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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Keynote at LA Film Fest's Financing Conference: Endgame Entertainment CEO & Director James Stern

The LA Film Festival's Financing Conference started this morning with a great keynote from James Stern, CEO of Endgame Entertainment, and director of the recent doc 'Every Little Step.' IndieWire has the full text of his address, but here are four big ideas that stuck with me -- along with a ten-minute audio clip where Stern talks about niche marketing, 'the App Store effect,' handheld devices, and turning your film into an impulse buy.

    1. In a world where millions of people will be accustomed to making instant impulse purchases of movies (through rental or download services on laptops, TVs, and mobile phones), the economics of making indie films could improve. Pricing will be key. People may pay $50 to watch a big-budget, well-marketed movie the weekend it is released in HD, in the comfort of their home. But $3 or $5 may be the right price if you're trying to get someone to sample something new, edgy, challenging, or independent.

    2. Finding the target groups that can help start a groundswell around your movie is important. Stern mentioned a few films that have done this well: his theater doc 'Every Little Step' (16 million people have seen 'A Chorus Line' on Broadway), Coraline (they targeted knitting and sewing enthusiasts, because of the film's handmade look), and 'Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill' (bird lovers.)

    3. Telling a surprising, remarkable story is much more important than production values. Outside of LA, who talks about an amazing dolly shot as they're leaving the theater? Regular people talk about characters and performances and plot.

    4. Short form content is an area of great opportunity. Think about stories that can be consumed episodically, in small bites, and also potentially assembled into a longer 60-minute or 90-minute package. Stern said he expects to see more hit web series spawning movies and TV shows.

The audio:

Here's the MP3 file, or just click play below.

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