The Shocking Truth About Your Movie Idea

As a filmmaker your success depends on your ability to stand up and proclaim “I have a movie idea!” But the shocking (or not-so-shocking) truth is, everybody has a movie idea.

Very few of these ideas will ever get made into a movie.

The trick is figuring out which movie idea actually has a chance of flickering across the big screen. And beyond imagination, which of your many movie ideas has the best chance for success?

As a serious entrepreneurial filmmaker you may have heard a lot of different advice when it comes to making movies. In fact most filmmakers will tell you it’s better to take action and do something rather than doing nothing.

movie idea

I Have A Movie Idea

While I agree that doing something is better than nothing, we are in a world flooded with cheaply produced backyard indies. As a result, I urge you take a few moments to consider your chances for making money.

1. Choose Your Movie Idea Based on Demand

Before you turn your movie idea into a movie, I recommend that you consider your niche audience and create a marketing plan for reaching them.

Niche movie marketing is simply taking the time to evaluate how your movie idea will relate to a very targeted audience. For example, the horror genre is very broad. It includes slasher flicks, stalker flicks, gore flicks, zombies, vampires, psychos and killer aliens. And using this example, if your movie idea is based in horror – Your next goal is to find niche within the genre.

Killer Clowns would be an even tighter niche. And Killer Clowns From Outer Space would be even tighter.

In the same regard, finding your movie marketing niche is not solely defined by the genre. For example, you movie idea may lead you to a particular demographic, such as college students. In doing this, you may opt to focus all efforts on college publications and hosting screenings on campus.

You might even break your movie idea down further.

Maybe you will choose to create an Amish Teen Horror movie and focus your marketing towards the Amish communities of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Idaho. In this context, your movie marketing niche would revolve around geography.

By the way, I do not recommend creating an Amish Teen Horror, as the Amish are not a culture who watch movies.

So what is the major benefit for finding your movie marketing niche for your movie idea?

2. Movie Niche Internet Traffic

Many movie marketers have found out that trying to market to everybody is cost prohibitive. It is far easier to find your niche and concentrate all efforts to spreading word of mouth and encouraging audience engagement. In the years to come independent filmmakers will become increasingly dependent on internet traffic to drive movie sales.

If your movie website does not “speak” your visitor, then they will bounce off your movie website and never come back. It is significantly easier to sell your movie to someone who already loves the types of movies you’re selling. For example, a teen love story is not going to appeal to the same audience as the Killer Clown movie.

When you choose a movie idea that already has an established niche audience, it is much easier to optimize your movie website to not only attract your intended visitor, but convert these folks into paying movie watchers.

These people come to your website because they are searching for your type of movie. And the cool part? Utilizing several internet traffic estimators, modern moviemakers can find out how many people are searching for movies within a particular genre.

3. Building Community Around Your Filmmaking

With the emergence of non-discriminatory movie distribution, you must remember that YOU are responsible for building your audience. The amount of people who know you and like you and buy your movies will determine your success. This means your movie idea has to be refined…

sell your movieIf you don’t mind the idea of becoming “that guy,” creating several movies marketed to a well defined target audience makes it much easier to develop a following of people who enthusiastically devour your movies. And once established, having a following provides you with the opportunity to really get to know your audience. Which makes it much easier to say: “I have a movie idea.”

If you liked this movie marketing article, you willl love the independent producer’s guide to Movie Distribution.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

The other day I posted this question to our Facebook Filmmaking Stuff community:

“Who is your target audience?”

The responses were varied. Filmmakers chimed in with everything from “tweens” to “adults over 30.” Many filmmakers responded with the word: “Everybody!”

While I love the enthusiasm, without much exception, defining your audience by age or gender is extremely broad. And unlike the major movie studios, you do not have the marketing budget to support this.


Who Is Your Target Audience?

Every week at least one filmmaker emails me with something like this:

“I made a movie and we just won best picture at a regional festival you never heard of! Since my movie appeals to every man, woman and child on the planet, I want to sell it for a million dollars? How do I make this happen?”

Can you understand why this sentiment is seriously flawed?

If your movie does not have enough juice to get a an awesome distribution deal, your returns will be limited by your own marketing and distribution efforts.

Let me be very clear.

I have been working in distribution for a half-decade and I can tell you that even great movies end up with crappy distribution deals.

The truth is, most film distribution deals suck.

And without a marketing budget to reach a global audience, you must focus on finding your niche audience.

One of the first places to find your audience is the local newsstand. If there are print magazines devoted to your movie subject, then those subscribers are part of your target audience. In addition to print, you will want to explore the Internet for online publications.

Open up a spreadsheet and add these publications to your list. Your goal is to create a database of the top fifty publications geared towards your niche audience.

Make a list of 5 ideal movie fan categories for your title

Once you create your list of print publications catering to your niche, your next step is to understand your audience.

To do this, reach out to the top ten publications on your list and ask them to forward information about their subscriber demographics. Since magazine revenue is based on understanding their subscribers, most established publications will have this info readily available.

From there, you will want to study this info and get to know your audience.

Who are these people?

Are they primarily men? Women? Teenagers? Do they have jobs? Are they business owners or unemployed? What is the average income? Are they college educated? Do they live in the city or on the farm?

From this information, you can create audience profiles for five ideal types of movie fans that you want to target within your niche.

Figure out why these fans should watch your movie.

In addition to getting inside the head of your audience, your next task is to figure out why these people enjoy your genre. Why would they want to watch your movie? What makes your movie unique from the other, competing movies in existence? How will your movie to appeal to viewing needs of your audience?

Who Is Your Target Audience: Action Steps

1. Who is your primary target audience?
Ex: Mid-west, male college kids who love zombie movies. 

2. What makes your movie different from competing movies?
Ex: Our movie is about zombies that attack ninjas.

3. Why should your audience spend two hours watching your movie?
Ex: Fangoria says: Funniest zombie movie since Shaun of the Dead!

Taking time to understand your audience will enable you to create an image of your ideal audience member. This information will then be utilized when you create and refine your marketing message.

If you have a movie you’re looking to sell, you may also want to check out How To Sell Your Movie.

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Movie Distribution

When I put on talks about internet movie distribution, I am often asked if filmmakers should still consider finding a traditional theatrical or DVD distribution deal. My answer to that question is simple: If you have an offer and you’re happy, it’s a deal.

The problem is, most traditional movie distribution offers suck.

And the bigger problem is, most filmmakers don’t find this out until long after the festivals are over, the money has been spent and the movie is in the can, collecting dust. This is usually the time when people call me for a consultation.

During the call we discuss various movie marketing strategies, both online and offline. Our firm is interested in finding movies that have a definable hook and an established target audience. A good client is someone who has crunched numbers and has realistic expectations on how much money the movie can potentially recoup and how long this will take…

Many first time feature filmmakers believe (rightly so) that they have the most amazing movie on earth – and they cannot understand why nobody has “bought it.” While I cannot speak for prospective acquisitions executives, I can tell you two things that I see a lot with independent movies:

  1. The movie has niche audience potential, but does not clearly communicate to the appropriate audience.
  2. The movie does not have a clearly definable niche audience, which means the movie targets everybody.

Out of both of these scenarios, the easier one is the niche. Depending on how you pronounce the word, niche rhymes with rich. And I firmly believe that niches will make you riches. But most filmmakers fail to think this way. But targeting everybody is the same as targeting nobody (think about it) and YOU don’t have enough money to target everybody.

The other point is this, many filmmakers believe that marketing is magic. It is not… I mean, when marketing strategies work out, it’s time to open the champagne and brag about how awesome you are. But if marketing was a sure thing, movies would never flop.

My company bills $600 per hour for movie marketing consulting. Depending where you are with your own marketing and sales strategy, you may wanna forgo consulting and just grab a copy of my movie distribution guide. To add extra value to the package, I have now added a half-hour phone call BONUS.

You can find out more about the movie distribution guide here:


How To Find Your Movie Niche Audience

Do not make a movie unless you know how to access your movie niche audience. I know the drill – you probably think this filmmaking advice is way too business oriented. I don’t care.

A few years back, I got involved in a project “for the love” without considering who would actually buy the movie. Guess what? The movie died. The movie did not make money. And several of my friends are still paying off their credit cards. That was stupid. Avoid this.

Filmmaking is more fun when you can cash checks.

So how do you find you niche target audience? It begins with your USP (your unique selling proposition). Answer these questions:

  1. What is your movie about?
  2. Is there an audience for your movie?

Some of you will have silly answers to these questions. You’ll say, “YES! My movie is appealing to everybody.” And I’ll say – “well guess what? Everybody is nobody!” Here is my rule of thumb… If there is a print magazine devoted to your subject matter, then those subscribers are your target audience. If you cannot find a print magazine, then odds are good that your niche is too small or not profitable.

The other thing you can do is find some keywords related to your movie and use Google’s Keyword traffic estimator to find out if anybody is actually searching for your topic.

  1. Goto:Keyword Tool
  2. Type your search term. Make sure you put your keywords in quotes, like this: “Filmmaking Stuff”
  3. Hit submit.
  4. Once you get results, look for a box on the left-hand-side that says “exact.” Click that box and submit again…
  5. The search data will be displayed.

This information will let you know if there is a market for your movie. If there is, then your next step in this process is to test your concept. To do this, set up a crowdfunding campaign at one of the following sites:


With a crowdfunding campaign, you’ll be able to test your concept long before you jump into your project two feet first…

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