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!

Movie Distribution FAQs

Twitter for Filmmaking Twitter logo initial

Twitter for Filmmaking Image via Wikipedia

The whole world of movie distribution is changing. This is important because the success of you movie depends on distribution.

Given the deterioration of DVD sales channels, to become successful as a filmmaker, YOU are now responsible for sourcing, engaging and selling your movie to your intended target audience.

In this filmmaking article, I decided to share my most frequently asked movie distribution questions:

Q: What about Facebook and Twitter?
A: Essential, but only part of the strategy. Even if you had a gazillion followers (which you probably don’t), it is very difficult to convert these folks to paying customers.

And if you don’t even have a Twitter or facebook page for your movie, then you will have to invest quite a few months of Twitter time, to build relationships, community and authenticity with your audience.

Q: What about my website?
A: Firstly, stop building stupid, complex flash websites. 1999 is over. And we have entered into an era where fresh, unique, interesting and SEO friendly content is king.

Figure out your website objective. And make sure your site works!

Example?

In the festivals it is OK to have press kits and behind the scenes stuff. But when you start selling your movie, your objective changes to a BUY NOW mentality. Monitor your stats and then eliminate all pages that distract your visitors.

No website? Visit my affiliate www.MovieSiteHost.com and reserve a domain name and hosting. (Disclaimer, this is an affiliate. They pay me.)

Q: Audience List building?
A: Building a list of people who know you and like your work is essential for your current movie and your long term success. As you were reading this article, you probably saw a pop-up where I offer you a ton of free stuff – for the price of your email address.

This is one of the ways I build a list. Feel free to study what I do on this site, then copy this filmmaking list building strategy for your own movie website.

Here is how you do it. And yes, as a disclaimer, I get paid to promote just about everything including the following recommendations. But these are the exact tools I use. So why not?

1. Reserve your domain address and hosting for your movie and your movie company. There are about a gazillion web hosting companies. But I use Bluehost for everything. You can find out more here: www.MovieSiteHost.com

2. After you have hosting, I recommend installing the WordPress CMS to handle your movie websites. Why? With MovieSiteHost, installing wordpress and having your website is only takes a few clicks. (Note: If you are not using MovieSiteHost, you will have to check and make sure your hosting company can handle WordPress Installations.)

3. Once your site is up, you can add your trailer and also, create a blog to tell people about your movie. Having frequently updated, fresh content will aid you in search engine optimization.

4. Ask people to become your eMail pal. For this, I use two tools. Firstly to manage my ever growing email database, I utilize aweber. Here is my affiliate link – www.AudienceList.com. Why? It’s more professional to send movie emails from a 3rd party email company with a good reputation, than your gmail account. Plus, there a few SPAM requirements you need to follow. Aweber is very strict in helping you adhere to SPAM compliance.

Once my audience list account is set up, and because this is a wordpress site, I am also able to easily plug-in a tool (which you probably saw a minute ago) called pop-up domination. (Yep. I get paid to promote these guys too.) And this tool has dramtically increased my subscriptions. You should use something similar on your own movie website.

5. The most important tip to remember is this (say it out loud 100 times): “My audience is my movie business. Without an audience, I have no movie business!” Seriously. You are responsible for cultivating genuine relationships and sharing as much value as you possible can with your audience. Treat them like gold!

Q: I don’t get social media. I just want to make movies. How much do you charge to do this?
A: First of all, I am not cheap. Sourcing an audience is tough work, time consuming and potentially expensive. This is why studios spend a gazillion dollars on marketing! But assuming your movie is still playing festivals, you have a well defined target audience (you do know your niche, right?) and you have some buzz – then that makes my job easier. But still not cheap.

Modern Movie Marketers (and people like me) usually charge between $10,000-$25,000 dollars for a 3 month strategy. Most of that money is used in marketing efforts. And most marketers make very little profit. So with that said, if you are creating a marketing budget, you need to know that marketing is not magic, it’s not a science, and while it’s essential, it’s not cheap.

And let’s be very frank. Most filmmakers don’t have that kind of money.

So here is an affordable alternative. I recommend simply grabbing a copy of the Independent Producer’s Guide to Distribution. You can find the movie distribution action guide here.

Happy Filmmaking!

Why Do Filmmakers Need A List?

Like it or not, many social networking sites run the risk of going out of vogue. So as a filmmaker, if you are working to build a relationship with your audience – From day one, you will want to migrate your fans off the social networking sites and get them into your own email, mailing list.

For this, I recommend using a reputable third-party email marketing service such as www.AudienceList.com.

In full disclosure, the company does pay me to promote, but it is the company I utilize for my own business.

With this tool, as soon as you sign up for one of their inexpensive accounts, you can easily create ways for your movie fans to connect with you. For an example of how this works, STOP: If you would like over $47 dollars in useful filmmaking tools for FREE, sign up below:

 

If you just clicked that link, you probably got an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Assuming you clicked, you were then redirected to a “Thank You Page.” And on that page you were able to download all sorts of premium filmmaking tools, for free. This is what legitimate email marketers call the “double-opt-in” process.

While I am obviously utilizing list-building to create a more meaningful relationship with filmmakers (and YOU), this model can be (and should be) applied to your own movie business.

The major difference between email marketing and traditional movie marketing methods is that members of your target audience find you, and give YOU permission to email them. This is important, because unlike traditional movie marketing methods, with email marketing, you will only communicate with people actually interested in your movie.

To make this easy, your audience list is simply a collection of email addresses. Most filmmakers will also collect the person’s first name with the email address so that they can personalize the email. So instead of saying “Hello Zombie Movie Lover”, you can say “Hey, Jason!”

While I usually stick to just collecting a name and email address, www.AudienceList.com also makes it easy to collect information such as the address and phone number of your site visitor. While this extra information may help refine your  marketing strategy – the truth is, most of your movie website visitors will not take time to fill out an extensive opt-in form.

An opt-in form is a little box that asks visitors to provide you with their name and email address. Here is an example:

 

With services like www.AudienceList.com, as soon as your visitor opts-in, the contact information is added to your database and managed for you, automatically! These subscribers are now part of your “list,” and you can email them with updates, deals and movie festival screening times – to name a few examples.

The other week I gave a talk at the UCLA film school. And someone asked me why I emphasize audience list building so much – So this is important. Given the disruption to traditional distribution sales channels, building an audience list for your movie and your career might be one of the most important decisions you ever make. Why? Because regardless of how the independent movie industry changes, one constant will always hold true. YOU will need to get people to sit down and watch your movie, and hopefully pay you for this privilege. www.AudienceList.com can help you get started.

Free Marketing Advice For Filmmakers

Figure1. Cognitive channel preferences of targ...

Filmmakers need to source their target audience. Image via Wikipedia

Given the erosion of traditional movie distribution sales channels, as a filmmaker you must now find your target audience wherever they hang out and then get them to know you, know your work, and hopefully pay money to watch your movie.

In the past, filmmakers never had to worry about sourcing an audience because the entire movie industry operated like a big factory. Filmmakers made the product and the distributors sold the product through theatrical and DVD distribution. But as a result of the internet and enhancements to video on demand technology, distribution has been disrupted and the old model has been forever screwed up.

So now, if you want to succeed as a filmmaker, it is not enough to simply get you movie into iTunes. I mean, anybody can do that. What you also need to do is have a killer website, attract your target audience, and then get them to take action.

While it’s nice to believe that all website visitors will automatically buy your movie, the truth is, most visitors will not buy your movie on the first visit. For starters, they don’t know you. And they probably don’t know anything about your movie. So your job is not necessary to focus on the sale, but rather, focus on opting them into your audience list.

There are many ways to create an audience list. But unfortunately, most of the methods are crap. In my career, to save money, I have tried forgoing using a reputable email marketing company, and opted instead for one of the popular social networks. For awhile, this was awesome – even thought it took years, I had 8000 “friends” and one one of the sites… But then that site went out of vogue. As a result, my sourced audience was useless.

To avoid the same fate, I HIGHLY recommend that you use a reputable 3rd party email marketing company to manage your audience list. While there are some great companies out there, over the past three years, I have utilized a service called Aweber. This is a reputable email marketing company… [and yes, they DO pay me to promote – so conduct your own due-diligence.]

But the reason I promote this service over other services is this: Aweber adheres to Spam Laws and requires “double-opt-in.”  This means, after your visitor opts-in, they get an email asking if they’re sure they really want to hear from you.  And because of their business practices, Aweber is respected by email service provides – like Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo Mail- which helps avoid spam filters. Additionally, as part of the service, you are able to set up something called a sequential email auto-responder. An auto-responder allows you to pre-write and create multiple emails for your audience.

So let’s say you were trying to sell your Zombie movie. After the opt-in, your first email could tell your audience more about your movie. And over the following weeks, your subsequent emails could then provide more and more value to your prospective customer – the result of which compels your fan to BUY NOW.

Once your prospect makes a purchase, you could automatically migrate this person to your customer list. And once this fan is in your customer list, you could then promote another zombie movie (from another friendly filmmaker). And because you “sourced a zombie audience member,” the odds of getting a second sale are greater.

Most filmmakers don’t get excited about the wonders of sourcing an audience. But again, most filmmakers do not realize we are in a new era of independent filmmaking. The good news is for you is, with a website, some creativity and an email marketing mechanism, you can start sourcing your audience TODAY.

If you would like to find out more about email marketing and how this can help you with your own independent movie business, you can get some FREE information below:

“The Money Is In The List



AWeber proves it to thousands of businesses every day.

Learn how email marketing software
can get you more sales, too.

 

Happy Filmmaking!

Keven Smith talks Movie Distribution

Kevin Smith at the 2008 Toronto International ...

Image via Wikipedia

I love Kevin Smith’s attitude towards modern movie distribution. If you’re like most independent filmmakers, what Kevin was able to accomplish from his days of Clerks has been amazing. Back then, he not only dreamed the Sundance Dream, but he realized the dream.

The Sundance dream is the idea that you will make your movie, get into Sundance, sell your movie and live happily ever after. As I have been telling you all along, the demise of DVD sales channels, replaced by ever evolving VOD marketplaces are impacting Filmmakers everywhere.

These days, if you are going to make movies and profit, you must now view your independent movie business in ways akin to how any business owner handles their business. You must source and grow your own audience list.

In the following video Kevin Smith shares his perspective on modern movie distribution and how the brave new world is impacting indie filmmakers.

Please feel free to comment.