Episodic Funding Model

Brian Norgard is the founder of Chill. And today he stopped by Filmmaking Stuff to share news about the Vigilante Diaries, which is also the first series ever to use the “episodic funding model.” In full disclosure, I manage film acquisitions for Chill – at the same time I thought the filmmaking community would benefit from the Episodic Funding Model, so I included the interview below.

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Jason Brubaker
Tell us a bit about your new series, the Vigilante Diaries.

Brian Norgard
The “Vigilante Diaries,” is a new series starring bombastic Jason Mewes (“Clerks,” “Mallrats” and “Jay and Silent Bob”) alongside a knockout cast.

Jason Brubaker
When did you guys start working on the project?

Brian Norgard
We started development on the Vigilante Diaries two months ago, and it’s finally available.

Jason Brubaker
That’s an amazing turnaround… From development to release in two months!

Brian Norgard
This is an exciting milestone at Chill. Prior to this we focused solely on distributing and marketing films and comedy specials.

Jason Brubaker
Where did the idea come from?

Brian Norgard
It was Jason, Christian (the director) and Paul (writer/actor) – They came to us with a great concept, yet didn’t want to shoot another traditional TV or Web series pilot. They wanted to bring the audience closer to the collaborative experience.

Jason Brubaker
Having seen the cut, it looks you guys figured out a narrative that helps Jason connect with his audience.

Brian Norgard
We were certain that Jason’s hardcore fan base needed to be a integral part of the creative process. Jason’s always maintained a very honest and open relationship with his fans.

Jason Brubaker
Why not go the traditional route for this?

Brian Norgard
The old entertainment platforms simply don’t offer a true two-way engagement channel — in fact they absent of this notion. And that’s a significant disadvantage long-term. The Web has all the properties that can aid in the formulation of world-class entertainment: real-time feedback, rich engagement, niche community, immediacy, personalization and on.

Jason Brubaker
The delineation between the web and TV is increasingly blurred.

Brian Norgard
The great Shane Smith (founder of VICE) further influenced my thinking here with this extemporaneous rant last year, “We just have to do it better. Online is a revolution. The Internet is a revolution and we should be revolutionary when we think about the content we put on it rather than derivative and mimic the shit on TV and make it worse. Let’s say fuck it because the Internet isn’t TV. It’s different. It’s better.”

Jason Brubaker
So how does Vigilante Diaries make the viewing experience different and better?

Brian Norgard
We are being totally public about how much gross revenue the first episode of “Vigilante Diaries” generates. The money counter will increment in real-time. (I know. I know.) What if we bomb? What if we make $5M? So be it. I think Jason’s fans will appreciate our transparency and, more importantly, see that we’re all in this together. Because we are.

Jason Brubaker
That’s a bold move. What else?

Brian Norgard
Jason and the entire cast and crew have agreed to make at least two more episodes — provided they reach $50,000 in gross sales in less than 30 days. We call this episodic funding.

Jason Brubaker
How does episodic funding work?

Brian Norgard
The idea is simple in theory. Audiences will rally around creators. They will support ongoing production with true, old-fashioned patronage. Our episodic funding model represents a new direction for digital series. We’re working outside of the ad-supported world, which lets the creators take risks without answering to brands, networks or agencies. In its purest form, this a model for series that cannot be cancelled as long as viewers are willing to support them.

Jason Brubaker
You’ll know if the audience is engaged or not.

Brian Norgard
Everyone involved with this project is incredibly open to real-time feedback. We are literally going to be asking for help in making each new episode, and it’s clear to all of us that our greatest asset is our audience. We can’t wait to make this series with them. We’ll soon be rolling out more tools to make this process easier.

Jason Brubaker
This sounds a lot like crowdfunding. What makes episodic funding different?

Brian Norgard
Let’s be clear: episodic funding is not crowdfunding, but the model does share some similar psychological properties.

Jason Brubaker
And this is because a portion of the series has already been produced?

Brian Norgard
Correct. This is not a promise for a future product. If you support “Vigilante Diaries,” you are buying the first two episodes and will be able to view them on demand via the Chill platform. “Vigilante Diaries” will be available immediately.

Jason Brubaker
In addition to watching the episodes, what are you guys doing to amplify word of mouth?

Brian Norgard
To help Vigilante Diaries be even more successful, we’re launching a new feature called Patronage, which lets you support the creators even more. Viewers will have the ability to gift DRM-free copies of the episode to friends.

Jason Brubaker
So this means, if I buy an episode, I can also buy additional copies and gift them to my friends?

Brian Norgard
Yes. For example, you can choose to support Jason and the crew at the $14.99 level. This will allow you to gift 3 copies to friends.

Jason Brubaker
Sounds like an exciting way to quickly spread word of mouth.

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Brian Norgard
We’re fascinated about this approach to social distribution but frankly, we don’t know it if will work. Can you imagine a film or series going viral in this way? I can. Could that be you?

Jason Brubaker
What happens if things don’t go as expected?

Brian Norgard
If we fail to reach these goals, it will be on full display for all of you to chuckle at. But that’s okay. We’re open to risk. Countless creators have come through our doors and are interested in this new model because they too see the power of what can happen when an audience gets behind something special.

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Brian Norgard is the founder of Chill. He is a successful serial entrepreneur, investor and product designer. You can follow him on Twitter.com/BrianNorgard or Instragram.com/BrianNorgard. If you’d like to discuss your film with Brian directly, he will personally buy you a Corona at The Standard Hotel.

 

Networking With The Film Lobby

If you want to make a movie, you can’t do it alone. Networking – Creating and cultivating relationships within the filmmaking community is essential for your success. Today’s guest article comes from Jonny Morgan, owner of the new online community called the Film Lobby.

Networking With The Film Lobby

Listening to any podcasts, reading any articles or taking advice from others there is one thing that raises it’s head time and time again. The importance of networking. The old adage “you only get one chance to make a first impression” is as important when networking through online social media as it is when attending face to face networking events.

The image you present of yourself should be professional, succinct, consistent, thoroughly up to date and showcasing the best of every talent you possess. Yes there are a myriad choices of social platforms out there, some that can be used personally, some professionally. My advice is to keep the two separate. You don’t wear a suit going to he gym!

My friend Melissa Cantatore is an actress working and living in LA and she strives relentlessly in the pursuit of securing continuous work. Melissa promotes herself as much as possible through her management, agent and by searching out and responding to casting calls herself. Together we designed a website for her, printed up business cards and created a profile on www.thefilmlobby.com.

Remarkably soon after that, two time Oscar winner Ron Judkins saw her online, auditioned her via Skype and she landed a roll in his new film which he wrote and directed, “Neighbours”. With online social networking combined with persistence and professionalism you, like Melissa, can succeed.

So what are your choices? What are your skilled areas and what is the best platform for you? Some may think “well IMDB is great if you’ve made it, MySpace is best for music, Facebook is good for friends and fan pages, Twitter lets me follow my heroes but what is best for me as an establishing OR established professional artist?”

The Film Lobby is an intuitive, free, easy to use platform on which you can showcase your image, photographs, music, reel, shorts, podcast, blog, audio all in the same arena. A platform where you can learn and contribute through forums, search through castings in your area, post castings to help forward your project and mingle with like minded professionals. Join free at www.thefilmlobby.com, professional networking for film makers. The very best if luck to you.

 

CreateSpace Phone Number

If you are looking for film distribution,  CreateSpace offers a great way to access the Amazon marketplace.

But if you have gone through the process, you probably also know that finding the CreateSpace Phone number and reaching someone in the customer service department can be frustrating…

Not anymore. CreateSpace has established a Member Support to help you with you film distribution needs. They offer phone and e-mail support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can call CreateSpace directly at (843) 760-8199. Keep in mind that charges may apply.

Additionally, if you are in the US or Canada – you can simply log into your member area and click “Contact Support.” From there, choose “Call Me!” to speak to a representative.

For those of you outside the US, you can send a Support Request with your international phone number. From there, CreateSpace will phone you.

Nice work CreateSpace! This was necessary and useful to the filmmaking community!

New Projects

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Jason Brubaker is writing a filmmaking book for Amazon. Cover via Amazon

Quick update for the filmmaking stuff community: I am working like crazy to release 3 awesome products within the next 3 months.

Awesome Filmmaking Product #1
(Timeline 1.5 months from now, or earlier.)

One of the products will be an eBook that I plan on giving my subscribers for free.You don’t want to miss this. While I don’t want to spoil the surprise, I can tell you that some very awesome filmmakers have collaborated with me. And we are going to release this book simultaneously across the filmmaking  community. In the eBook, you’re going to get a lot of perspective on how to run your modern moviemaking business. (Not yet subscribed? click here.)

Awesome Filmmaking Product #2
(timeline 2 months from now, or earlier)

I have been working on a piece of software that will revolutionize the ways in which filmmakers get their movies seen and selling. This is one of those things I’ve been planning for a long, long time. I can’t tell you how many software devlopers flaked out on me. But after a little persistence, I was finally able to gain some traction. So again, make sure you subscribe.

Awesome Filmmaking Product #3
(timeline 3 months from now, or earlier)

And for those of you who enjoy my MovieMaker Action Guides and blog, I am finally going to release my first physical book. For a long time, I stuck to eProducts because I frankly hate inventory. I hate the old model of publishing a book. And I also hate going to the post office. But after speaking at UCLA film school, film workshops and a few other places, I realize that a book would be a lot more powerful than a business card. I am almost done with the first draft – I’ll just need to edit it. Afterwards, I hope to make the book available at Amazon – and for those of you who can’t stand physical books, don’t worry. I’ll also publish to kindle.

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So make sure you make note in your filmmaking calendars. This summer is going to be an awesome opportunity for us to share and get to know each other better. I wish you ongoing successes in life and filmmaking!

Rock On Filmmakers!

The Secret Society Of Modern Indie Filmmakers

Earlier this week, Sheri Candler was spreading word of mouth about a test screening of Gary King’s indie film musical:  How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song. So I did something I haven’t done for awhile – I got out from behind my computer screen to meet and mingle with some new filmmakers face-to-face.

As the lights dimmed and Gary’s movie flickered across the screen, I was reminded of the year I lived in New York City. This was a time when I couch surfed between a sofa and an inflatable air mattress, all the while dreaming that I would someday make movies. Admittedly, maybe these memories were flooding back as a result of Gary’s movie. I mean, the story is based in Manhattan.

During the screening, and afterwards, I realized I have been missing something I haven’t felt for years.

I have forgotten the joy that comes from participating in activities with other folks from the indie filmmaking community. And I also realized that my world of indie filmmaking (once defined and limited by the following filmmaking mantra): save up all summer and buy an Arri BL, scrape together enough money to pay for film and processing, make the movie and PRAY for a distribution deal that makes sense – I’m pleased to say that era of filmmaking is over.

As a result of lower priced production equipment, coupled with new, non-discriminatory distribution, YOU can make, market and sell your movie this year and you don’t need to ask permission. Filmmakers like Gary King epitomize this movement – asking questions like How do you write a Joe Schermann Song starring awesome actress Christina Rose (nice work Christina!)

Past that, there is something else. While the studios are excited about UltraViolet and a new attempt to control their piece of the world wide web, our thriving indie community could care less. Instead of worrying about traditional distribution, modern movie makers are more concerned with their YouTube following – and the size of their growing audience.

As a filmmaker, you are part of movie making history. And you probably don’t know it. But like all artistic and social movements that have come before, you are riding this wave. The question is, will you take advantage of this opportunity – or will you find yet another reason why you can’t make your movie this year?

ALSO:

At the screening, I met close to a dozen people who claimed to have heard of me or knew me from this website. Please give me some time to adjust socially – It’s not every day that people approach me and quote my ideas back to me… But I want you to know I am honored and grateful for your readership.

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