SampoMedia report: Borrowed Time

Posted on May 22, 2014

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Borrowed TimeBorrowed Time is the latest in a series of reports from SampoMedia, which analyse the performance of films employing innovative release strategies.

The free Insight Reports, supported by the British Film Institute (BFI), offer an in-depth and transparent assessment of each stage of a film’s audience development, distribution and marketing campaign, and the final results across all media platforms.

Previous reports from SampoMedia include: What Maisie Knew (Curzon World), A Field In England (Film4/Picturehouse Cinemas) and A Late Quartet (Curzon World).

Borrowed Time is the debut feature film of London-based production company Parkville Pictures and director Jules Bishop.

The microbudget feature (£120,000), supported by Film London’s Microwave scheme, employed a number of rapidly emerging distribution and financing models, including crowdfunding, Direct Distribution and Cinema On Demand.

It was the first UK use of the Kickstarter crowdfunding site specifically to fund a theatrical P&A strategy; it was one of the first experiments of the Direct Distribution model, championed by innovative US Producer Ted Hope’s Artist2Entrepreneur scheme; and it marked the UK debuts of both Cinema On Demand service Tugg and website and audience building tool, Assemble. The release was supported and the P&A budget match-funded by the BFI as part of the New Models strand of its Distribution Fund.

In the report, available in full here, Parkville Olivier Kaempfer offers his own insight into the release model and campaign. The conclusions of the report from SampoMedia are based on revenues from all platforms, available audience data and the thoughts of many of those involved.

The direct distribution models involved the creation of a team of experts to get the film into cinemas, while the producer held on to the theatrical rights.

The results are a fascinating insight into the opportunities and pitfalls of direct distribution. On the plus side, the P&A target of £20,000 was reached in a single month in an exemplary Kickstarter campaign, and there were promising returns from the VOD release, particularly iTunes.

The report, however, does not shy away from the more challenging aspects of the release: there was, for example, only one Tugg-powered Cinema On Demand screening, and modest theatrical numbers.

Most of all, the release asks critical questions about how to mobilise an audience, so that it can drive and sustain success.

What should prove valuable, however, is the frank assessment of the producer on what did not work for this release but could be considerably more successful for those learning lessons raised by Borrowed Time.

In particular, the report points to the need for innovative and demand-driven multiplatform release strategies to become part of the initial development stages of a project, rather than an add on after production is completed.

Significantly, the producer remain committed to the ideas and believes that they can lead to future success for small independent films, which often fail to make any impact in conventional releasing models.

Over the next month, SampoMedia will also be releasing reports on the UK release of Nymphomaniac and Stranger By The Lake.