Leverage Your Following | Sell Your Movie PT 7

Internal rate of return, two solutions, cashflow

Image via Wikipedia

One of the most important filmmaking strategies you must adopt in this era of modern moviemaking is a long term perspective. In years past, filmmakers focused on making one movie, selling it and then moving on to the next movie.

While the idea of creating multiple titles over the course of your filmmaking career has not changed, it is now vitally important that you plan a series of movies from day one. The reason for this is simple. You are now solely responsible for the success of your movie business. And to stay in business, you will need to create a profitable library of titles that continually pay you.

To use a real estate business analogy, in years past you built a house and sold it for maximum profit. But these days, given the changes in the real estate market, it makes sense to hold onto the house, rent it out and collect rent checks every month. This is the difference between capital gains and cashflow. And as an independent filmmaker, the growing demise in DVD sales outlets means that filmmakers must now focus on creating multiple titles – and increasing cashflow, over time.

Leverage Your Following

As I mentioned previously, creating a highly targeted mailing list is now essential for your success.

Thinking long term, the most important component of your movie making success is establishing a loyal following. From a business perspective, the size of your mailing list will provide a solid metric on which to base forward looking revenue projections. In other words, you can take look at your list and say “two percent of our followers bought this movie. I wonder how many fans will be interested in my next movie?” But instead of guess work, you can send your followers an email and ask them.

As you grow your community your fans will begin to know you, know your company and celebrate your work. And as long as you continue to provide good entertainment, you may eventually reach mass great enough to fund your future movie projects. Imagine how much prospective investors will appreciate your pitch when you already have one-hundred-thousand fans eager to buy your next movie?

[box style=”notice”] For more information on how to market and sell your movie, visit www.HowToSellYourMovie.com[/box]

In the end, the heart and soul of all forms of distribution is finding an audience willing to pay you for your work. Video on demand simply removes the middle-man from the process and allows you to connect directly with the people who matter the most – your audience.

Increase Web Traffic | Sell Your Movie PT 6

Life Stats for a zombie movie websiteAs a filmmakers, getting your movie seen and selling  has become incredibly challenging. If you’ve been following filmmaking stuff over the last year, you know that one of the major issues we are trying to solve is this question: In a world where DVD sales are non-existent (because there are no more DVD sales outlets), then how can filmmakers make enough VOD sales to justify a budget?

In an effort to solve this filmmaking problem, today we will cover step 6 of this 7 part series on how to sell your movie on iTunes, Amazon and Netflix for Maximum Profit.

Increase Targeted Web Traffic

To increase your website traffic, you might decide to work out Search Engine Optimization tactics with your web marketer, pay for online or off-line advertising, or incorporate a bit of everything. Unpaid traffic is called organic. Organic traffic is the best kind because whenever you pay for a customer, you diminish your profit margin from the outset. So obviously, the goal for all movie marketers is to acquire a customer for the very lowest price possible.

One secret I utilize is frequent press release submissions. Years ago, it was advised that you only wrote and submitted press releases when you had something newsworthy to say. But these days, in addition to targeting traditional news outlets, most press releases are included in search engine results. Without getting overly technical, this means for a very small amount of money, submitting one press release complete with links to your website can increase your web footprint.

Over time these releases are picked up by blogs and other websites hungry for related content. And the resulting benefit is more awareness of your movie, for a minimal cost.

If both your traffic and your budget are low, search out other filmmakers who have successfully sold their movies to a similar market and find out if they would be interested in promoting your movie to their mailing list. Assuming your movie is congruent with what their audience enjoys, these other filmmakers may gladly help you out for a cut of the profits. I have found that giving affiliates a good return for effective marketing creates long term win-win business relationships. These other filmmakers are able to create a stream of revenue between their movie projects. And you benefit by expanding your movie’s reach quickly.

This is also a good time to revisit those sites from your initial research. Compile a list of one-hundred target websites, then reach out to site owners and kindly ask if they would be interested in reviewing your movie. Regardless of whether or not these folks like your movie, what is secondarily valuable to you are links back to your website. Over time, these back-links, combined with your trailer and social networking profiles will serve to funnel more and more prospective viewers back to your website. And the cycle continues…

For more information on how to market and sell your movie, visit www.HowToSellYourMovie.com

How To Make A Living Filmmaking

Logistic Center Amazon in Bad Hersfeld industr...

Filmmakers can sell their movies on Amazon. Image via Wikipedia

Recently a question posed by filmmaker Ben Rock over at Neptune Salad gave me a good reason to think about (and share) my filmmaking business philosophy in detail.

Here is the question: “Is there a way to make enough money on any kind of self-distribution that a filmmaker can repay investors and eek out a middle-class existence?”

I felt like this question required a detailed response. So for Ben and other folks with similar questions, I broke it into 2 parts. Here we go…

1. Can any form of Self Distribution make you enough money to repay investors?

This depends on two factors. How much investor money did you spend? And how much of your investor money do you have left to reach your targeted audience?

Getting money to fund independent movies has always been a challenge regardless of what technological innovations have taken shape. But the big difference now is more emotional than factual. These days, whenever filmmakers go out to shake the money tree, their confidence is considerably lower. I mean, in the past, you could at least present speculative opportunities to to prospective investors with a measure of excitement: “Look what happened with The Blair Witch Project! Paranormal Activity! My Big Fat Greek!..”

But what do you say now?

“We are going to sell DVDs on Amazon!”

Yippy.

And even funnier is this. Let’s say you get the money, make your movie and get a (more traditional) 3rd party distribution deal – your deal probably won’t involve theatrical distribution. Add the demise of video sales outlets and video stores, and it is a good bet that your movie will end up on iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon.

Given these outlets, I now wonder why any filmmaker would even approach a 3rd party distributor. I mean, if filmmakers can simply set up shop and reach those outlets on their own, why pay a middle man? Do filmmakers really need 3rd party validation?

So my suggestion is this: If you’re trying to make a living as a filmmaker, you need to care less about traditional validation and more about your bank account. If the numbers don’t work, you nave NO DEAL!

“Ah… Filmmakers should be MORE excited to approach prospective movie investors!”

Unlike years past, you can finally eliminate much of the speculation from your business plan – and you can finally present a deal built on a measurable framework that YOU control. In other words, as a filmmaker you can now pick and choose your sales outlets and come up with an entire step-by-step system for reaching your target audience and then getting your movie seen and sold. Investors like that. It’s less risky!

From this perspective, you can create a reasonable plan and work backwards.

What? You can’t figure out how to repay 1,000,000 dollars in 5 years? Then you have two choices. Change your plan or change your budget (which may involve changing your screenplay and schedule).

And onto the second part of the question…

2. Can a filmmaker eek out a middle-class existence (with digital self distribution)?

Yeah. But like I was saying, you can not think about distribution in the traditional sense. In the past, filmmakers made a movie, got lucky and ended up with a BIG paycheck with incremental increases on the back end. These days filmmakers need to think about their movies in ways akin to how traditional investors think about dividends from bonds – once you make the investment, it’s a long term game!

In other words, you create your movie product this year, get it selling and then you repeat the process. Conceivably in 10 years, you’ll have a library of 10 movies. And with luck each movie will passively pay you thousands of dollars per month.

Moving forward,  if you want to make movies and make money making movies, your strategy has to include oodles and oodles of cash for marketing. I heard one colleague talk in terms of  applying 3/5ths of the budget for the marketing, 1/5th for “name” talent and 1/5th for your below the line costs. I’m sure there is room for variation – but we can all agree that your marketing (more than movie making) is going to provide you the difference between pocket change and profit.

What are your thoughts?

– – –

This is a huge topic. So I will break it into a series. My next article will pick up where I left off. And we can get into a systematic approach to how to make a living through your filmmaking.

In the meantime, get my filmmaking book FOR FREE. Just follow this link: www.FreeFilmmakingBook.com