Distribution 2.0 – Learn from Filmmakers Who Made It Happen

March 3, 2009 at 6:02 pm 7 comments

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.)


  • 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:




Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.


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

Entry filed under: Art, artist series, film, myspace, Social Marketing, social media, Viral Marketing, Web 2.0. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Casting 2.0 – For Filmmakers Getting the Crowd to “Make” Your Film – e.g. “Lost Zombies”

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