Posts tagged ‘marketing’

Seeing It From the Audience’s Perspective: An Interview about Transmedia with Lucas J.W. Johnson

I met Lucas J.W. Johnson at Merging Media 2011 where my friend, Cinci, suggested I blog about him.  Lucas is exceptionally sharp and ambitious – and he has clearly spent considerable time researching the transmedia landscape.  I figured it was in my best interest to sponge off his knowledge. (I found his responses to my interview questions to be quite thought-provoking – so I’ve added a few comments after some of his responses.)

What is a valuable lesson you’ve learned about the digital space? 

Look at your project from the audience’s perspective.

You come to a project with the perspective of the creator — I have this awesome story I want to tell, and this awesome way I want to tell it.

[But] if you’re going to actually succeed, then before you actually release it, in the process of creating it, you have to shift that perspective, and come at the project from the point of view of the audience.

Not only things like what will they want, but also how they access the project. Imagine coming to the project as someone who’s never heard of it, right when it launches — how do you draw them in, and convince them to stay? What about if they come to it months after it’s launched — how do you make sure there’s an easy way for them to figure out what’s going on, and where they should start?

The same goes for how you’re presenting the story — what if they’re not on Twitter? Not on Facebook? Don’t have a smartphone? Never engaged with a transmedia or digital media project before? Any time there’s any friction, and moment when it’s easier for them to close the window than it is to delve deeper, you’ve lost them.

(I love this so point so much, because I think that seeing your project through your potential audience’s eyes is so frequently overlooked – even though it’s one of the most important aspects… Think about this more broadly: how many sites have you encountered where you can’t immediately find things like donate buttons or how to purchase a product.  Or one with the message “we’ll be launching in December 2011. Come back then” with no way to pre-order the product or even enter an email address for updates? Or how often have you attempted to listen to a podcast only to shut it off after hearing an initial 5 minutes that consisted of an interminable and irritating musical intro or a lengthy introduction of who all the hosts were and what they got up to that weekend…)  

Was there anything at Merging Media that you were excited by?

Most mindblowing at Merging Media was hearing Henry Jenkins speak (over Skype, interviewed by my friend Simon Pulman ) — he’s an academic, so clearly he’s smart, but man does this guy know what he’s talking about. He spoke about spreadable media, that what will succeed is not that which is easily broadcasted, but that which is easily shared among friends. Entertainment becomes a gift — let me bring you into this new world, let me give you this experience by sharing it.   

(This is brilliant.  And an excellent reality-check for the “this will go viral” mentality.  We all want to have our posts and projects spread, but there are a number of factors that make people truly want to do so.  The premise that “I really want people to share this [project/message etc.] so they should” is oddly at the heart of many campaigns and pitches.  The concept of the gift is fantastic.   And looking at it from that perspective, and of making your content truly great so that people will be motivated to share can be very eye-opening.  Because “it’s OK” or “I like it because I made it” or even “it’s good enough” does not constitute a gift.)

What have you learned from players in the Transmedia space (that you’ve interviewed, read about or had at your Transmedia Meetups)?

To be very broad:

  • listen to your audience, engage with them directly, build loyalty;
  • give a big chunk of your work away for free, especially if you’re working on IP that isn’t already a blockbuster success, to get people in the doors;
  • don’t be afraid to pimp yourself, just don’t be an ass about it;
  • experiment, try new things, know that you’re going to fail — but get back on the horse, iterate, move forward; genuinely be a good and honest and open person — people like that.
  • Finally, do something with your work — be aspirational, be inspirational, be a force for good; you’re asking a lot of people for a lot of attention and potentially a lot of money — to do anything else is irresponsible.

(These are all very insightful.  My favorite is the first, because I feel that the direct connection with one’s audience is how social media has truly empowered artists.  And it’s a beautiful, exciting and, occasionally, humbling thing to have such an immediate and easy access to people who connect with what you do.  But those artists who have something special to offer along with a real relationship with their audience (which they demonstrate that they value) are the ones who gain the most from social media.)

What projects have inspired you?   

The ARG known as the Beast, for the movie AI, back in 2001, because it was so groundbreaking and inspiring for the time — now of course it doesn’t hold up and there are a host of problems with doing something like it, but the point isn’t that we should do the things the Beast did, it’s that we should find new things just like the Beast did. Lance Weiler’s Pandemic project, for the hugely innovative and experimental nature of it, and his Robot Heart Stories project for its educational and aspirational nature. Failbetter Games’ Echo Bazaar, for its twisted and entirely engrossing story and setting. 

I’ve also been inspired a great deal by the old tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.  Like transmedia visionary Jeff Gomez, D&D did a lot for me as a kid to be able to express the stories I wanted to tell, and the things that make for a great D&D game are in many ways the same as those that make for a great transmedia experience. (I even wrote a whole six-part article about it all on my blog.) 
  
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Lucas J.W. JohnsonLucas J.W. Johnson is a freelance writer and transmedia storyteller from Vancouver, BC. He received his BFA with Honours in Creative Writing from UBC, and has worked in advertising, PR, television, digital media, gaming, and transmedia. He’s published short stories and stageplay, organizes the Transmedia Vancouver Meetup, and is an active member in the international transmedia storytelling community, with his business Silverstring Media. A storyteller above all else, whenever Lucas isn’t writing, he wishes he were. Find him online at silverstringmedia.com,  lucasjwjohnson.com and on twitter @floerianthebard 

Azrael’s Stop is very much an experiment for me, but I think it’s a fun one, and I’ve already had people respond quite positively to the story and even the way it’s told. I’d love for you to check it out, and especially let me know what you think, at azraelsstop@silverstringmedia.com

December 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm 1 comment

DIY Band Promotion: Mykel Exner Talks about Selling Kill Matilda

Mykel Exner is the Bassist for the band “Kill Matilda”.  He recently sent my friend, Bill Allman, an email in which he thanked Bill (who taught him at Trebas Institute)  for emphasizing that a band must not leave their promotion to management and the importance of taking control of your own brand and management.  Bill told me about the email and I asked Mykel to participate in an email interview about artist promotion.  Fortunately, he agreed.  Here’s what he had to say.  (Note: I took my questions out here as it flowed better without them.) 

About the band

Kill Matilda is a do-it-yourself band that has been touring Canada since 2009. We are a 4-piece female-fronted hard rock band that began in Vancouver and has since based itself out of Montreal and South Western Ontario. We’ve self-produced, recorded, released and promoted our self-titled EP along with 3 music videos to support the release – one of which, “She’s A Killer” has been put into rotation on MUCHLOUD, providing us with national exposure. We’ve gone from complete unknowns to playing large festivals like NXNE and opening for acts like Econoline Crush and Die Mannequin. We are blessed with an amazing front person, Dusty, with a killer voice. We have been making a reputation for ourselves for putting on high-energy, fun to watch live shows. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most talented and dedicated artists and professionals, who’ve seen value in our project and have helped us by lending the skills and talents that have brought us to new levels that we never thought possible.

The DIY Movement 

Initially, when you first dream of being in a “well-known” band, you dream about being “discovered” by someone and having them take you and your music to the heights of being a “rock-star” – or even just simply heard and appreciated by a larger audience. The reality of the music industry today is that NOBODY is willing to take the chance with their money or time to push and promote an artist that isn’t already making a name for themselves.

We’re facing a crisis in the Canadian music industry where “Music Industry Professionals” are not equipped with the skills and know-how to even make posters to promote shows they organize. Bar owners don’t see the value in investing in promotion for shows that are booked in their establishments and most bands don’t even know how to begin to promote themselves or the shows that they are a part of. From the inside of this beast, the system looks broken. If you aren’t a jack of all trades, i.e. a photoshop pro – a video editor – a photo editor – a booking agent- along with being an artist and performing musician, you’ll never have anyone take notice of your music or project.

No one is going to take you by the hand, discover you, put you on the cover of the Rolling Stone, put your song on the radio, pick out your first single or do anything for you… unless you’re willing to pay for it… and pay big for it

How Kill Matilda raised nearly $2000 in donations in a week via their merchandising sitelet 

We’ve investigated fundraising options out there like pledgemusic.com and others but the thought of “All or Nothing” fundraising really scared the crap out of us. In reality we didn’t need a lot of money to help us reach our goals. One big incentive we found helped make it easier for fans to help us was to include a limited time offer to have their name in the credits of our new album “I Want Revenge”. That push really drove a lot of the action we saw. Providing those unique and one of a kind incentives to your fans really open the door to their wallets.

Building an fan-base online 

Basically, we built a strong online fanbase through having a lot of good content online and following that up with a killer live show. We have Youtube videos of us bringing people along on tour, and we provide personal experiences for our fans when they come to our shows. We interact with our fans online a lot and I think that providing that personal interaction combined with kicking some ass on stage live over a long period of time really helped us achieve some of our goals and gave our fans a feeling of being a part of our growth and pride in “growing” with us.

Here is one piece of free advice to performing bands… Mention your Facebook Page on stage as a part of your banter. We urge our new fans to like us on Facebook so we can connect with them and comment on pictures of their cats..dogs…babies… all of that. Give your audience directions and where exactly they can find you. It’s amazing going home after a good gig and logging onto Facebook having fans “requesting” your friendship and “Liking”and commenting on your page.

In 2010, before we left Vancouver we asked our fans which track off the Kill Matilda EP they would like to see made into a music video and through a series of votes and comments they picked “Fault Lines”. It was a pretty fun experience to see people actually care and provide their opinions on what Kill Matilda should do next. Ask your fans questions about what they like… what they don’t like… those sort of exercises get your existing fans talking about you and thinking about you when they start thinking about a question you’ve asked, or associate you with the topic you got them thinking about.

Promoting the “She’s a Killer” video (viewed over 14,000 times on YouTube).

The key is constantly reposting and sharing and reposting and sharing. Encourage your fans to do the same for you. Research who promotes music videos online in your genre, show them and talk to them about your video. Create an “online street team” to post your video on relevant pages and just don’t be afraid to share and re-share! We’ve used “She’s A Killer” to promote Kill Matilda to new listeners and used the video to help us gather a lot of opportunities. (BTW!!! If you like that video share it!)

Social Media in general

Social Media has basically been responsible for Kill Matilda being able to have reached where it has today. Just being able to exist, get further, reach more people, have them listen to our music, watch our videos and enjoy it is really amazing and fun. Without it we wouldn’t be able to operate at all.

My personal favorite was tweeting at Bif Naked and having her check us out. She loved and shared my personal favorite Kill Matilda song, “Geisha With A Switchblade” with her followers. Being a big Canadian rock fan-boy that make me feel like a kid again.

Tips for musicians doing DIY promotion

  1. Be pro-active not RE-active. Have your own website. Facebook/Myspace/Twitter profiles are good, but a dotcom is the BEST!
  2. If you don’t care to share about your bands shows or videos or songs online… then why should anyone care about it? Think about your comparables… sound like Tool? then go after Tool’s fans… Sound like Radiohead? Go after Radiohead’s fans. Don’t think you sound like anyone? Then ask someone else. You have to have a comparable otherwise no one will care at all.
  3. Don’t just promote your music! Promote all music you think is good! Promote other bands shows! Let people know that you are a part of a scene and that you care about not just your success but the success of your favorite bands and your friends bands.
  4.  Learn that there is a difference out there between a “booking agent” and a “promoter” ANYONE can book a show, cats and dogs can book shows.  It’s a simple process of saying, “Hey you wanna play at this place at this time?” Booking agents do not promote shows. Get this through your head and you will not be disappointed when no one shows up to your show. Take control of your own promotion because quite simply, the booking agent, the bar owners, the other bands and fans that don’t know about you DONT CARE who you are if you dont give them a reason to care. Its amazing how many show posters we here at Kill Matilda have been required to make for booking agents across Canada. If you allow someone else to control your destiny… to poster for you… to promote for you… to hold your hand and tell you its going to be alright… you might wanna take up another lifestyle choice.
  5. It is EVERY member of a band’s job to promote. One person should take the lead of course in being pages and website admins BUT if your lead guitarist is “too-cool” to promote… stick your foot in their ass and set them on the right track. No one is too cool to promote, except for bands and musicians that no one has ever heard of or cares about.


Find Kill Matilda:

Site:  http://killmatilda.com/

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/KillMatilda

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/killmatilda

Twitter: @KillMatilda

Want to learn more about Artist promotion? You might also enjoy other posts in my Artist Series.

July 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

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

April 24, 2009 Week in Review – on One Degree

My “Mistakes, Mayhem and Music – April 24, 2009 Week in Review” is now up on One Degree.

You can read it there. It’s funky, fly and fresh ;)

April 24, 2009 at 10:32 am Leave a comment

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

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

Please, You’re Way Too Subtle…

Today, I posted the following Tweet on my Twitter:

yerba-mate-tweet

I received the following informative reply from someone I did not know.

energy-field-cancer-comment-re-yerba-mate

Do we, I wondered?  That sure would suck.  So I took a look at this good samaritan’s Twitter stream.  I imagine this brilliant stream won’t be up for long, but in the interest of preserving EnergyFiend’s subtle approach to marketing, I have captured this screenshot.

energy-fields-stream-1

energy-fields-stream-21

I clicked two pages back – you may be surprised to find out that Energy Fiend has a one-track mind.  Apparently everything in the beverage family (except for Soyfee) can cause cancer, high cholesterol and congenital herpes (OK, I didn’t actually see that last one in the stream, but then again I only clicked back 2 pages).

Finding this was particularly pleasurable after reading Shannon Whitley’s amusing post of the “Top 10 List of People to Unfollow on Twitter” where he describes this type of Twitterer exactly (“The Pimp”).

I’m a marketer myself, but I make the assumption that the people I market to have a brain.  Tactics like these insult potential consumers. And using scare and smear tactics which attack other products to sell your own are in a word “gross” and in two words:”really gross”.

December 17, 2008 at 12:47 pm 11 comments

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