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By Hammad Zaidi | December 28, 2010

Hi Everyone! Welcome to the 2010 Going Bionic: Distributing Independent Films Internationally Year-End Review. Today we’re going to look back at the bionic year that was.

Going Bionic was first given life at SXSW in Austin last March, while I was hanging out with Film Threat’s Mark Bell and Don Lewis. I asked Mark if he’d consider linking a blog I wanted to write about my experiences in international distribution to Film Threat. Mark shrugged and said,  “Why don’t you just write for Film Threat?” That’s how it all started. A few months later, my first Going Bionic article titled Film Markets came out on May 18th, the day I flew home from the Cannes Film Festival. Incidentally, the name “Going Bionic” was only meant to be the title of my first column, but Mark Bell liked it, so it stuck.

That was my first column. This is my 33rd. I’ve been writing Going Bionic for 33 straight weeks, and every Tuesday since the beginning I’ve strived to bring you helpful insights to navigate and strategize your careers. It’s been a crazy year; crazy good and crazy bad, but here we are at the year’s finish line. But, before we put 2010 in our rear view mirror, let’s look back at some key Going Bionic articles in 2010.

Film Markets (May 18, 2010)
In the beginning…Going Bionic discussed what film markets are, and how my company, Lonely Seal Releasing, navigates them. This article is a good place to start your bionic journey.

Packaging Your Film (June 1, 2010)
“If an indie film gets made without names and nobody’s there to see it, was it ever really made?” That statement pretty much sums up this article, which goes over key strategies on how to package your indie film. It also covers insights on how the international buyers will react to certain elements of your package, and how to ensure your package gives you the best shot at selling your film.

Film Festival Strategies (June 8, 2010)
This article keys in on submission strategies when applying for film festivals. As someone who has been a judge, panelist, and sponsor at over 40 film festivals since 1997, and has played over 25+ film festivals as a filmmaker, these strategies are compiled from my experience.

Territorial Insights (July 5, 2010)
Since most filmmakers have no idea what “territories” are, much less where they are (like I was before I got into the world of international distribution), this article will tell you everything you always wanted to know about international film sales territories. Trust me, you’ll want to have at least a basic understanding of this stuff, because it directly affects the value of your film worldwide.

Indie Film Financing, (Part One) (July 20, 2010)
This article explores the relationship between independent filmmakers and investors in independent films. It goes over why investors invest, and how to strategize your approach to them. The article also spends time on business plans, and how to make yours enticing to potential investors.

Indie Film Financing, (Part Two) (July 27, 2010)
This article covers international co-productions, and discusses how they can be a great way to finance your independent film.

Development Hell! (August 3, 2010)
Everything you need to know about how to write, construct and submit a screenplay resides here. Topics include script length, what to include and not include in your script and related strategies to help your soon to be discovered words bounce off the page.

How Not To Get Screwed On Your Distribution Contract! (August 10, 2010)
This is probably one of the most important articles I’ve written, because it gives you insights that an international distributor like myself is never supposed to share with independent filmmakers. Every independent filmmaker should take the time to read this article before they enter into a contract with any distributor.

Going Theatrical! (August 17, 2010)
All of us want our films to “go theatrical,” so this article will give you some terms and strategies to help you get there.

Tax Credits Rock! (August 24, 2010)
This article goes over America’s best tax credits in a state-by-state analysis. Michigan wins the “tax credit race,” with tax credits up to 42%. Louisiana is not far behind at 35%. Of course, all of the states that offer tax credits are listed.

Film Market Bags, Booths, And You (August 31, 2010)
This article explains “boothing,” (i.e. the main way in which your film is sold internationally) and what it means for your international distributor to be the proud owner of countless market bags. It also tells the story of how I lost my favorite market bag while putting on an amazing party with Julian Lennon on the sand at the Cannes Film Festival. Good times. Priceless memories.

The Budget Game (September 7, 2010)
This article discusses how the perception of your film’s budget affects the value of your film worldwide. It also explains how your international distributor will position your film to their buyers, based on a) what they think your budget really is, and b) how much they think they can “stretch the truth” about your budget to their buyers, without seeming ridiculous beyond belief.

The Seoul Of 3-D! (October 19, 2010)
I spent four days in Seoul, Korea this past October in order to learn about the few billion dollars (yes, billion with a “b”) Korea is investing in entertainment industry based 3-D applications. This article may help anyone looking to develop a 3-D project.

Script Accessible And Strategies For Submitting To Screenwriting Contests (November 2, 2010)
This article discusses “Script Accessible,” the screenwriting contest I created and am housing at Slamdance. It also gives strategies on how to submit to screenwriting contests as well as how to choose the right screenwriting contest for your script.

A Case For Never Giving Up! (November 16, 2010)
This article is clearly the most positive one I’ve written so far, and it’s the one I re-read myself when I have a shitty day. So, if you need a pick-me-up as you recharge your batteries for 2011, this article may help a bit.

Star Power(less) (December 7, 2010)
This article examines the fall of “star power” in the Hollywood, and how the dramatic shift is a positive development for independent filmmakers.

As we wind the year down, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for “lending me your eyes.” The greatest gift any writer can receive is to be read, and I thank you deeply for reading me.

I’d like to thank my wife Shahina for the encouragement (and for giving up spending most Sunday afternoons with me so I can hunt and peck my way through these articles). I’d also like to give a “shout out” to my sister Najla Zaidi, John Crook and Edward Stencel for being great supporters, and of course, I’d like to thank Mark Bell for the opportunity.

Today, December 28th, is my sister Mona’s 40th birthday – Happy Birthday Mona! Tomorrow is my third wedding anniversary – I love you Shahina! And next Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011, is when the first Going Bionic article of the New Year comes out. Until then, I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year’s Eve, I thank you all once again for leading me your eyes, and I’ll see you next year!

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  1. Kurt Yaeger says:


    A wonderful collection of articles that I burned through this Saturday night after a great pre SAG awards party. An easy read, straight forward and no B.S. Look forward to reading more.

    Kurt Yaeger

  2. Bwakathaboom says:

    Really enjoyed the series! Thanks for putting together this digest version, it made it a lot easier to get caught up on ones that I missed.

    Looking forward to seeing what you have for the new year!

  3. Hammad Zaidi says:

    Hey Nic

    Thank you once again for reading “Going Bionic.” I really appreciate it.

  4. Nic says:

    Thanks for the great insight. I enjoy learning about the market and one day might even try it. For now though, I enjoy making shorts and running a few film fests.

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