Did You Kiss Anyone?

Official Selection – Salem Film Festival 2011
Official Selection – Columbia Gorge International Film Festival 2012

My second feature film is called Did You Kiss Anyone?  It’s a comedy about a married couple who give each other a one night pass and things go inevitably wrong. It played to a packed theater at the Bagdad in Portland, Oregon as well as a couple of festivals.

Reviews from the Oregonian and Portland Mercury.

Here’s the marquee from when we premiered at the Bagdad Theatre in Portland, Oregon!

Photo: Kimberly Palmer

Film festival thoughts (Columbia Gorge Film Festival screening)

Before I made movies, I always thought of festivals as a gateway to having the Weinsteins pluck my movie from obscurity before starting their aggressive Oscar campaign on my behalf. But now I see them as an opportunity to show my movie to an audience and any time I can show my movies to an audience, I feel very appreciative. Unless your film is in one of the top five festivals, there will be no Weinsteins there, no matter how many all-caps, self-inflating press releases you send.

That’s totally okay because the people who attend film festivals really love movies. Why else would you show up to watch a bunch of films you’ve probably never heard of unless you were the type of person who loved to discover new movies? At a time in cinematic history where they’re making an ALF movie and continually rebooting superhero franchises, it’s nice to know some people still take risks when going to the movies. If you’ve ever attended a film festival, you are OK in my book. If you’ve ever organized a film festival, please keep doing it. I hate paying your entry fees, but I’d hate it more if you didn’t exist.

So… my second movie, Did You Kiss Anyone?, is playing at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival on August 18th, 2012 at 6pm. It’s in Vancouver. This will be the first time the movie has ever been shown in HD. Ever. Oh, and the whole festival is FREE! And there’s some sort of after party with beverages and possibly salty snacks.

Here’s the trailer, which (for me) plays like a moving yearbook of memories of the 13 months we spent filming it. We showed it at the Bagdad and the Salem Film Festival and people really liked it, so please come and see it if you’re in the Portland/Vancouver area!

My DIY DVD packaging for “Did You Kiss Anyone?”

I tried to only sell “Did You Kiss Anyone?” as a digital file. It’s easier for me, it costs less for you, and there aren’t any plastic clamshell cases that could be used as a landfill starter kit.

The problem is that not everyone knows what to do with a digital file or has the ability to play it on a screen they’d actually want to watch it on. Plus DVDs make wonderful gifts to buy for all your friends. So I decided to make a DVD.

I loved the packaging of a Filmed By Bike DVD I own. The case is from Stumptown Printers and it’s made from foldable chipboard. There’s no plastic, it feels nice, and it’s kind of awesome.

But getting them printed is expensive. So my friend created a design for some rubber stamps that I could put on the cases. The human heart stamp came from Collage and somehow seemed to fit the tone of the movie too.

I decided to throw in some behind-the-scenes photos because it seems like it would be fun and feel more personal.

I went from not liking the idea of selling a DVD, to realizing I just don’t like the mass produced DVD cases for indie movies trying to look like Hollywood movies. Mine are hand-stamped and folded together by me. I make these.

You can buy them at DidYouKissAnyone.com

Distribution is easy, finding an audience is hard

It’s been almost a month since I decided to release my second movie “Did You Kiss Anyone?” using the Louis CK way of distributing.  (Someone pays me $5, I give them the movie to stream or download in HD.)

Some people think this is idiotic, but I don’t have any investors to answer to and I want to make it as easy as possible for people to see the movie. (If you don’t have $5, you can watch my first movie for free or you can watch the webseries called “Did You Cast Anyone?“)

When I considered doing this, I thought it would be really complicated and possibly cost tons of money I didn’t have.  Louis CK has said his site cost about $32,000 to get running.  I wanted to see if I could do it for less–a lot less.  Here are the steps I identified as most important:

  1. Secure payment: People should be able to pay with a credit card and I should not know anything about how they paid, only if they paid.
  2. Unique link & order number: Once you do pay, you should get a unique URL to the movie and an order number so if things go haywire you can send me an email and complain.
  3. No hassle streaming or downloading: Once you get the link, you should be able to stream it (in HD) or download it immediately, without any technical difficulties caused by me choosing a crappy web host that’s unable to reliably deliver a 1.75 GB file. Also, you shouldn’t need to have an account for anything.

I’m already paying $7/month to host my movie websites on Front Ave.  In addition to this, everything above cost me $5 PER YEAR. One sale covers the video hosting for the entire year (!).  Here’s how I did it: [UPDATE: How to Sell Direct Downloads can be found here.]

  1. PayPal handled the secure payment. I signed up for a Paypal business account (it’s free) because I needed access to their API. You don’t need to understand any of that, other than knowing where to get your API key within PayPal.
  2. My site is created in WordPress and I used a plugin called MarketPress (also free).  It gives you shopping cart functionality on your site, plus it integrates with PayPal using the aforementioned API key.
  3. The MP4 movie file was uploaded to Google’s cloud storage infrastructure (aka Google Docs).  This is where the expense came in.  I needed to upgrade to 20GB of space, which costs $5 per year. Once you get your custom link, you can begin watching immediately or download it.

People would’ve crapped their pants ten years ago if they knew you could do this.

But now the hard will always be: how do you find an audience? And don’t start regurgitating thought-leaders about building an audience online with social media. No one follows you on social media to buy your stuff.  They follow you because you tell funny jokes or take cool pictures or because your avatar is a hot girl who looks like she’s going to have sexual intercourse with you if you star all her tweets. And the thought-leaders don’t make money selling movies, they make money talking at conferences.

My own movie’s made a little bit of money that I’m going to use to try and find people the old-fashioned way: advertising.  But I want to do the old-fashioned way in a relatively new-fashioned way: targeted advertising that leverages your social graph or things you’re searching for.  I have no idea how I’ll do it exactly, or if it will work.  But I’ll let you know when I get any interesting results, like this.

Okay, now go read this this PBS article because I was interviewed for it and it talks about a lot of this stuff too.

Here's how the Bagdad screening went…

I spent two years making a movie in Portland so it was fun to finally show it in Portland. I’ve always loved the idea of screening a movie at the Bagdad. It’s one of those renovated movie palaces where you can drink beer and eat pizza. Plus it has an awesome marquee.

I always worry that if I show my movie in a theater, no one will show up.  Not only did we fill the theater, but there was a line out the door waiting to get in. If you’ve ever hated waiting in line at a theater, know that somewhere, you are making the filmmakers of that movie very happy.

It was great hanging out with some of the actors who I haven’t seen in forever. I spend a concentrated time on set with actors, then rarely seem them until there’s an event like this. Which sucks because they are all really cool, funny people. So I need to write another movie so I can hang out with them again.

Sibyl, Amanda Charr, Audrey Walker, Adrienne Vogel

I showed slides of things like Carolyn Main’s Sex Wizards and my friend Candice made a great playlist of Portland bands that played while everyone was waiting for the show to start. Once everyone got in, we started with some storytelling by Bill Reagan and Heather Goguen. Bill told a hilarious story about prom with a date who was wasted and Heather told a story about marrying her internet stalker that included the twist ending that she’s not just pregnant, but double pregnant. Both Bill and Heather should be in Backfence PDX, so someone please make that happen.

I showed a lost episode of “Did You Cast Anyone?” and if you weren’t there, you’ll probably never see it. It’s pretty silly and involves various terrible things happening to my head at the hand of Teresa Decher.

Once the movie started, everything was kind of a blur for me. I was nervous people would be uncomfortable with the Shi**ing with the Door Open scene that takes place early in the movie. They laughed. A full theater of people laughing. It was awesome. That’s what always motivates me when I make a movie.

Once the movie was going and I knew people were enjoying it, I went up to the balcony to get my computer to update the movie’s website with the link to buy it. There were people in the balcony! Lots of people. And they were watching my movie! It still seems crazy.

I posted some QR codes around the lobby so people could scan and buy it on the spot. One person actually did! And people must have told friends about it because I sold a bunch of copies for the entire week after. (You can still buy it for $5 at buy.didyoukissanyone.com.)

After the movie, lots people stayed for the Q&A. I came out wearing the mouse mask from the furries scene, but no one could understand me so I had to take it off. Some sort of alarm went off in the middle of the Q&A. I was joined by Brian Mohr (Cinematographer), Trevor Bennett (Score), and Jon Vogel (Producer/brother). It had that awkward feeling all Q&A sessions have.

We went for a few drinks at the Back Stage bar and I got to hang out with Brian and Amanda a little bit, the two people who I spent the most time with making the movie. It was a great way to end a perfect movie screening evening.

Time to go make another one.

If you took any photos while you were there (especially if you have some shots of the audience) please send them to me or give me a link! I would love to see them.