New Day Films is committed to welcoming new films and filmmakers into our coop that reflect the diverse, multicultural, ever-changing world around us. A curatorial team, made up of New Day members, reviews all submissions with input from our membership. Both the film and the filmmaker are considered in this peer review process. We seek members who are motivated to self-distribute through a cooperative business model. Short and long-format documentary, fiction and experimental works are accepted.
Each year, we add titles to our collection that address social issues and present stories from underrepresented communities. As a collective, we recognize that a commitment to social justice doesn’t just involve telling important stories – it’s also about being conscious of who is telling that story. Diversity behind the camera is as important as diversity in front of it. We especially encourage applications from filmmakers of color and from cultural and ethnic communities historically underrepresented in the film industry.
Our open call process is competitive and our selection criteria priorities are updated annually. Applications are accepted throughout the year. Once we receive your submission, you will be notified of your status within 4-6 weeks.
To learn about membership, please attend one of our monthly webinars. Sign up here.
For questions or more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why New Day?
Distributing independent social issue films since 1971, New Day has developed a strong brand within the educational community, built a huge knowledge base on effective distribution and marketing, and grown revenues to over $1 million annually. When you join New Day you become part of a dynamic, democratically run collective of filmmakers.
We sell our films to educational organizations nationwide, including universities, colleges, high schools, public libraries, prison libraries, community organizations, hospitals, labor unions, and political and religious organizations. Our collective model empowers each of us to actively market our own films through emails and direct mail, as well as to jointly sell our compelling social issue films through our web site and catalog. Moreover, today New Day is at the forefront of new distribution models, working with customers to develop new digital delivery options.
New Day has a dedicated fulfillment office, which ships our films, bills our customers, issues monthly accounting and royalty statements, and provides mailing lists of market-tested customers. This service frees up filmmakers to focus on marketing and making their films. Advantages of being a New Day member include:
- We are part of a vibrant creative filmmaking community and network, sharing resources, connections and knowledge about distribution, fundraising and production.
- We each make all marketing and distribution decisions about our own films, allowing us to control communications about our films.
- We receive income from our sales every month.
- We each keep an average of between 70-75% of our profits (versus 25-30% that is more common with traditional distributors). The remaining percentage covers New Day overhead expenses, e.g. for advertising, consultants, mid-year and annual meetings, a staff person to run our central office, and other needs as they arise (and are voted on and approved by the members).
- Our films are part of the New Day collection, which is a strong, well-respected brand within the educational community.
- Our films are promoted through New Day’s website, promotional emails, newsletters and our presence at key educational media conferences.
- Our dedicated fulfillment house handles all shipping and billing.
- We all have access to lists of buyers of other New Day films.
- New members receive thorough training in best practices in marketing & distribution, including being paired with a marketing mentor for your first year in the co-op.
- We continue to learn marketing and distribution skills from each other.
How it works
Self-distribution within a collective is New Day’s operational model. New Day markets the entire collection through our website, emails, newsletters and topic-oriented one-sheets for conferences, while each filmmaker is responsible for direct marketing of her or his own film(s) using postcards and email as well as speaking engagements. New members and new releases are highlighted and introduced in our newsletter and targeted promo emails to our customer base. We also create a new releases sizzle reel every year for the National Media Market (NMM) and our social media, etc.
If your film is accepted into the collection and you choose to join, you must sign New Day’s exclusive non-theatrical contract, and pay a $200 initiation fee. You will then receive access to our extensive Launch and Promo Resources, which detail New Day marketing and distribution best practices. You will be paired with a Launch coach who will help you get up and running on all of our platforms and a Promo coach who will train you in best marketing practices and help you come up with a marketing plan for your first year. Once you're set up, we will also pair you with a "Topic Buddy," a member who has a film in the same subject area as you who can point you in the right direction with conferences, email lists, etc.
After signing their contract, each member is required to attend 2 of the first 3 major organizational meetings. New members should plan to attend either a mid-year meeting in January, followed by the Annual Meeting in June or (2) consecutive Annual Meetings. The cost for attending these meetings are shared equally among all active members of New Day. After the meeting requirement is fulfilled, all members are encouraged to attend Annual Meetings throughout their 5 year contract period and also welcome to attend Annual Meetings as long as they continue to remain active in the co-op.
Self-distribution: New Day filmmakers devote resources and time to marketing their own films through their own mail and email campaigns. Ideally, members will plan to spend a minimum of 5 -10 hours/week on marketing for the first 3 years that their film is in the coop; around 3-5 hours/week on years 4 and 5; then 2-4 hours/month for films older than 5 years. This can be done by you or an assistant or intern. These are bare minimums. The more time and energy spent on marketing and doing engagement with your film, the more likely you will make sales. New films in their first three years send a minimum of six email campaigns/year (each campaign includes between 1-3 emails), along with other methods of promotion, i.e., conferences, reviews, placing ads, etc. After this, for older films, members send a minimum of three to four email campaigns/year. We market to both existing New Day buyers as well as lists of prospective buyers obtained from list brokers. Members share details of the best list brokers, designers, post-card production houses and mail houses.
Additional marketing activities undertaken by New Day members include telemarketing, obtaining reviews in professional journals, attending conferences, entering festivals, and organizing educational and benefit screenings. All filmmakers are responsible for producing professionally made and packaged copies of their own films.
Collective: New Day’s website devotes a single web page to each film in the collection. In addition, New Day markets the entire collection through direct mailing of the New Day catalogue and newsletters, which are sent regularly to over 20,000 librarians and educators.
Buyers are directed to the website and provided with New Day fax/phone to place orders. New Day’s central fulfillment office then processes these orders including billing, shipping and handling. Every month New Day sends all members royalty statements and checks, which cover sales minus the costs of booking, shipping and invoicing as well as New Day’s monthly overhead.
The share of New Day’s overhead paid by each film is based on the film’s revenue; those films earning more pay a higher absolute amount but a lower percentage of revenue; this “share ladder” is set twice a year and approved by the Steering Committee. New Day’s overhead covers the costs of running the central office, advertising New Day, outside consultants and travel expenses to the annual meeting. New members pay the initial $200 membership fee but are excused from shared expenses for the first six months of membership so they can conserve cash to invest in their individual promotion.
All active members attend the three or four-day annual meeting in June, held in a beautiful retreat-like setting. Here major business is handled, members of the Steering Committee—New Day’s management board—are elected from the membership for two-year terms, and members share challenges and insights on distribution, marketing and filmmaking.
All members perform tasks to support the running of the collective. Such work might include researching group mailing lists, serving on the Steering Committee, coordinating catalogue production, acting as a buddy to new members and recruiting new members. Tasks fit into one of the Steering Committees functional areas: Acquisitions, Operations, Web-Ops, Print Promotions, and Finance.
New Day is not:
- A funder. New Day Film does not provide funding of any kind. We are a group of independent filmmakers who make and market our own films. We do not provide any financial support for production, finishing funds or distribution advances.
- A traditional distributor. New Day Films accepts films and the filmmaker who made them. We do not distribute your film for you.
- An employer. As a collective of independent filmmakers, we do not have staff members.
Applicant checklist: What we are looking for
- Your film must address a social issue.
- Your film should not be a "how-to" instructional tape or a corporate video.
- Your film must be completed when you submit it. We can't accept rough cuts.
- You must have secured releases and rights to all music, archival footage and stills used in your film for educational distribution.
- You must have agreements in place with all copyright owners of the film authorizing you to distribute the film to the educational market.
- You understand that New Day is a collective and that you will be required to contribute labor on behalf of New Day in addition to your own self-distribution efforts.
- You understand that New Day makes decisions by consensus and that the organization's culture embraces participatory democracy.
- You understand that unless granted special permission, you will not be able to make your film available to a home-video distributor for at least one year after joining New Day. (Although at screenings, you can sell copies for individual use.)
- You must have your own funds to pay for initial promotional efforts (e.g. designing DVDs, an email template and postcards, purchasing email lists and costs for sending e-marketing campaigns, attending conferences, etc). There are many ways to do this, but we suggest that $1500-3000 is probably the very least you can start with.
- Before you submit an application, you must have an in-depth conversation with at least one New Day member about membership benefits and responsibilities.
- With rare exceptions, new members of New Day must live in the United States or Canada and be planning on marketing their films to the U.S. educational market.
- While each member of New Day is allowed to set the price for his or her own film, pricing must be comparable to other New Day titles of similar lengths. We have a floor below which prices to the community and university markets can't fall.