Marketing Strategy for Independent Films
You have written the script, cast the film, shot the film, edited your film, and put your hard-earned money (or other’s trustfully-invested money) into your vision. Now, you need people to buy the film, distribute it, and make millions on your way to the award ceremonies on the festival circuit, right? Wrong.
You forgot the most important part about making the film. Marketing it. If you rely only on selling the film to a distributor or studio, then what happens if (and this is more likely to happen than you like) no one buys the film? What then?
Much like music bands before the explosion of digital music, major entertainment companies want a proven product before they waste their money and time marketing an unproven commodity. No matter how much your film is amazing by your standards, most won’t make a move on something they aren’t sure will produce profit. That’s just a fact. How do I know this? Because I worked at two different major film studios, and I’ve been in those meetings. Every film marketing meeting I have been in has talked about sales and profit and zero talked about releasing the film because the “story needs to be told.” It’s your job to make a great film. It’s the studio’s job to make money off it.
How do you create a buzz about your film, so if it’s genius isn’t seen on the festival circuit it still has a chance of getting a deal? You embrace modern technology and modern marketing strategies and techniques like Websites, Social Media, Search Engine Optimization, Publicity, and Advertising.
Try this basic Marketing Strategy for Independent Film Marketing:
- Start the awareness by creating a press release to all film media publication editors and bloggers.
- Get a WordPress website built (NO FLASH), which has a blog and an email sign-up form on your site (get a MailChimp account to manage your email list).
- Set up all of your Social Media Pages. Get a Twitter Account, Facebook Account, Tumblr Blog (use this differently from your website blog), and Google Plus Account.
- Blog often. Whether it’s a snippet of the script, or monthly, weekly, daily progress reports from pre-production, production, and post-production. Respect the power of blogging. You’ll build a strong following with your email list, and that following could be ready-made customers if you can’t secure a deal.
- Do the same with Social Media Marketing. Build that fan base and following. Take out Facebook Ads, sponsored stories, and join filmmaker user groups to help spread the word and get free publicity help from other filmmakers (do the same for their film, to return the favor). Post cool lines from the film, pictures from the set or pre-production meetings, and everything and anything else to keep awareness up and people interested and continuously curious about your film.
- Have a Plan B for Monetization. If you can’t sell the film to a distributor, then consider monetizing the film through ads. If you have a feature film of 90 Minutes, you can split the film into 3-6 segments, put ads at the beginning of each segment, and you’ll get paid through the ads while people watch for free (like your own little Hulu channel). Also, you can charge one flat fee for an ad-free digital download. All profit. All in your pocket.
Using this rough strategy, you’ll build awareness throughout the life of the film, provide exposure, build a loyal following, and have a Plan B for monetizing the film should you not land a distribution deal. Also, you’ll have a growing list of satisfied and interested followers and customers for your NEXT film! Now…go out and break a leg!