Samara Lectures

Speakers Bureau Interview


Samara Lectures

I’ve looked everywhere for a speakers bureau that represents filmmakers on the college circuit. As mentioned in the First Workshop blog post I finally found one that represents a number of filmmakers as well as others. Beth Martin Quittman from Samara Lectures was friendly and happy to explain more about the backend of her business. My goal was to find out how she picks talent and what she does to land the gigs.

Are you a match?
Samara Lectures has no formal submission process. Just be in touch! Know they only represent people who are excellent public speakers. Prove this with your bio and a polished presentation, preferably to a live audience, like this sample reel. In other words, submitting a book or film or even a video of your Q&A session will not suffice. If you are a good match, Samara Lectures handles all booking, travel arrangements, and customer relations on your behalf, sometimes even planning blocks of gigs to optimize travel time.

How the gigs are landed:
Samara Lectures relies on Beth’s longstanding reputation and customer relationships. They do outreach at NACA (more on that in the next blogpost) but no other major publicity. Because Samara represents several speakers with varying topics, Beth listens for what the customer (college) is looking for. She then suggests a client (speaker) from her roster. This is so different from peddling a singular topic or theme. (Ask me how I know.) Other than that, the mechanics of sales and customer relations are very similar to what I teach, here for lead generation, conversion and customer relations.

Filmmaker Takeaway:
Partnering with a speakers bureau has great potential and sharing a cut may be worthwhile since a company like this offers connections and also handles a lot of the front-end admin. If this isn’t for you – do not be discouraged. Ask yourself: Is my film one that students would enjoy? Is it relevant in any academic circles? If so, the colleges WILL PAY for screenings with or without filmmaker Q&A sessions and you CAN broker these on your own. Stay tuned for more tips on how to set this up for yourself, or hire me to help kick-start the process.

Doug Plummer Photography - SeaDoc

First Workshop

docforest on porch

Last week I was honored to be invited to co-facilitate with Eliaichi Kimaro (Eli) of A Lot Like You in a session titled “Colleges, Conferences, & Lectures, Oh My!”  This was offered at Docforest, hosted by Seattle Documentary Association. Their sleep-away style camp is an inspiring weekend of “high tech talk in a low-tech setting.” We were surrounded by a sense of kinship among doc filmmakers and delicious food all weekend. The retreat featured a keynote of Adnaan Wasey, the Director of POV Digital and POV Hackathon.

Our session had over a dozen attendees, many who already had colleges asking for screenings and others just getting started with festivals. The takeaways we suggested: start by making a list of three target academic fields/college departments who would be interested in your film and five cities where you would like to bring your film.

Docforest put on by Seadoc

Docforest put on by Seadoc

We also dug into the complexities of how to set price-points, timing for rolling out your film (educational vs. festivals,) and how to find an educational distributor. Eli and I coincidentally both went to Peter Broderick for distribution consultation services and ended up with Collective Eye Films for educational distribution. Neither of us found it a priority to create curriculum to pair with our films.

Filmmaker takeaway:

My own takeway is that I want to follow-up with Samara Lectures. This is the company that secures all of Eli’s gigs and does a lot of the legwork for her. I am very interested to see which parts of the process I am missing, where I might be reinventing the wheel, and how I can help spread this model to other filmmakers who would like to get paid to travel and show their films on the college market.


Tell me what topics to blog about?

vote for 3!

vote for 3!

Today I officially quit my day job. I will miss my colleagues and the kids I worked with but I am ready to be done with interpreting. Also, I want to be more available to help more people learn to gig the college circuit! What I am offering on this blog is transparency about my process as I continue to systemize it. WHILE bringing in gigs for my talent and documentary on the college circuit, I will share the steps along the way. What topics should I blog about? Please vote on your top three!

yoga guiness book of world records

Embracing Failure

yoga guiness book of world records

breaking a Guiness Book of World Records by doing yoga!

I posted recently about goals for WDS. My score? Failed with 56%. Feels great! One of the things I ❤ about this community, (and millennials) is that  “failure” is a worthwhile method towards success. You have to try things and put yourself out there and keep moving ahead in order to get anywhere. I learned this one the hard way with my own documentary – don’t take too much time polishing! Although I am truly happy with the way my film turned out, seven years is too long. Here’s my WDS report card:

*create branding for pilot project. – 27%

As for the branding. I got a nice big FAIL on this. I still like “cherries” best of all. I got more out of the connections at WDS this year than the soul-searching. 

*WFH – get freelance gigs. – 52%

The career shift is going better, thanks! I met Mac from Mac’s List. Just from 15 minutes of conversation I came away with action items which I am chipping away at. Thanks to him, here is my refreshed LinkedIn profile. Isn’t it great meeting professionals who love what they do? 

*refine price points for pilot project. – 89%

  • I would like to offer a workshop for $50-$100/person – putting this together is taking some time.
  • Until then, I am offering $125 for a two-part series which you will complete in 4 weeks. For $125, you will have access to me for two sessions by Skype or phone. We will work offline to create a customized outreach plan. I will provide templates and forms to tailor for your own campaign. 
  • I am also available to offer 1:1 support, in a quarterly plan for $100/month. This includes monthly sessions creating a sales kit, generating lists of top prospects to court and creating a campaign to launch and get you out there gigging!

Ready to make a Paypal payment? Please be in touch! If you aren’t ready to commit, just say hello and tell me about your project! I am using this experience from doing yoga at WDS in the Great Namaste to set a new goal. That day I helped break a Guiness Book of World Records with 808 other people at Pioneer Square. Before the next WDS I will have helped 808 filmmakers and I will have an ebook with all the condensed info. I may want it to be perfect but hopefully it wont be!

world domination summit

Setting Goals

world domination summit

second year going to WDS!

Headed to the World Domination Summit (WDS) this weekend and posted these goals on my WDS profile:

*WFH – get freelance gigs:

I love doing marketing and development work and have room on my plate to help support creatives with their projects and programs. I am looking for WFH income to help pay my bills. I would love to work with internet professionals.

*refine pricepoints for pilot project (this):

What I have to offer right now is hourly consulting – normally at $150/hour by Skype or phone but this is in development. I help with positioning in the marketplace and come up with an outreach plan tailored to your film. In our follow-up session, we will review and hone your materials and strategy to reach even more people.

Next, I will be adding an ebook, workshops, and, for the right projects, actual campaign management.

*create branding for pilot project (this):

Last week, I unveiled my blog to my dear friend, Anne, and she single-handedly scrapped my idea for “cherry-picking” branding. I have poor grammar compared to Anne, who is far better-read than I. Welp, turns out “cherry picking” is associated with fallacy. Boo! For me, cherry picking was always about climbing up the ladder in my grandparents’ yard, eating the juiciest and putting rest in the bucket tied around my waist to later can with Grandma and then eat all winter. Out of their entire garden, the cherries were most revered; we picked so many that Grandpa sent me with full bags to neighbors and friends to enjoy, too. And as an filmmakers who want our films seen, why not seek out havens such as these with plenty of bounty to share?

Austin Unbound distribution

so, what’s your film?

Austin Unbound distribution

Eliza outside Collective Eye Films Distributor

As a filmmaker, you probably know the feeling of being tired of self-promotion! I started this documentary project ten years ago and here is what I am enjoying about it:

  • We just signed the film with an educational distributor! See me pictured outside their offices with a shiny new DVD cover. The film has already touched thousands of people and there continues to be interest.
  • When it was released, we hit the festival circuit globally. The original version is in ASL with English subtitles and has a very unique sound design. The film has since been translated into six other languages including Russian, Chinese, Serbian, Italian, German & Portuguese.
  • I got to accept a gorgeous award at a festival that brought me and the film on a paid trip to Russia!
  • There has been strong interest from college departments – rather than spending more time and money going to festivals, I switched gears and focused on college screenings. What a nice change being paid for travel plus screening fees & honoraria!
  • I get to show others how to tap the college market with their important films.

I still get to laugh at myself for using the royal “we” when I talk about it, because there have been so many people involved over the years. I’ve been the driving force, but it never would have happened without many many talented and bright people who pitched-in along the way.