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
- 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 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.
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.
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″
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)
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…].
“IFP – Alternative Models of Distribution – March 14, 2008”
Further Information and Resources
Awesome Internet and Film Sites & Blogs
The Workbook Project
“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.
Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.
Please feel free to contribute other resources, projects etc. below
Entry filed under: artist series, film, social media. Tags: actor, artists, blog, crowdsourcing, film, filmmaking, marketing, Me Like the Interweb, Monica Hamburg, presenter, social media, socialmedia, speaker, twitter, video, Web 2.0, wiff09, YouTube.