Download The Modern Moviemaking Movement

If you are looking for filmmaking information, make sure you download your free copy of the Modern Moviemaking Movement. In this guide, ten of Hollywood’s most innovative filmmakers provide insight on how to navigate the ever changing world of Independent filmmaking.

Topics covered in this book, include how to write your script, how to raise the money and also, how to implement modern movie distribution strategies.

Here’s an overview of what’s included in this FREE Filmmaking Book! Download here.

  • Uncover Successful, Modern Screenwriting Tips with Jurgen Wolff
  • Find Out How To Make the Most of Movie Money with Norman C. Berns
  • Discover Six Ways to Finance Your Feature Film with Gordon Firemark
  • Bankroll Your Movie with Tom Malloy
  • Get The Inside Scoop On Crowdfunding with Carole Dean
  • Plan Your Production For Maximum Success with Peter D. Marshall
  • Modern Guerrilla Filmmaking with Gary King
  • Navigate Film Festivals and Do Them Right with Sheri Candler
  • Sell Your Movie Without the Middle-Man with Jason Brubaker
  • Know The Producer of Marketing and Distribution and Utilize The New 50/50 with Jon Reiss

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Movie Sales Agent Screw Up

I can’t go into details. I won’t mention names. But as a filmmaker, it is emails like the one quoted below that make me go bonkers. I can’t believe something like this can happen… But it does:

“…I finally spoke to the (confidential television network) today and as it turns out the contract was never signed.  As you know without a signed contract we can’t argue anything. I’m sorry that I mislead you, but it was never my intent.”

Now before I go further, I want you to know that there are GOOD sales agents. And there are GOOD traditional distributors. But before you go into business with any middle-man, my advice for all filmmakers is to ALWAYS conduct your due diligence. And if later, you find yourself working with someone who supposedly makes a deal with a TV network – but forgets to get a contract signed (please note: we think this is very fishy), then at the very least – you should never work with that guy again.

It is not part of my character to bad mouth. I really, really want to. Because I’m pissed. But this is part of the business. It’s the part most people experience but try to forget. And as a loyal reader of Filmmaking Stuff, it’s probably better for both of us if I continually expose the good and the not-so good.

Feel free to comment. I like comments   >>

Independent Movie Distributors are Aggregators

Independent Movie Distributors are great if they offer you a deal. The problem is, many filmmakers do not get a great deal. Instead, many filmmakers end up with a lot of empty promises.

Now, thanks in part to a shrinking DVD market, many traditional distributors have shifted focus to partner with, or become a  movie aggregator. For those of you new to the concept, a movie aggregator exists to source a whole bunch of movies, and then serves as a middle-man between YOU and the marketplace.

The result of this DVD to VOD distribution transition has created a new sales pitch for filmmakers:

“Give us your VOD rights for a gazillion years and we’ll get your title onto iTunes.”

If you’re like a lot of filmmakers, this pitch is all you need to hand over your VOD rights for many years. The result of which allows you to tell all your friends: “Our movie was picked up by [insert bottom feeding aggregator here] and now we are on iTunes.”

Any time I hear this, I want to PUKE.

Why? Because treating VOD distribution like DVD distribution is the difference between lighting and lighting bug (I think that is a quote from Mark Twain.) But you get my point. It can’t be treated the same.

WHY DO I SAY THIS?

I say this because many traditional DVD distributors will add NO VALUE to your VOD strategy.

They will simply get your movie into the marketplace and suck your profits for the extent of your contract. And since most traditional distributors can not monopolize the VOD marketplace (like retail DVD), they will grab any title they can and hope for the best.

Think about it. It doesn’t cost them anything. All they gotta do is get your movie encoded and uploaded into the market – and if it makes money, they make money. If it doesn’t make money – OH WELL!

Like I said. That makes me PUKE.

You see. The problem isn’t your ability to access a VOD marketplace. Your problem is SOURCING an audience. In retail DVD distribution, it was different. Retail DVD was a predictable sales channel. In the old days, you licensed your retail DVD rights to a distributor. Then your distributor made a few phone calls and got your movie into video stores. People drove to video stores and walked around the store. So if your DVD was on the shelf, your odds of making money increased.

But with VOD? We are talking about people sitting in front of their computers. The marketplace changes at the click of a mouse.

So far, we know that iTunes, NetFlix and Amazon are popular. You should get your movie into those marketplaces. But that doesn’t mean you should give up your VOD rights to get there.

The secret that traditional DVD distributors don’t want you to know is this: Getting into the marketplace is easy.

The TOUGH part is getting people to watch (and buy) your movie. For that I recommend The Indie Producer’s Guide To Digitial Distribution or at the very least, read some of my other articles on movie marketing and distribution.

And if you’re just getting to know me, make sure you grab a FREE copy of my filmmaking book. Click Here   >>

In a future article, I’m going to show you how to leverage VOD distribution for your business plans. Stay tuned.

Sell Your Movie For Maximum Profit

If you’re already a seasoned feature filmmaker, take a moment and think back: Do you remember when the idea of making movies seemed like a far away dream?

Do you remember when you first got the idea for your movie? Do you remember Your first day of production? Do you remember your first screening and how well everyone loved your work?

That happened to me with my first feature. Like you, I thought our movie would get into Sundance, play well, build buzz and if we were really lucky, we had hoped the movie would garner us a 3 picture deal. But that didn’t happen.

Sure, we got some offers, but they were not “deals.” (A deal actually pays money!)

So instead of exchanging our movie for an empty promise, we decided to try selling our movie on the internet. Little did I know, this one decision has changed the course of my movie making life. That was five years ago…

And since that time, the internet as evolved. If you’re a filmmaker with a movie, you need to get it selling in all the popular internet marketplaces, including Amazon and iTunes.

You don’t need a middle-man to make this profitable. I am going to show you my internet marketing secrets…

You can check out my “How To Sell Your Movie” system by visiting the website here.

How To Make A Living Filmmaking

Logistic Center Amazon in Bad Hersfeld industr...

Filmmakers can sell their movies on Amazon. Image via Wikipedia

Recently a question posed by filmmaker Ben Rock over at Neptune Salad gave me a good reason to think about (and share) my filmmaking business philosophy in detail.

Here is the question: “Is there a way to make enough money on any kind of self-distribution that a filmmaker can repay investors and eek out a middle-class existence?”

I felt like this question required a detailed response. So for Ben and other folks with similar questions, I broke it into 2 parts. Here we go…

1. Can any form of Self Distribution make you enough money to repay investors?

This depends on two factors. How much investor money did you spend? And how much of your investor money do you have left to reach your targeted audience?

Getting money to fund independent movies has always been a challenge regardless of what technological innovations have taken shape. But the big difference now is more emotional than factual. These days, whenever filmmakers go out to shake the money tree, their confidence is considerably lower. I mean, in the past, you could at least present speculative opportunities to to prospective investors with a measure of excitement: “Look what happened with The Blair Witch Project! Paranormal Activity! My Big Fat Greek!..”

But what do you say now?

“We are going to sell DVDs on Amazon!”

Yippy.

And even funnier is this. Let’s say you get the money, make your movie and get a (more traditional) 3rd party distribution deal – your deal probably won’t involve theatrical distribution. Add the demise of video sales outlets and video stores, and it is a good bet that your movie will end up on iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon.

Given these outlets, I now wonder why any filmmaker would even approach a 3rd party distributor. I mean, if filmmakers can simply set up shop and reach those outlets on their own, why pay a middle man? Do filmmakers really need 3rd party validation?

So my suggestion is this: If you’re trying to make a living as a filmmaker, you need to care less about traditional validation and more about your bank account. If the numbers don’t work, you nave NO DEAL!

“Ah… Filmmakers should be MORE excited to approach prospective movie investors!”

Unlike years past, you can finally eliminate much of the speculation from your business plan – and you can finally present a deal built on a measurable framework that YOU control. In other words, as a filmmaker you can now pick and choose your sales outlets and come up with an entire step-by-step system for reaching your target audience and then getting your movie seen and sold. Investors like that. It’s less risky!

From this perspective, you can create a reasonable plan and work backwards.

What? You can’t figure out how to repay 1,000,000 dollars in 5 years? Then you have two choices. Change your plan or change your budget (which may involve changing your screenplay and schedule).

And onto the second part of the question…

2. Can a filmmaker eek out a middle-class existence (with digital self distribution)?

Yeah. But like I was saying, you can not think about distribution in the traditional sense. In the past, filmmakers made a movie, got lucky and ended up with a BIG paycheck with incremental increases on the back end. These days filmmakers need to think about their movies in ways akin to how traditional investors think about dividends from bonds – once you make the investment, it’s a long term game!

In other words, you create your movie product this year, get it selling and then you repeat the process. Conceivably in 10 years, you’ll have a library of 10 movies. And with luck each movie will passively pay you thousands of dollars per month.

Moving forward,  if you want to make movies and make money making movies, your strategy has to include oodles and oodles of cash for marketing. I heard one colleague talk in terms of  applying 3/5ths of the budget for the marketing, 1/5th for “name” talent and 1/5th for your below the line costs. I’m sure there is room for variation – but we can all agree that your marketing (more than movie making) is going to provide you the difference between pocket change and profit.

What are your thoughts?

– – –

This is a huge topic. So I will break it into a series. My next article will pick up where I left off. And we can get into a systematic approach to how to make a living through your filmmaking.

In the meantime, get my filmmaking book FOR FREE. Just follow this link: www.FreeFilmmakingBook.com