I'm over the hump with this essay, which has morphed into looking at how specialist film distribution companies use a mixture of new media and old-school 'IRL' events to build audiences, engage with various subcultures and create a brand identity. I'm focusing mainly on Terracotta Distribution and Third Window, two labels who handle the distribution of some fantastic East Asian films in the UK.
I'd heard of the Terracotta Film Festival, which is held at the Prince Charles Cinema (which is probably my favourite cinema at the moment), but first came across the two companies in the flesh at the MCM Expo. Both of them, headed by Adam Torel (Third Window) and Joey Leung (Terracotta), make a good go at breaking down the distance between distributor, audience, and critic, and they've found quite an interesting alternative to mainstream promotion in the process. Check their use of Twitch as an announcement platform, or their strong links with the Coventry University East Asian Film Society and Zipangufest, or how they appear on podcasts or Youtube video interviews.
There's plenty to talk about, especially in relation to Henry Jenkins' studies of participatory and convergence culture, where the rise of the web, and decline in old media, now dictates that media producers must collaborate and co-operate with the wider community, and that, equally, the opportunities of the Internet allow fans to take control themselves, to create their own platforms for discussion and dissemination.
But also, there's good, old-fashioned cult entertainment, like with Terracotta's regular screenings of their 2010 schlock-smash Big Tits Zombie, held at the Prince Charles. Audience members were encouraged to turn up in costume, and enjoy the film in the true spirit of grindhouse kitsch.
Therefore it pains me that this image might not make the final cut.