Making a Movie

Youtube high low

Image via Wikipedia

The other night, I did a film school talk at the UCLA film school about how to make, market and sell your movie without the middle-man.

And while most of the UCLA film students in attendance agreed that my way of making a movie may not be fully inline with the studio ideal – many of these filmmakers agreed that getting a movie made is better than merely just talking about making a movie.

Thanks to familiarity with YouTube as well as access to affordable production equipment, many film school students, as well as modern filmmakers are embracing accessible, non-discriminatory distribution channels without hesitation or excuses.

And this experience is changing the ways in which filmmakers think about making a movie.

While it’s still true that making a movie can be a pain in the butt, the barriers of industry entry are down.

As a result, filmmakers are now empowered to go out and make their movie. And just in case you are not attending film school, I’ll share the BIG question you need to ask yourself as a filmmaker:

“Given the resources that you have now, what is the movie that you can make this year?”

Check out these filmmaking tools.

 

Indie Film Website For Your Filmmaking

If you’re like most filmmakers, you have a website for your movie. And odds are good you are trying to fit too much into it. So the first thing you need to do is remove all the distracting crap. Whenever I mention this at a talk, invariably someone asks me how to determine what’s distracting? It depends on your website objective.

When building a movie website, most filmmakers have two objectives:

  1. Stage 1 – Raise awareness for your movie.
  2. Stage 2 – Sell your movie directly.

If you’re still in Stage 1, chances are good you have press kits, actor bios, reviews of your movie, anecdotes from production and about a gazillion other items, including behind the scenes photo galleries. But once you finish the festival circuit, you may choose to enter Stage 2 and start funneling web traffic towards your DVDs and VOD in various marketplaces.

To do this, I suggest you install Google analytics and monitor your traffic. Here is an example from the first feature I worked on:

 

If you look closely, you’ll notice that many visitors ended up visiting pages that did not lead to a sale. This is like keeping money on the table. So to counter the confusion, I suggest simply removing the pages altogether.

When promoting your movie, the goal is to remove all the extra crap and keep what matters.

The end result is a very simple website that “funnels” people to your desired destination.

When visitors click on “Buy NOW” they are redirected to the point of sale.

Marketing a movie is initially a creative art – but unlike other arts,  the beauty of movie marketing is, with the right tracking tools, you can test and retest your ideas to determine effectiveness.

If you like this filmmaking stuff, sign up for our newsletter.

Movie Marketing: Are Film Festivals Losing Relevance?

Filmmakers often utilize film festivals as a way to get their work seen and hopefully sold. And while acceptance to top-tier festivals is super exciting – the reality is, many filmmakers do not get in.

As a result, many of these semi-dejected filmmakers take a shotgun approach to their festival strategy. They start applying for most every regional and local film festival, everywhere. And aside from outlandish application fees, upon arrival to these festivals – instead of  meeting a bunch of VIP acquisitions executives, most second tier festivals are populated by a bunch of other desperate filmmakers shoving postcards in your face, eagerly advertising their screening times to, well, other filmmakers.

Sometimes this includes free beer. (Most times not.)

While having delusions of distribution grandeur is still part of the film festival fun – with the demise of DVD distribution, and the odds that you won’t get into Sundance – it is vitally important that you create a film festival strategy PLAN B.

What is a film festival strategy PLAN B?

Simply put, if you are serious about making your movie profitable, YOU are now responsible for marketing, promotion and distribution of your movie. And inline with this strategy, you must view regional and second tier festivals as an opportunity to build your audience list. But instead of handing out postcards to other filmmakers, your marketing strategy will be smarter.

Here are five tips on making film festivals relevant to your movie business:

  1. Write a press release specific to the festival and then distribute to the local press. This also involves picking up the phone and personally inviting the press to attend your screening. Many festivals will have a press list. You can use this – but I would also advise conducting additional internet searches for other press outlets.
  2. Many local towns have a filmmaker community. Reach out to them. If you are traveling, it’s great to have someone to pal around with. The secondary benefit to this is, many of these same people will have relationships with the festival staff – always good to know people on the staff.
  3. If the festival allows it, see if you can take several clipboards into your screening. You’ll want to collect the names and email addresses of each viewer and get their permission to email them. Later you will enter this data into your audience list.
  4. If your film website does not include a blog component, add one. Then update frequently. Add pictures and video. Let the world know your movie is screening. People like this stuff.
  5. And finally, most regional festivals have panel discussions with industry experts. Make sure you attend these. Take your business cards. And then try to build relationships with whomever is on the panel. (And as a side note, if you know anybody looking for a panelist – I suggest inviting Jason Brubaker from Filmmaking Stuff? Just sayin’)

Out of everthing I mentioned, the most important strategy for your movie and your modern moviemaking career is grow your own fan base. This way, when you focus on building your audience list, you stress a lot less about the traditional distribution deal you may or may not have received at one of the notorious festivals.

So yes. Film festivals are still relevant. They offer a great way to source an audience for a minimal marketing investment.

Also, I’d like to thank one of our filmmaking stuff readers named Michael for this question. If you would like to get on the filmmaking stuff VIP list, click here >>

Modern Moviemaking Explained

As a filmmaker, I don’t need to tell you that things are changing. It seems like every day, the filmmaking community shares news of some new way to make, market and sell movies.

I believe video on demand distribution represents freedom for filmmakers. While there are many great sales agents and distributors, I am totally bothered by the sales agents and middle-men who have taken a bottom-feeding approach to VOD. These jerks make a living  trying to sucker unsuspecting filmmakers into long term video on demand deals that suck.

I put together the following video to express my disgust and also provide a new hope. As a modern moviemaker, there has never been a better time to make, market and sell your movies without the middle-man.

Check out this video. If you like it, please click here to TWEET it. Thanks!


Once you enter your name and email address, check your email for a confirmation. Once confirmed, you’ll get your modern moviemaker tool kit, FREE. All of these tools will be available for instant download.

Again – if you like what I’m saying, please click here to TWEET it. Thanks!

Filmmaking interview with Nathan Wrann

Nathan Wrann is a talented, experienced and enthusiastic filmmaker. While his movies are still considered underground, his filmmaking philosophy is universal.

This is a man who goes against the odds, makes the movies he can make – without asking permission. Nathan Wrann’s drive and ambition has enabled him to get some features under his belt.

I interviewed Nathan because he serves as a good example for any filmmaker who ever wanted to make movies without making excuses. In our talk, we cover down and dirty tips for no-money productions, promotion, marketing and distribution. This is a man who doesn’t care about reviews. This is a filmmaker who wants to do meaningful work that is unique.

Originally, I thought I would break this interview in two parts – but I ended up posting it in it’s entirety.

Download The Interview Here   >>

After listening to this podcast – If you like Nathan,

  1. Read his blog:   nwrann.wordpress.com
  2. Watch His Second Feature: www.burning-inside.net
  3. Watch His First Feature: www.huntingseason-themovie.com