What is Your Filmmaking Niche?

In movie marketing, there is this phrase I really like: “Marketing to everybody is marketing to nobody and niches will make you riches.” And while not every movie is guaranteed success, it is much easier to find your audience when you choose a filmmaking niche.

What is a filmmaking niche? It’s making a movie for a small slice of a larger audience. For example, let’s say you were making a horror movie. Horror is a very broad genre. But a subset of the horror genre is zombie movies. So in this example, making a zombie movie for a zombie loving audience would be your filmmaking niche.

So this is where you start. Will you make a horror movie, romantic comedy, action movie or a girl with a horse movie? (By the way, a girl with a horse movie really does well internationally.)

filmmaking niche

Photo © auremar / Dollar Photo Club

What is Your Filmmaking Niche?

Knowing your filmmaking niche is important because in order to make non-discriminatory distribution channels, such as iTunes and Amazon profitable – It is required that YOU market your movie on the internet. This means that you must work on sourcing your target audience and then drive those folks to your point of sale.

Having spent the last few years working in distribution, I can tell you that most filmmakers screw this up. They make a movie for everybody. And it is frankly too expensive to market to everybody! So before you even think about making your movie, answer these filmmaking questions:

  1. Who Is Your Target Audience?
  2. How Large Is Your Target Audience?
  3. How Will You Reach Your Audience?
  4. What Is Your Marketing Strategy?
  5. How Many VOD Sales To Break Even?

Since both iTunes and Amazon are internet, transactional marketplaces, it makes sense that most of your sales will come via the internet. And as a result, you must create a web presence that speaks to your audience. In other words, you need to make sure the right people know your movie exists.

Who are the right people? People who love your type of movie.

Your Movie Website

When it comes to designing a movie website, most filmmakers never think about their filmmaking niche. They know they need a website for their movies. The problem is, most filmmakers put way too much crap on their site. And none of it speaks to their audience.

Goals

It’s essential to have goals for your movie website. When people come to your website, what action do you want your visitors to take? Do you want them to Tweet about the site? Join you on Facebook? Get into your audience list? Or buy your movie?

Distractions

Once you know your website goals, you need to determine if your website architecture and design is inline with your goals. To do this, install Google Analytics and monitor your traffic. If you find people are getting lost in a bunch of silly pages, remove those pages. Keep what matters.

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If you like these tips, you’ll love the Independent Producer’s Guide To Digitial Distribution

Filmmakers Need To Get Debt Free

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Filmmakers need to manage their money Image via Wikipedia

Learning how to manage money is one of the most important traits of an independent filmmaker. Because many filmmakers are focused on a big Hollywood payday, they have decided to live paycheck to paycheck, shackled by high debt.

If you’re that person right now, you’re not alone.

It wasn’t too long ago that I lived with no savings and thousands of dollars in debt. I had no idea how to turn myself around. Luckily, I met some very successful people who set me straight.

They told me about “FU money.”

In Hollywood, when you get a bunch of money in the bank, it’s called FU money. You know you have FU money when you can enter into negotiations and walk out of the deal without the fear of starvation.

The most valuable success strategy for acquiring FU money is: “Pay Yourself First.”

When I first heard this concept, I had no idea what the heck people were talking about. But after meeting with some power players, I realized the idea is simple. Whenever you get a paycheck, before you pay any bills or fill up your gas tank, set a little money aside and never touch it. That’s all you gotta do.

I know. I know. Most independent filmmakers want to save money but feel too strapped to take action. This is because each month is filled with bills and other unexpected expenses. For this reason, most people put off saving until the end of the month. The problem is, by that time, there is nothing left to save.

And please let me remind you, as a general disclaimer, since I’m a filmmaker and not a qualified legal, tax or financial professional, even if the following strategy provided me with a bunch of FU money, this stuff may not be right for you. So, please talk to a qualified professional first.

One day, I decided to follow a successful friend’s advice. And while it took me a long time, I eventually dug myself out of debt and lifted that financial weight off my back. Here is what I did:

  1. I wrote down all monthly income, including paycheck, extra jobs, etc.
  2. I wrote down all monthly expenses, including bills, groceries, gas, etc.
  3. I subtracted the expenses from the income.
  4. I had some money left, so I figured out how much to save.
  5. I opened a high-interest online savings account.
  6. I set up automatic withdraws each payday and pretended it was a bill.
  7. No matter what, for one year I didn’t touch the money!
  8. After one year, I paid off my credit card debt.
  9. After another year, I spoke to a financial adviser and started investing.
  10. After another year, I built up an emergency fund.

After saving, I not only had enough money to get out of debt, I had also developed the valuable life-long habit of always paying myself first. FU!

Learning how to manage your own money will give you confidence when you begin managing your movie projects. Thankfully, there are many financial software programs and online services to help you stay on top of your finances.

Since 2001 (when I was making about 10K a year – I wish I was kidding), I have been using one of the popular accounting software programs. Since that time, I have migrated into the free version of Quicken online. Other friends use Yodlee. And some of my other friends still use a spreadsheet. All of these programs will give you a daily snapshot of your net worth, your spending habits, your bank accounts and your credit card accounts. Most will also chart your investment activity. Some of the more advanced programs allow you to work out a budget and offer debt elimination tools.

The reason why becoming a good money manger is essential to filmmaking is because most prospective investors will sense how you feel about money.

If you liked this sort of unique filmmaking advice, you’ll love the independent producers guide to movie finance.

 

Movie Distribution: 7 Ways To Sell Your Movie Without The Middle Man

If you’re a filmmaker with a movie… Before you accept some crappy distribution deal from a traditional movie distribution company – you might benefit from the following audio recording. In it, I provide seven steps you can utilize to sell your movie without the middle-man.

As I have written before,  I believe the days of DVD distribution are numbered. And I think it is prudent for filmmakers to quit relying on outside 3rd parties to distribute independent movies. While modern distribution may seem easy for some moviemakers, these changes represent a total paradigm shift for others.

For those of you eager to embrace this new movie distribution world, I have provided the same seven steps I use to promote my own movie business.

Download Here (Right click and save)

After listening to the audio, please feel free to tell your friends. And if you would like more information, check out The Independent Producer’s Guide To Digital Distribution Happy Filmmaking!

Streaming Movies is OK If…

The other week I went on a minor rant about filmmakers hellbent on streaming movies from their movie website. And after some very thoughtful feedback, the truth is (as much as I hate admitting this) I realized I may have made an error.

In my article, I mentioned that most customers will feel more comfortable watching movies on established platforms, such as Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and NetFlix. At the same time, I totally discounted filmmakers presently testing ways to stream from their sites. And as any great marketer knows, ALL marketing decisions (assuming they make financial sense) have to be tested.

What works with one movie, may not work with every movie.

With that said, a lot of filmmakers (who do not have website traffic) are being fed the idea that “content enablers” will magically source an audience. They will not. So if your website does not have a lot of visitors, before you worry about where to stream your movie, I suggest you work on increasing your traffic as well as building your audience list. Then later, when you reach mass, you can focus on directing folks into your sales funnel.

The other tip is this: DO NOT stream a movie from your own hosting company server. That is silly. Let someone else handle the bandwidth and content delivery issues. Here are two resources for selling your movie (both of which are affiliates and pay me to promote – so research each before you make any purchase):

Distribber. They help you get your movie onto iTunes and other popular marketplaces.

Again – while both of these companies provide great services for filmmakers, it is important that you remember the major, key aspect of the brave new world of modern moviemaking – Regardless of platform – YOU are responsible for sourcing your own audience. Don’t forget that!

To help you out, I have created a step-by-step guide called the independent producer’s guide to digital distribution. If you need help driving targeted traffic to your website and selling your movie through VOD marketplaces, the guide offers some tips.