Archives for october 2010
How We Are All Responsible For Our Cultural Diversity, or, How Freakin' Hard It Is To Get Your Bums In A Theatre's Seat.
October 26, 2010Hey there friends and cinephiles,
Today I’d like to exchange on a very important subject with you, one directly related to Evokative’s very existence: Let’s talk about your interest in International films. It’s a bit of a long read, but I promise I get to a point.
For a long time, mostly when I was lining up for films at Fantasia and later on when I became part of the staff, I kept hearing the film fans complain about the lack of decent releases for International films, dissing the Bad Big Distributors who didn’t give the proper love to the titles they did pick-up and deploring all the great films that had been left on the side of the road after festival acclaim, because they had been deemed “Not Commercial Enough” by the Bad Big Distributors. I totally agreed on the discourse.
I thought, “Hey, isn’t there a market right here, film fans who are passionate about the art and want to see someone go out there and nurture these films? Wouldn’t they be happy about that and support that company that would go against the mentality of the Bad Big Distributors to be a Nice Small Distributor?”. Then I started out in the business and more seasoned folks would tell me how “courageous” I was to venture out in this type of film, and I would always reply with confidence that I knew that the audience was out there, it just never had been properly listened to.
So I went out and I started picking out films I thought were lacking in our cinematic landscape. I tried out many different countries and genres to see what would stick with you most. I cuddled the films for months, gave them festival plays to make sure it would start getting word of mouth as early as it could. When the theatrical release came around we would get (mostly) amazing reviews, stars abound, the texts stating these were one of the better film to see these days in the theatre. We would do all the bugging we could do on Facebook and via email to plead with you to please go see the film on the first week-end. I would bite my nails all of that week-end waiting for the box-office numbers on Monday morning. And then it would come, disappointingly low, with the news that the theatre would be cutting the film at the end of the week. There aren’t enough screens around and they can’t afford to keep an underperforming film in the hopes that the word-of-mouth will pick up. We would maybe get lucky and get a second week. Never a third.
Then I’d think that all is not lost, because at least all those publicity efforts would help the DVD release later on. We’d work for weeks to hunt down extra features, create the subtitles and design a collection-worthy digipack. All these things are much more expensive than a regular black-box release but I thought that it was worth it, to give the film the nice release it deserves. Then we’d work on selling the films and I realized quickly that the buyers of most videoclubs and retail locations don’t really care much about cinema. They sell apples and oranges and I was offering the passion fruit that might end up rotting on the shelves for looking too different. It’s too much of a risky purchase for most of them. So I set up a webstore to go around that wholesale-buyers-barrier and sell the films directly to you, at even better prices than what you would find in stores. Alas, sales have been much lower than expected there as well.
What happens when you underperform in sales? You lose money. Acquiring and releasing films is an expensive affair, even when you are careful with the costs. I was very lucky because I was given access to a personnal investment fund that allowed me to start the company. I could have bought a nice house, travelled around the world or pursued a higher education, but I decided to invest in my dream business. I was not planning on becoming rich, but I wasn’t planning on losing it all either. If I did, I could have just given it to a charity to better results in a worldly point of view. But I believed in the possibilities and throughout the last two years kept believing that if I wasn’t reaching the appropriate results, it had to be because I had not done my job well enough, I had not picked the right film yet or the company still had to be better known, and that things would work out better with the next film coming up.
A few days ago I went to a conference on distribution where one of the speakers talked about online marketing. He told us there are two way to look at our audience: its quantity, the number of people you “follow” you in the various medias; and the quality, the amount of people who will actually react to your news with an action, like commenting on a post or making a purchase. If the quantity is high and the quality is low, you have a problem because your audience is asleep at the wheel. And I confronted the truth I had been pushing aside for far too long: My company’s audience, you, are asleep at the wheel. I need to wake you up or the car’s gonna crash.
Here’s the sad truth: Most film fans are hypocrites. They like to complain about the sorry state of the International film industry, but when it comes to actually making the trip to the theatre in a timely fashion, or buying the DVD before it gets in the “15$ or less” bins at the store, they disengage themselves. It’s easy to complain about the lack of diversity in the theatres and state that we are in an era of blockbuster-based cultural stupidity. It’s less easy to make the efforts to actually do what it takes to keep the cultural economy alive.
So let me ask you: how much is a wide availability of quality International films important to you? If it’s very important, make the efforts: Don’t download. Go to the theatre on the first week-end and help spread the word about the film. Buy the DVD for your collection and tell your friends to rent it. We are in a free market economy. Your dollars vote. You are responsible for your cultural diversity. The same goes with the state of our wider economic, environmental and political issues. Nothing gets better if we don’t each make our own little effort. If it’s not so important to you in the end, then keep things as they are. I’ll end up closing my business as will many other independent distributors. We’ll find other things to do, don’t worry about us. But don’t ever, ever again complain about the poor offerings of the market, because you were partly responsible for its thinning.
I realize that most of those who will read this actually are the one who have been awake, listening and giving us your support. To those of you, thank you so very much. To the other ones, I ask you to please wake up now. If this note strikes a chord with you, you may share it with your network of cinephiles friends or even post it on your blog. Spread the word around. Comment on this note and let me know how right or wrong I am. Get in the discussion. I started this company for you, so I’d like to know who you are.
If you want to contribute to Evokative's survival, there are many things you can do: Go see DOWN TERRACE and DELIVER US FROM EVIL when they come to your city. If a release is not planned in your area, ask your local theatre to book the films. Rent our films at your local videoclub and if they are not available, ask the manager to buy them. Head over to our webstore and help us get rid of our inventory by actually owning one or a few of our titles. I promise you’ll have a good time with every one of them and they’ll look good in your library! I’ll even give you an extra 10% discount to be applied above our already existing discounts, just for reading this far (WAKEUP10).
For the love of film,
|Posted in In the Press|
October 21, 2010After screenings at the Fantasia and Vancouver International Film Festivals, DOWN TERRACE will be opening at the Carlton Theatre in Toronto on November 12th. This is the first English-speaking film release for Evokative Films, having concentrated its releases on International, subtitled films over the last two years.
Father and son Bill and Karl have just been released from jail, but all is not well at Down Terrace. Patriarchs of a small crime family, their business is plagued with infighting: Karl has had more than he can take of his old man's philosophizing and preaching; Bill thinks Karl's dedication to the family is seriously compromised when he takes up with an estranged girlfriend who claims to be carrying his baby; they have to explain the profit drop to the bosses in London and figure out who’s the mole who turned them in. It’s time to clean house. Recrimination, betrayal, murder and a spot of redecorating are quick to follow. Always remember: you’re only as good as the people you know.
DOWN TERRACE breathes new life into the gangster genre by mixing-up family drama in the style of Mike Leigh, The Sopranos’ gangster reality and the body count of a splatter flick, caught with a fly-on-the-wall camera.
The film, shot over only 8 days in Brighton, is a real family affair. The characters Bill and Karl are real life father and son Bob and Robin Hill. Karl’s girlfriend Valda is Robin’s wife Kerry Peacock. Down Terrace is really their family home. This is the first feature film for Bristol-based Ben Wheatley, after writing and directing many animated and live-action short films, sketches and advertisings (some can be seen at mrandmrswheatley.blogspot.com) and work on Channel 4’s Modern Toss and the BBC’s Time Trumpet, Comedy Shuffle, The Wrong Door and Ideal. He just finished principal photography on his next feature film KILL LIST. Ben Wheatley wrote DOWN TERRACE with Robin Hill and allowed space for improvisation by the cast, including Julia Deakin (Spaced), David Schaal, Tony Way, Micheal Smiley and Mark Kempner.
DOWN TERRACE won the Next Wave Award for Best Film at Fantastic Fest, the Raindance Award at the British Independent Film Awards, the Jury Prize for Best UK Feature at the Raindance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize Narrative Feature at the international Film Festival of Boston. The film played to acclaim at many film festivals around the world such as Rotterdam, Glasgow, Belfast, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Puchon, Perth, Melbourne and Espoo.
|Posted in Theatrical Releases|
October 18, 2010THE MISFORTUNATES (Original title DE HELAASHEID DER DINGEN, French title LA MERDITUDE DES CHOSES), a Flemish tragic comedy, will be released on the Evokative Collection of DVDs this October 26th. Directed by Felix van Groeningen, THE MISFORTUNATES is an adaptation of the best-selling novel “De helaasheid der dingen” (literal translation “The Shittiness of Things”) by Dimitri Verhulst, which was inspired by the author’s childhood experiences.
Gunther Strobbe is a 13-year-old boy who lives in his grandmother's house in a small Belgian town with his alcoholic father and three uncles. Life in the household is clearly dysfunctional, yet it's hard to condemn the Strobbes. Their hearts are in the right place – it's just that they can't seem to help turning everything around them into an unmitigated disaster. The Strobbes enter drinking contests, ride bicycles naked, teach vulgar songs to little girls and end up in hospital, then head right back to the bar the next day. Gunther is an observer in this broken home that reeks of cigarette smoke, spilled beer and sweat-stained clothes. He participates in his drunken uncles' shenanigans only to fit in, hiding his true passion for writing. The Strobbes will make you laugh your eyes out and cry out loud.
THE MISFORTUNATES was chosen to represent Belgium in the race for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2010 Oscars. It was also 2009’s biggest box-office hit of Belgium. The film had its World Premiere in the Director’s Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, where it got a special mention from the Art Cinema Jury. It then went on to play at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Hamptons Film Festival, where it got the Awards for Best Film, Best Script and Best Cinematography and the Festival du Nouveau Cinema in Montréal, amongst many others around the world. It was released theatrically in Canada in Montréal, Toronto, Ottawa, Québec, Calgary, Vancouver and Saskatoon.
The film is available exclusively on Videotron’s VOD system since October 10th, as part of the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma’s special selection on Illico. The DVD will be available in stores from October 26th.
The DVD features Flemish dialogue with optional English and French subtitles in yellow, as well as a French dub track. The original Making-of, an exclusive interview with the director and the Trailer are available as extra features. The packaging includes a booklet with an exclusive Director’s note and a foreword by Colin Geddes (Programmer at the Toronto International Film Festival) and Katarina Gligorijevic. The DVD packaging is an environmentally-friendly and elegant digipack made of 100% recycled materials and wrapped in a 100% biodegradable cellophane.
|Posted in DVD Releases|
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