Matt and I wish you all a happy 2015 - may your year ahead be filled with health and happiness! Since it's the time of year for taking stock, we thought we'd send you an update on the Last Safari and our experiences in the film world so far.
Since first screening the film a little over a year ago at the Hamptons International Film Festival, The Last Safari has appeared in eleven film festivals in the United States, one university theater, one film festival in Africa, and was screened at the Cannes Marketplace (a commercial film screening event in tandem with the Cannes festival). Friends of the film also hosted private screenings in their living rooms and backyards - these intimate, informal events with wine, popcorn and laughter were the highlights of our 'tour' and we hope they will continue in 2015. If you would ever like to share the film with friends in your home, please let us know and we'll make sure to get you a DVD.
During the festival tour, the Last Safari received a Raven Award for Best Cinematography at Docutah, and an honorable mention at the Bahamas International Film Festival where Danny Glover was also awarded an enormous paper mache 'junkanoo' fish decorated with sparkle paint and glitter in honor of his lifetime achievements. How he got it on the plane home with him we do not know.
During our memorable visit to the Bahamas we got lost in Atlantis, attended a conch fritter fest, made appearances on local radio and waded our toddler Jackson into warm seawater for the first time. We also made the acquaintance of a sales rep - a one man band from Canada who was wildly enthusiastic about the film and eagerly signed on to handle all our distribution negotiations. We signed the dotted line and felt hugely relieved to give distribution to someone with so much experience.
Then we never heard from him again. Well, we did hear from him twice, both times to say that he had a big Swiss theatrical distribution deal in the works and to be patient. Then he really vanished. From what we've learned, this is a common scenario in the Indie film world. That's partly why we've been silent in recent months. We had little to report during this slow waiting period.
This fall we scratched our heads and pondered. The film had great reviews and was often sold out at screenings. Audiences seemed to love it. Whenever we got it in front of viewers it was met with emotion and applause. But how to get it in front of audiences outside of the festival circuit? We decided it might be wise read a book on film distribution ourselves. (The one we recommend is Think Outside the Box Office by Jon Reiss. Really, this book is for anyone with a product to sell. It outlines basic marketing strategies that can apply to just about anything, anywhere.)
Taking into account the lessons we've learned so far and the advice of the book, our plan for 2015 is to steer the ship ourselves, set up a digital download platform where the film can be purchased online, and see if we can secure an educational screening tour in colleges and universities. In my heart, that is where I've always believed the film belonged.
Step One of any plan these days is setting up a basic website and presence for the film online. Anyone can watch the trailer, learn about screenings, read reviews, and book a home screening by visiting http://thelastsafarimovie.com/ or by joining our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thelastsafari. I know some of you were sorry to see us jump over to the social media platforms for our communications and I hope you will not feel slighted in any way. We are trying to find our audience and create awareness for the film, so these are natural next steps. It is our hope that you will stay with us on the journey, share the links with others and help us expand our little community. We need you now more than ever.
Which brings us to some final thoughts, which are of gratitude to you all. We remain humbly grateful for the sponsorship which made this journey possible. We are also deeply thankful for your patience. So far we feel our biggest failure was the speed with which we were able to get the Kickstarter awards distributed. Part of it was being overwhelmed with a new baby and and an edit going on in our tiny apartment at the same time. The Last Safari was a true Mom & Pop operation from start to finish. And back when we ran the campaign we could not attach images or files in our correspondence through the Kickstarter site, nor could we transfer the mailing list, which made it very hard to send out the image downloads and postcards in particular. But by now everyone should have gotten their reward as well as the private digital download link to view the film. If you didn't for any reason, please please please reach out to us.
We look forward to staying in touch in 2015 and hope to hear from you all.
Liz & Matt