Saturday, June 16, 2007

Tim League and kicking off the Film Subgroup

Bootstrap Austin had a great speaker at our June 11 meeting - Tim League, founder of the Alamo Drafthouse. He shared with us how he bootstrapped his company to success. He also let us in on the obstacles he had to overcome and endure during his journey. Examples included reducing his living expenses to nearly nothing by setting up living quarters behind the movie screen and being a master of many tasks by running all facets of the theater himself with the help of his wife. Tim's talk helped kick off the Film Subgroup, which will be meeting the fourth Tuesday of the Month at Waterloo Icehouse/38th Street. Our first meeting will be June 26 at 7pm.

One of the traditional methods for breaking into the film business involves the following formula:
  1. Make a film
  2. Get it into some festivals
  3. Make a name for yourself
  4. Get your film distributed
Sounds so easy! But when you start doing it you realize that there is a lot more to it. It is often a game of luck predicated on who you know. Filmmakers find themselves wondering which person will be the right connection that makes a difference and find themselves having to wait to see which festival will accept their film. It seems quite out of our control and being hardworking and talented seems not to be enough. I personally found this game quite frustrating.

When Bijoy posed the question: "If you didn't take the traditional route and submit your films to festivals, how could you still gain the notoriety and make money on your film?" - I felt a huge weight lifted off, because that was something I had ideas for. I had total control over that and knew what steps I needed to take.

It is my intention to lead a conversation in the film sub group specifically about what we can do instead of simply relying on luck. I'd like us to explore different more creative and non-traditional means of distribution and ways of funding projects along bootstrap lines. Ultimately, I hope we can together invent new ways for filmmakers to become successful.