Sunday, March 14, 2010

"How to Win Friends and Influence People": The Indie Filmmaker Edition PART 1


I'm a firm believer that creativity and passion far surpasses any budget when it comes to quality film making. Some of my favorite films are low-budget, indie, or even unheard of. I'm a massive supporter of independent film making and I honestly think it takes more creativity and talent to create a film on a budget vs. a film with a bottomless bank account. This has lead me to be a critic that refuses no film brought to my attention. If a film is sent to me, I will watch it and review it. It may not be in an immediate time frame, but it WILL happen. Recent events have made me question my philosophy and I am left to wonder if I should change my opinion. My mother always told me "if you can't change your situation, change your attitude," and that's exactly what I'm going to do. Rather than take a path of refusing to review films without a distributor here on DotW, I'm going to write a little guide for independent filmmakers.

PART 1: HOW TO DEAL WITH BLOGGERS
For hypothetical purposes, let's say you make a horror film. You send said horror film to a horror blogger you or a friend knows personally or follows on twitter. You get lucky, the blogger absolutely loves your film and posts a gleaming review of your film on their page. What happens now? Honestly, your film could explode. Bloggers are friends with other bloggers, and we're really a weird cult-like family. If one of us becomes really obsessed with a film, chances are there will be others who will want their itch of curiosity scratched.

Bloggers are fragile too! We must be Italian...
That being said, it is absolutely vital to treat us with care. We are human, just like you. We have lives, we have work, we have schedules, and we have 100 filmmakers just like you that want us to watch their films too. If we e-mail you telling you we have gotten your film and that we will be responding, we mean it. Sending 18 emails (I'm not exaggerating, this has happened) is completely unnecessary. In all honesty, I don't think we'd be able to give an honest review because we'd already be so annoyed at you. Harassing a blogger is a big no-no. In the simplest terms, don't bite the hand that feeds. You could have the best film in the world, but if you piss off the people with the power to spread the word of it, you've now got the best coaster in the world.Picking on us is about as cool as picking your nose and eating it.
Another thing, don't bully bloggers. There is a good chance that we will love your film, but there is also a good chance we could hate it. Sending your film to us runs the risk of a negative review. You need to make sure you can take the possibility of negative feedback and not take it out on the blogger. If they don't like your flick, they don't like your flick. Trying to rationalize every problem a blogger comes up with is not going to help your case. If you have to rationalize the problems with the film OUTSIDE of the film...how do you think it is going to read to an audience? Bloggers are not all knowing and do have personal biases, just like everyone else on the planet. Certainly, just try to not harass or try to influence the review one way or another. Don't ask to review the review before it gets posted and don't ask for the blogger's opinion before its posted. This might be friendly, but it be taken as pressure. We feel as if we no longer can give an honest opinion out of fear of being bullied. Think of it this way, you go from a filmmaker asking for an honest review of their film to your aunt asking how much you like her hand made giant bunny costume she made you for Christmas. Get it?Friendship means never having to feel uncomfortable shirtless!
Do however, establish a positive network between yourself and the blogger. Like I said earlier, we're a weird family. If you are in with one of us, you can be in with the rest of us. Creating a network with us can be one of the most beneficial things a filmmaker could do. The internet is slowly but surely taking over every single media outlet. Websites like Bloody-Disgusting, Aint It Cool News? or YouTube are proof that the internet is taking over. I stopped reading movie reviews from magazines or newspapers long before I started blogging, and I bet you could say the same. Bloggers are GOING to be the journalists of tomorrow as we do the same job they do, for free, today. It's sort of a win-win situation. We invest in you, you invest in us, and in the future everybody wins.

Thank-you for tuning into the first episode of "How to Win Friends and Influence People": The Indie Filmmaker Edition. Come back soon enough for the rest of the guide and you'll be the best repped indie filmmaker in all the land!

18 comment(s):

Planet of Terror said...

Amen BJ-C. I haven't had any horror stories as of yet but I've heard plenty from you and fellow bloggers. Even though we do this for free, there should still be some understanding and etiquette involved.

BTW, please tell me that is a Photoshop-ped pic of The Shat and Trebeck.

Richard of DM said...

AHHHHHH, now I feel guilty all over again. When I started Doomed Moviethon, I used to accept movies from everyone. After several years of being bombarded with tons and tons of stuff, I have since taken an indefinite hiatus from accepting screeners. I got burned out on indie horror in a bad way and figured that it would be best if I just stopped for a while. My pet peeves got in the way of taking the films for what they are and appreciating the efforts of the little guys. The stream of constant references to other horror films and the push to make a 90 minute movie out of a 30 minute idea... Ugh. Plus, I just really wanted to review what I really wanted to review, you know? I think I should reconsider my stance on indie horror and screeners. I pride myself on my enthusiastic attitude! Great post by the way.

takashi said...

Talk about a self-serving post. Horror bloggers have become so arrogant about their influence in mass media it's embarrasing.

BJ-C said...

@Takashi-Alright dude, what is your problem with me? You come on my blog and do nothing but harass me. If you don't like what I have to say, go somewhere else. Your negative energy isn't appreciated.

Dr. Goreman said...

This was a great article. I have been lucky to have nothing but positive interactions with the film makers I have dealt with. I hope the bothersome ones read this and take note. Great job!!

Planet of Terror said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Planet of Terror said...

@Takashi, influence over mass media and having some small say in our own little blogo-sphere world are two completely different things. In no way is BJ-C making any mention of conventional mass media. On the contrary, she is just simply stating etiquette when engaging bloggers which indie filmmakers rely on (sometimes as their sole means of getting the word out) when typical mass media pays them no mind. Everything she states here is spot on. You might actually be able to relate if you wrote for a blog.

takashi said...

When did Day of the Woman become the dictator of what filmmakers should and shouldn't do? She's a average writer at best. Don't believe me? Read her review at Bloody-Disgusting. I'd be embarrassed to publish that drivel.

BJ-C said...

@takashi
Since when am I a dictator? I'm giving advice based off of experiences I've had amongst other filmmakers and pointing out common mistakes that can easily be prevented. I never once stated that I was anything better than an average writer. I'm 19 years old. I'm not embarrassed to see my review up there and they must not be ashamed either since they chose me to write reviews for them.

The Mike said...

Dude, there are plenty of things on the internet, you can find something else to do besides cut on others. In the meantime, those of us who do enjoy reading this blog will continue to do so, and don't really care to be enlightened by you.

Anonymous said...

@Takashi- I am an independent filmmaker, I've had a project reviewed on this site. I can tell you right now that what she's saying is right on the money. She's not dictating, she's stating something that should be common sense, but unfortunately isn't. If you don't feel like this is how they act, please tell me how they should. Like complete and utter jackasses?

And if you find her writing average then I can't for the life of me figure out why you continue to come back here and read it. And furthermore, I'd love to check out your blog and see just how much success you've gotten from it.

B-Sol said...

It's important, I think, to remember here that what BJ-C is doing is offering some tips--as someone who reviews movies--for what new filmmakers can do to foster positive relations with bloggers. This is by no means meant to be some sort of overbearing diatribe, just one person's opinion based on experience. And there's nothing wrong with that. This is a very reasonable statement of beliefs.

I Love Horror said...

I hear BJ-C sucks cock for good reviews.

Erin said...

@takashi: yo, t-man, i just got off work and I'm way hungry
could you make me, you know...some stir fry or something?

oducerproducer said...

Dude, trolling is so message board!

Good article BJC!

Dr. Goreman said...

@ilovehorror

That kind of rude and vulgar comment does not belong on a well written blog such as this. Go back to UHM with the rest of the 13 year olds.Children shouldn't be here. With articles like this one, I will read here everyday.

Nigel M said...

Hi,

the one I think who has called this right is Richard of DM. The simple answer is don't accept the freebies in the first place- I occasionally get stuff offered my way and politely decline. It is not because I do not like free stuff.

I think the statement of this independent blogger things says something about screeners not guaranteeing a favourable review. Now this may be missing the point a little- if I had a project I was pushing I would accept some bad reviews - cos it is much better than being ignored. In reviewing these screeners you (and any other bloggers who review them) are contributing to the creation of a buzz around the product... and besides there are plenty of people for example who simply love and collect bad movies and to such collectors a bad review is as good as a recommendation. So maybe a refined version of this independent blogger thing would say something like "just cos you send screeners it doesn't mean you are guaranteed to get a review" or "I reserve the right to watch, bin and not write about your product" or even better "no screeners please as I am not prepared to do your marketing for you".

Just a thought, and have a nice day.

Scoob said...

well said. now if i could just find a way to get the ones that pester me with e-mails to read this article it'd be gravy. you are absolutely right though, it is REALLY annoying, and i know they are probably just excited and over zealous about it, and i really don't want that to affect anything, but god, it can drive you crazy, especially when anything you have to say is good, anyway. is it wrong if i just start to ignore the 1000 e-mails from the same person and just go about my business as usual?

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