When film distribution takes on a new direction on April 1, it won’t be an April Fool’s joke.
Little Johnny The Movie is the first Australia film to receive the Producer Offset while drastically deviating from traditional distribution paths.
“We’re trying something completely different,” says producer and co-CEO of Instinct Entertainment David Redman.
The animated film, which centres around the boy behind the myth of the ever-popular Little Johnny jokes, features the voice of Genevieve Morris (better known for her turn as Barbara from Bank World in a commercial for ANZ) and songs by Kevin Bloody Wilson.
The film will follow a distribution strategy that involves combined theatrical VOD platforming. It will screen as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival as well as being available via Video On Demand.
Redman describes the model as being the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth.
"Most people would have heard their first Little Johnny joke or Kevin Bloody Wilson song via pure word of mouth," he says. "Their friend told them the joke or slipped them a casette behind the footy club.
"We kind of wanted to maintain that real grass roots word of mouth for the movie and the distribution of it."
The Video on Demand release will be through Dynamo for $4.95, cheaper than the price of a DVD rental.
"Part of this is about proving an alternative business model," says Redman. "You price it much less than that and it's just not viable."
Fans of the film are encouraged to embed the movie in their own sites and blogs and share it through social media.
The film has been privately funded, with an Offset cash flow from Film Victoria. For Redman, success will be measured by how much money is returned to the original investors.
"One of the things that the film industry in Australia is suffering from is lack of investor capital," he says. "And I think that the best way to alleviate that is to be returning profits to investors as regularly as possible."
With plans for the film to tour around Australia and a DVD release set for around Father's Day, he is confident that this distribution strategy will serve the film well.
"I think the industry’s coming towards the idea that box office is not the only measure of commercial success and it needs to be seen as part of the marketing process for other elements of the business."
Little Johnny the Movie will screen at the Melbourne Comedy Festival from April 1- 24. It will be available via VOD in IF's video content section.