Topspin and Distribution of an Indie Film: What The Release of Bones Brigade Can Teach Indie Filmmakers About "Direct-To-Fan" Distribution

Stacy Peralta started out as a groundbreaking skater, then he became a noted documentary filmmaker. This past year, Stacy Peralta has switched it up again, this time as a pioneer in the New World of film marketing and distribution.

If you're a fan of skateboarding and the extreme sports culture, you probably already know that Stacy Peralta's latest film, Bones Brigade: An Autobiography (a look back at the legendary figures that helped make skateboarding a cultural phenomenon back in the 1980s), premiered at Sundance 2012 and has subsequently rolled out in theaters and on VOD and DVD. And if you're a savvy indie filmmaker or film marketer, you're probably also aware that Stacy Peralta's first documentary, Dogtown and Z-Boys, made a big splash when it premiered at Sundance in 2001 (winning audience and directing awards) going on to gross over $1.3 million when it was distributed by Sony Classics.

But the story about how Stacy Peralta moved from Old World distribution to New World distribution in a decade of indie filmmaking is a narrative that every indie filmmaker needs to know and learn from.

Even if you're not interested in Tony Hawk or how much money Stacy Peralta's films have made, New World filmmakers must understand how, as described in a January 17th, 2013 topspin post, a novel "direct-to-fan" approach for Bones Brigade has earned Stacy Peralta and his partners MUCH more money than any of his previous all-rights deals with Old World distributors.

If you're lucky enough to be in Park City right now (Jan. 2013), you can even attend a FREE panel at the Filmmaker Lodge this afternoon (Jan. 19th, 2013) at 1pm - where the filmmakers behind Bone Brigade will discuss their New World release model.

Here's a brief summary of the Bones Brigade release model (a model that any indie filmmaker can copy) - taken from that very helpful January 17th, 2013 topspin post:


1) Free downloads build a marketing database for the film.

2) Database and social sharing then drive to the sale of theatrical tickets and exclusive pre-order of ultra-premium, high-margin products sold directly on the film’s website. This direct pre-order window overlaps with the traditional theatrical window.

3) The pre-order ends the same day the film is available on Transactional VOD. Database and social sharing from the film’s direct purchasers then drive more fans to iTunes/VOD and DVD on release date."

How well does this method of distribution work?

According to topspin: "For Bones Brigade, the average transaction during the pre-order was $115 (equivalent revenue to 23 rentals on iTunes). And the more than 35 four-walled theatrical screenings turned a 10% profit from online ticket sales."

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