Think back to a time in filmmaking history when your greatest challenge was actually making a movie. At least the idea seemed easier.
For those of you new to independent movie making, let’s review. In the past, many first time feature filmmakers were driven by something I call “The Sundance Model.” This is the idea where filmmakers went out, acquired or wrote a screenplay, got money, made the movie and then hoped like heck they would get into a major festival and garner a significant (and profitable deal.)
From a pure business perspective, this was a crazy way to make movies. I mean, can you name one other industry in the world that produces a product without having a solid distribution channel in place? Can you name another industry that, once the product is made, relies on other outside people for ALL of the marketing, sales and distribution of the product?
These days things are a bit different. These days DVD distribution is dying. And with this death, the days of relying on some outside distributor to validate your work and sell it are numbered. The upside to this modern moviemaking movement is, you can finally put all those years of creative accounting and bad deals behind you. The bad news is, as an independent filmmaker, you are going to have to add yet another hat to your overflowing rack. This time, the hat you wear will be sales and marketing.
[A side note: Before you leave a gazillion comments telling me that foreign DVD territory sales and (even) pre-sales are alive and well - I provide this disclaimer. Consider any deal that makes sense. But in the event the deal only pays you validation and a copy of your DVD, hopefully this series helps you create a more profitable plan. I also want to caution both new as well as veteran filmmakers of the following: The day is fast approaching when DVD retail will eventually join VHS, CDs, Cassette Tapes, 8-Tracks and the silly stores that used to sell them in the great abyss of a bygone era. And rightfully so!]
So all of this said, if you’re just reading filmmaking stuff for the first time,welcome! In this community we don’t over complicate the filmmaking process. We make movies and we work to sell our movies without asking permission. And in this respect, you are reading article 5 of my 7 step process for selling your your movie on iTunes, Amazon and Netflix for Maximum profit.
So to recap, once you have sharpened your hook (pt. 1), targeted your target audience (pt. 2), set up shop (pt. 3) and created a movie sales funnel (pt. 4) you are ready to begin the process of driving traffic to your movie sales site.
Refine Your Trailer (And Promote It)
Take a look at your trailer. Is your trailer congruent with your hook and the marketing elements we covered earlier? If not, I suggest you recut and refine your trailer to make sure your marketing message is consistent. In doing this you will have to find the balance between showing enough to sell your movie and giving away so much that you spoil the story. And since your movie trailer will be posted on various websites, you should also add a title card with a link to your movie website.
The internet is full of places where you can upload and post your trailer. But out of all of them, YouTube is top-notch. Aside from being the second largest search engine on earth, the service also incorporates a built-in social networking component that allows people to comment and discuss your movie and create community around your title. This is important because word-of-mouth indicates what people like and dislike about your movie. And as you will soon learn, more
discussion (good or bad) equals more sales.
Since YouTube records the number of views, this is also a great indication of how well your trailer is being received. If viewership is low, refine your title, tags and description to complement your niche subject matter. Martial Arts Movie? One tag might be “Karate” or “Kung Fu.” After tweaking and re-tweaking your description, if viewership is still stagnant, consider cutting, tweaking and testing multiple versions of your trailer.