This week I will be doing a Film Specific Virtual Seminar with social media expert and VOD aggregator Linda Nelson from Indie Rights. Incidentally, I also interviewed Linda for the 2nd edition of my book that was released a few months ago…. so as a lead-up to the Virtual Seminar I decided to publish the excerpt here on the blog.
To topic of the Virtual Seminar on Wednesday is New VOD Revenue Streams, but what most people don’t realize is it’s virtually impossible to make any decent revenue from VOD unless you invest time in building your audience (no one to promote your VOD release to = no revenue). Unlike traditional distribution platforms (like DVD), there’s no ‘distributor’ to market your title….so you’re left to do that yourself. And just because you get your film up on iTunes doesn’t mean you’ll make a red cent if you don’t drive traffic to the site and have an audience who actually wants to pay for it.
With that said, I’m happy to turn you over to Linda who gives some great pointers on how to start building up that ever-critical audience even before your script is completed. (yes, that early in the process!).
Building Audience & Buzz Building During Production
The days of making your film in a vacuum and turning it over to a distributor when you are finished is over for independent filmmakers. If you want a distributor to be interested in your film or even if you plan on self-distribution, the time to start building an audience and buzz for your film is when you enter the Development Phase of production. With a small investment of time (no money, it can be done for free), you can ensure that you have a strong core audience of global ambassadors for your film by the time you finish production.
During the Development Phase
Start at the beginning, when your film is still an idea or a script. This is important for several reasons, especially when it comes to ensuring that you can get the title/name that you want for your film.
- Create a Facebook Movie Page with your script title page as the profile picture and a Landing Page that captures e-mail addresses.
- Create a free blog on one of the many free blog platforms
- Start a twitter account
- Obtain the domain for a website (even if you don’t wind up having a website, you can direct people to your Facebook Movie Page with the domain name)
Think of your FBMP (Facebook Movie Page) as an interactive production journal that brings your audience “behind the scenes”. Everyone is fascinated by the moviemaking process and this is a great way to engage your audience from Day 1. If you keep this audience engaged with interesting content, you will find them invaluable as a focus group as well as the foundation for your future marketing.
During the Pre-production Phase
It’s easy to engage your audience during this phase because you are creating so much content yourself. While you are casting, scouting locations and crewing your film, you can easily share this process with your audience. Even more important, you can engage them and even streamline your work. When we were producing our last film, DELIVERED, this allowed us to keep our costs to a minimum. Some of the things you can do:
- Cast some of your roles using your FBMP. We uploaded sides for each part with a description of what we were looking for and asked actors to prepare an audition video and then upload it to our FBMP. This was an amazing process, helped us cast our lead female and saved us a ton of money. You can use the Notes App that is provided by FB for this. Once you have your Casting Notices ready, there are hundreds of pages and groups on FB where you can post links to your notices. As you cast your film, you can do little interview videos with your cast and post them on your site. This is great for your cast and for your film.
- Scout locations using your FBMP. We put up descriptions of the locations we were looking for and had our “Likers” upload photos of potential locations with contact information. We got some of our most important locations by using this method.
- Reach out for crew and other production talent using your FBMP. The Graphic Artist who designed our poster is from Amsterdam and he found us on Facebook. We had many amazing composers contact us to provide music for the soundtrack.
- If you are using a lot of effects, props, and/or costumes, you can document the creation of these items with photos and videos. We found that people were extremely interested in how we created fake body parts, etc.
During the Production Phase (principal photography)
While you are shooting your film, it is extremely easy to create content daily using phone cams, Flips, etc. and to blog. You don’t have to do all this yourself – you can pass out a few in-expensive cameras, though most phones have HD video capabilities these days. Our audience engagement was very active during this phase (you can track all this with the Insights provided by Facebook). Type of content can include:
- Production Stills (FB now lets you upload High Definition photos that you can download later for press, etc. – make sure you choose this option – it’s free)
- Behind the scenes videos
- Interviews with the cast and crew
During Post Production and Beyond
As the film comes together and you are preparing for film festivals and solidifying your post filming marketing plans, there are ever expanding opportunities to build your audience.
- Share some of your moviemaking “secrets”
- Let your audience vote on elements of your “Key Art”
- Prepare and let people comment on several versions of your trailer
- Set up Demand maps to find out who wants to see your film and what festivals you should submit to
- Take tons of photos and videos at any film festival you attend
- Post and keep all your press and reviews
- Appoint your cast and crew as “Super Ambassadors” for your film. Educate them so that they understand that if they blog, tweet, and comment about the film with links, photos, they will increase their own exposure as well as the films. It’s important that they tag themselves whenever they appear in photos or videos, as all these activities create entries to everyone’s Newsfeed and will help your audience grow.
If you invest a few hours a week using social media to engage your audience, you will have a core audience that really appreciates your film. They will help you discover your niche. For example, we never realized that we would have a huge niche market of Mustang enthusiasts for our film. They discovered us and then we were able to reach out to them. Whether you are looking to attract traditional distribution or plan to self distribute, you can use social media to prove that you have an audience in place.
So tell us what you think! What questions do you have about building an audience for your film? Just post them in the comments section below…
• To get more info on the Film Specific Virtual Seminar this Wednesday, June 6 with Linda Nelson, just CLICK HERE.
• To listen to a seminar I did called Internet + VOD: What Is The Reality & Where Is The Revenue, CLICK HERE
• To pick up a copy of my book “Insiders Guide To Independent Film Distribution” (2nd Edition, Focal) CLICK HERE