What’s The Point?

By David Pisarra

This year’s American Film Market has been heavily attended based on my personal experience of almost running over people! Seems like they’re everywhere talking, striking deals and headed out for canapés and giant shrimp.

Last Thursday night was Thai Night AFM 2017 and over 100 people assembled on what I’ll call the “Sunset Deck” at the JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot for giant shrimp, hand passed appetizers and the opportunity to see Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi preside over a cultural display of Thai creativity and inventiveness.

The evening was hosted by the Thai Ministry of Commerce to showcase the film industry in Thailand. The Royal Government wants to make their country the leading regional center for film production and post-production.

Pretty people circulated and made small talk and probably a few deals, while we waited for the Princess to arrive. Overall it was a lovely event, and the type of community gathering that creates friendships and networks that foster business.

It could become a rare occurrence if the level of distribution disruption I saw at this year’s market continues.

There is a huge uptick in the number of the digital distribution companies, and the entire industry model is changing rapidly as companies like Distribber make it easier for filmmakers to go direct to market for filmmakers.

There is a newish company on the scene that’s also making it easier for filmmakers to go straight to the distributors.

Bid/Slate was founded five years ago and is now in a position for maximum growth. Roland Rojas and I spoke on Sunday about the future of film distribution and his company.

I met him because my friend and mentee Rain Bennett has a film on Bidslate.com for sale.

“Rain and I met at the Hip Hop Film Festival where he was moderating a panel I was on.

We just clicked and when he started talking about his film Raise Up! I thought it was an ideal movie for our platform. Raise Up! tells the global story of urban street workouts.

As a documentary it covers health & fitness, and tells a human story that everyone can relate to” said Rojas.

Bennett licensed most of the right to Raise Up! to Red Bull Media earlier this year, however there were several markets and channels still held by him. Bennett told me, “When Roland and I were chatting in New York, he suggested that my film might be a good fit for the educational markets of middle and high schools.

I checked to make sure I had the rights, and I did. Having the ability to carve out the educational market and go direct to the distributors for my film is a huge benefit to me as a filmmaker.”

When I interviewed Jason Brubaker from FilmmakingStuff.com we discussed how most filmmakers don’t think about the distribution models until after the movie is made and how hard it is at that point for them.

Bennett said, “I struggled with who to get it in front of, and how? Bid/Slate makes that a lot easier for me to reach buyers for the Video on Demand, DVD sales and special screenings.”

We are living in times of great turmoil – which is not necessarily bad, it’s just change. We’re seeing it with taxis, restaurants and now the movie distribution model. The level of industry disruption is unknown yet.

But, I did meet Ramar Chan Hanarkan from South Africa who is “bringing Bollywood to Hollywood” as he put it.

When I queried him if he would like to use the Bid/Slate model, he enthusiastically replied, “Absolutely! If I could travel less, and be more productive I’d love that.”

Could Bid/Slate be the killer of the American Film Market? Maybe. Is Uber killing taxis or just changing the way we think about them? Has Postmates killed restaurants?

No, and it’s unlikely that all restaurants will go out of business – after all where would we go on dates? But it has dramatically changed the business model and could Bid/Slate do that for film distribution? Anything is possible right?

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments.

He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra