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August 5 at 8:15am

Simple Fix: A Nationwide Network Of Film Supporters Offering Couch Surfing Ops

By Ted Hope

A Nationwide Network Of Film Supporters Offering Couch Surfing OpsFestivals (and support organizations) should organize a nationwide network of year round couch surfing / bed & breakfast local supporters to build a national support structure for the touring film makers.

Filmmakers recognize they have to support their films, often traveling to where the film opens, but the financial resources required to do so often far exceed their willingness to do so.  What do you do when you know you should do something but can’t afford to do it? Well, in the indie film world you usually hope someone else should take care of it for you!  Maybe though filmmakers could start by creating a portal where they list themselves and their films and say they will travel if they could cover the costs. Identifying what filmmakers are available could be one of the first steps.  So let’s imagine we had this group of 25 filmmakers with interesting films that would come to your town if only they had a place to stay and a bed to sleep in. Check.

No one has done the job of identifying film lovers in every community the way that festivals had.  The aggregated audience that festivals have built is an incredible resource and an underutilized one. If one festival became known for hooking filmmakers with some good digs when they came to town, they would simultaneously become a required stopover on filmmakers’ tours. So the festival reaches out to the passionate fans and asks if they can spare their guest room one night each year to a traveling indie filmmaker with an interesting film, maybe provide a breakfast to boot.  The response is fantastic. The festival soon has a list of over 50 options. Let’s say it is your festival that enables this and now they have a list of 25 filmmakers with interesting films that are willing to come to your town. Check.

Now let’s say you have a local art house theater in town.  What happens there on mondays and tuesdays? If it is like most theaters, the answer is not much. So now your local festival approaches them with the idea of having a regular series with in person visits from 25 indie filmmakers with interesting films.  Heck, they have enough of them to book every other week.  A deal is done. Check.

With the series in play, the festival and theater combine forces and announce this groundbreaking series to their members and mailing list. Perhaps they go one step further, and let it be known that there are season tickets available, but only 250, and for a limited time they are available for $150 only.  I think they may sell out. That yields $37,500.  Let’s say it cost $500 to fly a filmmaker in.  That would be $12,500 for the series. The theater and festival still have $25K to split. Perhaps they will put half in the filmmakers’ hands even.  They certainly are doing a good thing for the community. Talk about mission fulfillment.  Check.

Now let’s say this idea takes off and it is happening in ten maybe twenty cities. Sounds like a theatrical network to me. Check.

See what can happen when an organization recognizes the value of what they have built?  See what happens when you volunteer that guest room or couch?  See what happens when a group comes together to tell others what they need?  

Who’s gonna take the next step?


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7 Comments

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  1. Maximón Monihan / Aug 5 at 8:15am

    From the filmmaker (with interesting film) side of the equation, we’d sign up for something like this in a heartbeat. In fact, we’ve been doing a version of this throughout Europe and Asia, in between the festivals where our film has been invited, usually staying with other filmmakers, but also staying with people who want to have “private” one-off screenings of the film. And we always have traveling filmmakers stay with us when they come through Brooklyn. It’s a no-brainer way to create community in the best sense of the word.

  2. Ben Yennie / Aug 5 at 8:15am

    Shouted it on Twitter, but If Fandor jumps on as a sponsor I’ll do the legwork to get it started in SF. Wouldn’t be too hard to rally support with the major film orgs and smaller festivals. If we set up it up well and develop the processes we could replicate it in film friendly cities. Also would be really good for the Fandor brand and probably attract some new users.

  3. Chris Henry / Aug 5 at 8:15am

    Terrific idea. I’d certainly enjoy a cross country trip but would prefer a road less traveled approach and would stay as far away as possible from large cities and markets. It’s generally more interesting off the interstate. Look forward to checking in to see how things develop.

  4. cj / Aug 5 at 8:15am

    It’s done for mega events like Comic-Con in San Diego where the average attendee spends less than $1000. Seems like an easy app for a product like Airbnb.

  5. Earnest Reply / Aug 5 at 8:15am

    I bet couchsurfing.org would love to help facilitate this.

  6. Lorie / Aug 5 at 8:15am

    I’ve got a guest room in St. Paul, MN. And, there’s a chapter of IFP up here, as well as a couple lively arthouse cinemas and film fests. If you, Fandor, Ben Yennie and/or others want to get a ball rolling, I’m game to add the momentum I can in the Twin Cities.

  7. Herbert / Aug 5 at 8:15am

    Good post. I will be experiencing many of these issues as well..

    web site; Herbert,

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