Enter the New World of Film Distribution with Thomas Mai

Published On January 31, 2010 | By admin | film, film distribution, film marketing, filmmaking, Uncategorized

Thomas MaiOne of the new voices speaking out and being heard about “New World” film marketing and distribution business models belongs to Festival Darlings founder Thomas Mai, who will soon be relocating from Brazil and setting up shop in Los Angeles.  A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of receiving an invitation to chat with him on Skype about a couple of projects I’m currently working on and the consulting services that he’s offering to filmmakers.

After spending over 12 years working in the sales side of the business selling films made by Lars von Trier, Suzanne Bier and Josef Fares, to name a few, Thomas saw the changes coming in that part of the industy and shifted gears, becoming a digital distribution expert.  Well versed in crowd funding and social media marketing,  he has been developing  ideas and techniques ideal for navigating the movie industry’s new financing and distribution paradigms.  Mai has been speaking at several film events worldwide, including a publicized presentation at the EU Media Desk in Brussels, and soon he’ll be putting on a half day workshop entitled Dawn of the Micro Major Film Producer with Film Specific’s Stacey Parks at the Berlin Film Festival.  Whenever he speaks, Thomas discusses old versus new marketing systems, the way in which to best utilize crowd funding, revenue streams stemming from digital distribution and how to combine what has worked in the past with up and coming methods in order to fund productions. 

During our conversation we discussed the short film “Accused” I’m co-producing and he recommended having it seen in as many venues as possible, so that it can serve as a form of advertisement.  Done correctly, a short can garner interest and help fund future film projects by launching various marketing and email campaigns.  He mentioned using a company like Café Press, which doesn’t require payment in advance, to help sell t-shirts, mugs and other items with the film’s logo on the web.  We also spoke about “Running 4 President” a family friendly political comedy produced in Las Vegas, that I’m doing marketing for.  We had a sold out theatrical release for the film in December and are now in the process of redesigning the website.  Thomas recommended using CreateSpace for producing DVDs since, there is no large upfront manufacturing cost required, the discs are created on demand and there is flexibility if you need to make changes.  Other suggestions included developing affiliate marketing plans and also utilizing sites like www.elance.com for finding  freelance talent to assist with website design, artwork or other creative needs, so that you’re not limited to local resources. 

If you’re interested in engaging Thomas as your personal consultant, he has programs available for clients starting at $500 a month.  This basic plan provides contact once a month and in between you’ll work on setting up a marketing and distribution strategy for your film or as he said “Make a plan for now and the future.”  There are also silver, gold and corporate packages available for additional fees allowing more contact including access to a handpicked team of experts specializing in law, marketing and funding.  More details can be found at www.festivaldarlings.com.

Thomas is a man who is drawing from his past to help redesign the present, so that filmmakers can enjoy a different type of future.  In this new world of doing business, everything is based on non-exclusivity and is global, ridding itself of limiting territories.  Producers won’t be the last people being paid and they will have the opportunity to control how, when and where their films are being shown.  Perhaps this philosophy is described best by one of Mai’s last comments, which was “Go everywhere.  No one owns everywhere.”

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6 Responses to Enter the New World of Film Distribution with Thomas Mai

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