And if you’ve made a feature film, congratulations!
As an independent filmmaker, you’ve just accomplished a feat that many find impossible.
You’ve put together a cast and crew, refined your script, found some financing and in the process, you’ve even figured out how to ignore all your significant other’s not-so-subtle hints that a career selling life insurance wouldn’t be that bad.
But behind all the excitement, you and I both know there is one nagging question on your mind. And it is the same question asked by every independent feature filmmaker.
You’re wondering how to sell your movie!
That is a good question.
And if you’re crossing your fingers to hopefully sell your movie for a huge paycheck and a three-picture Hollywood deal, what I’m about to share with you may be a bit different than what you’re hoping for.
While there are a lot of distributors out there who would like to tell you otherwise, most films DO NOT make money in a traditional distribution deal! (I’m serious here.)
Getting your movie seen and selling is really up to YOU!
Whenever I say something like this in my talks, invariably someone shouts across the room:
”But Jason – Making a movie is hard enough. How do you expect me to become my own distributor?”
This is a fair question. And after making a movie, then doing the festivals and not receiving a deal, you can get pretty tired. I totally understand that. (Been there!)
This is why a lot of filmmakers give up on their movies or take a crappy deal. But I want to help you avoid this.
How To Sell Your Movie
Here’s the thing. There are a lot of crappy movies getting made each year. Seriously.
Thanks to technology, any person with a thousand dollars can grab an HD camera and create a backyard indie. And while this does not guarantee quality, it does create a market flooded with cheaply produced movies.
Add the fact that DVD is almost dead, and your odds of finding a traditional distribution deal (that actually pays you good money) are dramatically decreased.
For most filmmakers, this revelation comes as a shock.
I made a movie. Where is my million dollar check?
Look. I can’t promise your movie will make money. Some movies make a lot of money. Some movies make about zero dollars.
But I can tell you advances in VOD distribution and internet marketing offers hope. . .
There is hope if YOU are willing to the work.
Hint, most filmmakers are NOT willing to do the work. In fact, most filmmakers would rather give up on their movie. . .
Hopefully not you.
Think about it.
Making a movie is tough. You owe it to yourself and your investors to explore all options and come up with a solid marketing and distribution plan.
If you want to sell your movie, you need to create a distribution that YOU control.
This is a new way to think. In the old days, you would think the mere mention of self-distribution was a crazy notion.
DIY? Isn’t Do It Yourself for losers?
That is how we used to view the world.
If it wasn’t for the internet, I’d probably have a whole different perspective on how to sell your movie. I’d probably tell you to take ANY distribution deal. But times have changed.
Like you, our first feature was met with empty distribution promises and crappy deals.
So by necessity, we started to sell our title on Amazon as both a physical DVD and a video on demand download.
At first, none of the producers liked that idea. I mean, even if a traditional deal sucks, at least there is still validation of seeing your title on the shelves at the local video store.
But then we made our first sale. . .
We thought it was an anomaly. How could we possibly make money with our movie? We had no movie stars. We had no formal, traditional distribution deal. (We had offers, but nothing that actually paid money.)
Adding to this?
Most people on earth had never heard of our title (including you.) But then we made another sale. . . And then a third. . . And then a dozen. . . That was back in 2006. We were pioneers!
Since that time, our first feature has sold in ways we never imagined. And while the money we made on the movie wasn’t enough to pay for early retirement, I can’t complain.
This experience changed the way I view movie distribution.
Prior to making my first feature, my “sell your movie” strategy always revolved around one BIG payday. But I am now of the opinion that making money as an indie filmmaker is more about making a bunch of small movies and getting each one to pay you a little each month.
These days filmmakers need to create good work, find their target audience and focus on sell movies consistently over time. For many filmmakers, this sort of sell your movie talk might seem crazy.
Think about it. In years past, filmmakers only self distributed their movies when they had to. It wasn’t a choice!
But these days, taking time to learn how to sell your movie makes sense. And that’s why I put together this guide.
These days you can choose to sell your movie, because 9 times out of 10, making your title available on Amazon and iTunes and other popular VOD marketplaces can potentially pay more than a traditional deal.
Remember, a deal that pays zero is not a deal.
(Of course I’m expressing my opinion.)
The following sell your movie checklist should be considered a good start. And before you get started, a quick disclosure. Wherever I thought it would help, I have mentioned various partner companies and services. If you follow my suggestions and use one of these services, I may receive a commission.
The folks I mention are good people. But in the event you don’t like the idea of affiliate deals, you can ignore my links. And that is totally cool with me.
Can I ask you a favor?
If you like this checklist, can you kindly tell your filmmaking friends to check it out?
Moving forward, let’s set some expectations. The purpose of this guide is for you to grab at least one useful film distribution or movie marketing tip. If you do this, then we can both be happy.
That’s it. Easy, right?
As always, if you have questions about anything in this guide, please feel free to contact me. I love it when I find out how these tips have helped you get closer to your filmmaking goals!
Like I said, if you take time to study this guide, you might get a tip or two that can help you sell your movie..
Here we go. . .
Sell Your Movie Checklist
The following “How To Sell Your Movie” checklist will provide you with a broad overview of how to market and sell your movie without the middle-man.
The film distribution and movie marketing process has been broken into 25 steps. Obviously some steps will be more challenging than other steps. And like I said, if you take time to study this guide, you might get a tip or two that can potentially make your life easier.
Here we go. . .
1. Got a movie website? If not, create a website specific to your movie. When it comes to hosting, I utilize Bluehost for all my sites. If you’d like to grab hosting, our link for Bluehost is www.MovieSiteHost.com – Note: When you purchase your hosting, a domain name is usually included.
2. Branding is the marketing equivalent of matching your belt with your shoes. Don’t make your marketing complicated. Make sure your colors, logos, posters and fonts are consistent.
3. Most filmmakers make a crazy website with all sorts of bells and whistles. Your movie website should be simple. Keep it limited to a banner, trailer, an about page, a buy now button and some links to your social networks and an opt-in form. . .
4. Getting people to opt-in to your audience list is most important. Having an opt-in form allows you to build an email mailing list of people who want to see your movie. To set up an opt-in form (so you can stay in touch with your audience), check out Aweber via my affiliate link here: www.AudienceList.com
5. Take a moment to think about your target audience. Hopefully you have a marketable hook for your movie, and a plan for reaching your target demographic. If not, stop and figure it out!
6. Get your movie selling as a Video on Demand rental and download. If you would like info on accessing marketplaces, such as iTunes, Amazon and NetFlix, try www.MovieSalesTool.com
7. You can sell DVDs too. Create Space makes it easy to get your movies seen and selling in the Amazon marketplace. Follow this sponsored link to research Create Space. I advise you to stay out of the shipping business and let Create Space manufacture your DVDs, fulfill your orders and make your movie available on Amazon’s on demand service. This way, you can focus on increasing your sales, as well as creating your next movie projects. Not shipping!
8. Your trailer is your most important promotional tool. Upload your trailer to YouTube as well as other, popular video sites. Make sure your trailer mentions your website. Put your focus on optimizing YouTube. Why? Because YouTube is both a social network and the second largest search engine on earth, which is also owned by Google. It is worth it!
9. Write press releases related to the availability of your movie. Include back links to your site. Send the release out via one of the online press release submission sites. In addition to this, don’t be afraid to call magazine editors and journalists who write for your target audience. As they say, if you don’t ask – you don’t get! Research our sponsor at PRWeb. (You might also contact my PR friend Heather at Talk Radio Publicity.)
10. Join online forums related to your target market. Create a profile, complete with a signature link to your website. Now, whenever you join a conversation, you’ll spread your links.
11. Just because you’re in a forum doesn’t mean people care about you or your movie. If you join conversations without adding value – Or if you become one of those spam happy people who talk about your movie and fail to add value to the discussion, you will be seen as a spammer.
12. If the idea of contributing to forum conversations annoys you, then just pay for advertising on the site. The whole point is to increase awareness of your movie and get prospective audience members to your site.
13. Create a Facebook page, a Twitter account and join the popular social networking sites. Optimize social sites to drive visitors back to your website.
14. The purpose of using social networks is to connect with your target market, spread word about your movie and get people onto your Audience list.
15. Engagement is all about joining the conversation and asking questions. Talk to your audience daily to maintain engagement.
16. Have your webmaster put a button on your website so people can tweet, bookmark, and share your movie website with friends on their social networking sites.
17. If you have the budget, purchase some offline advertising in publications related to your movie. To find related publications, go to a book store (what’s left of them) and look for magazines. Also, try Google.
18. The purpose of your site is to get targeted visitors to watch your movie trailer and click the BUY NOW button. Any pages or links that distract from the sale must be deleted!
19. You’ll soon realize that most people will not buy your movie on their first visit to your website. If they don’t click, then at least try to get them to opt into your audience list. Then you have a chance of getting them to buy later.
22. Out of all the people who click the BUY NOW button, many won’t buy. But some will! When this happens, compare your movie website visitors to the amount of sales. This will help you find your website conversion rate. Example: 100 visitors results in 3 sales. Your conversion rate would then be 3%.
23. Knowing your conversion rate allows you to reinvest revenues into advertising. I recommend hiring someone who has a proven track record in Pay Per Click advertising. Many of these professionals will work for a percentage of sales.
24. Sales will tend to level off after a few years. This is the normal. When this happens, find some other filmmakers with a movie geared towards the same target audience. Offer to promote their movie to your audience list. If these other filmmakers have an audience list too, ask them to promote your movie. Be willing to pay them a cut of your profits.
25. Time for your next project! But unlike before, you’ll have a strong mailing list at your disposal. And as a result, you can now ask yourself the following magical questions: “How many VOD downloads do I have to sell to recoup my investment? And how am I going to make that happen?”
Next Steps For How To Sell Your Movie
I hope you enjoyed this brief guide to getting your movie seen and selling. Once again, if you liked this checklist, you’ll love my latest action guide that shows you how to sell your movie.
The “How To Sell Your Movie” system also includes an eCourse delivered straight to your inbox. To make sure you don’t miss any of my awesome film distribution tips. Visit:
And one more thing. . . If you really like this information on how to sell your movie, please share it with every filmmaker you know. They will thank you for it!