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Episode 84 – Traditional and Alternative Distribution with Isaac Pingree

This week we talk to local filmmaker Isaac Pingree who’s releasing his new documentary, The Fred Eaglesmith Traveling Steam Show direct to his audience. Before we get to that we spend half of the show talking about his first feature Day of Vengeance which he made ten years ago and how his experience with getting distribution on his first film, lead him to finding this alternate method. That and much much more on this extra long episode of Making Movies is Hard!

Listen now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.


Meet Isaac Pingree


Isaac Pingree is a local Oakland Filmmaker who directed his first feature film, Day of Vengeance when he was 19 years old. Since then among other projects, he has directed two feature length documentaries and a number of other short documentary projects.

Like many filmmakers he does corporate video jobs to pay the rent while spending as much of his time as possible on his passion projects.


Day of Vengeance

You can find Day of Vengeance on amazon, and I believe it’s available on prime through a digital device but it’s not available on the web, bummer! So if you have a smart device of some kind you should be able to find it!

Isaac started production on his film in 2006, which was an odd time for film technology, digital cameras existed but DSLR’s and the RED weren’t things yet so the best way to get a movie to look like a movie, seemed to be to shoot on film, so that’s what Isaac did.

Lets breakdown the details of the film.

Isaac initially raised about $43,000 to start production on the film, when all was said and done, he spent about $60,000 on everything.

He shot on Super 16mm film.

He shot across 36 days in a small northern California town.

He had a crew of about four, including him, sometimes with a couple more people depending on the day.

Out of all his expenses, about 90% of it went to film costs.

The Day of Vengeance Distribution Experience

So the movie is done, now what? After a bunch of leg work he got two teams of sales agents on board, one for international and one for domestic and through that they were able to sell the film to a number of international film markets. They went with Artist View Entertainment for international and Circus Road Films for domestic.

Things didn’t go as well on the domestic side and after being turned down by all reputable companies they went with a low tier company that were pretty much guaranteed to rip them off but could potentially get the film on Netflix.

When the smoke settled, they had sold to a number of international markets for a total of around $22,000, which didn’t cover the expenses of their sales agents, so they never saw a cent from those deals. On the domestic side they sold to a number of places, such as Amazon and (which quickly folded) and didn’t see any money from those deals either.

The Fred Eaglesmith Traveling Steam Show

Years later, after various twists and turns, Isaac has found himself on a documentary kick, here is the trailer for the Fred Doc.

 Isaac has been a fan of Fred Eaglesmith for years, how did he get connected?

Once he was connected to Fred, how did he approach the project?

What were his expectations for the project?

After the shooting was done, what happened from there?

How are they planning to make their money back?

How is it going so far?

Now that this project is done, now what?

Can you repeat your success with another artist?

Getting in Touch with Isaac Pingree

Buy the Fred Eaglesmith Traveling Steam Show!

Buy Day of Vengeance!

@lagoonsidenews on twitter

Contact Us

Thanks for listening!

We want to hear from you. Leave a comment on this episode here or send us an email

And if you dig the show you can also leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher

Finally, you can find us on Twitter @timothyplain@alrikb and @mmihpodcast!

Published inAdvertisingAgents and ManagersCareerDirectingDistributionEditingFeature FilmsFilm FestivalsFilmmakingFinancingMarketingScreenwritingSelf-DistributionTraditional Distribution
  • What do you all think? Is Isaac’s story a clear sign that traditional distribution is for the birds and that its all up to us on how to make our own return on our investment? Or do we need to follow the advice of the system and only make movies with movie stars in them?

    • I would lean toward that the old model is dead. We as filmmakers have to really take a hold of the business side and not be scared of it. I find it super exciting. It’s a weird time for distribution but I am optimistic. Building or sourcing an audience and creating awesome content. That’s the key.

      • I definitely agree that we have to embrace the business side of being a filmmaker. It’s a bummer, I know. It’s more work on top of being a creative, but the good news is that the old models are still around and making people money so all hope is not dead. If we make something really really good, it’s still possible to find someone to do the work for us! Just don’t count on it, right?

        • Exactly! It’s the golden ticket business model that filmmakers have to give up on. The lottery ticket mentality of getting into sundance and getting the six or 7 figure deal. It CAN happen but better not to put all your hopes on it.

  • I think I’m going to be very careful about getting into bed with a distributor unless they are really well respected and I’ll get a cool logo at the beginning of my movie because if I’m not getting the clout, then I know I won’t be getting my money back. If my only option is a low-tier distributor, I’ll have better chances doing it on my own. So, yeah, I’ll probably be doing self-distribution with my first feature. I want to make money on my film so I can do it again. But I’ll hold out hope that maybe my film will be so awesome that Magnet Films will come knocking. I’m inspired by Marcus Markou’s self-release of Papadopoulos & Sons. When I hear how he did it, I see a way in!