Well, according to Jon the reason filmmakers don’t want to learn about this stuff is frankly they still believe that Weinstein will show up at their premiere with his cheque book and BANG all your dreams come true.
First things first. It is not going to happen. Secondly, if it did happen (and remember we have about 5 stories in the world where this DID happen – enough that filmmakers kid themselves into thinking it will happen again with them), you wouldn’t get the money you wanted for you and your investor. Third, you have to have a marketing and distribution plan at the INCEPTION of the film. It is not something that you stick on at the end and hope to engage an audience.
Depressing though the death of the “old” way is, it offers massive opportunities for the canny filmmaker that is willing to engage with their audiences from the onset of the project. So, here we go. This is a long post, go get yourself a cup of tea, coffee, vodka whatever and come back and read.
Change what you think
It is not long enough to “just” make your film, you have to plan for and learn how to get it out there. Lesson one – before you even think about raising finance and getting into production, you need to think about your audience and how you are going to engage them.
Half your budget should be spent on marketing and distribution. It is very noisy out there, as well as engaging the audience at every possible opportunity you have to market to them and spend money marketing to them. By that we don’t mean posters and adverts we mean use this money to engage with the audience, think live events, think additional content.
Your film will not be distributed “traditionally” and if it is it will not make money. 50,000 films were made last year, 4000 submitted to Sundance, 200 got in, 20 made deals, maybe one of them got their money back for investors.
The birth of the Artist Entrepreneur
Get over the fact you are going to have to get your hands dirty. Marketing is not a bad thing. Developing an audience is not a bad thing. In fact for an Artist Entrepreneur to survive they need to create an audience of 1000 true fans that will pay to see their work. Do this, and get £50 from each of them and you have £50,000 for your next project.
Seeing a project from inception until end of the distribution chain will be the norm. Deal with it. In fact, start it now, if nothing else it means you are ahead of the game.
Connect with Fans & Give them a reason to buy and you will make money or CWF & RTB = £$£$
Don’t think of this so much as DIY distribution as much as Direct to Fan distribution.
Every film is different and should be treated as such -That means every film needs a separate plan for marketing and distribution.
But you cannot create the plan for your film until you know the following
1) YOUR GOALS – What is your goal? For this film? For your career at this stage? Where does this film fit into your career?
2) YOUR FILM – What is your film about? Why do you want to make it?
3) YOUR AUDIENCE – Who are they? What do they want? How can they be engaged? What kind of things do they buy?
4) YOUR RESOURCES – Can you sustain yourself as is? How can you sustain yourself while raising money for this?
You need to think about your brand as a filmmaker as much as your brand as film. There is no mistaking Woody Allen film or a Tarantino film.
Marketing and Audience
What is your marketing hook? Remember what is your hook for this film will not neccessarily be the hook for the next film. You have re-orientate your thinking around your audience.
Know your audience. Who are they? Where do they get their information from? What value do you provide? What products do they buy? (There is no point making a digital download only if your audience doesn’t use the web)
Think Niche! Demographics like 18-25 year old men are too big and too expensive to market to. Think about the long tail and how you can get the small slices of it. For example on Jon’s film Bomb It! His audience was the kids that do Graffiti and those who like to see it, outside of that it is visual artists, those who watch sub-cultures and so it goes on until you become more and more mainstream.
Grow your audience from the core – spend a lot of time doing this, the core people are the ones you are going to engage with your marketing. They are the ones you want to become your advocates. They can also be the ones you test the film with to see what they think. Test test test always test from script to finished film.
The new 50/50
50% of your time to make your film
50% of your time to distribute the film
50% of your money to make the film
50% of your money to distribute the film
Distribution is extremely time consuming – plan on doing it for a year, make sure you have help doing it.
Distribution and marketing should now be considered as part of the filmmaking process. If you don’t want to do it, at least recognise that it is part of the process and hire or collaborate with another filmmaker that has the skills in that area.
Put the D & M money in the budget from the beginning and if needs be lower the cost of the film so that you have it from the beginning. Put the money in an escrow account and don’t touch it until you have to. Even if you are crowdfunding you have to do this correctly. Raise it in the initial ask.
The PMD – the new role.
Think of the PMD as the director of all the marketing and distribution fun. People will train to do this in coming years, it will be a profession and it will be recognised..
The PMD could be in charge of web team, editors, designers, social media. They will have their own budget and will suggest things for the director to do in the course of the production. This could be getting more stills, creating virals, creating more assets.
Glut of Content. There is so much out there that filmmakers have difficulty trying to get people to watch the free stuff let alone pay for it.
How do you position your film within a crowded film landscape?
- VALUE – add value to your audience
- BRAND – have a unique brand for your film
- ENGAGEMENT – bring the audience with you through the journey
In order to engage your audience, you need to be the source of information around that subject for them.
If you add value, people will share.
The world of you
If your online content is all about you and your movie, people will not engage. It is boring.
Connect with people – connect with influencers -listen first – be respectful.
Have a personal site and a project site don’t mix the two.
Research what blogs/sites are important to your audience and engage.
Blogs are still incredibly important
It is getting harder on twitter to have a great stand out Film account. It just seems to be push push push messaging.
Your brand needs to be authentically you (like Scriptpunk is for me) but your film brand needs to be about providing value for your supporters.
Create a content plan to ensure that you are feeding your supporters the right amount and mix of content. 80% of the subject and 20% about the film.
Social Media Versus Your Own site
SM is great but you don’t own your audience interactions if they are on Facebook or Twitter. You have to try and get audience to your site in order that you can get their email address in exchange for a little bit of content.
What should be on your site? Yes the usual things like Trailers, Stills, About the Film, About the Filmmaker, Cast, Crew, Reviews, Upcoming and Past Screenings. But also get buttons like sign up, contribute, hold a screening, put your crowdfunding components in there and your social media links, blog on there.
Set up a google alert about your subject and know what is going on around it.
Become an authentic authority on your subject.
Make sure it can be read on mobile!
What are good assets to put on your site? Additional clips, teasers, behind the scenes stuff, videos about the subject, music from the film, photos, guest posts, podcasts. Remember you can offer additional content in exchange for awareness – share this page and get X, or sign up and get Y. These assets generate email lists.
Collect email addresses everywhere – if you have a live event get people with Ipads standing to ensure people are signed up to your newsletter.
Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This is a lot of stuff to remember!
Create a sponsorship deck – get companies to sponsor your film for creative opportunities. Especially if you have a niche that you can explore.
These could be a logo on the end title or the front title, it could be branding at live events, they could be information on DVDs whatever it is that potentially floats your sponsors boat could work.
Remember with Sponsorship decks – the more your provide, the more you can ask for.
*you know, I’m still not onto day twos notes yet! So if you still reading then good on you!
At the moment Crowdfunding is donation based only, there is a model that is coming soon that is going to be investment based – wow! That really heightens the stakes.
The big problem with crowdfunding at the moment is that for the most part – the rewards are rubbish and filmmakers are only targeting their own community. Go back to audience model as before. If you want to crowdfund, crowdfund from your audience but make sure you have engaged them first.
Crowdfunding is also under-estimated. It is very hard work, it is very difficult to do unless you have that pre-build audience. People also leave their project up for way way way too long. 30 days is enough. Remember what teh founder of Kickstarter says “Every kickstarter campaign is a story – who are you and why should I care?”
You have to make a compelling video that gives an intro, tells about the project, say why you need the money and thank people!
Look at Molly Crabapple/Ihaveyourheart as inspiration.
Pick a reasonable amount of money to go for.
Be smart about your price points.
Be very smart about your rewards and perks. Remember you have to fulfil them – some filmmakers find to their cost that fulfilling DVDs is very difficult and costs more money than they got in.
Give things a scarcity value and people will buy it.
Crowdfunding is a full time job especially in the first and last week plus you cannot just keep asking and asking.
I think that is about as much as I can stomach writing in one sitting – needless to say it was very good as seminar. I’ll make sure I put more information up tomorrow about distribution, live events and merchandising…but for now I’m going to plot and plan my projects!