Kindle version of "Film Festival Secrets" now available


picGot a Kindle? Now you can add Film Festival Secrets: A Handbook for Independent Filmmakers to your electronic library for just $9.99.

I got a Kindle of my own this year. Although intellectually I knew the importance of ebooks as an emerging medium, it wasn't until I started to prefer reading books on the Kindle for myself that I really got invested in making my own books available in the format.

Film Festival Secrets is now available as a Kindle download on the U.S., UK, and German versions of Amazon. All of the original content is included.

And before you ask: yes, I'm working on making an epub version available on the iBookstore as well as for the Nook and other e-readers. They will be comparably priced.

Enjoy your e-reading!

Film Festival Secrets book on sale at Amazon - $7 off!


This blog entry is way overdue – Amazon applied a discount to the print edition of Film Festival Secrets: A Handbook for Independent Filmmakers about ten days ago and experience has taught me that these discounts don't hang around forever. It's a $6.99 discount off the $24.95 cover price. That's 28%, a pretty decent break. If you've been eyeing the print edition but haven't wanted to pop for the $25, now's your chance to get it for a mere 18 smackers.

Check out the Amazon page for Film Festival Secrets now.

Embed "Film Festival Secrets" on your own site!

OK, this is nifty. Not only can you read the entire text of Film Festival Secrets online, but you can share it with your own readers by embedding the book on your own site or blog in this cool little flash reader from Issuu. The book is now available for sale at Createspace and Amazon (two faces of the same entity, but I get a better cut of the proceeds if you direct people to Createspace). On the other hand, you can earn a commission if you direct people to Amazon with your own affiliate code, so do whatever works best for you.

Film Festival Secrets: the book is finished.

Film Festival Secrets

Has it been quiet around here lately? That's because one cannot complete a book and blog at the same time. At least I can't.

I've been devoting all of my writing resources to completing Film Festival Secrets: A Handbook for Independent Filmmakers and I'm happy to say that it's finally finished. Since I don't want to spend months or years looking for a publisher I'm putting it out myself through Amazon's Createspace print-on-demand service. A downloadable PDF version will be available for free and the print edition will list at $24.95.

There's still the print proof left to approve but I'm confident that I will be able to make the PDF and print versions available simultaneously on October 16th with a launch at the Austin Film Festival.

So now you know what I've been up to and why it's been so quiet around here. I'll be doing more writing on the blog in coming months with excerpts from the book (annotated and expanded to include things that didn't make the print edition) as well as new material, interviews, etc.

More to come.

Brief impressions of filmmaking books

I went over to my local big box bookstore today to scope out filmmaking books. It occurred to me that apart from the books that actually cover film festivals as their main topics (most of which I already own or have coming to me from various Amazon resellers), the filmmaking books probably cover film festivals briefly as part of the process. Here are the books I perused and brief thoughts on each.

Independent Feature Film Production by Gregory Goodell.

General impressions: This book has many accolades from Amazon reviewers and well-known industry types, but it hasn't been updated since 1998. A lot has changed in filmmaking and in the festival world since then, so I'd recommend finding a more recent book that covers newer filmmaking technology and festival advice. However, enough people seem to still find this tome relevant even today so it's probably worth at least flipping through it as a primer on the "old school" methodology -- and to see if the author's style matches yours.

Festival advice: Makes some good distinctions between festivals and markets and why you want to do both if possible. Also advises not to send your work to festivals incomplete. Mentions that 80% of all works submitted to Sundance are incomplete -- is this true? Would love to see some confirmation of that.

The Everything Filmmaking Book by Barb Karg, Rick Sutherland, Jim Van Over.

General impressions: I'm always vaguely suspicious of books that come out as part of a general "how to" series like this one, or the "Dummies" books. I'm sure that the publishers recruit knowledgeable authors for each individual topic, but when the series includes such wide ranging topics as weddings, college survival, and the Civil War, it puts me in mind of the "jack of all trades" adage. That said, I do like the action-oriented workbook style of this title, with checklists and such. Not nearly as comprehensive as the other titles here, but thorough in its way and undaunting.

Festival advice: A pretty brief overview of festivals and how they work. If this were the only filmmaking book I owned I'm pretty sure I'd go running for another reference when it came to festivals.

The Guerilla Film Maker's Handbook by Chris Jones and Genevieve Jolliffe .

General impressions: This was the book I liked best -- tons of in-depth interviews with many well-known names in the indie film industry. Reading the book through can be a bit disorienting as the chapters are, in some cases, merely sets of interviews strung together with how-to lists. This weakness is also the book's greatest strength: the GFM Handbook is a massive tome that weighs about five pounds and covers just about everything with fascinating viewpoints from filmmakers, industry execs, festival staff -- everyone you can think of.

Festival advice: The festival section is about as light as the festival sections in these other publications, though the authors do go a bit further than their colleagues by including interviews from filmmakers and Sundance director Geoffrey Gilmore. They also include a list of practical tips for attending festivals, not something I saw much of in the other books. Of all of the books I pawed through this afternoon, this is the only one I'm considering going back and buying -- if only because copies of it are going for $60+ on Amazon -- the list price is $30!

Note for doc filmmakers: the authors have also written The Documentary Film Maker's Handbook -- probably worth a look and actually available at a discount from Amazon.

From Reel to Deal: Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film by Dov S-S Simens.

General impressions: This book was the only other title that I had strong feelings about -- mostly negative. Full disclaimer: I only read the section on festivals, but the tone was so abrasive and dogmatic that it didn't inspire me to skim the other chapters as I did with the other books. The reviews of Reel to Deal on Amazon are universally positive, so I guess people like to be told what to do every step of the way, as if filmmaking were little more than a paint-by-numbers project. If that's what you want, Simens is more than willing to give you your marching orders and I don't doubt that much of the information is helpful to the clueless. This may be the indie filmmaker's bible for all I know, but if one listens to this apostle, the god of indie filmmaking is not a loving god. (Actually, that's probably pretty close to the truth.) I'll give this to Simens -- people seem to love his advice. He's got a whole industry of "2-Day Film School" products and a roster of famous people extolling his virtues, from Quentin Tarantino to Michael Jackson. Hey, if you pony up the $400 and enroll in his course you'll even get a film school diploma.

Festival advice: the advice on submitting to festivals given by the author assumes that your film is the next Little Miss Sunshine. And if that's the case, the advice he gives isn't bad. Submit to the top festivals (Simens says the submission fees "won't be much, maybe $50") and eschew the rest, because acquisition execs won't be at the other festivals. Again, if your film is a surefire hit just waiting to be snapped up by the Weinsteins that's fine advice. If your picture is of even a slightly lesser caliber, however, it might be nice to know that there's a circuit of festivals out there where your movie might be appreciated -- and where you might find an audience for lower-profile distribution.

The Complete Guide to Making a Movie by Lorene Wales.

General impression: Oddly, the cover says "The Complete Guide to Making Movies," but it's listed in Amazon as just "Making a Movie." Either way, it's easy to find. Just a short blurb about this one as it had practically nothing to say about festivals, so I didn't read much of the rest. It does, however, have a CD-ROM included with a ton of forms for production and legal purposes -- some real nuts and bolts stuff that could be super-useful to a neophyte looking for concrete examples on how films get made. (Edit: Looks like there might have been a title change between editions.)