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What The #&@$ Do You Do, Dan?!?

What The #&@$ Do You Do, Dan?!?Dan Truong
VP of Release Strategy and Financial Planning, Film & TV
Joined The Orchard in April 2014

You’re an MBA-struttin’, film-lovin’, data-minin’ maven. But we have no idea what the #&@$ you do. Enlighten us?!!?
I strategize releases and plan finances :) But seriously, do you have the time? My role with the team starts with the basics of building a financial planning infrastructure for Film and TV and spans to thinking about and implementing more forward looking strategic initiatives that will help us not only grow the business and stake our claim in the film distribution game, but differentiate us among our competitors as the most nimble and transparent distribution partner for filmmakers. And everything in between!

When I joined, one of the first things we needed to build was a knowledge base for deal making in the film world. It’s very different than music! My task was to build a modeling tool that could handle the complexities of film deals and allow us to understand how changes in the many different levers available to us affected the bottom line (not just distribution fee, but different waterfall concepts like gross corridor, contingent compensation, the revenue effects of differing release strategies, and a pretty new concept for us — profit share!). Because we were building something brand new, I got to work with some of my now favorite Orchardites as we had to work through the nitty gritty with finance, accounting and legal. And that continues today! I guess if you wanted to be more brief than I tend to be, you could boil a big part of my role as helping to figure out the legal and financial workflows we need to create as we build a new business.

Right, because our Film business is growing fast! (Variety called us the “Hot Distributor of 2015” and Cartel Land was nominated for an Oscar!) How would you describe our Film business today, and what is it like being part of this evolution of The Orchard?
The core of that new business is all rights (theatrical, DVD, TV, digital) film distribution, which is very different from the digital distribution business we had been operating in Film and TV. One of the most fun parts of my role is evaluating new acquisitions opportunities for the all rights business. It’s hard, grueling work, but I get to travel to the major film festivals and watch a lot of movies!

Once we close, the real work of planning release strategies comes in. This is not only picking release dates, but really working through the various release patterns we do (traditional theatrical, day & date, digital only, etc.) to optimize the revenue potential for the film with the most efficient and impactful marketing spend possible. And no film is an island, so this is all done in the context of our overall business and I help to manage what these windowing and release strategies mean to our yearly budget and what potential hits or misses may mean to the overall margin of our business.

In addition, one of the things that sets us apart from other film distributors is that we have technology in our DNA. Our client dashboard is already a big added value to the film world in relation to our competitors, and I am driving the creation and design of its next iteration, tailored to the film business and its complex windowing and revenue timing. This will add a level of transparency that’s unprecedented but sorely needed in the film world and represents a vision I count myself lucky to be working to fulfill along with the technology team!

Sounds like fun! Speaking of fun… we heard that in your spare time, you like to cater to your more creative side. Which arts tickle your fancy, and do you have anything you can share with us?
I love all kinds of art. I like photography and sculpture. When I was younger, art meant a lot of time at the comic book store. I was a nerd before it was cool! I’m into anything graphic really, so I also dabble a little bit in design. There was a time when I thought I was going to be an illustrator but these days it’s mostly just me trolling Tumblr.

Who knew financial wit and creativity could go hand in hand?! We’ve loved getting to know what the #&@$ you do, Dan! Thanks for sharing it with us.

best opening night story: Our premieres are really fun. Some of the most fun events we’ve had were the Dior & I and The Overnight parties. The Dior premiere was at the Paris, a really cool classic theater and the after-party was at the amazingly classy Metropolitan Club, in New York. Too classy for the likes of me in fact, but hey, never turn down free champagne. The coolest premiere party I missed out on was the Loitering With Intent after-party, where Sam Rockwell stayed out til 4am and helped close out several bars.
favorite roller skating experience: None :) I’m lucky to have survived my last roller skating outing. I remember being much better at it at 4th grade birthday parties. This last time was during a New York film team trip to LA, where we sync’d up on strategy and worked on our roller skating skills. (For some reason these trips usually involve some sort of roller skating related event.) The long and short of it is that my motor skills have degraded a lot since 4th grade, and I could barely stand. But do you know who at The Orchard is really good at skating backwards? Danielle D. And who’s pretty fast around the rink? Aaron F. And you probably already know this, but who’s amazing at dance skating? Doug S.!
you own a Pono. discuss: I totally fell for the Eddie Vedder testimonial video. But once I got it, I realized maybe my ear isn’t quite as sharp as Eddie’s and the difference between the Pono and my Spotify through computer speakers is totally not worth the $300 and endless embarrassment for having pre-bought a Pono.
random fact: I have double-jointed thumbs.

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