‘The Primary Instinct’ Is Now Available on VOD


I’m pleased to announce that today, roughly 19 months after I made the first post about The Primary Instinct at /Film, The Primary Instinct is now available across all major VOD platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox Video, Vudu, and VHX (with special features). For those who haven’t seen it yet, I hope you’ll consider checking it out and leaving a review.

For those who don’t know, The Primary Instinct is a concert film that documents an evening of Stephen’s storytelling at the Moore Theatre in Seattle. It chronicles Stephen’s journey through childhood, fatherhood, and Hollywood. Hit the jump to learn more about the film and watch the trailer.
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I first heard about the Starz original series The Chair a few weeks ago, when a /Filmcast listener suggested it to me. The novel approach of the show was intriguing: Give two directors the same script, provide them a modest budget to direct their first indie film, and allow them each to have final cut. The director who made the better film (according to survey data) would receive $200,000.

The Chair is an essential resource for any beginning filmmaker. Not only is it addictive as hell to see two new filmmakers take their films in dramatically different directions — and the victories and failures that come with that — it also provides a great overview of the hundreds of choices that go into making a film. I dove into the show headfirst and finished the entire series within a week.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Chair producers Josh Shader and Chris Moore (the latter of whom also produced films such as American Pie and Good Will Hunting). The full podcast is coming soon, but one of the things we talked about during our interview and over email were what mistakes first-time filmmakers make. Some of these lessons are derived not just from The Chair but from the producers’ experiences on other films. Hit the jump to see what they suggest. You can watch The Chair on Starz digital or buy it on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play.
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primary instinct

Last year, with the help of some /Film readers, I received Kickstarter funding to direct a concert film with actor Stephen Tobolowsky. The film played at a few film festivals, but the question quickly became: what was going to happen next for The Primary Instinct?

I estimate 70% of the process of releasing a movie is just getting the film made; the other 30% is getting the film seen. That’s why I’m really pleased to announce that FilmBuff — the same distribution company that released great indie films like Exit Through the Gift Shop and The Internet’s Own Boy, will be distributing The Primary Instinct. Hit the jump for more details, plus the full press release.
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primary instinct

Briefly: Well, folks, the day is finally here. A little bit more than a year after we first shot a concert film at the Moore Theatre with Stephen Tobolowsky, the World Premiere of The Primary Instinct is finally upon us. Tomorrow, all the people who backed us on Kickstarter will get the opportunity to watch the film with us when it plays at the Seattle International Film Festival.

But there’s good news for those who live near the Seattle area as well: You can still buy a ticket to see the film in personThe Primary Instinct will play at the historic Egyptian Theatre in Capitol Hill for two showings: Friday at 9:45 PM, and Saturday at noon. Stephen and I will both be there to do a Q&As afterwards.

For those who won’t be able to be there and are still interested in seeing the film: stay tuned! We’ll have more exciting news about the film in the near future. In the meantime, I hope you’ll consider joining us in person. If you do, be sure to say hi. And for those who have been with us every step of the way on this journey, right from the very beginning: Thank you, so so much.

Primary Instinct poster

Making a Movie” is a series of columns that chronicles our attempt to make, market, and distribute a film with Stephen Tobolowsky.

First things first: The World Premiere of The Primary Instinct will happen in late May. But in the meantime, star Stephen Tobolowsky and I will be at the Independent Film Festival of Boston for a one-off Special Screening this Sunday, April 26th, at 7:30 PM. Buy tickets for that show here.

In the meantime, I want to unveil the poster for our film to you guys. Read More »


Last summer I signed on to produce a movie called Layover, an indie film I saw at the Seattle International Film Festival. I had a number of reasons for wanting to work on the film, but one of them was to learn the ins-and-outs of self-distribution, which is something that I felt was (and still is) a possible outcome for my own film, The Primary Instinct.

When Layover was self-released, we received placement in many high-profile online outlets (as well as a nice mention on the /Filmcast). The filmmakers, actors, and myself promoted the film heavily across social media. Combine all this with an asking price of $6 for a full HD digital download, and we had every reason to expect that the film would have a profitable run, especially given that the film’s budget was only $6,000. Were we right? How much money do you think our film made?

Now that some time has passed, we’ve had the opportunity to take stock and re-evaluate the effectiveness of our release strategy. After the jump, I will detail the plan we executed and tell you exactly how much revenue the film has earned.
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This year at the Seattle International Film Festival, I saw a movie called Layover, which tells the story of how a young Parisian named Simone gets stuck in LA on an extended layover and ends up learning more about her hopes and dreams than she had anticipated. Not only was I impressed with the film, I also loved the story of how filmmaker Joshua Caldwell put it together for about $6,000. Layover is a testament to what can be accomplished with a solid script, a strong directorial eye, a single Canon 5D Mark II camera, and sheer willpower.

In fact, I enjoyed the film so much that (full disclosure) I signed on to become a producer for it. And starting today, /Film readers and /Filmcast listeners can download the film, DRM-free, for $5.95.

One thing that I found particularly impressive about the film was an intense scene that takes place at a nightclub with Simone and her friend. How did Caldwell shoot this scene on such a limited budget? After the jump, see Caldwell’s exclusive video explanation of how he filmed the nightclub scene, and read an interview I did with Caldwell and his collaborators.
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Making a Movie” is a series of columns that chronicles our attempt to make, market, and distribute a film with Stephen Tobolowsky in 2014

I decided early on in making The Primary Instinct, that I would want to submit it to film festivals as parts of its roll-out strategy. Not only do festivals provide an amazing platform for publicity, word-of-mouth, and potential acquisition, but I also love the culture there. From the few festivals I’ve been to (Sundance, SIFF, IFFboston), I’ve always felt like the air is electric with anticipation and excitement for quality cinema. It would be a huge honor to be a part of that in some way.

But submitting to film festivals is no easy task. There are pages and pages and pages of rules (much of which I’m guessing is meant to weed out those who don’t follow directions exactly), and tons of documentation is required. After the jump, you’ll find a few things I learned about the festival submission process.
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Making a Movie: Five Things I Wish I’d Known

MakingaMovie (1 of 1)

Making a Movie” is a series of columns that chronicles our attempt to make, market, and distribute a film with Stephen Tobolowsky in 2014

It’s been an intensely busy summer as I’ve struggled to keep up with my full-time job, my podcasts, and my film. But we are now closing in on the finish line. The official submission deadline for Sundance, our first desired festival, was August 29th, and we mailed a nearly-finished version of our film in just in time. A few color and sound issues remain to be finalized, but otherwise The Primary Instinct is 99.9% done, and almost ready for submission to a bunch of other festivals in the weeks to come.

As I look back on the past few months, there are a bunch of things I wish I’d done differently. As one indie producer put it to me, there is a steep learning curve for independent filmmaking, but it gets easier every time. Unfortunately, this was my first time, but hopefully some of you can learn from my mistakes. After the jump, you’ll find a few things I wish I’d known going into this whole process. These things will be obvious to anyone who’s made a film, but for me, they were a learning experience.
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