Dispatches | March 02, 2009
On the intersection of docs and lit magazines
In addition to the dozens of docs screened during the True/False Film fest, a number of workshops and classes are offered. Wanting to deepen my knowledge of the industry, I checked out a couple, including “Hybrid Cinema: A Filmmaker’s Guide to DIY, Web and Self-Distribution.”
Jon Reiss, director of Bomb It, a doc about the “battle for public space throughout the world” (or graffiti), led the presentation. I was struck with the similarities of marketing a literary journal and marketing a documentary film. At one point, Reiss stated that when the doc was completed, the filmmaker was only half-way through the process. He or she must get it out in the public. I think, in some broad way, that’s true of a literary magazine. After we’ve accepted the final prose or poetry piece for our journals, we’re ready to put our feet on the desk, lean back in our office chair, and congratulate ourselves on putting together another fine publication. But as wonderful as our magazines may be, we haven’t done our job fully until we’ve reached the largest audience possible given our budget, personnel, and time constraints.
For many in literary publishing, marketing may be the least favored part of the job. As Reiss said early in his presentation, he went into filmmaking because he didn’t want to go into business—but that career choice turned him into a businessman. Likewise, I’m sure many of us feel the same way about marketing, but if we want our journal to succeed, we need to make smart choices.
Reiss uses his blog (http://jonreiss.com/blog/) to raise attention for his films and long-term audience development. You can check out his blog to see what he’s doing in this regard. And if anyone is interested in some of his specific blogging tips, comment below and I’ll add a “part two” later in the week.
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