So, you’ve mortgaged your home, received a little money from a Kickstarter campaign, begged and borrowed from family and friends, all the while hating yourself for having to do so. You’ve made your film, won several awards and now it’s time to bring it to market. The Devil on your left shoulder says you ‘sold out’ while the Angel on your right, says It’s okay. It’s the Biz part of Show Biz. A maturation process Indy Producers face all of the time. To avoid needing psychiatric help and having to deal with a personal version of ‘Nurse Ratched’ in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ here are a few tips on marketing your film while retaining your sanity in the process.
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” The Wizard, in the Wizard of Oz. August 25, 1939. In this classic, Dorothy’s discovery for a way back to Kansas happened not because of the Wizards smoke and mirrors effect or the inept balloonist he really was. She did what she was told and clicked her ruby red slippers together 3 times and said’ “There’s no place like home.” In marketing, your movie, you might be surprised to learn potential backers prefer a Dorothy like approach, and not the smoke and mirrors sham the Wizard tried to perpetrate. That approach belongs in commercials. Stick to WYSIWYG. The real you, your product, and your vision.
The birth of a salesman (with apologies to Arthur Miller)
When marketing your movie, it’s probably more accurate to say, the birth of a salesman for as much as you might hate the function, get used to it. Your loathing for all sales-related events like schmoozing, continual networking and playing nice to all, probably comes from fear due to lack of knowledge and exposure to the process. For God’s sake, you’re a creative, not a pitchman. (person) Making good movies is your passion and far removed from P&L statements. Not so. Nowadays, if you are an Indy producer, you need to be both.
A love-hate relationship in the making
Use the same energy, creativity and time spent on making your movie, and put it into marketing your product. With hundreds, if not thousands of films crying for eyeballs, yours has to stand out from the pack. Use the same approach as you did in producing your award-winning film. You start with a concept, collaborate, write a script to tell your marketing story, execute and polish your presentation and then present it.
YouTube and Vimeo to the rescue
The mystery of behind the scenes video always seems to attract attention. Giving an intern P.A. a camera for a few days to shoot a mini-doc and following that up with a 4 or 5-minute teaser of your completed film, spreads the word and heightens your credibility as a producer. Big or small, investors seek winners, not losers. It also makes for good content on your corporate website and allows you to connect with people from all over. People you’ve never heard of or don’t know. Usually, they’re called the ‘Audience.’
And speaking of the audience
Avatar spent $150 million on promotion. Add that to the $310 million for the production it works out to a $460 million investment. Forbes estimate the gross for the film at 2.7 Billion. And that ‘ain’t chump change. And my point is? R.O.I. takes time, money and creativity to be successful. Time and creativity you’ve got. It’s the main reason your film has been a success and garnered awards. Now get the money.
Mining for money. The back story
Let’s say your Documentary is on PTSD and you’ve built it around a series of interviews. Bridges and transitions are done by an OC spokesman or VO. It’s an awareness project on how PTSD affects people’s lives. Not just the sufferer, but the family, friends, and coworkers around them. It’s a noble project and an intimate story that needs to be told. A story so good, it’s won you awards. Now what?
Seeing is believing
As the big buck people have ignored you so far, little buck people should see your award-winning work. That’s a great personal forum for you to be your own pitchman/woman. Intro your movie to the assembly, run the show and provide a Q&A session afterward. And don’t forget to ask for donations. A lot of 5-dollar bills in your poor box adds up over time. Who knows if someone in the audience knows someone in the money business and spreads the word on your film.
There’s gold in them their hills
The theme of your movie is PTSD. A terrible disorder, mostly affecting 1st Responders, Police, and Military. It is estimated there are between 750,000 and 850,000 sworn officers, 891,000 EMS, 600,000 EMT’s, and 2 million members of the American Legion. Now if each and every one of them donated 50 cents to your project, you would have Three Million, One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty dollars. And there are many other mines to explore. As a fellow creative, I hope my math’s right. Reaching out to these people and their organizations, one might even find sponsors for your project. And think of the press coverage both print and TV. Mining is only limited by a lack of imagination and how and where to look. The rest is plumbing.
Much like movie making, marketing is designed to tell a story and elicit a positive response for the product. The really good thing is, unlike TV commercials where you get up from your chair to raid the fridge or attack a bowl of munchies every 15 minutes, you’ve got bums in the seats and eyeballs glued to the screen for the duration. Just like moviemaking, marketing is a creative exercise, so with a bit of effort, all you readers should easily fit right in.
That’s a wrap.