3 Little-Known Factors That Could Affect Your Film Distribution Deal

Landing a killer film distribution deal is all about reducing risk and increasing the potential reward for a prospective distributor. The problem is, most filmmakers never think about this stuff until it’s too late.

As a filmmaker it is important to remember that you are creating and selling a product. Yes, your movie is your product. And like any entrepreneur you must plan for the marketing, sales and distribution of your movie.

Film Distribution Deal

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3 Factors That Could Affect Your Film Distribution Deal

Even if you do not plan to distribute your movie yourself, it behooves you to create your own marketing, sales and distribution strategy. The reason for this is simple. Most filmmakers do not do this. As a result, nearly every filmmaker approaches a prospective distributor the same way:

“Well… Here’s my movie. Can you give me an awesome film distribution deal?”

This is the incorrect approach because it gives you absolutely no leverage and no room for negotiation. The better approach would be to go into each distribution meeting knowing that you don’t actually need a film distribution deal. You achieve this by creating your own marketing plan.

While there are a lot of options to consider when sketching out an effective marketing, sales and distribution plan, the following three factors could affect your film distribution deal.

1. Who Is Your Target Audience?
To get started, you need to ask yourself: Who is my intended target audience? If you can look at your movie concept objectively and you can’t answer that question in five seconds or less, then you need to think harder or evaluate your original concept.

2. What Is Your Hook?
In general business, every company has to figure out their USP. In the world of movies, your unique selling proposition is actually described as your hook. What makes your movie different than the gazillion other movies being made. And why should I care?

3. What Is Your Marketing Budget?
As a filmmaker, marketing is probably the last thing you want to consider. But with the demise of physical DVD distribution, things are changing. As a result YOU are responsible for the marketing, sales and distribution of your movie. Allocate 50% of your budget to cover these costs.

This filmmaking lesson is simple. The time to start planning is today. And if any of this seems confusing, check out my newly updated guide to indie distribution.

How To Build Your Audience Through Email

As a filmmaker, you can’t attend any filmmaking event without someone talking about the importance of why you need to build your audience. So you can imagine my surprise when at a recent speaking gig, a filmmaker raised her hand and asked:

“When you say build your audience, what does that mean?”

Admittedly, until I got this question, it never really occurred to me that the whole “build your audience” mandate is opaque to some filmmakers and downright confusing to others.

So let me quickly address your questions:

Question: Why do I need to build an audience?

Answer: Because when you build your audience, you have power. You can walk into (or out of) any negotiation knowing your project has value beyond just being a great movie.

As I explained in this movie marketing article, I was hired by a filmmaker to help sell a movie at the American Film Market. We received tons of buzz (and a few solid offers) because the lead actor had 3,500,000 YouTube subscribers.

In this example we are appealing to distributors because having a “name” represents potentially thousands of people who can be reached without spending money on advertising. This is also the reason major studios pay millions to Tom Cruise. He’s a star. He brings an audience.

But let us assume for a minute, you’re like a lot of filmmakers. You don’t have access to a major or minor star. Yet you want to share work that sparks emotion. You want to make movies that sell.

Build Your Audience

How To Build Your Audience

When I first got into filmmaking (which was over a decade ago) things were much different. Back then, we actually shot on film. There was cool filmmaking stuff like pre-sales and negative pickup deals.

Back in those days, the goal was to simply make a movie, get into festivals, garner a gazillion dollar check and level up your Hollywood career. There was never any talk about movie marketing or how to build your audience… I mean, isn’t this the whole reason you partnered with a distributor?

At least that is what we thought.

But video on demand has disrupted and changed everything.

Without physical media, distributors can no longer make a business deal with Blockbuster and bank on the fixed revenue associated with manufacturing and shipping 5,000 DVDs. Instead successful distributors must now directly market to consumers.

Make no mistake… This is NOT the same model.

What I am describing represents a significant shift from a wholesale business to business model to a retail business to consumer model. And while most of Hollywood wants to pretend differently, the winners of this paradigm shift are the filmmakers who understand self-distribution and marketing.

Filmmakers must build their own audience listAnd ironically, the filmmakers who get the best distribution deals are filmmakers who don’t necessarily need the deal!

Email Marketing Trumps Social Media

One of the best, most cost efficient ways to market is by taking time to build your audience. The good news is, much of this will happen through growing your email list.

Think about it. Trying to break through the online, conversational noise is challenging. Email cuts through some of that clutter. And to reinforce this thinking, here are some facts about other platforms:

  • When you post to Facebook, only a small percentage of people see your stuff.
  • Most people who “LIKE” a page never return.
  • When you Tweet stuff, your tweet is only seen for a few seconds.

Email trumps social media because it serves as a private, direct line to a real person.

By real person, I mean YOU.

You’re not just some reader in a vast ocean of faceless readers.

And neither is YOUR AUDIENCE of email subscribers. They follow you because they LOVE your work. They are giving you permission to share with them.

Your audience consists of people who have dreams, desires and ideas. And is it up to you dear filmmaker to make sure you always remember and respect this. But most importantly, the people who make up your audience have problems that need solving.

Email Marketing Rules

After working professionally in VOD film distribution for quite some time, I know some of these email marketing tactics can be confusing.

So to keep it simple, just remember this: Your goal is to communicate directly to your audience, while consistently providing them with thought provoking, interesting and entertaining movies.

Once you understand the value you present, the actual mechanics of capturing email comes down to some simple software. I have explained how to set up an eMail Marketing campaign HERE.

And if you’d like to find out more about the movie marketing and film distribution, you may benefit from checking out my newly updated, How To Sell Your Movie System.

5 Movie Marketing Mistakes That Make You Look Dumb

As a movie marketing nerd, I routinely read and study every movie communication and advertisement that comes my way. And over the years, my interest in movie marketing strategy has given me tons of ideas on how to help clients reach their own audiences and sell more movies.

Without mentioning names, a few days back, I received a promotional email from a rather well known movie distribution company. And on this particular day, I regretted opening the email. The truth is, this company should have known better…

Like many traditional distributors, this is one of those companies that claims they “do marketing” for filmmakers. And unless you’re somewhat of a marketing nerd like me, you might get excited when a distribution company touts their ability to do email blasts.

“We will email your movie to our list of 50,000 subscribers.”

Taken at face value, this sounds powerful. But smart filmmakers know better than to fall for these film distribution shenanigans. And in our short time together, I am going help you avoid the 5 movie marketing mistakes that make you look dumb.

Movie Marketing

Photo © sframe / Dollar Photo Club

5 Movie Marketing Mistakes That Make You Look Dumb

Even if you don’t consider yourself a promoter, it is important to know a thing or two about movie marketing so you can figure out who to work with. Here are 5 movie marketing mistakes that make you look dumb.

1. Buying or Renting Email Lists: It is never a good idea to buy or rent email lists. The people receiving your email don’t know you, don’t care about you and may not be interested in your movie. Additionally, you don’t know how those people got on the list in the first place. And unless they “opted in” to receive email communication, you could be violating spam laws.

2. Using a Stupid Display Name: In the email I referenced above, the display name in my inbox was from “marketing.” I don’t know anybody named “marketing” and neither do you. Like most people, when I see this in my inbox, I immediately think “marketing” is trying to sell something. So I delete!

3. Violating The Rule of WIIFM: Real marketing is a conversation that presents value. In the message referenced above, this distribution company violated the cardinal rule of marketing. Every bit of the content was about about “me, me, me.” And while I’m sure this company enjoyed talking about themselves, (as well as touting the fact they hired a new marketing manager – not kidding) the message provided absolutely NO value for me.

Always answer this question for your prospect: “What’s in it for me?”

4. Not Respecting Your Audience: Movie marketing is all about knowing your audience and communicating value. What does your audience want? For example someone who loves romantic comedy will probably not want to watch your horror movie. So why on earth would you think marketing to these people is a good idea?

5. Fail to Measure Results: This should be a no-brainier, but unless you measure your results, how do you know what’s working? Without getting too nerdy on you, a good movie marketing strategy should pay for itself and then provide profit. In the event you are not making (at least) your advertising dollars back, then you’re in the black hole. Make sure you measure.

I spend most days consulting with filmmakers and distribution companies about movie marketing. I help clients figure out how to avoid throwing money into a marketing black hole. If you’d like to find out more about my movie marketing tactics, check out my sell your movie system.

Five Tips For Marketing Your Movie (Before You Make It)

If you’re like most filmmakers, you’re not thinking about marketing your movie.

This is probably because you don’t yet have a movie…

So why would you think about marketing your movie?

But that thinking is lazy and wrong.

You are creating a product. Your product is your movie. And unless you understand how you will reach your audience and sell your movie, you are in a sense basing your movie business on hope. And hope is NEVER a solid business strategy.

I should know. Every week I talk with dozens of filmmakers about their movie. And over and over I hear the same thing:

“My movie is done. Now I need to do some marketing.”

And here is the problem with that statement – If you wait until your movie is done to “do some marketing,” you’re way too late.  And I’m serious here. Since you’re not a movie studio, you don’t have a gazillion dollars to spend on a global advertising campaign.

The time to think about marketing your movie is now.

But before we get into the mechanics of HOW you’ll market your movie, it’s important that you understand a few things.

  1. Marketing is not magic.
  2. Marketing is not some sort of audience engagement lever that you pull.
  3. Marketing is a conversation, centered on a remarkable, emotional story.

You see, the only reason people BUY your movie is because the value of your offer far outweighs the gazillion other things your audience could do with their money and their time.

What does your audience find valuable? Entrainment? Escape? Information? Something artistic?

It could be one of those things or all of those things.

Marketing your movie begins with first figuring out what’s in it for your audience.  And this is where most filmmakers go wrong. Most filmmakers are simply in the “buy my movie” mentality.

The reason why people do not buy your movie is because you are either presenting an offer to the wrong audience, or your offer fails to present the enough amount of value.

Marketing Your Movie

Marketing your movie is a conversation!

The next time you go to a social gathering, pay special attention to the stories people share with you. Then after the party, write down the stuff you remember. Why do you remember it?

I bet it’s because the story was interesting and made you FEEL something. And FEELING is VALUE. People buy based on emotions. They want to FEEL like they are getting something that transforms their mood and mindset, if only for a little…

Pay special attention to why you remember certain people and stories. My guess is the storyteller presented his or her tale with such dramatic delivery that you were entertained.

And even if you forgot most details, I bet you’d still try to spread the story by sharing it with friends hours and days afterwards.

And if the story is really, really good, you’ll share the same story decades from now.

Five Tips Marketing Your Movie (VIDEO)

A good example of marketing is sharing an urban legend. These stories enter into our narrative, not because they are true – but because they are remarkable and fun to share.

In the following Film Courage video, I talk about the 5 Do’s and Don’ts For Marketing Your Movie.

Marketing your movie begins with a hook. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. What is your unique selling proposition?
  2. What makes your movie memorable?
  3. Why should we care?

Marketing is not about throwing advertisements on billboards or shouting at the masses through media.

Marketing your movie means finding ways to make your audience part of the narrative. It means finding ways to make sharing your message valuable and fun. If you’d like to find out more about how to market and sell your movie, go here.

 

How To Promote Your Movie With BitTorrent

How To Promote Your Movie With BitTorrent by Bojan Dulabi

I am in the middle of self distributing my feature film, Living Life or Waiting to Die. If you are in the same position as me, your biggest question is:

“How am I going to promote my movie without spending a fortune?”

A lot of us think social media is the answer.

You can share news with your followers on Facebook and Twitter and you will reach a certain amount of them.

But even if you have hundreds or thousands of Facebook followers, Facebook has changed their policy regarding the reach of organic postings. The truth is, unless you’re willing to pay money, your Facebook posts will be seen by much less people than you think.

Twitter is still free, which is great. But the problem is, tweets get lost in the noise.

And don’t get me wrong, I am not saying ignore these platforms. You have to be on them every day. I know I am. These are essential tools for promotion…

But these are not the only tools for promotion. In fact, I recently found a new way to promote movies. And this is a service most of us don’t even think about when it comes to reaching our audience: BitTorrent.

You can now promote your movie with BitTorrent!

“Say what, you want me to pirate my own stuff?”

Promote Your Movie With BitTorrent

How To Promote Your Movie With BitTorrent

Yes, you heard me.

The same technology used to pirate all kinds of stuff can also become a major promotional tool. BitTorrent recently created an awesome free service called BitTorrent Bundles. And this allows you to promote your movie with BitTorrent.

Leverage BitTorrent To Promote Your MovieThis great service allows you to give away videos, music, ebooks, pretty much any files that can be downloaded. You can give your files away for free or you can ask for an email address.

Here’s how you can promote your movie with BitTorrent.

As I mentioned before, I recently finished my feature film Living Life or Waiting to Die. In order to get the word out, and get more people to subscribe to my mailing list, I decided to give away the following goodies away for free, in exchange for the user’s email address:

  • 8 minutes of the film.
  • One theme song.
  • 20 pictures of the shoot.
  • 3 high resolution posters as PDF.
  • Behind the scenes video where I talk about the origins of the story.

The way I setup my BitTorrent Bundles page is that anyone can watch and download the trailer for free, but if they want all the additional content they have to provide me their email address and by doing so they subscribe to my newsletter.

Here’s my results.

I published my BitTorrent Bundles page on Jan. 2, 2014. And at the time of  this writing, I have had 4691 views on my page. On average I’m getting 34 page views per day and out of those, one person per day is downloading the free bundle.

The technology is getting easy to use.

BitTorrent recently introduced a streaming feature where people don’t have to download the bundle using a BitTorrent client. Now people can just stream whatever video they want.

This makes the whole process a lot more streamlined, which encourages more people to watch the content. This feature has only been around for a little while, but I have already had 54 views in addition to the downloads.

I expect that number to go up and eventually surpass the downloads number.

One great plus is the home page where all bundles are displayed. This can generate a lot of traffic, especially, if you are in their featured section.

BitTorrent has also recently introduced a search bar and all bundles pages can now be tagged with custom words that describe the content. I have noticed a jump in my downloads number since they introduced this feature.

This service is still in alpha release, which means many more features will be coming our way – And that’s really exciting.

Because BitTorrent is a relatively small community, you get to have a lot of input in the product. When you sign up you get to be part of the forum where the creators ask for your input as a user and you get to chat with them.

I have submitted many questions and feedback to them directly.

Utilizing bundles is a great free way to promote your movie with BitTorrent. It allows you to build up your fan base, not just for your current movie, but all movies moving forward. I strongly consider that you promote your movie with BitTorrent as part of your strategy. Sign up for a free account and create as many bundles as you like.

If you’d like to check out my page go here.

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Bojan Dulabic is a Vancouver based actor / filmmaker and content creator at www.FilmmakingToday.com a blog dedicated to empower filmmakers to make their own projects by talking about ways to make feature films for very low to no budgets.