New distribution opportunities at home

Demand.Film launches in Canada

The Australia-based company is looking to tap under-served audiences and under-used cinema space with its crowdsourced screenings.

Le Ride 2Demand.Film, an Australia-based firm that organizes one-night screenings of niche films, has launched in Canada through a partnership with Cineplex.

The company’s goal is to set up one-night cinema screenings for feature films (typically documentaries) on evenings when theatre attendance is low (usually Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday). Since it was founded four years ago, the company has expanded to the U.S, U.K., Ireland, Singapore and Germany and has now launched in all the provinces across Canada. Director of operations, Toronto-based Paul Rotz, is overseeing Demand.Film’s Canadian expansion. Rotz is a former director of theatrical sales at eOne.

Demand.Film’s model is designed to give filmmakers and producers a way of getting projects that appeal to niche audiences into cinemas. In order for a screening to take place, a person must first request a film (from Demand.Film’s catalogue of titles) to be screened in their own market. Once tickets go on sale, the number of tickets sold must reach a certain threshold for a screening to go ahead. In Canada, 50 tickets is the threshold in order to make a one-off screening profitable. If less than 50 tickets are sold for a particular theatre, the screening does not go ahead and ticket-buyers aren’t charged. If a screening is locked in, Demand.Film typically confirms four or five weeks in advance.

Promotion for the screenings is handled by Demand.Film, which creates a web page once a film has been requested. The host can then share this page with their community. Demand.Film also promotes the screenings to its database of past ticket holders, as well as using paid promotion through Facebook advertising campaigns.

The first screenings took place on Aug. 23 in 26 Cineplex theatres across the country. The documentary in question, a cycling doc called Le Ride (New Zealand), was chosen based on an insight gleaned from Cineplex that cyclists are an underserved market in Canada. Le Ride stars cycling enthusiast and The Amazing Race (U.S.) host Phil Keoghan as he recreates the 1928 Tour de France race. The project is produced by his wife Louis Keoghan.

The screenings sold a total of 3,200 tickets (including around 400 in Vancouver’s Cineplex Park Theatre), equating to a box office of around $44,000  an impressive one-night haul for any documentary in Canada, and even more so considering it is New Zealand cycling film. In terms of revenue split (once tax has been deducted), the content owner takes 25%, Demand.Film takes 25% and the exhibitor takes the remainder.

Company founder Andrew Hazelton, EVP of global business development, is bullish on the need for documentaries and other indie films to find their audiences, and insists that it can be done in this alternative theatrical model. “We’re just using under-utilized cinema space with films that wouldn’t otherwise be seen, and have an audience that would never be found in a traditional theatrical campaign,” he told Playback Daily.

During this year’s Hot Docs, Hazelton said he met with a number of Canadian documentary filmmakers that expressed to him the difficulty in getting their docs seen in a big-screen setting. “These filmmakers aren’t making a film to be seen on a phone or the back of an airplane seat. They want their films to make an impact, especially in the doc space. And I always says, you can’t start a movement on iTunes, you need 100 people in a cinema together around this particular issue to really make a difference,” he said.

Another upside for filmmakers is that they also have access to the email addresses for each of the ticket buyers, which can be valuable when it comes to promoting or crowdfunding subsequent projects.

While Demand.Film is establishing itself in the Canadian market, the company will select the films that screen in Cineplex theatres, said Hazelton. As such, it is sticking with the cycling theme for its next release, which will take place in the coming months, once it has analyzed data from all 26 of last week’s screenings. The company does intend to branch out with the types of film is programs, Hazelton said, adding that Demand.Film is open to working with all sorts of filmmakers from pre-production through to completion.


Endearing video of Frank Sanna’s and Emily Pelstring’s Communication Studies students at Concordia University (2014-15) learning to use the Bolex film camera (basically, filming themselves with rigour and abandon in the courtyard at Loyola Campus). Edited and set to music by Grace Duern.

This film brings back very fond memories of the eclectic, smart, talented and inspiring people I had the pleasure of teaching while at COMS from 2012 to 2015.
The COMS Year End Screening – bearing the latest fruit of their creative souls – is coming up soon. Go and check it out!

Thursday, April 20th
De Seve Cinema, 1st Floor, Webster Library, Concordia University, 1400 de Maisonneuve W, Montreal
5:30 pm – 7 pm – Video 3/Animation – Tim Schwab’s class
7 pm to 8 pm – Video 2 – Federico Hidalgo’s class
8 pm to 9 pm – Video 2 – Liz Miller’s class

Traditional Costume

Valentino Mannias and Roberta Lanave in traditional costume of Illorai. Day 5 of 5 of our shoot this summer in Sardinia on Go Ahead Turn.

Special thanks to Denise Nieddu and Maria Rosa Betti for their very generous support of this project!

Special thanks to Antonietta Lai and Demy Paletta for making it happen!


Angel in Pink

What you see on the screen is always just the tiny tip of an enormous planning iceberg. I still find it amazing, how much work actually goes into getting a few simple shots “in the can.” Alas, its the details that matter and there are plenty of them, even if its a “simple” independent shoot like ours. My mom’s cousin, Maria (or as everyone affectionately called her Zia Mari) was our home base and guardian angel in Illorai – feeding and lodging us, telling us stories; with humour and love, she was a very big and invaluable chunk of the making-of iceberg. Grazie Zia Mari!
















In The Beginning

Back in 2011 when this project began, I was lucky enough to trip around with my dad (and some new friends!) while they were all there, back in the old country, on a government sponsored trip. If you’re in this picture or if you know someone who is, please get in touch!



Oh Ba! (Hey Dad)

Day 2 of our shoot in August ’16 at Pont’Ezzu in Illorai.

In the photo above, Bachisio helps Lorenzo with his lines in Sardinian. Pont’Ezzu means “old bridge” in Sardinian (in Illorai). You can’t imagine how hot it was at 9 in the morning!

In this scene young Giovanni crosses paths with his father Giuseppe on the old Roman bridge. Hey, what an art department time saver. The rolling hills in the background were built by us though. Can’t have it all.


Here we are at Capo Camino on the 3rd day of shooting in August 2016.

Valentino Mannias improvises a modern workn’ man’s lament (that of the actor and film crew) sung in a traditional “cantilena” style. The beauty and necessity of tradition is that it anchors us through connection to the past. The burden of it is that it can become like heavy baggage. What to do?  Should tradition be static or dynamic?



Making films is kind of like being on a runaway train. You have a destination, but getting there never really goes the way you planned. And so the real work becomes how to stay on course while (like Gromit) laying down new tracks on the fly. Most of the time, the train arrives “safely” but only through a team effort of confronting the unpredictable and unknown. In short, you stress, adapt, and discover: new places and people, new approaches and ways of working. In the end, its the process of crazy adaptation that forces you to grow and which also, often, brings you to better results.

Just recently in July and August I was on such a crazy course in Sardinia and Rome, working on my “spaghettimentary” feature film GO AHEAD TURN.  Over the coming weeks, its going to be fun blogging about these “making of ” exploits – in both Canada and Italy – that began in 2011.

Now as Post-Production begins and a distant terminus comes into sight, I hope you’ll stay posted to share in on the (mixed up) adventures and be part of the homecoming arrival!





The Edifice on demand!

If you haven’t yet seen it, my “digressive” 35mm film, The Edifice, is now playing at Vimeo on Demand.

Edifice Production Still 12

Julien and Claudia voyage through a mysterious landscape of city, nature, and industrial ruins as they set out to find an inherited plot of land. Crossing boundaries between dramatic fiction, minimalist narrative, and magical realism, The Edifice takes us on a digressive journey through the real, ambiguous, and intimate places that Claudia and Julien share.

If long takes and realism, magic or otherwise, are your thing, you’ll be right at home. Bonne visionnement!

Cinema Turbulent & Canadian Anthropology Society

The Edifice has been selected for presentation as part of the Cinema Turbulent Film Festival taking place May 8th to 11th at the University of Victoria in BC.

Turbulent-LogoFestival organizers SONOPTICA, based in UVic’s Department of Anthropology, are teaming up with the Canadian Anthropology Society for their 2013 Annual Conference to present works in harmony with this year’s conference theme “Unsettling Records: Reworking Anthropology’s role in Turbulent Times.”

Sonoptica describes their organization as a group of people (very human of them) that think seriously about the sonic and visual dimensions of life and how these can shape our reflection and understanding of contemporary and historical phenomena. “These dimensions include music, sound art, sound studies, and all aspects of visual representation, including, but not limited to, the visual and graphic arts.”

Screening is May 8th, 2013 – University of Victoria – click here for full schedule

see Canadian Anthropological Society for the Annual Conference (CASAC) schedule.