It's pretty much the dictionary definition of laziness that I've allowed my own blog to be scooped by granting an in-depth interview about Truly Indie to Sujewa Ekanayake's DIY Filmmaker blog. After all, 51 Birch Street is entering it's "5th BIG WEEK!" in theaters (as our microscopic weekly NY Times ad will scream out tomorrow), so it's not like I haven't had the opportunity to comment.
But it's so much easier to talk about this stuff in an interview format and I have a lot of respect for Sujewa's social networking skills. Sure enough, the email interview was online practically the moment I clicked the "send" button and has been highlighted by such widely-read blogs as GreenCine Daily and Filmmaker Magazine. Impressive, Sujewa.
Scott Macaulay at Filmmaker was a tad disappointed that I didn't do more hardcore number crunching, but there's a reason for that. When we signed the deal, Truly Indie asked me not to (largely because they're considering raising their fees at some point). Personally, I think that's a bit silly, since if filmmakers knew how relatively low the cost is, they'd be flocking to Truly Indie's door. But TI's Kelly Sanders is on the record as saying (at our Toronto Film Festival panel) that you could do a 5-city release for as little as $35,000. And in the same post (hint: see #7), I cunningly hinted at what our fees are for our initial 5 cities, which included NY, LA, SF, Chicago and Minneapolis.
Like I said, the interview was pretty comprehensive, but I do want to follow up with a few points I failed to mention.
1. There are usually a lot of competing interests in any theatrical distribution effort. Given that we had already pre-sold 51 Birch Street to HBO/Cinemax, and given that I hope to have a long and healthy relationship with them, it was important to go with a distributor that wouldn't overshadow or play down HBO's role. Truly Indie has been more than happy to give HBO its props.
2. Working with Truly Indie feels like a real partnership. Kelly Sanders, who oversees TI, has been extremely accessible, returns phone calls and emails promptly, keeps us in the loop on all decisions, and couldn't be more pleasant and enthusiastic. In the months we've worked together, there honestly hasn't been one adversarial moment.
3. Likewise, Laura Louden and Jasmine La Rue, who do the ads for Landmark Theatres (and do a great job, btw), are constantly asking me and Lori for our input. Literally nothing goes out without our approval.
4. Finally, you can be smart, you can be strategic, you can spend a ton or be downright cheap, but if you don't have a film people want to see you aren't gonnna get very far. Having had some experience with TI, I can highly recommend them as a legit distribution alternative, but they're no miracle worker. Relatively speaking, it's a small scale operation and, like with any distributor, you should enter any dealings with them with your eyes wide open and your feet firmly planted on planet earth.