Indie Filmmakers More Traditional Than You Thought

ifpweek.gifHere in Soho, there’s always some hip indie film being shot outside ClickZ’s office building, or some it-girl of tomorrow traipsing by. But this week we’ve got an entire indie film conference taking place across the street at the Puck Building here on Lafayette Street, so I figured I’d sneak in for a peek. If any Independent Film Week Filmmaker Conference panel would be good fodder for a ClickZ story, I figured, it’d have to be the one called “In Search of the Audience: Niche Marketing To Your Target.” I mean, this thing’s got Web written all over it, right?

Well, not exactly.

Though e-mail came up a couple times (once in detail when panelist Susan Seidelman, director of “Boynton Beach Club” discussed how she’d contacted activity directors at “active senior communities” in places like Palm Springs and Arizona to get e-mail addresses of residents to promote her film), the discussion steered pretty clear of the Web. Reaching out to niche audiences often meant posting fliers in religious community centers or ethnic groceries.

One anecdote I found especially entertaining though, and one with an interesting correlation to the expediency of Web distribution was shared by Meredith Finn from New Line Cinema, who had played a role in promoting an Israeli film called Ushpizin to Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn. The promoters had taken great pains to appeal to their targeted audience, setting up screenings with separated gender-specific areas. However, the theater screening events actually ended up competing with viewings of bootlegged copies of the very same film! Yep, people had received pirated copies of the flick by way of the homeland, and were even selling tickets to in-house showings.

As Mark Urman, a witty panelist from production house THINKfilm quipped, “There’s a fine line between pirating and grassroots marketing.”

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