Posts filed under ‘film’

Engage Your (Film) Audience

I’ll be speaking tonight at Projecting Change through Social Media (Club), an informational session for the Projecting Change Film FestivalStephanie Michelle Scott (my Twitter Workshop/Twitter Parlour partner) and I are conducting sessions on Twitter – however, since we are both passionate about film and have a film backgrounds we’ll also discuss some tips/examples with regards to social media for film in general.

Here are some of my thoughts.

Promotion (is a part of your production)

  • Find Your Audience Early. Figure out who your audience will be (you likely already know) and start reaching out early.  Start your research ASAP and begin building your audience relationships pre-and during filming.
  • Generate and Release Content.  Consider what you can put out to create interest during the process.  What kinds of material would flesh out your story more (text, video, pics) or give it an added dimension.  Remember that your characters had a life before the film too.  (In a post on this topic I wrote: “Allowing the character to live in other platforms before the film is released – and whilst the film is being made – gives the character a larger/broader  life – and helps with publicity.”
  • Examples:
    • Twitter can be an additional platform for the story.  Perhaps you could take pictures and create a part of the story that goes out only via this medium.
    • Get the audience (and others on Twitter) involved via a Twitter chat.  If the film is screening on television have people watch and live-tweet or comment (use something like Cover-it-Live)
    • Are there characters who were interesting but received little screen time?  Can they become more of a part of the story online?
    • If there are follow-ups to the non-fictional account you provide in the film, allow the people involved to record a video about what has happened since.
  • Targeting and Blogger Outreach.  You are best to truly pitch bloggers when you have something to actually show them, content-wise.  (As you know, everyone wants to make a film – but few actually end up completing one.)  Really contemplate who would be interested in your project – don’t just target the most popular film-related blogs.  Remember that your audience isn’t only composed of film fans and people who read movie-themed blogs.  If you’re making a documentary about, say, dancers struggling to find work, you might reach out to others who blog about similar struggles.  You’ll get more buy-in if you:
    • Remember to personalize the pitch as much as possible.
    • Target those who might be truly be interested – not just because their blog is of the same general genre as the film.  (Meh: “you write a humorous blog and this is a comedy film”.  Better: “You write about the craziness of the internet – and that’s what our film is about!”)  Note: this takes a fair bit of research – but it might be worth it.
    • Consider the blogger’s time.  As is frequently mentioned – for most, blogging is a hobby and a labour of love. Watching a trailer might happen.  Watching an entire film is less likely.
    • Address what’s in it for them Don’t be smarmy about it – but if there can be something in it for them, let them know.  Often this aspect is neglected and the pitch is is basically: “Here’s how you can help us out!” – without addressing why they would want to.

Crowdsourcing Content

This is a great way to get clips for your film – even if it’s just short clips or vignettes – providing your outreach tactics are effective.   A few examples of films that have invited people to submit clips for their productions include:

  • Life in a Day: Director Kevin MacDonald and Producer Ridley Scott invited creators from all over the world to capture their world in 24hrs on a single day (July 24, 2010) and upload to YouTube.  The winning content was then edited into the final film, a Sundance hit. (Watch trailer).
  • Of course, not everyone has the clout and reputation of these mainstream directors.  But independent productions can also fare well in obtaining crowd submissions. For instance, Lost Zombies received thousands of submissions of “zombie encounters” – far more than anticipated. (They are now in the final submission stage.  More information about the project on the Lost Zombie site, on this post and on 4D Fictions post/interview.)  
  • “DSB the Movie” a film which “tells the story of the Netherland’s DSB Bank NV which was declared bankrupt by court in October, 2009.”  All elements of this film were crowdsourced including the film’s logo, producer, scriptwriters, soundtrack, editor, camera, actors, and publicity.  (Read about it on David Meerman Scott‘s post – which includes an interview with the director.)  Crowdsourcing everything is not something I would recommend doing – but it certainly worked for this production.

For a documentary film, audience-produced content can be particularly compelling since people can submit their own, personal, experiences – and particularly cost-effective since people can be filming anywhere rather than your sending crews to other locations.

Crowdfunding

Here’s where your social media savvy can really come into play.  Filmmakers are now asking people to micro-fund their film – be it by simply asking for funds, offering financers credits in return for cash, or selling products to make some money.

You can set up funding on your website (make that the key aspect of the site) or use one of several platforms set up for micro-funding such as IndieGoGo and Kickstarter.

Getting people interested in financing some aspect of your film will be (slightly) easier if you have something to show them.  Which is why compiling materials and working on YouTube videos early on about your production will be doubly useful.

Keep in mind – it might take a number of years to get the money you need.

Spanner Films has written a useful guide on how to Crowdfund your film includes the following tidbit:

If you are planning to make a campaigning film like The Age of Stupid, then you should definitely try to find a way to access the people out there who are already aware of and give a monkeys about the issue you want to highlight. If you can get some campaigners believing in your idea early on then they can be a huge help finding investors. You need to explain clearly why investing in your film is a strategic and cost-effective way to further your cause.”

A few examples of projects being crowdfunded include: “I Am I“, “My Million Dollar Movie” and “Iron Sky” which, writes Ross Dawson, has “four different mechanisms for raising money directly: a store selling merchandise such as T-shirts, a sneak peek of the first minutes of the film for which fans can pay any amount from 1 Euro, Fan Investments for qualified investors and up to 99 individuals in EU and some other countries, and ‘War Bonds‘, which are basically framed certificates.”

Casting
There are also many examples of productions (e.g. Paranoid Park, Moderation Town) which cast online (e.g. via YouTube etc.).  This can be effective for certain parts, can drum up publicity and can allow you to watch more auditions than you could in a single casting session.  (I don’t like the process of seeking votes for submissions – but I’m also speaking from an actor’s perspective.*).

There’s obviously lots more to say on how to leverage social media for film.  Please comment below with your suggestions, examples and input.

For further reading, a few posts on the topic are bookmarked here (including some I’ve written).

May 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm 1 comment

Indie Film 2.0 now on One Degree

Back from holidays! Ahhhh, Bali was bliss.

I’ll be posting again soon.  In the meantime, should you wish to read “Indie Film 2.0 – How Social Media is Empowering Independent Filmmakers” (My most recent post on One Degree) – well, I won’t fight you :)

April 5, 2009 at 2:46 am 2 comments

Bring Your Characters and Film to Life via Social Media

A huge thank you to Erica Hargreave for all her hard work on yesterday’s panel and to Maayan Cohen and Danika Dinsmore.

Among other subjects, Carol Sill & Erica addressed the role of “characters” in telling a story via social media.*  Gillian Shaw (who was also on the panel & was great) subsequently spoke to Carol & I about our thoughts on the subject.

being-emme

Now I rarely follow “characters” – likely because there are few television shows and fictional characters that engage me enough to follow their “activities” online.**  And with characters where it’s not clear the “person” isn’t a person, there is a certain deception involved.

It’s a double edged sword for an artist – put forth a character that makes the fictional aspect apparent and many won’t follow an “unknown” character.  Not unless they have something really interesting to say.  Which is why I do follow Emme Rogers (as do many others): she’s fun, flirty and I think the conversation that takes place around her and her exploits brings a great sense of play to Twitter.

And characters can be very useful – and exciting – both for the artist and for the storyteller.

Allowing the character to live in other platforms before the film is released – and whilst the film is being made – gives the character a larger/broader  life – and helps with publicity.

Related stories (lets call them “pre-stories”, for this point) can engage the audience and allow them to have a larger window into/to the character.  After all, any character has a life that began before the point at which the film begins.  Consider what aspects of their life you can explore and what kind of tools you could use to tell the story (video on Youtube et al., photos on Flickr, brief but enticing spurts on Twitter etc.) What parts of their story can bring more life to the character and the film?  Where were the characters 6 months before? What interactions did they have the day before? That morning?   You can see how this can be especially useful for something like a mystery/suspense project!

And, as I said in the above article (and as I have heard Monique Trottier mention with regards to books), there is no reason the end of the film needs to be the end.  I can tell you that there have been several films (Red Road, Sideways) where I was consumed with reading more about the film after seeing it. Or where I’ve seen a film numerous times. So desperate was I to stay “engaged”.

For the artist,  this process, while time-consuming, is in another sense, almost effortless.  After all, as a writer and actor, I always created a background for the characters etc. And, much as I’d love to pretend I’m special, this is pretty standard practice.  So such items can be extremely creative and satisfying – as well as a boon when it comes to building an audience.

And now, with all the tools available through social media, there’s the opportunity to give the audience more, to keep them engaged. Your creativity is the limit when it comes to where your story begins – or ends.

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Notes:

*We managed to talk about several social media topics, but there were some key things we didn’t have the time to address, so I hope we do have the opportunity to do a part 2 with this group so we can take our discussion to the next level.  Oh & Erica and Leah Nelson (who was helping out by being Linkgrrl09 and finding the sites we all talked about) decided to play this video while I spoke, to help er, demonstrate my expertise…

**However, get any or all the characters from The Office on Twitter and I will press “follow” until I develop carpal tunnel.

***I’ll be looking into the use of Alternate Reality Games for independent film projects in a future post.

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Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.
http://monicahamburg.wordpress.com/category/artist-series/

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Bring Your Characters and Film to Life Using Social Media” by Monica Hamburg

March 5, 2009 at 9:52 pm 13 comments

Getting the Crowd to “Make” Your Film – e.g. “Lost Zombies”

Crowdsourcing has become an exciting concept in the business world.  (I’ve explored the concept of Crowdsourcing many times before – if you’re interested in my views on the topic, the best place to look is my One Degree series.  Other posts on the topic can be found in the “Crowdsourcing” category of this blog)

What’s exciting is that some innovative filmmakers are also making use of this concept.

Several projects are now getting content from the crowds (e.g. Lost Zombies), Crowdfunding (e.g. My Million Dollar Movie), and even making an “open-sourced” feature film (e.g. Swarm of Angels (I wouldn’t recommend the latter tactic, btw, but I’ve been wrong before).

The beauty of this is that engages the audience – creates a dialogue:

“I believe the Internet has created a kind of conversation that we are all involved with.  We‘ve gotten used to that level of interaction. It‘s rewarding. Now we want that experience from our media.” Lost Zombies encourages its fans to document their own zombie encounters. In just a matter of weeks the community has grown to more than 400 active members with contributed materials flowing in from all over the world.” (- Lance Weiler.  From Filmmaker Magazine: “When The Audience Takes Control : Lance Weiler breaks down the new models independent filmmakers are using to create a fan base.”  Read this, btw – it’s excellent)

In this TCIBR podcast – Lost Zombies & Skot Leach (co-director of the film – along with his brother Ryan) (Listen on the Workbook Project site)

(Source: The Workbook Project )

Notes:
(Questions asked by Lance Weiler, responses provided by Skot Leach)
(FYI, I am paraphrasing a great deal here)
– Community Generated Zombie Film
– Film made my the crowds “Zombie Documentary”
– Audience looking for more involvement, engagement
– Wanted to get people to contribute short bursts
– Chose Zombie theme – figured that could work, be enjoyable

- Call to action?

  • Zombie site – Created in Ning
  • Users Create Profile -
  • Submit Zombie encounter in whatever format (video, pictures or any media type) – Zombie outbreaks
  • All encounters considered rumors, until more “outbreaks” of each location are submitted then considered “confirmed”

- Structure? Storyline?

  • There is a structure, storyline
  • All will be compiled into an overall film with these media
  • Will also be influenced by audience
  • Process?

-How to organize/rights w/ such a large crowd?

  • Timeline – will look at what is appropriate
  • Not clear re: distribution track, esp. w/ rights issues, will look at when complete and possibly go back and talk to content creators

- Building a community (as with gaming) economies come around them, could be release for free, but could monetize content around it?

  • Leaning towards that
  • Original vision involved ending up

- Explain Ning to those unfamiliar?

  • Blank template, like Facebook, allows you to build entire social network, invite your own users, define interface
  • Can add widgets to tweek to your needs

- Open Data portability issues? Can you pull user data, so you have it?

  • Simply put, Yes.
  • Provided Framework, but users info is yours
  • Some people joined just to be part of social network (loved Zombies), without contributing
  • Audience before content
  • Compelling enough with Ning to retain audience while you flesh out story
  • Double-edged sword – Want to tell story, point of site, and don’t necessarily want people to be so caught up in the social aspect that they ignore story

- Dealing with crowds – what has been interesting, surprising?

  • How quickly people “got it”
  • Knew ARG community likes to piece things together – wondered if horror fans would get what they should do
  • Very quickly people start
  • Tweeted Ning’s feature re location – renamed “outbreaks”
  • And then people started really working with that, posting photos, videos
  • They also found news items and related (“someone bit at a party, this seems odd? – Could this be zombie related?)
  • People discovered they could contribute in their own unique way (asking question, posting audio files, drawings, video)
  • Like a conversation

- As project grows, any plans, ideas of breaking into “real world”

  • Exploring:
    • Possibility of live video editing/mixing, remix story – so each time you see the film it’s pulled in a different way
    • Interested in “Zombie walks” – a final event where site culminates in a final live event e.g. Zombie Apocalypse where zombie walks the world (people participate by documenting etc.)

- How to get involved with this film?

  • Go to LostZombies
  • Sign up
  • - Participate – submit items or even direct story by asking questions

- Interactivity becoming norm?

  • More immersive progression. Videogames, ARGs rise shows that the audience is ready to experience these types of things
  • Audience members can determine the pace, level they participate (observe, do a little, do plenty)
  • Playful, interactive quality

- These are social experience – like theatrical –  Commununal Experience.  People falsely believe that online = alienation.  But now people are their own media company (can publish, upload video etc. and immediately can be seen around the world – just a matter of aggregating audience to it.  Mirrors theatrical, 2-way communicational.  These types of projects are very exciting.
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Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.
http://monicahamburg.wordpress.com/category/artist-series/

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March 4, 2009 at 7:40 am 2 comments

Distribution 2.0 – Learn from Filmmakers Who Made It Happen

Why Use Social Media to promote your film?

  • Ability to meet, communicate and socialize with a large group of people (people who I might not had the opportunity to connect with otherwise)
  • Finding an audience, a niche.
  • While you lose some control, you gain a tremendous amount – the ability to market your films, meet your audience and more
  • As with Crowdsourcing – people who participate are more inclined to purchase (same with film participants)

Remember, you have to be invested, engage with people. Don’t broadcast – interact. It’s not like sending out flyers.


Arin Crumley and Susan BuiceFour Eyed Monsters”

The people in the lovely trailer below might look familiar. They are also behind “From Here to Awesome” (and the people behind the awesome video I highlighted in my Film Publicity 2.0 post)

What started out as an art project for Arin Crumley and Susan Buice has turned into a larger conversation about the unique role of web technologies in getting voices heard and movements started.”… “The duo is about more than making movies that entertain — their work exemplifies an empowered approach to media and policy.” – From the “Beyond Broadcast 2008” blog:

Here’s a video “Four Eyed Monsters DIY Distribution Case Study” where the filmmakers discuss how they made their film popular (Source: “Power to the Pixel” and Arin Crumley.com) (Blip is embedding strangely today so watch there for now.)

Notes:

  • Small, Low Budget (“Amateur” filmmaking)
  • Went to SlamDance hoping for distribution – did not happen
  • Created blog
  • Told that film would be hard to market without any recognizable star power
  • Realized iPod might be a good venue
  • Created Video podcasts about the film to build their audience
  • Worked – blogs, Myspace etc. showcased them, helped publicized
  • Got coverage all over which continued through their endeavors.
  • Connected with audience threw these podcasts
  • Online audience helps with getting feedback, helped shaped their
  • Audience got interest in watching film, asked to see it
  • They collected zip codes and emails knowing this would help target their screening/distribution
  • People are subscribed & watching videos through various venues (e.g. Youtube, Itunes), not a website, so they always put “go to our website” at the end of each video
  • Send email to people in related area to invite to IndieWire showcase
  • Many people showed up, people were invested in them, asked friends to go – phenomenon
  • 1 request from filmmakers = 1 ticket sold
  • Created Map with requests = a type of social network around people who were interested in their film – self-fulfilling prophecy
  • Then began cold-calling theatres suggested to them, to screen film (didn’t always work… But it did – sometimes!)
  • Showed the film in 6 major cities (LA, Chicago, NY, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston) every Thursday at 8pm in the month of September (2007, I believe)
  • 1691 were at the screening
  • Arin and Susan were able to prove that they had an audience, could make money
  • Industry averaged 7 people per screening /”Four Eyed Monsters” averaged 70
  • Then they were able to open in the theatre
  • They got sponsorship and
  • Got nominated for a Spirit Awards (previously inelligible since they didn’t screen in theatre)
  • Screened in Second Life
  • Began selling DVDs.
  • Looked a new tactics to further propel (and pay back the money on their credit card they used to fund the film.  Money they got now paid for operations, expenses etc.)
  • Uploaded film to YouTube for free.  Asked them to join Spout and the filmmakers would get $1 per person who joined (that + ad revenue from Youtube = $50,000) (Note: 10MPH is doing something similar)
  • 1 million views, plus boosted DVD sales
  • Online attention landed them a $100,000 broadcast & retail release
  • Ignited interest foreign markets
  • Then posted film to MySpace
  • Saw more boost
  • (since their film was available online and it resulted in sales) Suggest: why not offer low-quality version online and then then high quality for purchase
  • Suggest allowing people to translate (dotsub)
  • One Store – they sell stuff off their websites (DVD, t-shirts – used BSide)
  • Google can teach you everything (search and you will find) (Takes time, but you can)
  • MySpace was first step
  • Was struggle, but wanted to justify making another film – now they can do these things while making the next film

MdotStrange “We Are the Strange”

Jeff Howe’s book “Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business” has a nice section on Mike Belmont aka MdotStrange.  Here’s a brief excerpt :

“The 28-year-old self-taught animator has created a movie, entitled We Are the Strange, about a doll and a small girl who search for the perfect ice cream parlor. Along the way they encounter monsters, robots and an unusual hero named Rain. It’s an original, if unusual film. It looks like it was created by someone who has spent his life immersed in video games, the Internet and Japanese pop culture, as indeed is the case. Belmont made We Are the Strange without a cast, crew or budget. But because he video blogged the process of making the movie, he’d developed a sizeable fan base before he’d even finished editing his movie. In 2006 he released a trailer for the movie on YouTube, where it quickly became a cult hit. The notoriety led to a coveted screening at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. “

Here’s a video “M DOT STRANGE – Distribution Case Study: We Are the Strange“- from London Forum 2008 – where he talks about the case study of his film with relation to distribution (Blip is embedding strangely today.  Please watch on the original source: Power to the Pixel.)

By the way, I am both envious and impressed by the title “professional weirdo” as I aspire to be a professional weirdo myself .

My Notes:

  • Writing in a blog, doesn’t mean people will read it
  • He uploaded clips about how he was making the movie – (like DVD-behind the scenes- extras) to YouTube
  • “Going to give back” – karma – made “film school videos”
  • Asked people to be extras in his film (to be eaten buy a zombie) via photos
  • Crowdsourcing = integrate people into film, and others promote your film
  • More open system rather than old school-closed (putting yourself out there, sharing)
  • New system allows you to open up new channels of distribution
  • Posted trailer on YouTube
  • Doing something different creates a new (your own) niche – that you can dominate – rather than compete with “the sames”
  • Screened at Sundance – more than 1/2 people left
  • Made a propaganda film against his film, by interviewing the reactions of the people who hated the film
  • Didn’t want to lose all rights, didn’t listen to people saying he couldn’t get it sold, watched
  • Focused on YouTube audience – created his own audience, demographics
  • Online puts power back into the hands of the people
  • Distribution has been the final hurdle for indie filmmakers
  • Asked audience to translate film
  • Went with Filmbaby.com (he retained rights and received 80% of sales)
  • No money on advertising, invested time marketing etc. online
  • Didn’t fight when movie got “torrentrical (released illegally online) – made video thanking (and made up the new term).  Got more press.
  • (From questions) Distribution should be focused on the world – not just North America.

More Resources:

PowertothePixel

BSide

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Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.
http://monicahamburg.wordpress.com/category/artist-series/

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Distribution 2.0 – Learn from Filmmakers Who Made It Happen” by Monica Hamburg

March 3, 2009 at 6:02 pm 7 comments

YouTube for Filmmakers

I’m on YouTube, Now what?

There’s certainly a resistance for some filmmakers to get on YouTube.  After all, there is no barrier to entry – which means that everyone who has a kid, pet, or the ability to rant while drunk can, and does, post videos.  There is certainly plenty of, er, coal – but there are also plenty of gems.  And the cream can certainly rise to the top, with some promotion.

75% of the total U.S. Internet audience watches online video. YouTube is the most of the video sites and since it hosts videos, allows you embed them from there into your blog (website etc.) and broadcast them to the world, you’d certainly be missing a key opportunity by not using it.  Oh & it’s free.  (Did’ja hear what I said? FREE!)

So once you get on it what can you do?

Well, aside from posting your complete (short) film, you could post

  • your trailer
  • outtakes (if they’re funny or interesting)
  • interviews (if they are intriguing, not self-indulgent.  I can’t stress this enough).
  • Videos specifically made to supplement advertise your film. (Make it clever. It doesn’t have to be high-tech. high budget at all – but it does have to be intriguing.)
  • a “video response” to a video that relates to your film (e.g. your film is about an embarrassing date, so record a quick video response with a funny date story to another video that discusses embarrassing moments or dates.) If it’s only subtly self-promotional this could work (Attach to a fairly popular video for maximum effect and remember that it has to be super-relevant to the original video, or it just looks tacky.)
  • A short video showcasing one of the actor’s talents (no, nudity doesn’t count.  Wait, actually, it does…)

Remember:

  • Don’t innundate your “channel”  with every video you’ve ever made about everything.  Keep in mind that too much choice is sometimes a deterrent to making any choice! (Behavioral Economists like Barry Schwartz note that people will sometimes not make any choice at all, rather than risk a poor decision).
  • Take ownership of your “channel”.
    • It’s about more than just deciding what color to make it.  (Please no pink, unless your brand is super-girly.  In fact, even then, please no. It hurts me where I am soft like woman.)
    • Make sure you control the “feature” clip.  The default is that YouTube features your most recent clip, which might be fine in some cases.  But you should try to feature a strong clip (you can select your favorite).  recent, depending on your promotion tactic) and (“Go to “My Account ▼” And “Channel Design”)
    • Pick your own “favorite 9″ of your videos so your channel showcases the best, right off the bat.  (Go to “My Account ▼” And “Organize Videos”)


Other basics tips:

  • Always tag (keywords) your video with appropriate keywords & title it in a interesting but clear way
  • As per my previous post, remember to simultaneously post (try TubeMogel) and be active on other video sites as well.
  • Don’t just broadcast – communicate.  Use the network like any other social tool – be part of the community. Watch and comment on other films and make friends and connections.  Be genuine, and go low on the tacky.  Respect others (I can’t stress this enough).

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YouTube for Filmmakers” by Monica Hamburg

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Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.
http://monicahamburg.wordpress.com/category/artist-series/

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March 2, 2009 at 5:10 pm 1 comment

Film Publicity 2.0 – Part 1

While the internet has not yet established itself as an ideal way for filmmakers to make money for film, there is certainly the possibility (and the hope) that it will move in that direction.   There are, of course, filmmakers – like MdotStrange – who have used their skilled online marketing to sell their work.  As it stands, it has mostly become an excellent platform for filmmakers to establish themselves, showcase their projects, build their audience and fan base – and publicize their films.

This is the first in a number of posts on this topic – and basically a way to get some of the material I’ve been looking at into a more “talkable” format so that I can sound knowledgeable at the panel discussion on Wednesday.

There are advantages to using online channels:

“I’m very confident about digital media’s ability to support individual creators, doing the kind of work they want to do, often on tightly-constrained budgets. (Constraints = inventiveness, right?)  I’m less confident that it will support the same gargantuan, diversified companies that raked in the big bucks in the days when there were only four TV networks, six movies released every weekend, a dozen important records issued on Tuesday.” Scott Kirsner – “Big vs. Small: Who’s Better Positioned Right Now?

“‘Filmmakers need to get past the romance of a theatrical release’, says Cinetic Media’s John Sloss. ‘People are so disproportionately preoccupied with getting their movies released in theaters that they’re not interested in alternatives. You make more money and get more exposure and promotion on HBO.’  Sloss says Verizon and AT&T are starting to offer $100,000 for 60-day mobile phone exclusives on indie films. ‘Netflix, Withoutabox and everybody else are trying to build a community. In the future, it will be about loyalty and community.’ – Variety “Frustrated indies seek web distrib’n

“The majority of traditional filmmakers generally can’t wrap their heads around “cross platform” storytelling, just getting a film made is hard enough. But, there are early-adopter filmmakers who understand that grabbing eyeballs and generating Users and Social Users online is going to set them apart from those who have to ‘buy’ advertising.

“Online dollars is not the current model, but, just like a Domestic Theatrical Release that increases value in overseas markets, those who can point to “webisodes” that receive high traffic etc. will garner more “traditional distribution” dollars in their sales cycles (particularly, if they have Geographic IP data on those eyeballs and can show how there’s already an existing fanbase in certain countries).  A few of us have been at this for nearly 10 years, using the web as a vehicle to support our traditional projects – it works. And, it does expand our “story telling” options, which is what really makes it satisfying.” – a comment from “MikeD” on “Independent Filmmakers – Web Doesn’t Cut It

“[Eric] Wilkinson and “The Man From Earth ” stirred up a buzz on the Internet last year when, a few days before its release, a bootleg copy was posted, and then shared, online. The bootlegged film found an enthusiastic audience who posted hundreds of comments and reviews about it. Within two weeks, the film went from number 11,235 on the IMDb “MOVIEmeter”, to number 6. Additionally, the film’s website had gotten over a million hits, and tens of thousands of unique page views. Wilkinson’s response was unexpected, but turned out to be a strategic home run. He embraced the fans of the film and thanked them for their support. Ultimately Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City, Virgin Megastore, FYE, J & R, and Amazon began either stocking the DVD or renting it as a download.” – Filmmakers and Animators At FilmColumbia

Publicizing

  • Link in your email signature to a particular promotional or blog post (you can change these frequently if you like). I have a reminder set to update my email signature weekly with a link for to my new blog post, video or whatever else I’d like to promote. This is not new school – but it’s pretty effective.  Most of my friends, if they received an email blast would see something like “Watch my new video on Youtube” and have the best intentions, but wouldn’t likely get around to watching it. A link at the bottom of an email with an intriguing title is less pressure.  Plus, while it requires very little effort on your part, it’s a great, subtle way to promote yourself with every email you send (think of all the people you email in a month!).
  • Is there a hook? Do you have a “famous” celebrity, webrity, singer, etc. in your film.  Whatever, you know how to put the spin. (I once saw Pits in a local screening series (Celluloid Social Club ). It was cute film billed as “starring Alan Cummings”. Alan Cummings appeared for probably a minute of this 8 minute film.  I’m certain this film was buoyed by this selling point, but do wish they hadn’t used the word “starring” (perhaps “featuring?”)
  • Keep people posted.  A blog is essential for longer form, but the day-to-day or minuae to minuta can be communicated via Twitter.  Add yourself to what you write, but be sure to include things like: “Meeting with Editor for final cut, hoping to have film live next week!!!”
  • Make it interesting, intriguing (and of course, honest). If you tweet about your film (and you should), “Hey, check out the preview of our film” might be interesting to your friends, but something like “A sneak preview of our trailer” is more exciting to others. Also, the community is good at providing feedback, so you can say “Let me know what you think” – if you really mean it.

Fans

Fans want to be part of the process and there are great ways to have them be a part of your project.  Not only can fans help boost your film, but connecting with them online and maintaining that contact can be very educational and supportive – and a great way to establish relationships with people like you and/or who like your work.  It’s also immensely satisfying to see a response to your work online, a direct contact that traditional media doesn’t allow.

  • Think about the ways in which your film or elements of your film can be interactive.
  • You can gage elements.  What works, what doesn’t.  People online can be very vocal and opinionated – which, can sometimes be a bonus.
  • Consider allowing people to submit posters for your film, or music – or remix something create a music video .  Contests can be fine as long as they are about incorporating your fans in the project.
  • Having a blog and a dialogue with fans through social networks also allows you to identify who your fans and supporters are – which can be invaluable.
  • Beyond that – make sure to be very responsive to your audience.  Respond as much as possible to email messages, blog comments, twitter messages.  While this can all be time consuming, you are creating a connection with people who are interested in your work that can be invaluable.
  • Read: Kevin Kelly’s “1,000 True Fans

A very enlightening podcast: “Get your fans involved From The Workbook Project“: “TCIBR podcast: A discussion about Fandom with Sharon Ross suggests many, many more ways in to work with fans.

Financing

Consider – Crowdfunding.  Getting people to find your film? Sounds crazy? Well, sure if you’re looking to make a $10 million film, but do you really need that kind of money to tell your story? If not there are plenty of microfunding options available.

The key here, I think, is to establish a network of people who are interested in what you produce, and make them feel like they are part of the equation (because, especially in a situation like this – they certainly are).  (And of course, ask for help, don’t harass.)
.
I work with DreamBank (through Capulet ) where people post their dreams and ask their friends for contributions.  I’ve always thought it would be a great way for filmmakers to raise money for a short film – especially if they have a large/strong online network/fans.

Another option is to place a widget like Chipin on your blog which allows you to collect funds directly on your site.

You can also raise money on sites like “IndieGoGo.com”  (e.g. “Hacker Ethic ” – described on the Film Panel Notetaker)

Consider this example:

“To raise the $75,000 she needed for an album, she [Jill Sobule] set up a Web site — jillsnextrecord.com — in which her fans would serve as patrons for her next record in return for various rewards.   Ten bucks earned them a digital download of the record, $50 an advance copy and a thank you in the liner notes, while $1,000 got them a personalized theme song written by the artist. Three people who paid $5,000 had Ms. Sobule play at their house. The person who gave $10,000 sang on the record.” – David Carr “Big Music vs. Fans and Artists “, New York Times (Hat tip to Scott Kirsner of Cinematech – I found this article on a post of his)

This is a similar module to Sellaband.com – except the artists controls it all.  There is no real difference between financing an album and financing a film (or some aspect therein). For instance, instead of staging a music performance at a house, a comedy film can likewise arrange for their cast to do live-improve at a party or a short live performance.

Other tips: “Filmmaker Conference – Turning Your Viewers “On” – September 17, 2007″

Crowdsourcing

As fans become more a part of projects, some innovative filmmakers‘ are taking into to the next level by incorporating Crowdsourcing into their plans.  This panel from “the Workbook Project” and From Here to Awesome  addresses this topic.  Discussion Leader: Lance Weiler – Panelists: Slava Rubin (indieGoGo), Skot Leach (Lost Zombie), Jason Harris (Mekanism), Bryan Kennedy (Mobmov.org), Blair Erickson (Millions of Us)

Distribution

Again, you don’t need to distribute your entire film – consider putting up short clips or things that the audience can play with, remix, annotated etc.

While YouTube is the most popular site for viewing videos, other sites (Such as Blip.tv and Viddler) are appealing to different audiences. However, it’s time-consuming to upload individually to all these sites. Apparently, TubeMogel solves that problem: “TubeMogul is a free service that provides a single point for deploying uploads to the top video sharing sites, and powerful analytics on who, what, and how videos are being viewed.” So you’re able to distrube your videos easily – and get numbers [for…].

MeDeploy also seems interesting and will soon be going into Round 2 of beta.

Read:

“Download This: The Future of Distribution is Just a Click Away

“INTERVIEW: The Future of the Internet Video Business, with Fred Seibert

IFP – Alternative Models of Distribution – March 14, 2008

Further Information and Resources

Awesome Internet and Film Sites & Blogs

The Workbook Project

From Here to Awesome
Cinematech

The Film Panel Notetaker
4 x 2009 – a d.i.y. film blog

http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/

General

“What filmmakers really think of the web” (EPIC-FU for 2/28/2008 – special)

Scott Kirsner is interviewed on technology and film – and how the film industry often resists new innovation.

“12 reasons filmmakers should be using social media – Fans of Film Blog”

“Community Voice and Social Networking”

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Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.
http://monicahamburg.wordpress.com/category/artist-series/

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Please feel free to contribute other resources, projects etc. below


Film Publicity 2.0 – Part 1″ by Monica Hamburg

February 27, 2009 at 6:49 pm 5 comments


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