As a filmmaker, your audience is your business. Without an audience, you have no business. And as a result of internet distribution (and the inevitable demise of DVD retail distribution) you are responsible for sourcing your own audience.
These are the new rules for film distribution, for your current movie as well as all future movies.
Let’s be honest – Sourcing an audience is less sexy than buying filmmaking equipment. Gear is tangible. It’s something you can show your nerdy filmmaker friends. But having gear is useless if you don’t use it. And making movies is pointless if you don’t have an audience.
Most filmmakers spend at least two years or longer working to get a movie made. But very few filmmakers focus on what to do once the movie is in the can. Whenever I give talks, I always ask the audience, what is your plan for marketing and distribution?
This is followed by: Confused looks. Silence. Someone mutters: “I’ll get into Sundance and sell it.”
This is typical. As a feature filmmaker, if you haven’t entered the marketplace, you probably imagine the months following your wrap party will be filled film festivals, accolades and growing notoriety. You will wake up each morning crossing your fingers – hoping that today will be the day when Hollywood will finally notice you.
This is fair. Why wouldn’t you dream of fame and fortune? Every filmmaker wants recognition – even if you refuse to admit it. But with nearly 50,000 backyard indies being made each year, I have to ask you a tough question:
What if you don’t get into Sundance? What if your film is not picked up from a reputable distribution company? What then? Do you have any idea how you will market and sell your movie? Or will you just let your hard work collect dust in your bedroom closet?
New rules for film distribution:
- My audience is my business.
- Without an audience I have no business.
- I am responsible for sourcing my own audience.
The next question you might have is – HOW? How do filmmakers source an audience? Because many of the popular platforms are internet based, at the very least, I suggest you reserve a domain name and hosting for your production company. Then your next goal is to drive targeted traffic back to your site.
There are quite a few more steps that I will cover in later articles. But if you are in a pinch for time, I suggest you check out the indie producer’s guide to digital distribution.