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SXSW 2012 PANEL 14.

00 MON 3 MAR

How I Learned to Stop worryIng & Love vod
(with apologies to Stanley K.)

Moderator: Orly Ravid - Film Collaborative Case study: Matt Harlock - American The Bill Hicks Story Panel: Eamonn Bowles - Magnolia Nolan Gallagher - Gravitas Dylan Marchetti - Variance Films

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

‘American The Bill Hicks Story’
“At last the true life story of the outlaw comic who tried to save the world.” Four years in the making, AMERICAN: The Bill Hicks Story finally brings the amazing tale of one of modern culture’s most iconic heroes to the big screen.
Taking documentary to a new level, and including many unseen performances, AMERICAN uses a stunning new animation technique to bring Bill’s inspiring story to life, told for the first time by those that knew him best.

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Criteria for a funded feature doc Bill who? Awareness of Hicks’ comedy in the UK: • 350,000 unit sales track record in the UK - lively/active online community - 200,000 FB fans (ww) - voted 4th best Stand-Up Ever in recent UK poll... - books sell 40,000 copies (base) in UK - ‘the comedians’ comedian’ - Bruce/Pryor/Hicks • Full life story had never been told before Bill’s family had never spoken at length, once 18 years ago • BBC initially financed production through DVD and TV acquisition for $280K (incl. $60K for US DVD) nb. pre-sales are not typical and based on 2006 DVD market • World Premiere at LFF led to press reviews led to UK theatrical • BUT awareness of Bill was nowhere near same level in the USA... therefore THe goAL oF THe FiLm was to firmly establish Bill Hicks on the permanent cultural timeline in the US
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Audience trailer must establish • that this is an amazing theatrical, group experience • that you don’t have to know Bill to like the film (inclusive) nb. his fans will seek this out - our target is the peripheral & non-fan. • Bill is a comedian, controversial, & unique. • he has cult cool - “if you havent heard of him you should have.”

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Performance in lead up to US release • international festival run – selected for 30+ international festivals incl: London FF, SheffDocFest, Glasgow, SXSW, HotDocs, Seattle, Boston IFF, winning at: Dallas, Downtown LA, Little Rock, Biografilm Bologna… • major UK theatrical release may 2010 - American was the 2nd highest grossing theatrical documentary that year, ahead of Capitalism A Love Story, Religulous and The Cove. • Australian theatrical release through Madman Sold out 3 week run in Sydney, ACMI in Melbourne took $40K. • Top 10 films of 2010 lists www.cinemablend.com plus IndiePixFilms, yourturnheather & ScreengrabX. • imDB rating of 8.2 out of 10 (in the top 50 best docs of all time) • Driven by UK & festival press reviews - producers own money spent on PR in the UK from LFF to theatrical

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

‘American’ UK & festival press
“immersive, inventive…beautifully told” Empire

nb. becomes sales sheet
“Extraordinary – a triumph” Uncut

HHHH HHHH

HHHH HHHH

“nothing short of astounding” Time Out “surely the most visually inventive bio-doc ever – a kinetic masterpiece” The Observer

“lovingly assembled…highly watchable” One of the ‘Films You MUST See This Summer’ Total Film “a really impressive film biography’ The Guardian

“A flawless piece of work…utterly inspiring. Certainly our most anticipated movie of the year” Maxim “Visually, the movie’s fantastic…a fascinating & incredibly entertaining movie.” Aint It Cool News

HHHHH

“A total must-see” Love Film “A brilliant and beguiling film” Esquire “Thoroughly engrossing…a very fine piece of work.” Movie of the Week Mark Kermode, BBC Film 24

HHHH

“hysterically funny and deeply moving tribute to a true American outlaw.” Daily Mirror “The groundbreaking comedian gets a step closer to immortality…has a compelling intimacy” The Hollywood Reporter

HHHH

“Absolute perfection.” Loaded “Likely to be the pre-eminent documentary of 2010” Clash Magazine

HHHH

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

The 2 pager sales/performance sheet
• The producer’s most valuable sales weapon • summarises film’s appeal in several different ways “at a glance” • constantly updated, always have on hand

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Producers split-rights decision • had talks with major distributors but no ‘right’ offer emerged • we had met partners we liked offering a viable theat/VoD strategy (albeit with a risk/investment involved) • we had experienced the positive audience reaction, convincing us it was a ‘theatrical’ film • press reaction had been very strong - to use it, the film needed to be theatrical - & banked interviews/press interest for release on theatrical assumption • we knew (hoped) that Bill’s US fanbase/community was out there - Our Facebook Groups up to 12,000 by this point - our website getting 2000 hits a day during SXSW • if we did not make the right impact in America with the film, we would have considered it to have failed

SO...
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Theatrical release factors • Variance agreed to defer part of their low 5 figures fee • as producers, we had skillset to deliver print artwork and trailers at no/minimal cost • decided that 35mm trailers were worth the cost to hit right theatres • PR was the most valuable money spent due to Bill’s story potential ie. important American comic who’s not as well known as he should be, British filmmakers tell American story about freedom of speech

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Targeted marketing materials • Research - we asked all our US friends, festival heads, producers, marketers and comedians what worked - with some surprising results

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Designs phase 2 • Final set of designs sent out for feedback round 2

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

The ‘silhouette’ • our feedback pool unanimously chose the ‘silhouette’ design • As with trailer,
must quickly establish: • Bill is a comedian controversial, & unique. • he has cult cool - “if you havent heard of him you should have.” • that this is a full bio and an amazing rollercoaster life (not death) The ‘non-subermersible’ elements must be identified with each film to be brought out in trailer/poster. • 2ndary use at small sizes eg. banner ads

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Theatrical/VOD day-&-date release April 8th 2011

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Release support PR/marketing
Theatrical/VOD release - April 8th 2011 nb. this day&date strategy affected some cinema/chains decision to take the film

1. Trailer 250,000 views then (now 400,000+) 2. Variance marketing via Facebook & limited advertising - budget $500 3. US press reaction/awareness via PR spend - placement generated via release of exclusive clips/content - Grit TV, Sirius XM, KCRW, KLBJ, GATW, AICN...
“Fascinating portrait of a born funnyman” Variety “thought-provoking, heartbreaking, and hilarious” NBC.com “incredibly inspirational…deeply moving” IFC News “Possibly revolutionizing the documentary genre” NYPress.com “The groundbreaking comedian gets a step closer to immortality” Hollywood Reporter “Fantastic...incredibly entertaining” Aint It Cool News “By far one of the best documentaries I’ve seen.” WASHINGTON Square News “Excellent doc...great exploration of the man.” HUFFINGTON POST “I loved the film, totally inspiring.” Bob Edwards, SIRIUS/XM RADIO “Fascinating – we can see why he was glorious” The New Yorker Magazine

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Release support PR/marketing 4. Screening support & comedy community/online outreach
- month long tour of Q&A screenings, comedy community outreach, - prize giveaways & ticket promotions in return for posting online/iTunes links - filmmakers hit est. 200,000 comedy fans directly via club mail lists nb. this is time consuming stuff

Outreach partners:
Austin Film Society - screening/prizes Alamo Drafthouse - special screenings Austin Chronicle - giveaways CapCity Comedy - Houston - 10,000 mail list Comedy Store LA - 20,000 mail list Comics Comic website GATW - clips & DVD giveaway Improv Comedy chain - free screenings KCRW - interview & giveaways KLBJ Austin - screening, prem host Laughbutton Mondon Tees - bespoke poster Satiristas - 20K impressions SXSW - ticket giveaway Waterloo Records Austin - 20,000 mail list giveaway
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Release support PR/marketing 5. generate interest through leveraging champions relevant to project... SXSW New York
Richard Linklater Keith Olberman Jamie Kilstein

Los Angeles
Paul Provenza Bob Weide Colin Hanks

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Cable VOD reach & marketing Theatrical awareness, strong reviews & the tour helped the online campaign, leading to: banner ads on iTunes, featuring in Comcast’s VOD barker and :30 second spots on Dish Network all of which were free because the these providers saw the film in advance and got behind it. 1. 100million home reach in North America - featured in Comcast’s VOD barker 2. Dish Network takes the film
(usually $10m Hollywood product)

- incl. free :30 second ad spots

3. VoD reach via Warner Digital Distribution:
• Comcast • Time Warner Cable • Cox • AT&T • Charter • Verizon • Apple • Amazon • Sony Playstation • X-Box
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Film positioning/placement by operators
Operators understand customers like seeing films that are in theatres available on-demand - leading to them promoting the film in ‘Now in Theatres’ & ‘New release’ type categories.

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Internet VOD performance Transactional VoD: Top 10 in iTunes Doc & indy charts for 10 weeks after release (incl. no.2 for first 2 weeks behind oscar winner inside Job) Banner advertising

AVoD: No.1 on Hulu on release Nov 2011

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

American theatrical/VOD revenues Theatrical gross: $7K opening w/end at Cinema Village NY $90,589 - producers break even VOD revenues:
Windows

Cable VoD Cable VoD DTR DTo SVoD AVOD

Price point

$6.99 during theatrical $4.99 after DVD avail $3.99 rentals iTunes $15.00 to own Netflix + Amazon Prime Hulu Rev. based on plays tbc
(No.1 on release)

Term

2 months 6 months ongoing ongoing 2 years ongoing

Transactions

28,600 35,000

Gross

$200,000 $175,000 $ 40,000 $ 15,000 $ Low 6 figs $ 5 figs $ 600,000

10,000 1000 Subs

Gross EST over 3yr term

TV sale

None as yet, VOD/DVD rights not available has affected interest

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Deciding on a split-rights release strategy
American’s producers had talks with major distributors but no ‘right’ offer emerged, leading to the decision to fund theatrical to drive VOD. The criteria were:

1. Film reaches top tier festivals - this allows crucial access to partners - partners see film perform with an audience 2. Film inspires positive press/audience reaction - bank interviews/press interest for release 3. Subject has a fanbase/community (or at least is known) - see Jon Reiss on PFM, Peter Broderick on suitable subjects - Facebook Likes min 5000, ATM 17,000, DMT 150,000(!) 4. Producers prepared to spend another year releasing film - leads to question: what kind of filmmaker are you? and the two you may not be able to do: 5. Confidence/cash to fund a theatrical to publicise VoD release 6. Have your film’s title start with A to D - unfortunately not a joke
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

SXSW 2012 PANEL 14.00 MON 3 MAR

How I Learned to Stop worryIng & Love vod
Moderator: Orly Ravid - Film Collaborative Case study: Matt Harlock - American The Bill Hicks Story Panel: Eamonn Bowles - Magnolia Nolan Gallagher - Gravitas Dylan Marchetti - Variance Films

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Gravitas VOD releases

Billionaire
Synopsis: The story of DHL-Founder and tycoon Larry Hillblom who disappeared mysteriously in a plane crash leaving his unacknowledged children to fight for their share of his vast fortune. gross VoD Revs: Release Year: Theatrical Box: Film Festivals: marketing element: $200,000+ 2011 $0 Tribeca occupy Wall Street, 99% v 1%

Elephant in the Living Room
Synopsis: Praised by critics as one of the best films of the year, director michael Webber exposes the controversial American subculture of raising wild predators as common household pets. gross VoD Revs: $350,000+ Release Year: 2011 Theatrical Box: Under $100K Film Festival: Santa Barbara marketing element: Large number of worldwide pet owners, Zanesville animal release tragedy in oct. 2011
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Gravitas VOD releases

DMT: The Spirit Molecule
Synopsis: The Spirit molecule explores the enigmatic dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a psychedelic molecule found throughout nature, including humans, and potentially every living organism. gross VoD Revs: Release Year: Theatrical Box: Film Festival: marketing element: $200,000+ 2011 $0 San Francisco Doc Fest over 150,000 Facebook likes

Fat Sick & Nearly Dead
Synopsis: FAT, SiCK & NeARLY DeAD is an inspiring film that chronicles Joe’s personal mission to regain his health while traveling across America, juicer in tow, and inspiring others to do the same. gross VoD Revs: Release Year: Theatrical Box: Film Festival: Marketing Element: $350,000+ 2011 Under $100K Sonoma Enduring interest in self help and dieting issues

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Gravitas VOD releases

5 Star Day
Synopsis: Jake sets out to find the three people born the same time and place as himself to see if their birthdays proved to be as disappointing as his own in an effort to disprove Astrology. gross VoD Revs: Release Year: Theatrical Box: Film Festival: Marketing Element: $1,250,000+ 2011 Under $100K Newport Beach Over 12 million people get horoscopes from Facebook
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Gravitas VOD releases

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Film starring comedian friend of Adam Sandler
Reasons Why Film Struggled: VoD release occurred 3 months after DVD, poorly coordinated marketing gross VoD Revs: Release Year: Theatrical Box: Film Festival: $100K-$150K 2010/2011 None None
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Anonymous Award Winning Doc
Reasons Why Film Struggled: Film went out on VOD 7 months after theatrical. Title name began with letter at end of alphabet. gross VoD Revs: Release Year: Theatrical Box: Film Festival: $50-$100K 2009/2010 Under $100K Top 3 Film Festival

Variance theatrical case study

Until The Light Takes Us

Theatrical release without Day/Date VOD

Results driven by a niche musical genre (black metal) with a rabid fan base that was engaged early by the filmmakers, coupled with reviews and marketing that was able to expand the film past the core audience. Theatrical Box: Theatrical P&A: TV Pre-sale: VoD Results: $140k $25k $27.5k - Sundance Channel, included non-excl. “on demand FVoD”) $38.5k total

(VoD windowing was backwards - first Sundance Channel and Netflix streaming, then VOD - therefore VOD revenues affected by delay.) $30k Cable VoD/amazon/itunes $3k Filmmaker’s website $3.5k DVD: Low-to-mid six figures and sales holding up. Netflix/SVoD

VS. Anonymous Niche Musical Documentary with Day/Date VOD A lesser known subject without a rabid fan base, mediocre reviews, and a minimal release budget hurt this title. Theatrical Box: Theatrical P&A: VoD Results: DVD Results: $12,000 $14,000 Poor, low five figures TBD

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Variance theatrical releases

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vs.

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$220,000 $160,000 excellent, high six figures Outstanding
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Anonymous Action Film with Day/Date VOD
Good festival placement, but mediocre reviews. Good marketing drove all results on this title. Only had a ten city release due to small P&A spend and limited theaters available for title. Theatrical Box: Theatrical P&A: VoD Results: Home Media Results: $60k $45k Low-to-mid six-figures & rising Above average

Anonymous Action Film without Day/Date
No major festival placement, but big cult awareness to start and solid reviews. initial release of 20 screens, including major chains that don’t play VoD day/date. P&A driven higher by materials (35mm and digital print) and advertising costs. Theatrical Box: Theatrical P&A: VoD Results: Home Media Results:

Orly’s Top 3 Takeaway Tips...
1. PLAN YoUR STRATegY & KNoW YoUR AUDieNCe:
Plan ahead, long before you finish the film so that you can a. premiere at the best fest possible or in the most appropriate medium; b. premiere with an already growing fan base and community around your film so you can... c. limit the time between the buzz build-up and the actual release. Plan ahead and you can fast track the best distribution for your film while fresh in people’s minds for it’s VOD life. Plus not all audiences consume films in the same way so plan ahead with that knowledge in mind.

2. KEY THINGS TO ASK YOUR DISTRIBUTOR OR AGGREGATOR:
a. b. c. d.

Their FEES and also their splits (especially with Cable MSO / platforms) Expenses being recouped If they have to go through middlemen to get to any key platforms / digital stores. What they do, if anything, to support and market the film from both a business-to-business side and consumer facing side.

3. WATCH YoUR WiNDoWS - Timing is key:

a. If you stream or distribute digitally before Cable VOD, you will often lose that opportunity. b. Festivals will often not program a film if it’s available digital or at all commercially. c. Broadcast and SVOD are competitive with each other so compare distribution results/maximum benefits. d. Consider Reverse Windowing (VOD BEFORE theatrical) eg. Magnolia e. Ad Supported VOD (AVOD or FOD (free VOD) (e.g. regular HULU) or broadcast airings can be useful for maximum awareness, are relatively significant revenue generators, and can drive transactional VOD (as opposed to AVOD/FOD being seen as cannibalizing business.

www.thefilmcollaborative.org
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Orly’s Top Takeaway Tips 4 - 9
4. DeViL iS iN THe DeFiNiTioN The term VOD means or includes different things to different users. These terms are becoming more customary but are not fully standardized so have ALL terms related to digital rights DEFINED. And the space keeps changing so be sure to stay current. 5. KNoW YoUR RigHTS & oTHeR WAYS To PRoTeCT YoURSeLF iN A DeAL Before giving rights away for longer periods of time, think about the future. For example, the category of DTR (download-to-rent) is growing as is SVOD (Subscription VOD). So you will want to make sure your splits are strong in your favor for growing categories, and Cable VOD and transactional DTO (download-to-own) or EST (electronic sell through) are strong too. Instead of focusing on rights classes, one may also want to address gross revenues ie. get an appropriate share of revenues at certain gross thresholds. Digital distribution in Europe is not as mature as it is in the US but it’s growing. 6. CHeCK ReFeReNCeS: BEFORE YOU SIGN A DEAL... check references not only from the films the distributor or aggregator referred but others. 7. DiY DigiTAL oFF YoUR SiTe(S) Always try to carve out the ability to sell off your own website. And one can always GEOFILTER if one has to (meaning limit a territory). DIY digital service providers we recommend are: Dynamo Player, Distrify, EggUp, to name a few. But monetizing your film off your site can be good business and is wise to do. 8. KeeP Time BeTWeeN ReLeASe WiNDoWS To A miNimUm... If you cant use piracy by monetizing it/to drive awareness, then reduce the time between your release windows and when you first start handing out DVDs and getting a lot of buzz for your film. Some piracy cannot be helped, if if you want there are anti-piracy services one can employ. (nb. DVD is a bigger source of piracy than digital.) 9. KeY ART for THUmBNAiL DigiTAL SiZiNg: Take good photography on set so that you have best marketing possible, even for the THUMBNAIL version for DIGITAL/VOD. Remember most people won’t actually see your theatrical poster.
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Dylan Marchetti’s Takeaway Tips...
1. KNoW AND ReSPeCT YoUR AUDieNCe The sure-fire route to a theatrical/VOD success story is knowing your audience: where to find them, where they watch films, and how to reach them. But respect them - don’t talk at them, talk with them. They’ll pay you back. 2. WATCH YoUR WiNDoWS The #1 reason we turn down films is the film itself. The #2 reason is that someone didn’t watch their windows and jumped the gun. Theaters are barely coming around to day-date VOD as it is, but if you’ve been selling DVDs for three months, they’ll balk - and we do have to tell them. 3. TALK To YoUR FeLLoW FiLmmAKeRS You are not the first person to be where you are…and the community is incredibly supportive. Use your festival trips, social media, and when all else fails, make a cold call to get advice. 4. mATeRiALS mATTeR Don’t ever cut a lame trailer or make a crap poster and call it a day. They may be temporary, but once you post them they will be out there forever, and this is how people will see your film - spend time on this, if not a little money. 5. SHARe YoUR iNFoRmATioN As a distributor, I don’t have the right to share all of your data with the public… but you do. Share your VOD numbers with everyone, because the world is very curious and there is not a publicly available source. www.variancefilms.com
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Nolan Gallagher’s Top 5 Takeaway Tips...
1. WATCH WiNDoWS There is potentially big money in VOD if the timing of a release is coordinated by an industry expert with deep contacts in VOD specifically. A filmmaker should avoid licensing rights to one VOD platform first in an effort to “get the film out there.” Unfortunately, this happens often and can cost fillmmakers tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are over one hundred different VOD platforms and they do not like to be disadvantaged against other platforms. There are industry norms in the releasing of a film and by giving one platform an earlier window than the rest you may jeopardize both carriage and favorable merchandising placement. 2. REACH THE MASSES Today, filmmakers can reach over 100 million North American homes inexpensively. VOD is also flexible, so that as technology evolves, your film will find ever more opportunies to be seen. Working with knowlegeable companies that are on top of the daily changes in distribution will allow filmmakers to reach a wide audience today and tomorrow. 3. eNgAge THe mASSeS Do spend a lot of time early in the process making sure that you are dedicating someone to build out your social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, and even your own website can be very powerful tools for getting your message out, but building presence take plenty of dedicated work. We have seen remarkable results from producers who do this right versus those who go through the motions. 4. NoBoDY KNoWS eVeRYTHiNg Soak up VOD insights like a sponge. Talk among your filmmaking community about what has and has not worked on past films. Read blogs, attend panels, follow industry people on twiter and do not be afraid to ask distributors the tough questions. An informed filmmaker allows distributors to be spend less time on basic education and more on finding creative ways to make your film release a success. 5. Be NiCe LiKe PATRiCK Patrick Swayze nailed this advice in Roadhouse. Courtesy goes both ways for filmmaker teams and those distribution companies fortunate to work on a project. The entertainment industry is filled with no shortage of interesting personalities and the nice ones often do finish first in the VOD.

www.gravitasventures.com
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

Matt Harlock’s Takeaway Tips...
1. Be very clear about the goal of your film - make money/get issue noticed (eg. Gasland)/get you noticed? - clarifying this will allow you to make all your release decisions 2. Seek release partners who really get the film and why/how it connects - this is something that you need to feel, not get from references. 3. Cultivate fanbase/community dialogue as early as possible - dont tell them things, ask them to do things - partner with organisations who’s goal is the same as yours 4. Be prepared to spend another year (or more) releasing your film - but do understand that no one will do it with as much passion, energy and enthusiasm as you will 5. TAKe CoNTRoL oF YoUR RigHTS! - Building VOD takes commitment and planning - building relationships with the right festivals, your partners and their operators, and with your audience. - There is no quick fix, its grinding it out, and spending money on ads etc is not a magic bullet. - This is a decision based on your commitment to the film’s life and who you are as a filmmaker, BUT you will learn about audience, marketing, distribution and make relationships that will take you tghrough your next film & beyond. www.americanthemovie.com, www.halflifefilms.co.uk
© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012

SXSW 2012 PANEL

How I Learned to Stop worryIng & Love vod
Presentation design/panel organiser: Matt Harlock Moderator: Orly Ravid with thanks to Nolan gallagher, Dylan marchetti & eamonn Bowles Janet Pierson & erin mumy of SXSW. This presentation available as a FREE pdf at: www.halflifefilms.co.uk www.thefilmcollaborative.com www.americanthemovie.com How To Sell Your Film Without Selling Your Soul pdf avail at: www.thefilmcollaborative.com

© Halflife Films, Jackamo TV & The Film Collaborative 2012