We left off on Tuesday with a Sundance Dispatch discussing the topic of Who’s Promoting Your Release, which led to an interesting conversation in the comments section if you care to check it out.
I know I painted a bit of a doom and gloom scenario there, so I wanted to counter that today and mention some of the positive things happening around indie film distribution these days. I mean, we simply can’t deny the increased role of ‘filmmaker as marketer’ no matter how you slice it. But when done right, there are some positive results that can happen!
Before I get into that though just a quick announcement…. The 50% promo for Distribution Consulting services expires on Tuesday. If you’d like to be considered, please visit the link below and fill out the application at the bottom. I’ll respond right away with whether I can help or not.
So picking up from the fact that in some way, shape, or form you’re going to need to roll up your sleeves and help ‘push’ your release out into the market…..
I worked with a client last year whereby I was able to secure them a domestic distribution deal with a pretty A list player in the market who had big plans for a wide VOD release and solid marketing efforts, but the filmmakers ended up going back to investors and raising an extra $30K or so to do a supplemental marketing campaign. Part of that included a theatrical premiere in LA to generate initial press and buzz, and then retaining a PR firm and social media firm for 3 months. And they needed all of that! The results after their first quarter report were in the mid 5 figures, so they’re estimating to be fully recouped in the. next 12-18 months.
In another case, I was talking to a domestic distributor who has hundreds of films in their catalogue and who release several new films across all the VOD platforms every month. So they see it all – every genre, and every type of filmmaker from totally passive, to marketing machine, and everything in between. By far, the films that see the best results are the ones who are willing to do the heavy lifting of optimizing their social media channels, engage in community building, and act as a partner with the distributor in promoting the release.
For instance, when it comes to Amazon Prime, a filmmaker’s revenue on that platform is directly correlated to the amount of reviews they get. The more reviews you have, Amazon pushes you up the rankings and you start appearing in more searches which leads to more sales. So getting involved in pushing for reviews from your peers and community (that hopefully you’ve built for your film) is crucial to succeeding on that platform.
And I can tell you – the filmmakers who are doing this right are making as much as six figures per quarter NET, on a continuous basis for the 18-24 month lifespan of the film….and these are small indie films with no names or anything like that….they’ve just done an excellent job of finding (and capitalizing on) an audience.
The Money Question
The most common question I get asked around this topic of distribution is – well how much money can I make?
And I understand why….if you’ve spent your own money to make the film you probably want to see some light at the end of the tunnel. And if you owe investors money, then you probably want to communicate to them how much they’ll get paid back and by when. I get it.
The answer I always give is this – you can make ZERO dollars (yes, zero dollars I’ve seen this!) or you can make six figures a quarter for 1-2 years – it all depends on what happens when your film hits the market.
But I will say this…. in MOST cases what I’m seeing, assuming some level of name recognition in your film and little or medium promotional push is maybe maxing out at $150K over a 2 year period. Of course I’ve seen this number scale to $250K and I’ve seen it come in at $50K – depends on how well the film catches legs in the market.
It’s why I always recommend (and heed my own advice) not making a micro budget film for more than $150Ksince that’s a number I feel comfortable you can recoup from a wide domestic VOD release assuming you put some muscle behind it (and budget for that in advance).
What about you? Let’s blow up this discussion shall we? Hit me up in the comments section on the blog with your experience, thoughts, whatever!
PS: Don’t forget, the Distribution Consulting promo ends Tuesday! To save 50% off on having me help you with distribution, click here to learn more.