Adventures in Specialized Distribution (Part 2): Opportunity Costs

This is part of a series by Red Flag Releasing that documents their ongoing efforts to position We Were Here (release date September 9) in the marketplace. You can read the first part here.

Last week, it was about 110 degrees and Paul were I were in line at the post office, with about 20 poster tubes and boxes each in our arms. We were laughing as we waited, though the people in line behind us were visibly frustrated, their glares piercing our backs. It was nearly 7pm (tip: the Hollywood Post Office stays open late!), our intern had disappeared and had not shown up for the past 2 weeks.

The attendant weighed and stickered each package as we debated — regular mail or parcel post, Priority or Express…

We always ask ourselves on occasions like this: Is it worth the time and effort? How much is it saving us?

With the margins in our business, this is the central debate to almost everything we do: real savings vs. the opportunity costs. It helps us remember who we are, what we are doing, in service of what purpose. It reminds us that the risks are too high and if we want to be doing this next year at this time, we have to do everything we can to spend money where it matters (and not on freight).

Seriously. Is it worth it? FedEx and messengers come to you! My use-everything-three-times before you throw it away traditional upbringing would tell you, “Yes.” My obsessive-compulsive, anti-hoarding, pay-the-bills-as-soon-as-they-come mid-Western self would say, “Yes.” Philosophically, the answer is always “yes” to me – I can’t help it. Keep things simple, plan ahead, be resourceful and frugal even when you have plenty. My mother (who would wash and re-use paper towels and sandwich bags) would be proud.

Certainly there are some cases where we simply do not have the know-how, or the time, so we grit our teeth and pay others to help us.

In this case, though, the answer is an easy “YES.” It was the end of the day, and the post office is air-conditioned. End of story. Each trip like this saves us about $1,600 (everything went parcel post, though we did overnight to the Angelika, our first playdate, Paul dropped off posters and trailers at the Arclight on the way home and I took postcards and posters to Pasadena). It’s not a mint, but nothing to sneeze at. We’re back to basics here, in service of films that we love, that people should see, but that are going to be a challenge, any way you slice it.

The point is: Everything adds up. By planning ahead and mailing our posters and trailers, our savings will pay for advertising in a couple markets!

Red Flag Releasing is an independent distribution company owned by Paul Federbush and Laura Kim. The former Warner Independent Pictures executives shepherded films such as March of the Penguins; Good Night, and Good Luck; and Paradise Now. Federbush also worked as a production executive on Slumdog Millionaire. As a marketing consultant, Kim has handled films including Restrepo and Winter’s Bone.

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