Of course, it has to start with a great story. FAVOR dives into the faux-Confucian proverb “A friend helps you move; a good friend helps you move a body.” Blayne Weaver (6 Month Rule) stars as Kip Desmond, the slippery businessman whose casual fling ends in a dead body on the floor of a hotel. Enlisting his childhood friend Marvin (Patrick Day) for the really big ‘favor’ of getting rid of the evidence, Kip soon finds it impossible to pay back Marvin, who wants more and more for his silence. The film is a perfect study in suspense and deeply drawn characters. The filmmaking makes the most of its budget by focusing on the cutthroat interplay of its two leads and the drama inherent in a dangerous secret. Favor is the sort of movie that sticks with you for months afterwards, a great example of directing and storytelling. It’s actually the perfect film for a film festival.Not surprisingly, the man at the helm of this devious masterpiece, Paul Osborne, knows a thing or to about film festivals. His first film, TEN ‘TIL NOON (Osborne, screenwriter/producer) won awards at multiple festivals (San Francisco Independent, San Diego, Newport Beach). His second film is the infamous OFFICIAL REJECTION (Osborne director/producer), a documentary about the politics and pitfalls of playing the festival circuit. Official Rejection played dozens of festivals and also angered several festival programmers (good, says this former programmer). Favor returns Osborne to the tone of his first film, but it’s one thing to know how to direct a film, it is quite another to know how to get that film out into the world.
Independent filmmakers need to carefully follow what FAVOR has done, and use it to inspire their own production goals. Paul Osborne is a tireless promoter. A Kickstarter campaign builds an audience that wants to see your film. A festival run brings that film to more people, all of whom will be emissaries for the film in the world. Knowing this, Osborne attends many of the festivals himself, often with the cast, and engaged in Q&As and just hung out. He makes friends with other filmmakers, supports their projects, and gets them invested in his work. Yes, playing the film festival circuit is fun, but it’s also a big part of an indie film’s marketing campaign now. This networking creates buzz for your film in places you can’t reach yourself, and makes your peers your agents. Favor followed its festival run with a series of one-night-only screenings (three of which were funneled through theatrical booking service Tugg and the other two arranged directly with the theaters). Osborne is also a Twitter mastermind, full of witty observations but also carefully curated retweets of other filmmakers thoughts and insightful blog posts (yes I just used the word ‘curate’ to discuss someone’s twitter feed). Finally, Osborne has made himself part of the release – such as an excellent article on SagIndie.org (10 Tip for Directing a Micro Budget Movie from Filmmaker Paul Osborne). Read it here (http://bit.ly/1mvux3l) it’s fantastic. He did a great series of interviews with Film Courage on topics such the ‘Minimum Cost a Filmmaker Should Spend of Festivals’ and how he landed his distribution deal (check them out here: http://bit.ly/Pr8oqT). In fact, Osborne has been very giving with time and information about his project, intending to share his revenue numbers here: http://bit.ly/1tyuSGF (this is basically never done). This is great because FAVOR is this year’s project but with every place he gets his own name out there, he builds an audience for his next project (or potential funders). He even emailed me yesterday to make sure I hadn’t forgotten to cover FAVOR’S release as I had told him I would back at the Phoenix Film Festival. That’s not nagging, that’s what a good producer SHOULD DO.
Why am I focusing so much on the release strategy than the actual release? Because FAVOR is a fantastic movie – you should see it – but there are a ton of fantastic indie films out there that haven’t positioned themselves to be seen so easily (I could have said favorable), and it just takes work. Every filmmaker working in this low-budget realm, from $10,000 to $2 million, needs to realize the work is only beginning once the film is done. Be a champion of your own work because no one else will be. And look for help from everyone around you. The other filmmakers at a festival are not just in your way for whatever small cash prize is awarding their narrative feature competition; they are the tastemakers to their own group of friends back home. They are not going to return home and only talk about their film, their friends have probably already seen their film, they want to know what else was good. How many conversations about film devolve into complaining about all the big budget boiler-plate and sequels coming to theatres? VOD and all the streaming possibilities give us the opportunity to seek out alternatives to that marketplace. So support Favor, and independent film, by proving that a good story still has the potential to find its way into our viewing rotation. And hopefully more filmmakers will use Paul Osborne’s model to get their film into our homes as well.