Download This Sell Your Movie Checklist

Film distribution is changing fast. What worked in the old days, doesn’t work anymore. And if you’re looking for information on how to sell your movie, you’ve come to the right place!

Since you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you are one of two types of filmmakers. Either you made a movie or you are working towards your next movie. In both instances, learning about film distribution – specifically coming up with a strategy to get your movie seen and selling is essential.

I don’t need to tell you that making a feature film is a feat that many find impossible.

In order to make a feature film, you have to put together a cast and crew, refine your script, find some funding and in the process, you have to figure out how to ignore all “advice” that your friends and family share with you… About how it can’t be done.

But behind all the excitement, you and I both know there is one nagging question on your mind. And it is the same question asked by every independent feature filmmaker.

Sell Your Movie

Photo © Nebojsa Bobic / Dollar Photo Club

You’re wondering: “How am I going to sell my movie!”

That is a good question. And if you’re crossing your fingers to hopefully sell your movie for a huge paycheck and a three-picture Hollywood deal, what I’m about to share with you may be a bit different than what you’re hoping for. Ready?

While there are a lot of distributors out there who would like to tell you otherwise, most films DO NOT make money in a traditional distribution deal! (I’m serious here.)

Getting your movie seen and selling is really up to YOU!

Whenever I say something like this in my talks, invariably someone shouts across the room:

“Making a movie is hard enough. How do you expect me to become my own distributor?”

This is a fair question. And after making a movie, then doing the festivals and not receiving a deal, you can get pretty tired. I totally understand that. This is why a lot of filmmakers give up on their movies or take a crappy deal. But I want to help you avoid this.

>>Give me the “Sell Your Movie” checklist!<<

How To Sell Your Movie

Here’s the thing. There are a lot of crappy movies getting made each year. Thanks to technology, any person with a thousand dollars can grab an HD camera and create a backyard indie. And while this does not guarantee quality, it does create a market flooded with cheaply produced movies.

Add the fact that DVD is almost dead, and your odds of finding a traditional distribution deal (that actually pays you good money) are dramatically decreased. For most filmmakers, this revelation comes as a shock.

Where is my million dollar check?

Look. I can’t promise your movie will make money. Some movies make a lot of money. Some movies make about zero dollars. But I can tell you advances in VOD distribution and internet marketing offers hope. . .

There is hope if YOU are willing to DO the work.

Most filmmakers are NOT willing to do the work. In fact, most filmmakers would rather give up on their movie. . . Hopefully we’re not talking about you. You owe it to yourself and your investors to explore all options and come up with a solid marketing and distribution plan.

If you want to sell your movie, you need to create a distribution strategy that YOU control. This is a new way to think. In the old days, the mere mention of self-distribution was a crazy notion.

DIY? Isn’t Do It Yourself for losers?

That is how I used to view the world. If it wasn’t for the internet, I would probably have a whole different perspective on how to sell your movie. I’d probably tell you to take ANY distribution deal. But times have changed. Like you, our first feature was met with empty distribution promises and crappy deals.

So by necessity, we started to sell our title on Amazon as both a physical DVD and a video on demand download. At first, none of the producers liked that idea. I mean, even if a traditional deal sucks, at least there is still validation of seeing your title on the shelves at the local video store.

But then we made our first sale. . . We thought it was an anomaly. How could we possibly make money with our movie? We had no movie stars. We had no formal, traditional distribution deal. (We had offers, but nothing that actually paid money.)

Adding to this, most people on earth had never heard of our movie (including you.) But then we made another sale. . . And then a third. . . And then a dozen. . .

That was back in 2006. Since that time, our first feature has sold in ways we never imagined. And while the money we made on the movie wasn’t enough to pay for early retirement, I can’t complain.

The truth is, we were onto something before most other filmmakers. And this experience forever changed the way I view movie distribution. Prior to making my first feature, my “sell your movie” strategy always revolved around one BIG payday.

But I am now of the opinion that making money as an indie filmmaker is more about making a bunch of small movies and getting each one to pay you a little each month. These days filmmakers need to create good work, find their target audience and focus on sell movies consistently over time.

For many filmmakers, this sort of sell your movie talk might seem crazy. Think about it. In years past, filmmakers only self distributed their movies when they had to. It wasn’t a choice! But these days, taking time to learn how to sell your movie makes sense. And that’s why I put together this checklist.

These days you can choose to sell your movie, because nine times out of ten, making your title available on Amazon and iTunes and other popular VOD marketplaces can potentially pay more than a traditional deal.

Remember, a deal that pays zero is not a deal.

(Of course I’m expressing my opinion.)

The sell your movie checklist should be considered a good start.

Can I ask you a favor?

If you like this checklist, can you kindly tell your filmmaking friends to check it out? Moving forward, let’s set some expectations. The purpose of this guide is for you to grab at least one useful film distribution or movie marketing tip. If you do this, then we can both be happy.

That’s it. Easy, right? As always, if you have questions about anything in this guide, please feel free to contact me. I love it when I find out how these tips have helped you get closer to your filmmaking goals! Like I said, if you take time to study this guide, you might get a tactic to help you sell your movie.

>>Give me the “Sell Your Movie” checklist!<<

I hope you enjoy this brief guide to getting your movie seen and selling. And if you really like this information on how to sell your movie, please share it with every filmmaker you know. They will thank you for it!

How To Promote Your Movie Fan Page On Facebook

As a filmmaker, you need to be promote movie on Facebook.

I am assuming that you already have a personal profile. And if so, you know the platform allows you to stay in touch with friends, have conversations with co-workers and find pictures of your ex-girlfriend. (Not that I ever do those searches.)

But from a promotional perspective, Facebook is a powerful tool for filmmakers. With nearly a billion monthly users, Facebook is one of the most awesome ways to reach your movie target audience.

If you are part of the Filmmaking Stuff community, you probably noticed how nearly 37,000 filmmakers participate and share ideas about filmmaking from all over the world.

How To Promote Your Movie Fan Page On Facebook

If you are wondering how to promote your movie on Facebook, the first thing you need to do is create a page. To get started, open a new tab and log into Facebook. Once you are logged into Facebook, follow this link create a Movie Fan Page.

Step 1 – Set Up Your Movie Fan Page

When you click the link above, you will be redirected to a web page that asks you to pick your page type. If you’re promoting a movie, choose “entertainment” and then pick “movie.” Facebook will then ask you for the name of your movie.

Promote Your Movie On Facebook

From there, Facebook will ask you to log into your account. If you do not have an account, (and you should), you’ll have to create one. Once complete, your Movie Fan Page will be set. All you gotta do is fill in pertinent information about your movie, including a description, photos, links to your movie website and possibly, your movie trailer.

how to promote your movie on facebook

Step 2 – Invite Your Friends to “Like” Your Page

Your next step is to reach out to your Facebook friends and invite them to “Like” your Movie Fan Page. Depending on your genre and storyline, not all of your friends will respond to your request.

Don’t take it personally. Many of my movie projects have been ignored by friends, probably because they are over-inundated with various requests from Angry Birds, Farmville and other distractions.

Assuming you can break through the noise, the advantage to utilizing Facebook to promote your Movie Fan Page is your ability to connect with your audience. Unlike BIG Hollywood power-players, your fans have access to you. This allows you to add value to their experience, beyond simply watching your movie.

By cultivating these relationships, your audience is more likely to promote your movie to their friends, which helps you build your fan-base and make more sales, without spending much money.

Step 3 – Link Your Movie Fan Page to Your Movie Website

When you’re looking to promote your Movie Fan Page, it is important to understand Facebook works best when you supply your followers with relevant info and updates. Where does this info come from? Your movie blog! (Affiliate link.) I’m assuming you have a blog, right?

If you study how successful filmmakers utilize Facebook, you’ll often notice they write content or create videos for their blog. Then they share the info on their Movie Fan Page. The content is usually a behind the scenes production diary. Or in the case of documentaries, it is usually info related the subject matter of the movie.

Step 4 – Promote Your Movie Fan Page

In the event you would like to promote your Movie Fan Page further, Facebook  provides you with some very targeted advertising opportunities to reach your target audience. For example, if you are promoting a zombie movie, you will actually have the ability to reach out to zombie enthusiasts and get them to “Like” your Movie Fan Page.

One of the coolest aspects of building a Movie Fan Page is the ease at which you can build buzz and community around your title.

Step 5 – Update Your Movie Fan Page Frequently!

Marketing is a conversation. Goofy sales pitches and silly “Hey… Look at me…” stuff never works. You need to always think in terms of value. Will your next update add value to your audience? Again, the content needs to be relevant. It should spark a discussion and allow you to meet the people in your audience.

In turn,  your fans will respond favorably. This will be able to monitor word of mouth and find out what people are saying about your movie. And in the event you get a few spammers, you can moderate comments to ensure that the content doesn’t become stupid. (Nobody benefits from stupid content.)

In addition, some filmmakers allow fans to post photos to the fan pages. This sort of activity reinforces community and encourages word of mouth. For example, if your movie is in the festival circuit, you might ask your fans to post pictures of the screening. Then once the photo is posted, friends of these fans may see the picture – which may cause them to “Like” your Movie Fan Page too. But the hidden benefit of user generated content is – you don’t have to worry about generating additional content!

If you’d like to market your movie on Facebook, take a look at my Movie Fan Page system.

Refine Your Trailer

YouTube

Image via Wikipedia

Think back to a time in filmmaking history when your greatest challenge was actually making a movie. At least the idea seemed easier.

For those of you new to independent movie making, let’s review. In the past, many first time feature filmmakers were driven by something I call “The Sundance Model.”

This is the idea where filmmakers went out, acquired or wrote a screenplay, got money, made the movie and then hoped like heck they would get into a major festival and garner a significant (and profitable deal.)

From a pure business perspective, this was a crazy way to make movies. I mean, can you name one other industry in the world that produces a product without having a solid distribution channel in place?

Can you name another industry that, once the product is made, relies on other outside people for ALL of the marketing, sales and distribution of the product?

These days things are a bit different. These days DVD distribution is dying. And with this death, the days of relying on some outside distributor to validate your work and sell it are numbered.

The upside to this modern moviemaking movement is, you can finally put all those years of creative accounting and bad deals behind you. The bad news is, as an independent filmmaker, you are going to have to add yet another hat to your overflowing rack. This time, the hat you wear will be sales and marketing.

Now before you leave a gazillion comments telling me that foreign DVD territory sales and (even) pre-sales are alive and well – I provide this disclaimer. Consider any deal that makes sense. But in the event the deal only pays you validation and a copy of your DVD, hopefully this helps you create a more profitable plan.

I also want to caution both new as well as veteran filmmakers of the following: The day is fast approaching when DVD retail will eventually join VHS, CDs, Cassette Tapes, 8-Tracks and the silly stores that used to sell them  in the great abyss of a bygone era. And rightfully so!

So all of this said, if you’re just reading filmmaking stuff for the first time,welcome!

In this community we don’t over complicate the filmmaking process. We make movies and we work to sell our movies without asking permission. And in this respect, you are reading article 5 of my 7 step process for selling your your movie on iTunes, Amazon and Netflix for Maximum profit.

So to recap, once you have sharpened your hook (pt. 1)targeted your target audience (pt. 2)set up shop (pt. 3) and created a movie sales funnel (pt. 4) you are ready to begin the process of driving traffic to your movie sales site.

Refine Your Trailer (And Promote It)

Take a look at your trailer. Is your trailer congruent with your hook and the marketing elements we covered earlier? If not, I suggest you re-cut and refine your trailer to make sure your marketing message is consistent.

In doing this you will have to find the balance between showing enough to sell your movie and giving away so much that you spoil the story. And since your movie trailer will be posted on various websites, you should also add a title card with a link to your movie website.

The internet is full of places where you can upload and post your trailer. But out of all of them, YouTube is top-notch. Aside from being the second largest search engine on earth, the service also incorporates a built-in social networking component that allows people to comment and discuss your movie and create community around your title.

This is important because word-of-mouth indicates what people like and dislike about your movie. And as you will soon learn, more discussion (good or bad) equals more sales.

Since YouTube records the number of views, this is also a great indication of how well your trailer is being received. If viewership is low, refine your title, tags and description to complement your niche subject matter. Martial Arts Movie? One tag might be “Karate” or “Kung Fu.”

After tweaking and re-tweaking your description, if viewership is still stagnant, consider cutting, tweaking and testing multiple versions of your trailer. For more information on how to market and sell your movie, visit www.HowToSellYourMovie.com

Movie Distribution (Without Asking Permission)

Over the past year, I have been invited to various filmmaking workshops and panel discussions to share my internet movie distribution system. My goal in doing these events is to show indie filmmakers how to leverage the internet, build an audience and get paid for their work. My other purpose is to help you (and other filmmakers) avoid my marketing mistakes.

Let me explain. . .

A few years back, my first feature failed to garner a tradition distribution deal. Admittedly the movie was a silly zombie flick with a very controversial story and a totally rough production value (understatement!). Upon completion, (like you), we cut the movie, rented a theater, held a premiere, got the feedback, refined the movie and then entered the festival circuit.

How our marketing mistakes cost us $100K in lost profits. . .

Movie Maker Marketing Mistake #1 – Our Movie Website
On our last day of production, a photographer for (the now defunct) Premier Magazine came to set and snapped a few pictures. One of the photos appeared in the magazine – And on the day of publication, we had about 10,000 unique visitors to our website. We were not ready. The traffic crashed the servers. Oops.

What we learned about movie websites:
We should have spent the money and got a Hosting Company with a solid track record. These days I prefer www.bluehost.com because for very little money, you can get a domain name and year’s worth of hosting. Since utilizing Bluehost, I have experienced very little downtime – And they have great indie film friendly customer service.

Movie Maker Marketing Mistake #2 – Our Initial Trailer
Once we fixed the website, we added a trailer that we self hosted. This was a mistake. Firstly, the load time sucked. Secondly, the trailer burnt bandwidth. And third, there was no option for zombie movie enthusiasts to re-embed the trailer on their fan sites (which is very inexpensive advertising). Oops.

What we learned about hosting a movie trailer:
Don’t host your movie trailer yourself. Upload it to one of the many video sites, like YouTube. Aside from saving you the bandwidth and providing re-embedding opportunities, each video hosting site allows your fanbase to build community around your movie. This in-turn spreads word of mouth and offers you the opportunity to keep your finger on the pulse of your marketing. The more views, the more your movie gains popularity.

Movie Maker Marketing Mistake #3 – Capture Visitor Information:
Despite our mistakes, the one thing we had going for us was a very controversial hook. Word of mouth spread quickly. And our website had thousands of visitors each week. This was great right? Sort of. . .

Why we should have captured visitor information:
Garnering high organic (unpaid) traffic on your movie website is euphoric. However if you allow people to visit and leave your website without attempting to build a long term relationship, then you just lost a fan. To prevent this, set up an automatic newsletter opt in on your website. For this job, I prefer www.aweber.com. For a minimal amount of money, the service provides you with a opt-in form and also manages your email list.

This goes almost without saying, but you should immediatly set up a facebook fan page. You can find ours by clicking here:

The Filmmaking Stuff Fan Page

Movie Maker Marketing Mistake #4 – Marketing VS Sales:
Your initial website will allow you to spread word about your movie and provide contact information for anybody who wants it. Additionally, your initial website will probably include production photos, silly stuff and a press kit. All of this is fine if you are seeking a traditional distribution deal. BUT. . .

The difference between Movie Marketing and Movie Sales:
When you’re marketing your movie, it is OK to have all the extra web pages. But when you make the shift from movie marketer to movie seller, you will need to change a few things. Firstly, you need to remove anything that doesn’t progress the sale of your movie. For example, if your intention is to sell a DVD, and your prospective fan gets distracted by your behind the scenes photos – and leaves your site – you have accomplished nothing.

Movie Maker Marketing Mistake #5 – Getting Bootlegged:
When it happens, it is both disheartening and validating at the same time. At first we went all over the internet and found a bunch of weird, cryptic streaming websites. We sent threatening, attorney drafted emails to the violators. Surprisingly, many complied and our movie was removed. . .

What we learned:
Within a week of removing the bootleggers both our web traffic and subsequent movie sales flat-lined. While I don’t have the evidence to prove correlation between bootlegs and sales – I have since come to the conclusion that people will buy your movie or not. Those that want to steal, will.

As a result, I have stopped policing the internet for bootleg providers. Let’s face it, paid advertising is expensive. Independent movie bootlegging is just another form of advertising.
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If you are already a member of my newsletter, you know how passionate I am about helping you make movies without asking permission. You also know that I’m passionate about sharing the “how to aspects” of making movies and making money. In no other area can this be achieved than the distribution of your movie.

As a result of my digital self distribution experience, I was hired to coach a rather well known indie filmmaker through his own digital self distribution campaign. Additionally, I have put all of this knowledge into a product called The Indie Producer’s Guide To Digital Self Distribution.

Comments and questions related to digital self movie distribution are welcome below: