a corner and mess around on your phone, no one is going to notice you. If you ask intelligent questions, you become a part of the conversation. Take the time to actively participate, and you’ll be amazed what it will do for your career.

4. Connect Both Online and Offline

If you only see members of your community once a month at whatever event you all frequent, your ties to them won’t be that strong. Assuming we’re talking about a professional community, connecting on linkedin will be the best place to do this. Google Plus and Twitter can also be good. Once you’ve known someone for a while, facebook might not be a bad idea but you might want to add them to different lists in order to keep your personal and professional lives separate.

5. Don’t make it all about you.

The essence of community is being a part of something larger than yourself. Unfortunately, many people only take part in communities because they feel like they can get something out of it for their own personal projects. If you focus not only on your needs, but the needs of others, then you’re going to be able to get a lot farther in your community. Successful people never forget the ones who helped them get there. Not everyone you help will be successful, but if you help enough people then some of them will.

6. Help others before you ask for help.

If you have the resources and ability to help someone, you should. Time is one of those resources, so I’m not saying let your own projects or health fall by the wayside. However, helping people is key to building social capital. As I mentioned in my last blog on community, social capital is necessary to getting things done. This is especially true in the Film Industry.

7. Celebrate the successes of your community

If something good happens to someone in your community, celebrate it. Be happy for your community members who find success. Being envious of people for their achievements will prevent you from furthering your own goals. Negativity only creates more negativity. Luckily, the same can be said for positivity. If something big happens within the community, then share it. Revel in it. Take pride that you’re part of a community that is making things happen.

People remember how others respond to their success. Having found some level of success myself, I can tell you far too many respond with envy. They respond by tearing you down because they feel threatened by your success. Those people are toxic, and you need to associate yourself with people who will celebrate your successes. The only way to surround yourself with those types of people is to be one yourself.

This Week in IndieFilm News- March 6th

Week of March 6th IndieFilm News


Full articles can be found below

Chinese Box Office Overtakes US For First Time
New IndieFilm Crowdfunding Platform Allows for both Equity and donations
North Carolina Lawmakers Propose 50 Million Dollar Entertainment Grant Fund
HBO Announces Launch of HBO NOW Streaming Platform for 15 dollars a month
New 22 million entertainment fund launches in San Paulo
Connected TV Ownership tops Blu Ray Disk Players

7 ways to become a leader in your filmmaking (or any) community.

Photo copyright Producer Foundry 2014, taken by Evan Pleger
Ben Speaking at the first Producer Foundry meetup

Successful entrepreneurs and filmmakers have a way of becoming leaders in their communities. The qualities required for both are remarkably similar. What are those qualities you ask?  Fear not my intrepid reader, I’ve shared the top 7 ways to become a leader in your filmmaking (or any) community on LinkedIn.  While you’re there, feel free to connect and join the Producer Foundry Group!

4 Reasons Community is the Most Important thing in IndieFilm

Producer Foundry Meetup @ SFSDFI’ve been running Producer Foundry for a bit over a year now, and I’ve learned quite a lot. By far, the most vital thing I’ve learned is that the most important asset any independent filmmaker has is their filmmaking community. One filmmaker is generally nothing to write home about, there are about 12,500 who graduate from film school every year in the US alone. But when we band together, that’s when amazing pieces of art happen. There are many reasons that your community can and will make or break your career, four of which I’ve listed below.

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Understanding Money

understanding moneySince my background is at the Institute for International Film Finance, and I put in a year at Global Film Ventures, I get a lot of filmmakers contacting me asking me to help them fund their films.  Some of them are good pitchs, most are not.  Getting investment for you film is incredibly difficult, if not nearly impossible.  There are many reasons for this, but one that is not often talked about is the fact that many filmmakers have a mindset that money shouldn’t come with strings, and that all they should need to worry about is making the film.

There’s this attitude filmmakers have that someone should just give them a check then go away so they can make the film.  I’ve had many filmmakers say that flat out to me, and the ignorance of it is incredibly disturbing. There’s a lot more to investment than just writing checks.


Angel investors didn’t get their money by giving it to just anybody.  Investors generally do quite a lot of legwork to research those who they invest in, and they’ll never invest in someone they don’t trust.  This attitude of “just give me the money and let me be” is a huge red flag, and makes an investor far less likely to trust you.  If they don’t trust you, they won’t invest in you.

Once you take money from someone, you have a responsibility to them to send periodic updates, and let them know how everything is progressing.  You need to be available to take their calls at most any reasonable time, and always return their correspondence within at most two business days.  All money has strings, and you can’t expect an investor to just write you a check then never check in on you.

Another attitude problem a lot of filmmakers have is that they feel they don’t need to understand business.  Many feel just need to make the best film possible and money will come to them.  While there’s a kernel of truth in that, relying solely on making the best film possible is a great way to end up broke with a film that never goes anywhere.  The best product without a marketing team will never make money.  Filmmakers do need to make a great film, but they also need to understand at least the basics of how to promote a movie and how it will see revenue.

Distributing a film, promoting a film, and selling a film are all incredibly different skill sets that require decades to master.  Filmmakers can’t be expected to be experts on every job involved in making a movie.  They do, however, need to understand what they don’t know and compensate for that by getting people on their team that do understand how to do those jobs.

In essence this is the difference between a producer and a production manager, or the difference between an executive producer and a line producer.  Line producers and production managers are great at understanding how to manage a crew and get a film in the can.  Producers need to have a good understanding of business, negotiation, deal making, finance, and distribution.  Executives do the latter almost to the exclusion of everything else.  Every film needs at least one of each of these people, and really they shouldn’t be the same person filling multiple roles.

Every film needs people who understand money, how to raise it, how to make it back, and creative ways to save it.  Filmmakers of all kinds can be excellent at the last part of that.  Innovative bootstrapping is a skill perfected by many guerilla filmmakers.  That said, you still need money, and people who understand how to make a film see revenue on your team.

Even if you find an intermediary who can help you get the money from angels, you’re still going to have to have regular phone calls and meetings with that intermediary.  In fact, that intermediary is probably going to have more contact with you than an investor would because they understand both investment and filmmaking.  You need people like this on your team, and you need to understand that you’re creating more than just a film.  Every film is in essence a business, and in order to run a successful business you need skilled business people just as much as skilled artists and visionary directors.

Whenever you seek investment, it is into your business.  You need to understand that the business is necessary.  You also need to have an appreciation and at least a basic understanding of what it takes to make money in business.  This should not be your sole consideration, but it does need to be part of your plan when creating a film.  If you do not include this in your plan, you’ll never actually see revenue from your projects.

So readers, if you’ve ever thought that all you need is someone to write you a check; remove that notion from your head.  In order to get money, you need to understand money.  Only if you understand how money works, and have a good business plan will you be able to successfully get investment and make a profitable film.

Personal Branding

personal brandingFor Filmmakers who haven’t taken marketing courses, a brand is far more than just a logo.  A brand is the collective experiences customers and business partners have with any business.  In essence, a brand is essentially a company’s reputation. On a personal level, it’s about far more than just developing a look.  It’s about managing every aspect of your image, and the interactions you have with everyone you do business with.  If you want to achieve success in any industry, your personal brand is very important, even more so in the Film Industry.

Since I had a rather long blog about the importance of developing a look, I won’t cover too much of that here.  The biggest thing to keep in mind when establishing your personal brand is managing all of your interactions with potential business partners, clients, and especially potential customers.  This means that you’ve got to maintain a certain level of professionalism any time you do business.  One key element to this is covered in my blog on Reciprocity, but there’s more to it than just that.

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