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Touching the Wall: Making History in the Pool and in the Theaters

By Laura Hess

Four-time Olympic gold medalist. World record holder. American record holder. Those are just a few statistics for swimmer Missy Franklin.

And yet, a documentary film chronicling her path, along with fellow swimmer and Olympic medalist Kara Lynn Joyce, to the 2012 London Olympics was released the same year as Interstellar, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. The independent film releases included Birdman, Boyhood, Selma, Whiplash, and The Theory of Everything. So how can a swimming documentary about two young women compete on the distribution playing field?

Enter Laura Frances Aguirre. As Outreach Coordinator for Touch the Wall, Aguirre collaborated with Director Christo Brock and his film team. Their goal for the film was to create awareness and maximize audience connection.

In order to achieve that, Brock and his team first cultivated a relationship with USA Swimming during the film’s production. In the post-production phase, Brock and Aguirre harnessed the power of that partnership, which culminated in local swim teams from across the country hosting and attending Touch the Wall screenings.

These screenings were exclusively facilitated by Tugg’s cinema-on-demand platform. As a result, Touch the Wall is one of the most profitable cinema-on-demand campaigns in history, with 56,400 attendees, across 360 theatrical events, and grossing more than $765,000.

Projecting a film’s potential for cinema-on-demand distribution is a nuanced endeavor and Tugg’s Content Department invests significant time in screening films and speaking with film teams. Tugg keeps a tight watch on upcoming films on crowdfunding platforms, in pre-production, and on the festival circuit.

As a Content Partnerships & Management Intern at Tugg, I work with Felicia Pride, Director of Independent Film, and Brian Parsons, Director of Content Partnerships. I support them by screening films, compiling contextual research, and drafting coverage with release proposals and partnership opportunities. Team discussions ensue from my recommendations and, through those, I continue to learn the complexities of Tugg’s strategic approach.

This insight and experience is invaluable as I develop my understanding of the distribution landscape, with the goal of becoming an impact producer myself. The emergence of Tugg’s cinema-on-demand model offers innovative methods for audiences and filmmakers to connect – outreach coordinators, or impact producers, play a significant role in forging that connection.

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