How To Create A Movie Marketing Plan

The Filmmaking Stuff Movie Marketing plan is designed to help you design a low cost, grass roots marketing strategy for your movie project.

While there are no guarantees that your movie will become the next viral, breakout hit, doing something is better than letting your movie collect dust. Our goal is to provide you with a cost effective plan that you can implement over a 12 week period.

movie marketing plan

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Movie Marketing Plan Overview

The first step in your movie marketing process involves setting realistic goals about your project. Take a moment to answer the following questions:

  • How many movie views / unit sales must you sell to break even?
  • Who is your general target audience?
  • What do you hope to accomplish over the next 12 weeks?

Week 1 – Define Your Movie’s Target Audience

There is a saying in marketing that everybody is nobody and niches make you riches. With the democratization of filmmaking, it is now essential to define your target audience before you even put pen to paper. Is there an audience that already exists for your movie? If not, you will want to seriously consider your subject matter.

We will provide you with some tips on how to define your market.

  • Make a list of 5 ideal movie fan categories for your title.
  • Figure out why these fans should watch your movie.

Week 2 – Set up Your Movie Website

If you have not noticed, I emphasize internet marketing for filmmakers quite a bit. The reason for this is simple: We are quickly approaching a time where there will be no delineation between your computer and your television. Everything will be on demand and accessible. As a result of these changes, you will need to drive targeted Internet traffic to your desired point of sale and convert these visitors into customers.

In your second week, we are going to cover the following topics:

Week 3 – Know Your Prospective Audience

While there are no hard and fast rules in the brave new world of indie filmmaking, without retail DVD distribution, your most important goal (aside from making the movie) is to grow your audience for both your current project and your career. To many, this type of audience engagement represents a paradigm shift.

Our goal is to change the way you think about your fans. Your audience is your movie business. Without an audience, you simply have no business!

Here is what we are going to investigate in week three:

  • Discover where your fans hang, both online and offline.
  • Create as list of popular publications that cater to your fans.

Week 4 – Track everything

In movie marketing, it is very common for everybody involved in a project to present a gazillion ideas on best marketing practices. But the truth is, the only good marketing idea is the one that works. And the only way you know if your strategy is working is when you test it.

In your fourth week, you will set up tools so you can understand user behavior:

  • Add tracking tools to your website.
  • Modify your website to influence user activity.

Week 5 – Refine Your Marketing

Have you ever noticed when a big studio releases a movie, they sometimes first push it as an action flick. Then later, the advertisements shift to a love story? Why does this happen? These changes take place because movie marketers are consistently testing the movie messaging in front of sample audiences.

And it is usually the audience, not the filmmaker who reveals what aspects of the movie are most interesting and memorable.

During week 5, you will focus on the following:

  • Refine movie messaging based on audience feedback.
  • Create your hook and refine it to emphasize your unique story.
  • Get your movie in front of influencers  in your target market.

Week 6 – Search Engine Optimization For Your Movie

Since you do not have a multi-gazillion dollar movie marketing budget like the big Hollywood studios, you will focus on the internet. Your goal is to implement inexpensive marketing strategies so you can drive targeted traffic to your website (in the hopes these visitors will buy your movie). There are quite a few ways to do this, but one of the most effective ways of attracting traffic is by creating useful content, aimed at your target audience.

In week 6, you will complete the following tasks:

  • Conduct keyword research relevant to your audience.
  • Implement your movie website, with SEO friendly framework.
  • Define your content strategy, based on keyword research.

Week 7 – Create Relevant Content

As a movie marketer, creating relevant content is essential for attracting visitors to your movie website. It is at this point when most filmmakers start to feel overwhelmed, thinking they need to focus on busting out a gazillion blog articles.

While writing keyword specific, relevant content is a useful way to attract visitors, writing is not the only way to create content. Internet content can be created and delivered as audio, video and text. Since each prospective viewer has preferred modality, your goal is to create a content strategy that incorporates all three.

In week 7, we will focus on fulfilling the following objectives:

  • We will create and outline a content strategy based on movie/story/genre specific keywords.
  • Then we will figure out timeline for how frequently we will deliver the content.

Week 8 – Spread The Word and Build Buzz

Here is the thing. Lets say you are making a zombie movie and you  decide to conduct an internet search for zombies. You will very quickly realize that there are thousands of websites devoted to zombies and zombie movies. Unless you have all the time in the world, contacting the owner of each blog or website is going to be impossible.

During week 8, your goal is to sort through the noise and focus on activity that will garner us the greatest potential for results.

  • Build a database of the top 50 publications in your niche.
  • Test several low cost ads to drive targeted traffic to your movie website.
  • Refine your trailer and post it everywhere!
  • You might also want to distribute a press release (ad).

Week 9 – Leverage Social Networks and Blogging Community

A lot of filmmakers are stupid when it comes to social networking. They look at the tool and say “I HAVE A MOVIE. PLEASE (potentially) WASTE 2 HOURS OF YOUR TIME AND WATCH IT!” While you know that your movie is way better than most the other crap out there, the rest of the social community does not. And if you utilize a crappy social networking strategy, the best we can say is: Good luck!

In week 9 your goal is to implement a social media strategy that encourages word of mouth.

  • Engage with potential users via social networking channels.
  • Implement a guest posting strategy on several blogs.

Week 10 – Hit The Red Button (and launch!)

If you spend all sorts of time and effort and money making your movie, the last thing you want to do is wait around. You want to get your movie seen, sold and if possible – maybe you can find a 3 picture studio deal in the process. While marketing is not a science, your results (both good or not so good) will be easy to measure.

In week 10, we will hit the red button and see what works.

  • Divide our launch strategy into several tiers and milestones.
  • Send copies of your movie to popular review websites and schmooze for good reviews.

Week 11 – Utilize The Power of Email.

If you subscribe to the exclusive Filmmaking Stuff Newsletter, you know that I really believe in email marketing. I think it is a great way to stay in touch and to build a relationship with your audience.

In week 11, we are going to focus on creating and executing an email marketing campaign (ad).

  • Write a half-dozen targeted emails and send at pre-determined intervals.
  • Reach out to other filmmakers and see if they would send similar emails to their list.

Week 12 – Grow Your Community!

By now, these words should echo in your filmmaking mind: “My audience is my business. Without an audience, I have no business.” Without retail distribution, you can no longer plan on simply selling 10,000 DVDs to the big box video rental chain, because that doesn’t exist anymore. Instead your audience is your business – not just for your current project, but for all future titles as well.

In week 12, we will focus on creating long term community engagement.

  • Establish a community for your fans.
  • Get fans into a database that you control.

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So there you have it. This is a broad overview of a 12 week movie marketing plan that you can implement for your next title. You might also want to check out my sell your movie system.

 

Get a Movie Made: 5 Things You Need To Know

I’ve mentored dozens of film students. I’ve met with hundreds. I’ve spoken to thousands. A question I recently asked myself was, “What’s the difference between the people who get a movie made and those who are just stuck spinning their wheels?”

It’s always been a goal of mine to help filmmakers get a movie made. I even had a separate company at one point, dedicated solely to aiding filmmakers in getting their films going. I had identified a series of steps that every project should take to get from Point D to Point R. (Dream to Reality.)

Yet there were some who I knew would never get a movie made, and there were some that I knew, no matter what, they would be successful.

This led me to start to reflect on that. Could I impart that lesson to a filmmaker? Could I identify that “secret sauce” that made the others successful following the exact same steps to get a movie made?

Get_A_Movie_Made

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Get a Movie Made: 5 Things You Need To Know

The answer is, it’s a combination of a lot of things… and here’s the list. Add them together and you’ll be emailing me with photos from the set.

1. Extreme Passion – it sounds crazy, but I’ve actually met tons of filmmakers who just weren’t that passionate about their own project! Almost as if they were doing it because they just wanted a way in. With every film I’ve ever made, before I jumped into it, I believed it was going to be a home run. Some of my movie projects failed, some succeeded, but with all, I was extremely passionate.

The people I’ve mentored to get a movie made were extremely passionate. Their eyes would light up with energy when they told me their pitch. It was almost as if they were letting me in on this incredible secret… The secret of their amazing film.

2. Determination – All the filmmakers who got their films going were filled with determination. They all knew they were going to make a film. Most of them had specific dates in mind. It didn’t matter if these dates shifted, if something fell through, or if they got pieces of bad news… they kept pushing forward.

3. Singular Focus – Their goal was to make a film. Period. Their goal was not to worry about their job, not to worry about their future films, not to worry about their “potential careers.” They were focused 100% on the issue at hand, which was getting their films made. There was no “Plan B” (except as defined below).

4. Flexibility to Change – This may be the most important aspect of the list. If you are trying to unlock the combination to a safe, it doesn’t matter how focused, determined, or persistent you are: If you continue to try the same combination, you’re never getting into that safe.

All the successful filmmakers I mentored had one thing in common: they changed their approach when necessary. This includes dropping budgets, raising budgets, seeing things in a new light, changing cast, even changing projects entirely!

This is a key point. Stick too much to “This is the only film I can make,” and you may fail.

That internal dialogue should be, “I’m making a film.” That way, you’re going with the flow and using the energy in the right way. Put the passion project on hold and ALWAYS CHOOSE TO MAKE A FILM!

5. Persistence – They never gave up, never faltered, and continued to chip away. Many of them are full time filmmakers now, and I couldn’t be happier for them!

Don’t ever quit. You can make your film happen. Trust yourself, follow a procedure, and be mindful of the points I just mentioned. You can do it!

If you’d like to take the next steps to get a  movie made, check out this filmmaking course offered by Tom Malloy and Carole Dean. Save $40 by entering the coupon code JASON15.  For more information, click here.

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Tom Malloy is an Actor, Writer and Producer, specializing in independent film finance. He is the author of BANKROLL: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films, which is the best reviewed book on film financing, and is considered a “gold standard” in indie films circles. To date, Tom has raised over $15 million in private equity from independent financiers.

How To Network In Hollywood (Or anywhere, really)

The other night, I was at some party. I didn’t know a lot of people, but this is nothing new.

Learning how to network in Hollywood, or anywhere really is one of  the most important skills you can refine. Besides, meeting new people is fun. It leads to new ideas and new opportunties.

But every so often, you will meet a jerk or two .

That is exactly what happened when I walked into a conversation where this guy was bragging about his shoes. Something about Italian leather or some crap.

Anyway, as the conversation shifted from shoes to the movie industry, I started to chime in about video on demand distribution.

And do you know what?

This guy…

He totally looked down at my shoes. He noticed my low top Converse and literally cut me off mid-sentence.

WTF?

(I promise this is not a segue into a fashion blog…)

But here’s the fun part. Later in the evening, I guess somebody tells this guy that I’m connected… That I know people. That maybe I can introduce him to people who could help him in his career.

So this filmmaker comes up to me and actually starts talking about a movie idea.

Pretty silly. No thanks.

I don’t think him and I will ever do business together.

Why?

Frankly, because I don’t like him. He made a poor judgement on how to treat me.

This is an example of BAD NETWORKING

Here is a video on how I thought about Hollywood before I got into the game.

A lot of filmmakers visit LA, wondering how to network in Hollywood. Before I get too far into some awesome networking tips, let me clarify something.

You don’t have to be in Hollywood to make movies!

But if your goal is to make movies, you are going to need a way to raise money. And unless you have a rich uncle or an awesome hookup, you’re going to have to do what most unknown filmmakers do… They get out there and they hustle!

Which begs the question:

“How do filmmakers meet and network with rich people?”

Good question.

You will meet rich people through your ever expanding network of awesomeness. In other words, you’re going to make lots of cold calls, take lots of lunches and network!

The following principals will reveal how to network in everyday life. But importantly, they will show you how to network in Hollywood.

Here is the reason you need to learn how to network in Hollywood:

Odds are good that if you make movies, sooner or later you’re going to end up in Hollywood.

Makes sense right?

how to network in Hollywood with Jason Brubaker

How To Network In Hollywood

As you can probably guess, the guy in our previous example needs to learn how to network in Hollywood. (Or anywhere, for that matter.)

And maybe you’ve experienced this type of crap too.

It happens all the time. I mostly see it at film festivals. Somebody approaches you and immediately asks what you do.

As soon as you tell the other person, there is a beat – A moment or two when the person decides if you are worth his time.

If not, then the other person will feign a polite interest in you, look over your shoulder for someone more important to talk to and leave the scene, tossing you a business card on his way out.

Whenever someone mentions the word “networking” the mental picture that comes into focus, often involves an overly energetic schmoozer who hands out business cards like candy.

These people typically have their own agenda in mind and could care less about you – unless they could potentially USE you.

While this strategy may be utilized by many up-and-coming filmmakers, it won’t be ours.

Avoid becoming a walking business card dispensary”

In order to avoid becoming a walking business card dispensary,  every time you think about networking, I want you to focus on one thing – and one thing only.

Focus on the other person!

If you like the other person and think they are a nice human being, I want you to always focus on finding ways to help. By helping other people reach their goals, all the lessons we spoke about (rapport, reputation and building relationships) will work in your favor.

Here is what I learned. Help enough people, and enough people will help you.

Simple, right?

Action Steps

  1. Build a network of like minded individuals.
  2. If you live in a small town like I did, try to find a local art scene and other local filmmakers.If your area is limited, then contact people through social networking websites.
  3. Consider taking weekend trips to film festivals and screenings within your proximity. Strike up conversations.
  4. Consider helping as PA for movies in your area.
  5. Once you make friends. Go to their screenings. Get business cards. Follow up. Always ask yourself: “What can I do to help this person succeed?”

Get Movie MoneyOne of the best parts about working in the movie industry is meeting other like-minded, creative people. If you go out of your way to help other people as much as you can (without allowing other people to take advantage of you), then you’ll be in very good shape when it comes time to create your own projects.

If you’re still trying to find out how to network in Hollywood, or if you are looking for strategies on how to meet and mingle with prospective investors or Hollywood Heavyweights – I recommend you check out my guide focused on: “How To Meet Rich People So You Can Fund Your Movie.”


How To Make Your Movie Rise Above The Noise

Working in film distribution, I can tell you that everything is changing. Production is getting cheaper and easy access to the marketplace is the norm. This is an exciting time to be a filmmaker.

Paradoxically, because more and more movies are getting made each year, this is also one of the most challenging times for making money as a filmmaker. We are experiencing a market saturation similar to what happens when sweatshop factories start producing comparable goods for less money.

And while you may argue that many backyard indies are amateur garbage, this doesn’t change the fact that filmmakers now have more competition than ever before. Your biggest problem is figuring out how to make your movie rise above the noise.

Rise Above The Noise

Photo © Sergey Nivens / Dollar Photo Club

How To Make Your Movie Rise Above The Noise

Before you pour your heart and soul into your passion project, answer these questions:

  1. What is your movie about?
  2. Who is in your movie?
  3. Who is going to buy your movie?

Most filmmakers never take time to answer these simple, yet essential questions. Or if they do, the answers are often based on hope or delusions of grandeur. My target audience is everybody!

Having well rehearsed answers to these questions (that you can deliver with enthusiasm) will increase the odds that a movie distributor or a fan could potentially (easily) tell other people about your movie.

sell your movie“Zooey Deschanel is attached to your movie?!?”

Having a name actor or a strong story hook makes your movie memorable. Knowing that an audience exists for your type of movie, as well as having a promotional plan for reaching your audience is also helpful.

That is what word-of-mouth is all about.

Once your pitch is established, all of your other movie marketing tasks such like your logo, font, DVD cover (still important), poster and website will be much easier to design.

So I’ll end today’s thought with three questions: What is your movie about? Who’s in it? And who is gonna buy it?  And if you like this sort of stuff, you’ll love my Sell Your Movie System.

 

How To Avoid Your Biggest Filmmaking Mistake

The biggest filmmaking mistake you can make is waiting for someone else to give you permission make movies.

Believe me. I’m speaking from experience.

After college, I was like a lot of people. I wanted to make movies, but I had no idea how to get started. As a result, I took the conventional route. I spent a whole lot of time sending out resumes to production companies.

I know what you’re thinking – Sending resumes to Hollywood from rural Pennsylvania was a huge filmmaking mistake. . .

Back then, I actually thought the only way I could be taken seriously as a filmmaker was to work for a major studio like Warner Brothers. And the problem was, none of the studios had heard of me. Nor were they willing to see value in my lack of experience.

Filmmaking_Mistake

Your Biggest Filmmaking Mistake

Back then, it was easy to make excuses. I mean, do you blame me?

Nobody in my small, rural, farm oriented hometown knew anybody in the movie industry. And every time I sent a resume to New York or Los Angeles, I was ignored.

I could have quit.

It would have been easy to get a job selling insurance. (But that would have been a blunder of a filmmaking mistake.)

And in retrospect, I realize my experience is like a lot of filmmakers.

Does this sound familiar?  You have the passion to make movies, but you have no idea how to get started. You don’t have a camera. You don’t have a Hollywood network. You don’t have money.

These excuses will stop you if you let them.

To be perfectly frank with you, these excuses almost stopped me. But one day I heard this quote from the famed success guru Brian Tracy. He said: “You can have anything you want in life if you are willing to pay the price.”

Quitting would have been a filmmaking mistake.

I wasn’t sure what it meant to pay the price. Again, like you, I didn’t have much money.

But what I had was time and the willingness to do whatever it took to get what I wanted. For me, that meant finding a local video production company. Since I didn’t have a business relationship, I cold called them. I got the owner on the phone – He said they didn’t have any availability. They were not looking to hire.

But that didn’t stop me.

Through sheer determination and boldness, I talked the owner into meeting me.

During our meeting, we hit it off. While they didn’t have the budget for a new production assistant, the owner offered to let me work as a janitor.

Imagine coming out of college and working as a janitor.

I could have rejected this job. Many filmmakers would be insulted at the prospect. Many would pass up the job. But that would have been a major filmmaking mistake.

I took the job because I saw it as opportunity. Cleaning the office got me in the room. And once in the room, I made friends with the production team.

In the weeks that followed, I started getting invited to set and was able to participate in productions. Months later, the owner of the company put me in touch with a former intern, turned New York producer.

This producer eventually hired me for my first job in New York.

From there, I made friends with a new production crew. Those connections led to an indie producer. I became his assistant and learned how to make movies. In the process, I learned how to stop asking permission. I learned how to make things happen. I stopped making excuses.

And that made all the difference.

It would have been a major filmmaking mistake to quit. And while nobody enjoys mopping floors and cleaning toilets – I found that if your vision is strong enough, nothing can stop you. The crappy jobs are stepping stones. There is no shame in doing them. The only shame is giving up. And giving up is your biggest filmmaking mistake.

If you’re ready to stop making excuses and start making movies, I invite you to explore these professional filmmaking resources.