Last month, filmmaker Margaret Brown set out on a trip across America, screening her acclaimed film THE ORDER OF MYTHS at indie movie houses across America. Just a couple weeks earlier, Margaret and I were in Moscow at the American Film Festival and we talked about the importance of creating a new DIY-style distribution network for documentary film. More important, we agreed, was that the information should be shared. So I asked Margaret to record her thoughts on the tour. Here's the first part of three:
When the distribution plans for THE ORDER OF MYTHS were announced, Paul Sturtz of the True/False Film Fest asked if I would like to be the first filmmaker to be a part of a new model of doc distribution – specifically one where the filmmaker traveled rapid-fire to a bunch of different cities like a one man band – to help drive sales on the film. He said that they (They being the Sundance Institute Arthouse Project – a collective of 12 theatres nationwide) were trying to come up with a new model of documentary distribution because people were not getting out to the theatres for documentaries – perhaps sending the director with the film would help?
I agreed to do it. And in the course of 9 days, I traveled to Ann Arbor, Columbia, MO, Nashville, Austin, back to Nashville, Oklahoma City, then finally to Boulder then back to New York.
In Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theatre, the first crowd was pretty small, which was disheartening. With my film, the q and a is usually lively, and I usually have to cut it off, this crowd was no exception – great questions, good college town. Afterwards the programmer apologized for not doing enough outreach. As the tour continued, this seemed to be an ongoing theme – not enough outreach beforehand. But Russ the programmer really took care of me, even going to far to take me to the dentist when I had an emergency.
Then to Columbia Missouri for the Citizen Jane Film Festival, an new all-women event, and the “RagTag” Cinema, where Paula Elias got her Uncle Lee Bohannon, who used to be a black panther, now a community activist, to lead a discussion after the movie. The thing that worked about what he said was “I want everyone to pause for a minute and think about how the film made you feel.” This pause brought about some of the most thoughtful, if awkward, conversation of the tour. This discussion was the moment where I felt that my film was really right for this tour model.
Coming next - Margaret heads to Nashville, Austin and Boulder.