The Way We Watch Now: Case Studies

Five experiments in theatrical-on-demand

(Page 2 of 5)

Case Study #2: The Film Club

Austin-based multimedia showcase The Show! would exist without theatrical-on-demand, but Executive Director Ben Snyder argues that it adds extra tools to his arsenal. "Our mission is to be able to get as many screenings ... in Austin for Austin filmmakers as we can, and Tugg is a great tool to do that," he says,

Tugg reached out to Snyder last fall. "I wasn't sure that it was going to be the right fit, but I'd always wanted to do features," notes Snyder. So far, he has used Tugg to successfully book four screenings. "Our events on Tugg do better than our regular events. I wish we could do everything through Tugg, which we've actually considered."

The TOD model creates new low-effort programming opportunities for old-fashioned film clubs. As Snyder explains, "It's pretty tricky to set up a screening. Negotiating with distributors, with the venue – it's a lot to do. But with Tugg, it's a lot easier." He continues, "There are a lot of film clubs already in Austin, but Tugg can create new ones of different niche things."

Snyder's experience is not unique. Tugg was contacted by a group in Chattanooga, Tenn., which was interested in showing the Oscar-nominated live shorts. That show sold out, so they then booked the animated shorts. Now they've moved on to features, and Chattanooga audiences recently sold out a Tugg-powered 214-seat screening of Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D. Tugg co-founder Nicolas Gonda said that, "Now as the result of those activities, there is a very large group of people that have come together to create a film-going club that uses Tugg to bring independent film to Chattanooga on a regular basis."

However, Snyder put the success of the screenings down to booking the right film. Even with a brand like The Show!, he says, "You can never count on your own audience doing it every time." Snyder compared the Tugg experience to his work setting up Kickstarter campaigns for filmmakers. "You're going to get that person's audience, and you can count on a good chunk of that, like 80 percent is going to be that. And then you'll get maybe another 20 percent from your own people." He's already seeing trends in how a successful TOD campaign will go: There will be a brief burst when the screening site is launched, then another when the filmmakers start promoting, and then a further jump if the screening is confirmed. Comments Snyder, "Everyone's like, 'Oh, there's a lot of people going,' and the people who were on the fence will go."

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