This is Part 5 in a series of excerpts from my new book “Insiders Guide To Independent Film Distribution” (2nd edition, Focal Press). You can pick up a copy in paperback and kindle versions HERE.
Creating an initial campaign for your film has become a critical step during Pre-Production. With the advent of Social Media and the general growth of the world wide web over the last few years, instead of waiting till a film is completed to create marketing materials for your film, the process has been pushed forward to beginning this process during pre-production.
So what exactly do you need to be concerned about creating during this stage? Primarily I want you to think about getting your key art or concept art done and establishing a preliminary web presence.
• Artwork: you will need this to design an initial one-sheet and/or for your main web site and social media pages. Remember this doesn’t have to be the final artwork as it will probably change a few times between now and when your film is distributed. BUT, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be professionally done and I actually recommend looking at other movie artwork (for example DVD covers of studio films) and adapting something like that for your film. You can even reference these other films’ artwork to your designer to give them direction on what you want yours to look like.
• Web Presence: you should design a website for your film that integrates all the necessary elements – concept art, sign-in box. synopsis, bios of you and your team, and a teaser trailer or sizzle reel if you have one. You also want to have your social media buttons so people can connect to you on places like Facebook. Speaking of Facebook, you should have both a personal Facebook page and a page specifically for your film where you can start building a fan base. If often hear from filmmakers how difficult it is to build up a fan base during pre-production when generally not much is going on to keep fans engaged. I hear you loud and clear and I agree this can be a challenge. So your goal at this stage is to start building the fan base for your film with friends and family and do your best to keep people engaged with what you have going on by posting up your artwork, teaser trailers, website designs, etc. and even asking them to get involved and give you feedback on the process.
A great example of this is what Linda Nelson and Michael Madison did with their film DELIVERED, which they started from the script stage in building up their fan base on Facebook. Take a look at Facebook.com/DeliveredMovie where during Pre-Production they leveraged their Facebook fan page and community to hold ‘virtual’ auditions, get feedback on their key art, hold design contests, and other activities.
When you can begin engaging your fans during pre-production like the “Delivered” moviemakers did, you will help build your brand as well as your film’s brand in the marketplace.
BUILD YOUR MARKETING TEAM
No doubt about it that you can’t tackle all the important audience building and buzz building function in Pre-Production alone since you’ll also be focusing on packaging your project, raising financing, and getting into Production. Fortunately there is now a crew position called the Producer Of Marketing & Distribution (PMD) whose job it is to oversea all the marketing and distribution-related duties from the early stages of pre-production all the way through distribution of the film. Here’s an interview I did with PMD For Hire Adam Daniel Mezei on how to start your movie’s campaign.
Interview With PMD Adam Daniel Mezei (www.pmdforhire.com)
In today’s democratized filmmaking universe, just about anyone can shoot a movie. Prove it, you say. Okay, simple:
Yesterday’s industry-insider roadblocks barring filmmakers from their true audiences are now as good as gone. Want to get into show business? Well here’s how: pen a script, grab a low-cost camera, recruit some of your buddies and family as actors (or yourself), and – voila! – you’re making pictures!
While making a film sounds like snap, the even bigger magic trick is getting folks to watch your movie. Since the middle of last decade, product has simply flooded the market. There’s more competition in 2011 than ever before. Split between iTunes, Netflix, Amazon VOD, and traditional DVD channels (not to mention tens of other avenues), audiences must contend with so much choice with so little time. So how do you get them to even watch your movie?
Well, all this is the playing field of the PMD – the Producer of Marketing and Distribution. PMDs are above-the-line, PGA-accredited (pending) marketing personnel who work directly with your film’s lead producer to tweak your film’s marketing budget, to review its various digital and non-digital distribution sales options, and engage your film’s true audience over the long-term.
Let’s break these components down individually:
The Marketing Budget:
Most filmmakers shoot their movie without thinking about what happens after post-production. This is why a marketing plan is absolutely critical. Given that Hollywood spends over 40% of its blockbusters’ budgets on marketing and distribution (P&A = prints & advertising), marketing is almost half as important as the process of making your film. Filmmakers must now embrace what Jon Reiss has termed “the new 50/50” – 50% of your current budget must now be earmarked — in advance — for marketing and distribution efforts. Why 50%, you ask? Well, there’s film festival submission fees and overheads, press kit expenses, not to mention paying yourself between projects, among other outlays.
Digital and Non-Digital Distribution:
It’s the PMD’s job to know the best and most effective avenues to get your film into the marketplace and revenue back into your pocket. That’s what they spend their days researching, so when you hire one you should be getting the best of their expertise and contacts. PMDs help you to strike a balance between old- and new-world distribution channels to help promote and evangelize your project.
Engaging Your True Audience:
Why re-invent the wheel each time out? Well, this is your career we’re talking about, right? So why cultivate your film’s audience — from scratch — each time out? Better to nurture a fan base which you can “deploy” from project to project. An audience that will not only appreciate your work, but will also help extend the otherwise limited reach of your marketing efforts by seeding your film in their various communities. We’re talking about your “true” fans here, okay?
When’s the best time to hire a PMD?
As early as possible in the filmmaking process, ideally before the cameras start rolling.
So how much do PMDs cost?
Not as much as you think! But given how much effort you put into making your movie, don’t you want people to know about it and pay to watch it? That’s where a PMD can help.
*** What about you? What types of marketing campaigns have you done before that proved successful for your film? Or what questions do you have about a marketing campaign you’re planning? Post any questions you have for us in the comments section below!
3. The “Insiders Guide To Film Distribution” book (where this excerpt came from!)