‘Super Capers': An Odyssey in Self-Distribution

I came to L.A. in the summer of 2005, after having owned a video production company in the Midwest that provided local commercials and corporate videos. My plan was to finally live out my childhood dream: to become a film director. My first project was to be a feature film from a script I wrote […]

I came to L.A. in the summer of 2005, after having owned a video production company in the Midwest that provided local commercials and corporate videos.

My plan was to finally live out my childhood dream: to become a film director.

My first project was to be a feature film from a script I wrote called "Lucifer," a trilogy based on the Book of Enoch and the Bible. Instead, I directed it as a short, which was designed as a marketing tool for investors.

"Lucifer" went on to win awards at the Beverly Hills Film Festival and the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival.

While trying to raise financing for a "Lucifer" feature, I decided to make another feature-length film — a personal project I wanted to do for the challenge and learning experience, to prepare myself for "Lucifer" and have a little fun in the process.

Knowing that no studio would give me a first-time directing opportunity, I decided to self-finance the project. I sat down in October 2007 to write the script to “Super Capers," a sci-fi, superhero comedy for kids starring Justin Whalin, Christine Lakin, Tom Sizemore, Clint Howard, Adam West and Michael Rooker, about a misfit heroes-in-training group known as the Super Capers.

“Super Capers” went into pre-production in November of 2007. In February 2008, I began filming; the movie was made with over 300 VFX and shot in 2:35 widescreen on a major soundstage. There was a 22-day schedule and a $2 million budget. March 20, 2008 was my last day of filming.

Exactly a year later — on March 20, 2009 — it was in 80 theaters from N.Y. to L.A.

How did an unknown, first-time director get his film distributed? Many filmmakers go to film festivals, film markets or hold industry special screenings in the hopes that someone will pick up their film.

Another route — and the one I took — was to seek out self-distribution companies that have good relationships with theaters. These are companies that will put your film in limited release for a  fee and the costs of publicity and advertising — if they like it.

I chose Roadside Attractions because it has strong, long-term relationships with theater owners in major metropolitan areas around the nation. It also is partly owned by Lionsgate.

Roadside has a deal with Lionsgate that provides pickups for Roadside Attractions’ theatrical films: for DVD, TV, digital distribution and video-on-demand. Although it's not guaranteed, Lionsgate gives you a good chance to get a DVD of your film distributed nationally.

That being said, "Super Capers" became one of the lowest grossing movies ever. Critics said it would be a waste of anyone's 93 minutes and that I was the next Ed Wood. But the kids seemed to love it  — it was voted best feature film at the International Cairo Children’s Film Festival.

But all is not lost. "Super Capers" is being released on DVD by Lionsgate on July 21. Artist View Entertainment has picked it up for foreign distribution and is taking it to Cannes.

And I may recoup my costs.

I've been working on another script and am trying to secure the rights for more. Also, it appears that “Lucifer" may be closer to getting greenlighted, which was my initial ambition and remains my ultimate goal in becoming a filmmaker.