Real-Time Distribution Case Study, Week 5: Press, Checklists & Production Brain

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it’s been a good week
an energy filled
task slaying
lightening speed
production-brain week

with no guarantees
of course

but momentum is building,
the team is excited,
we’re on the verge
of releasing the trailer
and announcing screenings


A friend suggested I share detailed checklists.

So here’s a glimpse at the release team’s tasks from week five, three and a half months before the start of the screening tour.

Last week’s checklist

  • finalize the billing block
  • finish & master the trailer
  • create a social media countdown for the trailer release
  • schedule social media posts using Hootsuite
  • wake up relieved that today’s social is already created & scheduled
  • draft social media calendar with 1 major announcement each week starting March 8 & daily themed content starting in April
  • schedule first press release for 3/8 at 11am
  • work furiously on finishing the press kit and updating the website by 3/8
  • complete pitch for theatrical booker to send to theaters
  • have booker pitch to three Oregon venues to test the idea
  • update tour schedule with new venues, dates & booker recommendations
  • confirm the world premiere & plan the announcement
  • realize that for the first time ever, I’m thinking of our world premiere as a piece of a whole instead of as a thing unto itself. feel massive relief
  • re-confirm thirteen Oregon dates and provide schedule to venues
  • confirm East Coast partnership and first non-Oregon national tour date
  • update email signup forms so not confusing
  • start fixing backend of Wordpress for blog migration but get distracted
  • have too much fun helping with photoshop poster design
  • submit photos to actors for approval (a task for many months ago)
  • open up movie end credits file. stare at it blankly
  • ask venues if we can do our own ticketing for special screenings
  • attend two film industry events and discuss potential tour partnerships
  • schedule a bowling tournament before one of our Saturday screenings
  • start picking up spam calls from all over the country in case they are a venue, partner or festival. (they aren’t)
  • review social engagement stats. posts are running at 20% engagement. try to figure out if this is meaningful
  • consider how to keep the film page professional, quirky, cool and not desperate as we add content
  • contact bydeluxe digital theatrical distribution to manage print trafficking
  • experience immense relief that there are no longer VPF fees at one of our favorite theater chains
  • arrange two screening after parties
  • start wondering how we will eat & take showers while on the road
  • consider that an empty airstream bus is better than no bus. wonder if a mattress, suitcase & storage tubs will suffice
  • assign my daughter to design the inside of a potential airstream bus
  • pretend that laundry, clutter, and food prep do not exist. gary picks up the pieces
  • have random checkins with Flannery about getting her braces this week
  • decide I can’t go skiing and might not again this year even though the snow is perfect
  • wonder how I’ll manage a new 3-week commercial job in parallel with release planning
  • choose to feel exceedingly grateful for the job and worry later

Next up checklist

  • complete draft of social calendar & strategy
  • schedule additional content in Hootsuite
  • create video content guidelines
  • create online store & ticket packages
  • test the trailer DCP in the local theater before sending to venues
  • finish end credits, visual effects, mastering & DCP of film
  • create & print artwork (banners & posters) for venues to display
  • update release funding plan including budget, sponsors and grants
  • complete grant applications
  • research markets, partners, & influencers. start testing each market
  • contact press in first screening locations. obtain reviews
  • update & consolidate email lists
  • update website with synopsis, log line, new photos, & press materials
  • make plan to contact distributors & sign contract minimum 4 months before VOD
  • migrate the website to new server
  • update investors, cast & crew on current release status & plans


I’m guessing many readers skipped much of that. Even I have a slight headache and feel anxious reading such a long list. Thankfully, tasks come one at a time.

I’m not sure about other industries… Film has been my context for most of my adult life.

The closest match might be event planning. I’ve often pondered that producing a film is like planning a wedding every day for twenty-five consecutive days. There is always the moment when I state, “It will all be over in ten weeks. Let’s go.” I feel a bit like that now, although it is more like twenty-five weeks.

Once I drop into “production brain”, everything else fades away: life, laundry, friends, family, food, walks, and time/weather/season awareness. Is it healthy? Maybe not. But I love it. And then it ends, and I rest and reconnect.

Possibly this pace can’t be sustained for six straight months, so I will learn to dance in and out of production brain, turning it on and off as needed.

Thankfully I’m not alone and have a team and incredible support system to back me up.

♡ Annie


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