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10 MPH DIY Manual: DVD Release

In March of 2007, we got word from my connection at Blockbuster that we'd be hearing from a company called RepNet. They are a sub-distributor that helps sell your DVD into places like Blockbuster, Netflix, Hollywood Video, Amazon, Ingram Micro, etc. They allow you to retain all rights on distribution of your DVDs, so you can continue to sell to whomever and however you want. This was especially attractive to us because of our database and sponsorship connections. We'd retain the right to sell directly to these groups, which would equate to higher profit margins and more flexibility on pricing.

The disadvantage to this direction was that we'd have to do all the work to author our DVD, create a master, buy in mass quantity, and maintain and control inventory. So for all orders coming from RepNet, we'd get a Purchase Order and then send off the requested quantities to various channels they were selling to. Not the easiest process.

After talking with RepNet, we finalized on May 29 for a good release date. I didn't realize the importance of the date at the time, but as things progressed it became very apparent that we lucked out and got a release date that had very few interesting releases. This increased our chances of getting mentioned in DVD columns and reviewed on DVD websites. To prepare for May 29, RepNet would do the work to make sure our film was represented in various databases that many major online sales points get their data from and they'd work on selling the movie into their main channels. We'd do all the PR and promotions to make sure there was demand for and interest in our release and we'd get the DVD authored and replicated.

Sounded pretty easy, but it turned out to be two very tough months. We were also really getting into the edit of 10 Yards, so it was an all out effort just to keep everything happening. Josh was leading the 10 Yards post-production efforts and I was in charge of leading the 10 MPH launch. We both did a lot to help each other and for the most part I was pretty impressed with how we pulled it all off. At one point, though, I found myself learning how to design and author a complex DVD menu in DVD Studio Pro and then a few weeks later learning how to use Adobe After Effects to work with a template our motion graphics designer had created for 10 Yards in order to create several similar transitions for a rough cut deadline we were trying to reach. It was many late nights that often ended when the sun was coming up.

Besides getting a really good looking DVD with extras and commentary from Josh and I ready and replicated for May 29, we focused a lot of attention on getting good press and review coverage of the launch. A little over a month before the release we started sending DVDs out to everyone we thought we could get to review the DVD. This included relying on some connections we had developed from the festival circuit. We also mailed a DVD and press kit to most of the major DVD columnists and followed up with them a few times prior to May 29. Additionally, we got a list of 2000 radio DJs and Producers from around the country and sent a mass email with our press release announcing the availability of 10 MPH and offering stations an opportunity to interview Josh and I. This campaign worked brilliantly. We had dozens of interviews in major cities for days and this drove huge demand on Netflix and Blockbuster.com, which resulted in a decent bump order from Netflix. In addition to the radio interviews, we netted a ton of newspaper mentions and articles, got picked up in some major magazines, and had some killer DVD reviews. Likewise, we scored on the blogs (which was a focused campaign after newspaper, DVD review sites, and radio).

Here's a list of some of the press we got for the 10 MPH launch:

Boston Globe
"Amusingly offbeat documentary"
-Tom Russo

Paste Magazine
"Trading cubicles and lattes for road-trip thrills"
-Rachael Maddux

LA Times
"A quirky documentary"
-Susan King

Denver Post
"10 MPH with its wit, beckoning shots of splendid landscapes, and impromptu interviews, might have you humming Woody Guthrie, This land is your land, this land is my land."
-Lisa Kennedy

Christian Science Monitor
"Scenic photography and lively side characters make for a diverting trip."
-Stephen Humphries (Monitor Picks)

Film Threat
"You'll dig every minute of it"
-Eric Campos

DVD Talk
"It's every bit as triumphant touring America as it is extolling the virtues of relishing time and embracing freedom. Highly recommended"
-Brian Orndorf

Village Voice Syndicated Column
(Dallas Observer, The Pitch Kansas City, Miami New Times, Minneapolis City Pages, Denver Westword, Cleveland Scene, East Bay Express, SF Weekly, Houston Press)
"It's hard not to be drawn in by the film's good-natured vibe."
-Jordan Harper

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
"It almost made me stand up and cheer."
-Betty Jo Tucker

Blogcritics.org
"It is a very likable film featuring likable people."
-Damian Penny

Idaho Statesman
"10 MPH succeeds on many levels. For one, it's a terrific American travelogue, taking the viewer through small-town charm, purple mountain majesty and the big city's vibrating pulse. More importantly, it's an inspiring story about cutting through the stagnancy of 21st-century life to follow your dreams."
-Chad Dryden

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DIY Resources

Other DIY films
+ Four Eyed Monsters
+ Tijuana Makes Me Happy
+ Head Trauma
+ The Talent Given Us
+ Guatemalan Handshake
+ Book of Caleb
+ Black Gold
Film Festivals & Distribution Books
+ The Insider's Guide to Independent Film Distribution (Stacey Parks)
+ Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide
+ The Complete Independent Movie Marketing Handbook
+ I Wake up Screening: What to Do Once You've Made that Movie
Filmmaking & Production Books
+ Planning the Low Budget Film
+ The Complete Film Production Handbook
+ Clearance and Copyright: Everything the Independent Filmmaker Needs to Know
+ Film Scheduling: Or, How Long Will it Take to Shoot Your Movie?
+ Film and Video Budgets
+ Filmmakers and Financing, 5th Edition: Business Plans for Independents
+ The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers: A Legal Toolkit for Independent Producers
+ Independent Feature Film Production: A Complete Guide from Concept Through Distribution
Key websites
+ IndieWIRE
+ Greencine
+ Spout
+ Workbook Project
+ cinematech.blogspot.com
Major Film Festivals
January
+ Sundance Film Festival
+ Slamdance Film Festival
+ Intl. Film Fest Rotterdam
February
+ Berlin Intl. Film Festival
+ Miami Intl. Film Festival
+ True/False Film Festival
March
+ SXSW
+ AFI Dallas Intl.
April
+ The Gen Art Film Festival
+ Full Frame Doc Festival
+ Hot Docs
+ Tribeca Film Festival
May
+ Cannes Intl. Film Festival
+ Seattle Intl. Film Festival
June
+ Los Angeles Film Festival
+ Silverdocs
September
+ Telluride Film Festival
+ Toronto Intl. Film Festival
October
+ Sidewalk Moving Pic Fest
+ New York Film Festival
+ Woodstock Film Festival
+ Hamptons Intl. FF
November
+ Amsterdam Intl. Doc Fest
+ AFI Fest
+ Denver Intl. Film Festival

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