Two new tools for producers

12 November, 2013 by Don Groves

FanDependent CEO Thomas Mai is launching a new website,, that incorporates two innovative tools for producers at next week’s SPAA Screen Forever conference in Melbourne.

One dubbed Demand Map enables filmmakers to build an online database of people who can then be targeted before a film opens, based on location and demographics.


The other, Ambassador Screening Tool, generates a screening licence for individuals who want to host their own Tupperware party- style screening of a film, whether in their homes or in cafes, bars, community halls or lecture theatres. “This creates a new platform via which producers can sell their film,” Mai tells IF.

In 2011 FanDependent won the Innovative Distribution grant from Screen Australia and Spectrum Films to help 10 filmmaking teams understand and implement new tools in film financing, marketing and distribution over two years.

Last year FanDependent raised more than $300,000 through crowdfunding for Australian features including Rites of Passage, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Gayby Baby, The Ride and Chasing Dragonflies.

This year FanDependent distributed its first feature film, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, a documentary by barrister and filmmaker Jessie Taylor and co-producers David Schmidt and Chris Kamen on the circumstances that lead a person to become a 'boat person.'

Rather than putting the film in cinemas and hoping an audience would show up, the firm designed a distribution strategy that found the demand for the film first. A crowdfunding campaign was used to finance a tour of the film to 30 cities around Australia, through which audience members could pre-purchase tickets to screenings and vote where the tour should go. When the tour kicked off in February, the film was also available to download or stream online from the film's website and purchase on DVD, and there was an 11 minute version for schools.

In the first use of the Ambassador Screenings Program, 60 individuals hosted their own Tupperware party- style screening of the film during the tour. Also, merchandise was available online and at screenings. The tour culminated with a screening for politicians at Parliament House. By then more than 3,700 people had seen the film through the tour screenings, another 2,000+ had seen the film through the Ambassador Screenings and Schools program, and the film had been streamed and/or downloaded 3,720 times.

The 60 Ambassador Screenings were all manually organised. “While it was really wonderful to be able to establish a relationship with every Ambassador Screening host, it was also very time consuming,” Mai says. “The Ambassador Screening Tool has been built to automate this process and otherwise make the process more expedient.”

While the tool will be launched during SPAA, people can sign up at to be the first to find out when it goes live.

FanDependent currently is releasing Rites of Passage, a feature film made by young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, produced by not-for-profit organisation Beyond Empathy. The release includes 20 event- based screenings with Q&s with the young filmmakers. The film is simultaneously available on DVD and VOD through the film’s website.

At Screen Forever, Mai and Wendy Bernfeld, the founder and managing director of Rights Stuff BV, will stage a workshop on how to use crowdfunding, social media and four-walling and using VOD to exploit content globally.

Mai and Bernfeld will present case studies and invited attendees to nominate projects for discussion at the November 21 session entitled Digging into Digital: VOD and Reaching Your Audience Survival Guide.