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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sales Agents, Distributors and Exhibitors...oh my!

Did the second part of the Sales, Marketing and Distribution course with Mia Bays. Good stuff all around. She brought in the Managing Diretor and Sales Agent Andrew Orr from Independent Film Company, distributor Soda Pictures' Ed Fletcher and Jason Woods from Picturehouse - one of the UK's leading cinema bookers.

I was quick with the meishi and the 30 second pitch. Ed Fletcher gave me the best advice about the pitch, which was that when you are pitching to distributors, they are most interested to know the selling points of your film to specific territories.

This is what I've come up with so far: I think that there is definitely an audience in Japan amongst the nearly one million foreigners living in Tokyo alone and amongst the Japanese themselves as we've got two big stars who appear regularly on Japanese TV and in videos (Patrick Harlan's career has skyrocketed since filming). And, of course, there is America. I think the fascination with all things Japan is there and there is a sort of "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" appeal.

As for the UK, I was thinking of the "look what those crazy Americans are doing over in Japan" appeal might be there. That having been said, the film does not focus on the sensational aspects of Japan as so many films about the area do. It's about normal guys finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Our main character, Jewish boy from New York Ken, for example, finds himself performing Christian weddings in order to make a buck while he tries to kick start his career on Japanese TV.

There was a bit of a nuisance with the website going down and email crashing. This right after the workshop, so, of course, I was obsessing about how one of the workshop people might try to hit the site, and how it would be down, and how they would think I was a total looser, but I got over that.

Emailed all of the festivals we submitted to and informed them of the changes.

I'm boring myself to tears now.

Photo is a self portrait of Kimiko Yoshida.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Hello Kitty ii ka na?

Spent the day at the Mia Bays Sales, Marketing & Distribution Workshop put on by my mate Saskia at the London Film School (the old alma mater). Highlights were:

Meeting and swapping cards with the Head of Programming for the London Film Festival, Michael Hayden. Did the 30 second pitch: "Tokyo Cowboys is permanent lost in translation...for real: an intimate look into the lives of 5 western men living long term in the wild, wild East."

Learning that you can ask smaller festivals for something called a "screening fee," which is essentially a box office percentage. According to Mia, not all festivals have a screening fee policy, but a lot of the smaller ones do.

And...learning that "The Lives of Others" was rejected by all major festivals, yet it was in the top ten grossing films of 9 of the top 10 territories. (This is to make me feel better in the event of a worst case scenario.)

Another session tomorrow with a Sales Agent, top Booker in the U.K., and a distributor. Must print out some more TC meishi.

Photo thanks to Tokyo Mango.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Breathing New Life

Spent several hours yesterday with Jaime Estrada-Torres, who gave us amazingly thorough advice on how to professionally polish Tokyo Cowboys. He went through the film scene by scene and pointed out specific action items. Patrick reckons that he can finish the whole edit by next week.

We also laid all of Simon's music over the film, and it is just brilliant. Spoke to him on the phone, and we'll take the new edit round to his studio after the edit is done for polishing.

Spent several hours this evening researching distribution models. Of particular interest was Peter Broderick's Distribution Bulletins, specifically his one on using Radiohead's online model. Got a bit freaked out by Film Specific's Podcast about how to position your film for distribution in 2008. Deliverables? "You're gonna have to spend a bit of money?" Help!

The photo above is by Altus. He's using some cool technology to manga-fy his stills.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tokyo Cowboys New Year Update (in case you didn't get the email)

Dear All,

Patrick and I would like to wish all of you a happy and prosperous New Year. It's been a while since we sent out an update, and there's a good reason. Patrick and I have been busy FINISHING the film. Well...almost.

What's the Score

Our composer, Simon Rogers, has been working hard to give us an incredibly beautiful score. It's been a pleasure and a great journey working with Simon who brings years of experience and loads of talent to the project. Patrick and I have both learned so much from him. Simon studied at the prestigious Royal College of Music and has been a success as both a Musician and Producer. You can see his CV and visit his profile on Wikipedia.


What a palaver. This is where filmmaking gets really boring. We've got to clear every song sung in karaoke, every musical performance and every one of the TV shows we filmed. It adds up to about 30 individual clearances. We've been lucky, though. Three of the big songs will only be about £300 each to clear for festivals. The folks at Universal and Carlin Music have been very helpful, and we are making progress.

Other Bits

The remaining work on Tokyo Cowboys includes finishing the credits, grading and the sound mix. A mate is letting us use his online suite for the grade, so we have been very fortunate. The credits are going to be as long as the film, and the sound mix will be hairy. We've been listening on the mini speakers on our editing suite, but, when Patrick screened the film on Graham's home cinema system, he could hear every little finger tap on the camera. Loads to do here, but we've got some good leads on affordable sound mixers.


So far, we've been sending off the Work-in-Progress to festivals. It is crucial to the success of the film to get a good run as festivals are where we can flog the film in various territories. This month is when we start to hear back, so please send us good vibrations. Also, a successful festival run often times depends on who you know. So, if any of you good folks out there have any connections to festivals for which Tokyo Cowboys qualifies, please do get in touch (Tokyo Cowboys is classified as a feature-length independent Documentary).

New Technologies

I have been following various blogs about emerging technologies in online film distribution. Online, we can find and exploit (in the best possible sense) audiences that may not be able to access Tokyo Cowboys elsewhere. I know there are some techies and marketing geniuses out there, and I would like to open a dialog about how we can get Tokyo Cowboys to the online market. Please email me if you'd like to participate.

That's it from TC headquarters. Patrick and I would like to thank all of you for your continuing support. We are almost there!



Sunday, January 06, 2008

Festivals Again...

Spent all day yesterday on festivals. The process is searching out the festivals that TC qualifies for, filling out all the paper work, packaging up everything and posting. Doing one festival can take upwards of 2 hours. Insanity. It's also quite expensive, but it's our career and at least it's tax deductible. This is the most boring bit about filmmaking, and, if we weren't independent, we would have some little worker bee doing this for us. Another reason to align yourself with a production company. Oh, how much we have learned on this project.

Thanks to for the image.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Spent all day working on clearances. A bit of good news in that some of the major tracks will only cost about £300 to clear. We lucked out with "Just a Girl," "Wherever you will go," and "Linus and Lucy" in that we only need the publishing rights. Because characters are singing, and we are not using the recording (mechanical rights), the fee is much cheaper. Things get complicated with the karaoke tracks. Not only do we have to get the publishing rights, but we have to get those cleared through the karaoke company as well. Katsura is working hard on those. There are a couple of tracks owned by Victor Entertainment in Japan, so my Japanese skills will be tested to the limit when I do the calls on Tuesday. Then, there's all the Japanese TV stuff. All of this is tedious, but it will be so worth it in the end.