I get A LOT of questions about how best to make money with short films. It’s something that I think is inherently appealing to most filmmakers, to start making a little bit of passive income from every project they make. Unfortunately, while possible, it’s not that easy, and the reasons why are relatively simple.
As with nearly anything in life, there are dos and don’ts when you;’re dealing with your independent film distributor.. Also as with most things in life, there is (at least) one thing you can do that will irreparably harm your relationship with that distributor, and might even result in legal action taken against you. What is it? Read on to find out.
The Distributor’s job is largely to make your film available for sale, and set it up in such a way that people are likely to buy it. Some will work to market your film, but most won’t. Even when they do market your film, you helping market your work will make the marketing your distributor does much more effective. However, there are some basic rules that you should follow to make sure everything goes as well.
If you think your work is over when you finish making your film, and someone will just give you a few hundred grand more than it cost to make it so you can make your next one then you’re in for a real wake-up call. Sadly, there’s no money in making films, only in selling them, and the work of selling them is no longer solely on your distributor. Or, at least you shouldn’t count on it being that way. Here’s why.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been writing about and how we used to market movies, vs what works in marketing them now. So to expand on that, here are the most important things in marketing your movie in todays day and age.
Last week I wrote about how distribution has changed over the last several years. This week, I thought I’d expand on the number one most important thing for independent filmmakers when it comes to building their brand and marketing their movies. What is it?
Its no secret that may think film distribution is broken. While there are many reasons for it, part of it is due to the rapid change in the amount of money flowing to distributors, and what constituted effective marketing. What works for marketing films now isn't what worked in the past, and the systems distributors built themselves around have fallen apart. Here's an elaboration.
A lot of filmmakers I’ve worked with don’t know enough about distribution to really make a career making creative content. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as it’s a something film schools tend not to teach. That being said, there’a a part of the equation most people just don’t talk about, and WHY it takes so long for filmmakers to get paid. This blog addresses that.
I try to stay active in at least a few facebook and LinkedIn groups, and one question that comes up more often than I thought it would was why distributors need to know your social media numbers. The argument that generally follows is something like “just because people follow us doesn’t mean they’re going to buy our movie.” For the most part, we get that you probably have a lot of filmmaker friends, and your filmmaker friends are often surprisingly difficult to get to buy your movie. That’s not the only, (or even the primary) reason why we need to know about your social media. Here are 6 reasons why
Last week I examined the rise and fall of physical media for the film industry. As promised, this week I’ll outline WHY that matters, and the practical aspects of the current independent film industry. Well, the answer to that (and so many things in both this industry and in life) is that it’s all in how you do it. What follows is an examination, looking to lend guidance to that question. Here are the ways you can still make money with independent film.
We’ve all heard about how Physical media is dead. However, for a long time there was still a significant amount of money in DVD and physical media. In fact, DVD impulse buys are and large rental orders are a lot of what allowed the independent film industry to exist at all. TVOD (Transactional Video on Demand) has not risen to replace the revenues lost from Physical Media, so it only makes sense to try to get revenue for your film from as many sources as possible to try and cobble together an ROI from all the different pieces.
There are 3 different documents you would need to approach an investor about your independent film. I’ve written guides on this blog to show you how to write each and every one of them. Those three documents are a Look Book (Guide linked here.) a Deck (Guide Linked Here) and a business plan. (Part 1/7 here) But while I’ve Written about HOW to create all of these documents, I’ve held back WHY you write them, WHO needs them, and WHEN to use them. So this blog will tell you WHO needs WHAT document WHEN and HOW they’re going to use it.
I’ve written previously about what goes into an indie film deck, but as I get more and more submissions from filmmakers, I’m realizing that most of them don’t fully understand the difference between a look book and a deck. So, I thought I would outline what goes into a look book, and then I’ll come back in a future post to outline when you need a look book, when you need a deck, and when you need a business plan.
Pitching to independent investors is a much different formula than we’re generally taught in Film Schools. The formula we’re taught in Film School is generally built around a studio pitch. A studio does a lot more than give money to a project. They have huge marketing, PR, legal, and distribution teams that they use to monetize any films they finance. As such it’s not the filmmakers job to pitch their projects on anything except story when working within that system.
I get a lot of submissions to my portal in the upper Right of my website. In fact, it’s how I get most if not all of the films I distribute. As such, I’ve noticed some trends filmmakers tend to have. So as with most recurring things that happen to me in the business, I decided to write a blog about it.
If you thought that I missed a few genres in my blog last week, it might be that they’re more classically sub-genres. The biggest difference between a genre and a sub-genre is that a genre is generally a tone or a feel of a film (and sometimes some elements related to those tones) and a sub genre is more related to Themes, Settings, Style or niche audiences that targeted largely by those themes settings, or style. Some sub-genres pair better with certain genres than others, and it’s common to have more than one in a film. More as we go through them.
So most filmmakers are at least passingly aware of the importance of genre in independent film distribution. (If you’re not, read this.) But even while most filmmakers have a cursory understanding of what defines a genre, the lines are often less bendable than many filmmakers think they are. So with that in mind, here’s what distributors mean when they say a certain genre.
Part of what I do through the consulting arm of Guerrilla Rep Media is review peoples Decks and business plans. One thing that I keeps coming up in these documents is that entirely too many filmmakers list their distribution strategy as sole their festival run. There’s a lot of issues with this line of thinking, so as I do with any question that keeps coming up I thought I would write a blog about it. So without further adieu, here’s why you probably won’t get distribution from your festival run.
Far too many people consider the festival circuit as the be all and end all of their marketing and distribution plans. While there are quite a few things wrong with that approach from a distribution standpoint. (See last week’s blog here for an outline of why) film festivals can be a great way to market your film. Although getting ready to attend a film festival is generally a bit hectic. There’s always a lot to do, and it’s easy to forget something. So with that in mind, I’ve prepared a prioritized list of the top 7 marketing assets you’ll need to prep before going to a film festival.
Many filmmaker and even more film consumers just want to know when work will be on Netflix. In recent years, this has become more difficult than it was previously. IT used to be that it was a relatively easy sale to get on Netflix, although the money wasn’t very good. More recently, the bar has been raised substantially, and the money you get for it hasn’t increased as much as we may have liked it to. What follows is an outline of how to get your film on Netflix, both as an original and as an acquisition.
Given that I work heavily in marketing and distribution, I get a lot of people submitting pilots to me. While I’m looking to move my business in more of an episodic direction, unfortunately a pilot doesn’t do me much good. Generally, when I tell this to filmmakers, they get surprised. So, like any question I get a lot I thought I’d write a blog about it. Here are the 4 ways to make a TV show.
Traditional marketing wisdom states that you should offer something of value to your potential customer prior to trying to sell to them. However, this value proposition is different when you’re talking about making a film versus selling a software application. It has to be something of value to your customers, and since most of your customers are not going to be other filmmakers you’re going to need to think outside the box and offer something that people who only consume content are going to be interested in. Here’s a list of some ideas to get you started.
At least as of right now, if you’re going to sell anything on the internet, you need to build your email list. Since most filmmakers aren’t really marketers, here’s a basic guide to building your email list of potential customers so that you’ll have an easier time selling your film once it’s time to distribute it.
Last week I shared a few different types of printed materials to use at film festivals. This week, I thought I’d follow up with a post on the essential components of Indiefilm Electronic Press Kit. I will say that this is one thing where reasonable people can disagree, so if you think there’s something I missed, comment it below and I might change the post to include it.
Most filmmakers only think about festivals when they’re getting ready to market their film. There are lots of reasons that this line of thinking is flawed, however it would take far more than a 600-800 word blog to even begin to touch on them. However, if you’re going to have ANY level of success from your festival run, you’re going to need some bomb printed materials. This blog outlines a couple of examples I’ve used personally and had success with.
My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.
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