News & Events

November 2006

Zimmerman Explains Power of the Pyramid

Zimmerman Explains Power of the Pyramid

DI students recently got a lesson in pyramid climbing from distribution expert Debbie Zimmerman. The executive director of Women Makes Movies shared her “magic pyramid” of distribution during a recent visit with faculty and students. Working the pyramid is Zimmerman’s formula for mapping out a successful distribution strategy for documentary films. One important element of that strategy is the film festival circuit. And just as there is a way to master the pyramid, Zimmerman pointed out it is equally important to learn the “ABC’s” of the festival market. Zimmerman outlined what she sees as the A, B and C level film festivals for both features and shorts and offered her insight on how to choose the appropriate level of entry for a new film. Debbie Zimmerman and Sarah ZamanIn addition to providing advice on how and where to market documentary films, Zimmerman also shared her thoughts on important steps student filmmakers should take during the production phase to ensure they have a marketable documentary. This conversation was further carried out in individual sessions with second-year students in which Zimmerman provided feedback on story development and festival possibilities. “I really appreciated her down-to-earth approach. She made me really think about the potential audience for the film and how that should influence my approach to the story,” said Sarah Zaman. Several students commented on how much they enjoyed Zimmerman’s energetic, honest and positive approach in all of the sessions. By the way, the trick to mastering that pyramid—work from the top down.

Kathy Craven and Debbie Zimmerman

Check out a QuickTime excerpt from Debbie’s discussion on film festivals.