The Seed&Spark Blog

A Collective Vision for Distribution

June 18, 2015

• Marty Lang

In his BRIGHT IDEAS article "Towards a Poor Cinema: Part II,"  James Kaelan introduced the term "ionic collective." Like its atomic counterparts, ionic collectives have members that can work in multiple production positions, “capable of dissolving and recombining to form infinite iterations of the same compound.” They also find power in distribution, where members can promote their peers' work, and also pay to see that work. Ionic collectives, he said, are much more effective in distribution than their siblings, covalent collectives, small groups of filmmakers that work consistently in one production position.
But that got me thinking: when it comes to distribution, does it make sense to immediately divide into such specific groups? True, collectives like Film Fatales provide a built-in audience for their projects, but they're part of a bigger whole. Anyone who puts a film out into the world is part of a large, interconnected assembly of filmmakers. Is there a way for us to all work together? Is it possible for us to create an all-encompassing, independent distribution collective?
I think it is.
Any filmmaker who distributes on their own has inherent value to others outside their local region. If you take the time and energy to create distribution networks in your area (theaters, museums, libraries, and anywhere else you can play a film), you now have something other filmmakers can use. You're now a curator that your local distribution partners will listen to, when other films want to play in your area. If you think a film will work with the audience you're cultivating, you can introduce them to your partners, and hopefully, the filmmaker of this new film will have a similar network of their own to share with you. Everybody wins!
This can fit into Kaelan's chemical analogy as a third type of collective. Unlike ionic and covalent bonds, metallic bonds share free metallic atom electrons among a lattice of metallic ions. This creates a decentralized electron mass, with high connectivity, and easy reshaping. Thus, collective filmmakers can connect with peers to create distribution connections. They can be those close to them, or on the other side of the planet, based on the common interests of their audiences. They can expand as much or as little as they like. We can call this the Metallic Collective.
I say “the” collective instead of “a” collective because it includes every independent filmmaker making films and building audiences. Anyone who develops a local distribution infrastructure becomes a connection point. And any other filmmaker can connect with them, to expose their film to a larger audience that's shown affinity towards their kind of work.
Now, creating this might require a database to collect distribution options from filmmakers across the country, and the world. It could involve filmmakers staking their claim to cities, states or regions. It could rely on word-of-social-media. Or all of this. Or something else. That's not for me to decide. But it would need to start somewhere. And I think I could help do that.
I made a feature film called Rising Star, which played theatrical and non-theatrical venues in Hartford, Connecticut, before signing a worldwide distribution deal with Content Film. Rising Star is a comedy/drama about the search for a work/life balance. It's in the vein of the Before Sunrise series of films, or Medicine for Melancholy. If you have a film like this, I think these three venues (and our audiences) would be interested in having you. Check them out:
Mark Twain House and Museum
351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105
Contact: Jacques Lamarre, Director of Communications & Special Projects
marktwain2 NEW.jpg
The Twain House has the Lincoln Financial Auditorium, a 175-seat main theater, and the Hartford Financial Services Auditorium, a 75-seat theater/lecture hall. (The picture above is from our rough cut screening there.) If you have a film that has anything to do with writing, or satire, they'd be a natural fit. They're open to revenue splits on ticket sales, too.
Connecticut Science Center
250 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford, CT 06103
Contact: Cherie Sweeney, Vice President, Operations
The Science Center has the Maximilian E. and Marion O. Hoffman Foundation Science Theater, a 200-seat theater where they play science-themed films like Great White Shark 3D. (The picture above is from our Connecticut premiere of the film.) But its 30 foot by 40 foot screen and Dolby sound system is perfectly suited to play feature films, too. They also provide bartenders who can run a cash bar. If your film is science fiction, this venue is a slam-dunk; they've hosted science fiction-themed film festivals in the past. You'd need to pay in advance to book the theater (they don't do revenue splits), but you can book multiple screenings in the same day, so you could have twice the opportunity for ticket sales.
Bushnell Park 
Hartford, Connecticut 06103
Contact: Kejuan Dillard, Special Events Coordinator
City of Hartford Marketing, Events and Cultural Affairs 
New bushnell dark.jpg
Bushnell Park is a great place to show a film outdoors. It's centrally located in Hartford, and the city also runs Free Movies After Dark, a summer series of films played outdoors at city parks, on blow-up movie screens. (The picture above is from our summer screening, which attracted over 400 people!) They also have a performance stage that can be utilized; we actually had our soundtrack artists perform a show before we showed the film. This screening didn't make us any money, as it was a thank-you to the city for helping us make Rising Star, but if you're looking for a great event, which will get plenty of press, this is a great spot to consider.
So there it is: the beginning of the Metallic Collective. Where will it go from here? I'd love to find out. Who's got ideas?


Marty Lang

Marty Lang is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist. His feature writing/directing debut, RISING STAR, won Best Premiere at the 2012 Seattle True Independent Film Festival, and can be purchased on His producing credits include OUT OF MY HA



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