Five Tips For Marketing Your Movie (Before You Make It)

If you’re like most filmmakers, you’re not thinking about marketing your movie.

This is probably because you don’t yet have a movie…

So why would you think about marketing your movie?

But that thinking is lazy and wrong.

You are creating a product. Your product is your movie. And unless you understand how you will reach your audience and sell your movie, you are in a sense basing your movie business on hope. And hope is NEVER a solid business strategy.

I should know. Every week I talk with dozens of filmmakers about their movie. And over and over I hear the same thing:

“My movie is done. Now I need to do some marketing.”

And here is the problem with that statement – If you wait until your movie is done to “do some marketing,” you’re way too late.  And I’m serious here. Since you’re not a movie studio, you don’t have a gazillion dollars to spend on a global advertising campaign.

The time to think about marketing your movie is now.

But before we get into the mechanics of HOW you’ll market your movie, it’s important that you understand a few things.

  1. Marketing is not magic.
  2. Marketing is not some sort of audience engagement lever that you pull.
  3. Marketing is a conversation, centered on a remarkable, emotional story.

You see, the only reason people BUY your movie is because the value of your offer far outweighs the gazillion other things your audience could do with their money and their time.

What does your audience find valuable? Entrainment? Escape? Information? Something artistic?

It could be one of those things or all of those things.

Marketing your movie begins with first figuring out what’s in it for your audience.  And this is where most filmmakers go wrong. Most filmmakers are simply in the “buy my movie” mentality.

The reason why people do not buy your movie is because you are either presenting an offer to the wrong audience, or your offer fails to present the enough amount of value.

Marketing Your Movie

Marketing your movie is a conversation!

The next time you go to a social gathering, pay special attention to the stories people share with you. Then after the party, write down the stuff you remember. Why do you remember it?

I bet it’s because the story was interesting and made you FEEL something. And FEELING is VALUE. People buy based on emotions. They want to FEEL like they are getting something that transforms their mood and mindset, if only for a little…

Pay special attention to why you remember certain people and stories. My guess is the storyteller presented his or her tale with such dramatic delivery that you were entertained.

And even if you forgot most details, I bet you’d still try to spread the story by sharing it with friends hours and days afterwards.

And if the story is really, really good, you’ll share the same story decades from now.

Five Tips Marketing Your Movie (VIDEO)

A good example of marketing is sharing an urban legend. These stories enter into our narrative, not because they are true – but because they are remarkable and fun to share.

In the following Film Courage video, I talk about the 5 Do’s and Don’ts For Marketing Your Movie.

Marketing your movie begins with a hook. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. What is your unique selling proposition?
  2. What makes your movie memorable?
  3. Why should we care?

Marketing is not about throwing advertisements on billboards or shouting at the masses through media.

Marketing your movie means finding ways to make your audience part of the narrative. It means finding ways to make sharing your message valuable and fun. If you’d like to find out more about how to market and sell your movie, go here.

 

How To Sell Your Movie On iTunes (In Three Steps!)

If you are wondering how to sell your movie on iTunes, there have never been a better time. Gone are the days when you need to ask for permission to access iTunes. If you’re ready to sell your movie on iTunes, I have detailed three steps below. Ready to get started?

itunes

How To Sell Your Movie On iTunes (In Three Steps!)

Step 1 – Watch Out For These Distributor Shenanigans

If you’ve spent time in the festival circuit, invariably some acquisitions executive has approached you offering to “pick up” your feature. If this is your first feature, congratulations. You just heard the exact same pitch 99% of every filmmaker (with a solid movie) hears.

Why is this happening? I mean, why are more filmmakers getting offers?

Simple. Video on demand is not a physical product. Nobody has to invest money for manufacturing, shipping or physical inventory. As a result, video on demand represents almost no inherent risk for a distributor or an aggregator. (There are encoding and closed caption fees, which I’ll discuss later. But most times these are simply passed to the filmmaker too.)

Also, I want to make it very clear. There are some especially good distributors out there – But odds are good they are focused on grabbing star driven, studio content. So that means you’re going to spend a lot of time chatting with mid-level distributors who promise  you “special placement” on iTunes.


[More from How To Sell Your Movie]

The problem is, there is no guarantee that any aggregator can get you special placement on iTunes. It’s a limited web page. And most BIG titles take up all the space. So my suggestion is this. Evaluate every offer. But look for the similar pitch. I guarantee you’ll hear the words “special placement” over and over…

Step 2 – Prep Your Movie For iTunes

If you decide to sell your movie on iTunes without the assistance of a traditional aggregator, you will still need to utilize the services of an iTunes approved aggregator (or a sub aggregagor who works with an iTunes approved aggregator) and an iTunes approved encoding house. There is simply no way around this. iTunes will not do business with individual filmmakers.

But just because you are forced to utilize a middle-man does not mean you need to sign over a percentage of your movie. A few years ago I worked as the director of operations for Distribber and I loved it. (Note: Distribber pays me to promote, so I’m biased. But if you follow the links on this page, you’ll also get a discount on the service.)

Distribber serves a distribution consulting company. They hold your hand through the process of getting your movie from your hard drive into iTunes. And thankfully so. Here are the current iTunes deliverables (as referenced by the Distribber website.)

For a High Definition iTunes Delivery:

  • Closed Captions
  • File: Pro Res 422 HQ
  • 1920 × 1080
  • Native Frame Rate
  • Film: 23.98
  • Video:29.97i
  • Audio: Must have 8 channels of audio, or if not shot with 5.1 then you may submit in Stereo:
  • 5.1 – L, R, C, LFE, Ls, Rs / PCM Little Endian / Each audio channel needs to be its own track Ch. 7 stereo left, Ch. 8 stereo right / PCM Little Endian / Each audio channel needs to be its own track

Distribber operates on an upfront payment model. They either get your movie onto iTunes or they refund your money minus a servicing charge. You can find out more about the Distribber service here.

Step 3 – Promote Your Movie (Build a List)

Getting your movie on iTunes does not guarantee sales. And unless you take time to plan out a marketing and distribution strategy that makes sense for your movie, your odds of a marketing miracle happening are diminished. So the first step of marketing your movie involves defining your hook.

After that, do a Google search for blogs and websites that cater to your target audience. From there, your next step is reach out to 50 blogs and websites that cater to your target audience. Make an introduction. See if the website editors would be interested in reviewing your movie.

sell your movieNext Steps

The bottom line is, you shouldn’t wait for some sort of middle-man sales agent to give you permission to sell your movie on iTunes.  If you’d like more detailed info on how to market and sell your movie, check out my resource at How To Sell Your Movie.

 

How To Promote Your Movie With BitTorrent

How To Promote Your Movie With BitTorrent by Bojan Dulabi

I am in the middle of self distributing my feature film, Living Life or Waiting to Die. If you are in the same position as me, your biggest question is:

“How am I going to promote my movie without spending a fortune?”

A lot of us think social media is the answer.

You can share news with your followers on Facebook and Twitter and you will reach a certain amount of them.

But even if you have hundreds or thousands of Facebook followers, Facebook has changed their policy regarding the reach of organic postings. The truth is, unless you’re willing to pay money, your Facebook posts will be seen by much less people than you think.

Twitter is still free, which is great. But the problem is, tweets get lost in the noise.

And don’t get me wrong, I am not saying ignore these platforms. You have to be on them every day. I know I am. These are essential tools for promotion…

But these are not the only tools for promotion. In fact, I recently found a new way to promote movies. And this is a service most of us don’t even think about when it comes to reaching our audience: BitTorrent.

You can now promote your movie with BitTorrent!

“Say what, you want me to pirate my own stuff?”

Promote Your Movie With BitTorrent

How To Promote Your Movie With BitTorrent

Yes, you heard me.

The same technology used to pirate all kinds of stuff can also become a major promotional tool. BitTorrent recently created an awesome free service called BitTorrent Bundles. And this allows you to promote your movie with BitTorrent.

Leverage BitTorrent To Promote Your MovieThis great service allows you to give away videos, music, ebooks, pretty much any files that can be downloaded. You can give your files away for free or you can ask for an email address.

Here’s how you can promote your movie with BitTorrent.

As I mentioned before, I recently finished my feature film Living Life or Waiting to Die. In order to get the word out, and get more people to subscribe to my mailing list, I decided to give away the following goodies away for free, in exchange for the user’s email address:

  • 8 minutes of the film.
  • One theme song.
  • 20 pictures of the shoot.
  • 3 high resolution posters as PDF.
  • Behind the scenes video where I talk about the origins of the story.

The way I setup my BitTorrent Bundles page is that anyone can watch and download the trailer for free, but if they want all the additional content they have to provide me their email address and by doing so they subscribe to my newsletter.

Here’s my results.

I published my BitTorrent Bundles page on Jan. 2, 2014. And at the time of  this writing, I have had 4691 views on my page. On average I’m getting 34 page views per day and out of those, one person per day is downloading the free bundle.

The technology is getting easy to use.

BitTorrent recently introduced a streaming feature where people don’t have to download the bundle using a BitTorrent client. Now people can just stream whatever video they want.

This makes the whole process a lot more streamlined, which encourages more people to watch the content. This feature has only been around for a little while, but I have already had 54 views in addition to the downloads.

I expect that number to go up and eventually surpass the downloads number.

One great plus is the home page where all bundles are displayed. This can generate a lot of traffic, especially, if you are in their featured section.

BitTorrent has also recently introduced a search bar and all bundles pages can now be tagged with custom words that describe the content. I have noticed a jump in my downloads number since they introduced this feature.

This service is still in alpha release, which means many more features will be coming our way – And that’s really exciting.

Because BitTorrent is a relatively small community, you get to have a lot of input in the product. When you sign up you get to be part of the forum where the creators ask for your input as a user and you get to chat with them.

I have submitted many questions and feedback to them directly.

Utilizing bundles is a great free way to promote your movie with BitTorrent. It allows you to build up your fan base, not just for your current movie, but all movies moving forward. I strongly consider that you promote your movie with BitTorrent as part of your strategy. Sign up for a free account and create as many bundles as you like.

If you’d like to check out my page go here.

– –

Bojan Dulabic is a Vancouver based actor / filmmaker and content creator at www.FilmmakingToday.com a blog dedicated to empower filmmakers to make their own projects by talking about ways to make feature films for very low to no budgets.

Question: Should Filmmakers Move To Hollywood?

Should filmmakers move to Hollywood?

That’s the question I asked myself as I packed everything I could into my car.

I had spent the previous year grinding towards filmmaking success in New York City, while sleeping on an inflatable air mattress. And after burning through my bank account, I was looking for a change.

Hollywood seemed like a much more exciting alternative.

It took me 10 days to drive the country. Two of the days were spent in the never ending Texas highway. (Seriously, if you never drove across Texas alone, don’t!)

Should Filmmakers Move To Hollywood?

Little did I know, but Hollywood is full of guys like me. In fact, year after year thousands of Hollywood hopefuls answer the “Should filmmakers move to Hollywood” question with a definitive YES.

And I understand that you know this.

But you don’t really know this until you’re here. Within the first week, you will see your doppelganger, a lot. You will overhear conversations too. Literally everywhere you go, someone is talking movies or “the industry.”

And even though you sort of suspect that the odds of your filmmaking success is greater than the next guy, deep down you know you’re just a small fish in a big pond.

But you can’t deny it.

No matter where you are in the world, Hollywood represents a much bigger game.

And the only thing that differentiates you from the gazillion other Hollywood hopefuls is the work. Nothing matters more than actually picking up a camera and making something – Anything.

Filmmakers_Move_To_Hollywood

Should Filmmakers Move To Hollywood?

I guess my experiences in New York served me well. When I arrived, I immediately met up with some equally ambitious filmmakers and together, we produced, marketed and sold our first feature.  It was a silly zombie movie.

The movie went viral. It opened the door for a few of us.  My buddy Jared wrote it. He got an agent. And I ended up working professionally in video on demand distribution.

In the years since, I have consulted with well over 300 filmmakers on their distribution strategy. And if I learned anything, it’s the fact that everything has changed in filmmaking.

Since making our first feature, there have been some serious developments in production technology. And once again, this forces us to confront the age old question.

In fact one of our Filmmaking Stuff newsletter readers named Jake asked the following question:

“My filmmaking friend in LA told me NOT to make anything in my small town because I would just be wasting my time. He told me no one in the industry will take me seriously if I make my 1st feature outside of Hollywood. So instead of making what I CAN make right now, I’ve been working to move to LA to start doing something… My question is this: is he right?”

So dear reader – Should filmmakers move to Hollywood?

. . . my response to this question is a big fat NO!

Unless you plan on working for a major studio, you no longer need Hollywood.

If you are a filmmaker with an idea and the passion to create a feature film, you can do it from anywhere on earth.

Here are a few reasons why:

Getting Money In Hollywood Sucks

Everybody in Los Angeles is competing to find someone (or some studio) willing to back their movie project.

Can you imagine a town where your waiter is an aspiring actor, your cable guy is an aspiring screenwriter and your taxi driver is an aspiring producer?

Hollywood is saturated with an over-supply of willing, talented, aspiring workers.

And they are all waiting for their big break.

Even if you do raise the money to make your movie, you’ll have to raise a lot more to shoot in LA, because everything (locations, equipment, props, and permits) makes making movies in LA cost prohibitive and a royal pain in the butt.

What a mess!

On the other-hand, if you live in small town and you have good material and ambition, you’re in luck.

If you can get past the fact that all your non-filmmaker friends think you’re crazy, you can build a team, find cheap locations (and other resources, including free food) and you can take action.

Heck, you might even make the nightly news  – When this happens, just make sure you advertise your movie website and start building your audience list!

And. . .

Unlike trying to get a meeting with a busy, semi famous studio executive who never heard of you – If you call up the local rich guy to make a pitch, your odds of getting a lunch meeting are pretty high.

As I detail extensively in my film financing program, getting meetings does not guarantee success.

But it’s a start!

And let’s pretend for a moment that your town has no rich people. Well, thanks to crowdfunding sites like indieGoGo and Kickstarter you can now reach an entire global audience of people who may be interested in sponsoring your work.

Filmmaking Equipment is Now Cheap

When I was getting my start, I saved up an entire summer to buy a used Arri BL 16mm Camera. I shot a short film over a weekend. And then I spent the entire winter saving up enough money to process and transfer the film to video.

That sucked.

Times have changed.

These days, if you want to create cinematic quality content all you have to do is go to your local electronics store and pick up an HDSLR camera and start producing your backyard indie. As long as you take time to understand lighting and camera angles, your end result will look pretty amazing.

Distribution Changes Everything

Read this part carefully.

Everyday I am amazed that more filmmakers are not getting naked and running into the streets cheering (Ok. I’m kidding.) But here is the deal…

The biggest, most awesome change in cinematic HISTORY is distribution. And modern movie distribution changes EVERYTHING!

Thanks to all these platforms found at  Distribber  (yes, they are back and they pay me to promote) – Anyway,  you can now get your movie into sites like Hulu, Amazon, iTunes and other VOD outlets – Without giving away all of your rights (for life) to some distributor who will likely never pay you what they promised.

What does this mean for Modern MovieMakers?

This means that instead of raising money and crossing your fingers for a dream distribution deal, you can now create a marketing plan within the context of your movie business plan.

This is important and liberating.

Non-discriminatory distribution allows filmmakers to treat their movie business like any other business. You do not need to ask permission to create a product, access a marketplace and make sales!

In other-words, as long as you have a camera and internet access, you can now make, market and sell your movies without asking permission. (Ok, if you really want to get naked and run into the streets, I won’t stop you.)

A few words about marketing.

Whenever I put on my  film distribution talks, invariably someone will ask me about marketing. And it’s a good point. Because distribution is now part of your movie making business, you will need someone on your team who can market.

Here is the big disconnect.

Hollywood (and traditional sales agents and distributors) will tell you to leave distribution to the experts. They will tell you to give up the rights to your movie because their company has been in business for a gazillion years.

But this kind of talk is crap. I mean, obviously if these guys offer you a huge cash advance, it might make sense.

But if there is no money involved, what value are they giving you? The promise of getting your movie seen and selling on iTunes and Hulu? You can just as easily access iTunes and Hulu too.

My point is, unless these old-timers know how to source the appropriate target audience (and they openly share their marketing budget with you and are fully transparent with each marketing step) then there is no value to give away your rights in exchange for validation. Validation and a crappy distribution deal does not pay the bills!

Should Filmmakers Move To Hollywood?

Wow. I intended to write a quick reply to this BIG question and I totally blasted you with my filmmaking passion.

Instead of asking: “Should filmmakers move to Hollywood?”

Consider a better question:

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

Hopefully you are now inspired to make, market and sell your movie from anywhere on earth. If that’s the case, I’d love to read your comments below.

One last thing…

After reading articles like this, I get a lot of emails from filmmakers who need some additional help. So if you would like to find out more about filmmaking process, you might just want to check out some of these professional filmmaking tools.

 

Modern Moviemaking Manifesto

I am going to share the Modern Moviemaking Manifesto with you. After this, you’re going to know yourself a little better as a filmmaker.

And to get the ball rolling, I have a question for you:

What’s the biggest filmmaking failure you must avoid?

Ok, this is gonna sound obvious… But the answer is:

Making a movie NOBODY CARES about!

(Which is sort of the same as making a boring movie that could put monkeys to sleep, if monkeys actually watched movies – and I think some do.)

 modern moviemaking manifesto

Notice I didn’t say BAD MOVIE. You can make bad movies and people will still care.

For examples, check out The Room or Birdemic for an example of this…

But if you make movies nobody cares about, you will fail as a filmmaker.

This sounds obvious right? But if it was so obvious, how come many silly filmmakers keep making movies nobody cares about. I’ll tell you why…

Modern Moviemaking

Inexpensive production technology, coupled with about 237 different ways to get your movie selling (more on this in my email series) makes it way to easy to make mundane, crap movies nobody cares about.

And SURPRISE: Most movies do not make money!

There. I said it. And it gets more challenging than this… Ready for some serious real world film school?

The problem with traditional independent filmmaking is the ever growing gap between investment dollars and a filmmaker’s ability to recoup the initial investment. In other words, indie filmmakers find investors, get money, make a crap movie and never repay the investors…

Oops. Sorry.

But let’s be clear. Independent filmmaking has always been a risky business. And we freely share this with any prospective investors, usually stating: “Filmmaking is risky and you will most likely never see a dime.”

While these types of disclaimers are transparent and accurate, filmmakers could often counter this objection by getting investors to focus on the misguided idea that the movie might get into Sundance.

The movie might garner ginormous buzz.

And if you’re really lucky, the movie might sell to the highest bidder!

(Sound familiar?)

So from this perspective, the real benefit of investing in independent movies wasn’t the promise of a solid investment. Rather the driving force behind investment dollars was the chance of winning instant fame, fortune and a never ending supply of coolness!

And we all want to look cool.

Here is a picture of me looking cool:

filmmaking_Challenge

Many filmmakers still hold this dream.

But the realities of the independent movie business are sobering.

Out of the gazillion movies made each year, only a few get into a major film festival. And out of those movies, very few garner a deal worth mentioning. Adding to this problem is the ever prevalent demise of DVD sales channels, resulting in filmmaking becoming less profitable and less cool than it once was. And as a result, the “invest in my movie because it’s an awesome business” pitch is no longer believable.

Technology is also changing independent moviemaking. For two-thousand dollars, every filmmaker can now grab a camera, shoot a feature and compete for virtual “shelf space” in iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and most of the many VOD outlets.

In the context of business 101, this means that our high quality, expensive goods (our movies) are now competing with cheaply produced goods of a somewhat comparable quality. And if we were in the widget business, this would mean massive layoffs are in the near future. Or to put it another way, our old way of making movies no longer fits the marketplace.

This of course raises the question:

How do we make independent moviemaking profitable (and fun) again?

A lot of people have solutions. One that is gaining popularity is the idea that filmmakers should hire someone to cover the marketing and distribution of the movie from day one. In this sense, filmmakers can focus on making the movie while the marketer can focus on the marketing, social media and list building duties.

Instead of trying to find a traditional distribution deal, complete with a cash advance, you get enough people to know you and know your movie from day one. And once your mailing list (or community of followers) reaches a certain mass, you will hopefully sell enough copies of your movie to recoup your investment.

Build Your Audience Now

Everybody is now talking about audience engagement as though it’s a new concept. But it’s not. In fact, audience engagement has been around since the beginning of story telling. And again, it comes down to telling a great story that people actually care about.

Then the goal is to start telling your story early enough so people actually care.

Here a video I did for the folks at Film Courage that explains this in a little more detail:

Modern Moviemaking Manifesto

Modern moviemakers need to build a targeted audience list and grow community around individual movie titles – Everyone fits into some kind of demographic. And everyone wants to be part of something. And many folks aren’t even conscious of this. But building community around your project is easier said than done.

The reality is, it will take tremendous efforts to make the metrics work, begging the question: How much must a community grow to support a movie budget of at least one-million dollars?

One-million dollars is not a lot of money in terms of traditional indie filmmaking budgets. And if we assume all traditional distribution will eventually be replaced by some form of VOD, then as a filmmaker, business success really comes down to three economically focused questions:

  1. Who is your movie’s target audience?
  2. How will you reach your target audience?
  3. And how many VOD downloads does will take to recoup the initial investment?

If you can’t answer these questions, then you know from day one that your odds of success are dramatically decreased. Without a defined market or an established sales channel, it is difficult to justify financing, which makes it very difficult to pay cast and crew, which makes it difficult to produce a movie.

Assuming you can answer these questions, the problem is still economy of scale. If you can’t reach the masses (or reach enough people willing to pay for what you’re selling), how will you ever recoup your initial movie investment? And if you can’t figure out how you’re going to recoup your budget, two things have to change:

  1. Filmmakers will need to make smaller movies.
  2. Filmmakers will need to pay cast and crew less money.

At first thought, neither of these options seems to make independent movie making profitable (or fun) – which is why people keep creating solutions without first scrutinizing the traditional filmmaking paradigm. As a result most current solutions fail to fully SOLVE the indie producing for profit problem – Which prompted me to share my own solutions.

What I’m about to share is the official Jason Brubaker solution for saving the independent movie industry. And it has a name. I call this philosophy…

Modern Moviemaking

Revolutionary, right? Admittedly, I should have added some shazam to my idea and called it something fancy – but coining phrases is not my strong suit. Rather I want to join the other filmmaker thinkers and focus on a workable solution.

Additionally, I’m just like you. I’m a filmmaker, passionate about making movies. But at the same time, I want to help us figure out a way to make a living making movies.

So this movement is your movement. Should you choose to participate in this brave new modern movie making world, there is one solid, economically viable way to make movies profitable again. And it will require that you adopt a modern moviemaking paradigm.

So are you ready to join the modern moviemaking movement?

Modern Moviemaking Manifesto

1. Modern Moviemakers will think of movie making in ways akin to how entrepreneurs think of start up companies. Instead of raising investment dollars for just one title, Modern Moviemakers will create a mini-studio, complete with research and development, planning, production, marketing, distribution and sales under one roof.

2. Modern Moviemakers will focus on producing a slate of at least five genre specific movies. These movies will be created inexpensively and will be delivered to the audience via ALL popular VOD marketplaces.

3. Instead of paying freelance day-rates, Modern Moviemakers will put crew on a salary, with benefits. Everybody in the company will own equity in the company. So in this regard, someone who owns 10% in company stock will get 10% of all movie profits. This will supplement crew salary with an ongoing, lifelong stream of income.

4. Modern Moviemakers will work to grow our community (and customer base) bigger. And over time, our fans will begin to know us, know our company and celebrate our work. Only in this way will we eventually reach mass great enough to increase ongoing revenue through multiple streams of movie income.

5. Modern Moviemakers focus on muti-title diversification, with the goal that multiple movie titles build enough buzz to create long term, sustainable revenue. In this regard, we can begin to focus on creating entire library instead of just depending on one title to support our career.

There is no fee to join the Modern Moviemaking Movement. If you think it makes sense, just tell two or 3-5 of your closest filmmaking  friends about the Modern Moviemaking Manifesto.

To explore some other awesome filmmaking tools, check out our resources at make your movie now.