5 Questions For Indie Film Funding

Finding Indie Film Funding is one of the most challenging aspects of getting your movie made.

While there are many reasons that prevent you from closing the deal, if you find your pitch is consistently rejected, you may need to take a look at your marketing plan. While I am sure your plan cites how a half-dozen comparable (successful) movies were sold and distributed, most savvy investors will agree that movie comps are malarkey.

Reducing investor risk requires that you go a little further.

If you’re like most filmmakers, odds are good you haven’t taken time to plan out a marketing, sales and distribution plan that YOU control. And without a refined strategy on how to get your movie into the marketplace, you simply do not have a business. You have a very risky hobby.

As a general rule, most investors would rather invest in businesses over hobbies.

Finding indie film funding gets a lot less complicated (notice I didn’t use the word easier) when you take time to view your movie like a traditional business. This means you will need to answer some tough business related questions.

indie film funding

Photo © Sergey Nivens / Dollar Photo Club

5 Questions For Indie Film Funding

So here are the 5 questions for indie film funding. Take some time to really answer each question:

  1. Who is Your Target Audience?
  2. How Large is Your Target Audience?
  3. How Will You Reach Your Target Audience?
  4. What is Your Marketing Strategy?
  5. How Many VOD Sales to Break Even?

These questions are not easy to answer. This is because each movie is different. And each movie requires a unique approach. But if you take the time to answer these questions, you may leapfrog all the other yahoos who are just winging it.

If you are looking for indie film funding, you may benefit from the Film Finance Guide.

Three Tips On How To Target Your Target Audience

Having spent time at the major film festivals, I can tell you that having an audience (also known as a large email subscriber list) is currency. It gives you power. But before you get into the mechanics of growing your audience – You need to first figure out how to find your target audience.

In fact, you need to target your target audience even before you write your screenplay.

If thinking about your target audience is a new concept, you’re not alone. Most filmmakers fail to consider their target audience. Or worse, many filmmakers will tell you that everyone is their audience.

This means men, women, teens, tweens, children, puppies and space aliens could all benefit from your movie.

This is a mistake. It’s a left-over concept from the indie era of 1995. Back then, you only had one goal with your movie. Get into the festivals, fill up your screening and hope the some distributor shows up and writes a check.

Many filmmakers still believe this. But these filmmakers are wrong.

Think about it.

Think about the last time you went to a film festival. What did you see? Was it a bunch of acquisitions professionals handing out business cards like candy? Or did you happen to see other filmmakers handing you postcards, asking:

“Will you come to my screening?”

If you want to figure out how to find your target audience, here’s a solid piece of advice:

Other filmmakers are not your target audience!

But don’t worry. Because I’ve worked on the inside of film distribution for several years, I am going to help you avoid the mistakes 99% of other filmmakers make. I am going to provide you with three simple steps on how to find your target audience.

And these simple steps will put you years ahead of other filmmakers who are living off the hope and pray film distribution strategy of the bygone era. Are you ready to rock?

Find Your Target Audience

Find Your Target Audience

Here is the thing. There are ton of filmmakers that consistently muck up their film release strategy. As I mentioned earlier, the reason most films fail is because the filmmaker never took time to really write out a release plan.

The process of finding your audience starts with refining your movie concept.

Step 1: Refine Your Movie Concept: For this example, let’s pretend your lead character is a boxer living in an improvised community. And then let’s pretend that your boxer ends up with ONE big opportunity to take a shot.

A. From this, we know your movie is geared towards: Boxing.

B. We can also think about related interests: weightlifting, fitness gear, diary supplements, et al.

Step 2 – Conduct a Google Search: Your next step is to locate blogs, websites and publications already targeting people who may be interested in your subject matter. In this example, you can quickly Google “boxing.”

When you do this, “boxing” will get over forty-nine million results. This is not surprising. Interests such as boxing, horror movies, martial arts and race car driving have prominence in our culture.

Step 3 – Build a List: Add the top 50 targeted publications (both online and offline) to a spreadsheet. Then reach out to each publication and request their demographic statistics. These stats will tell you how many people subscribe to the publication and will often provide details on age and gender. (You will use this info later, when you go to sell your movie.)

You can apply these three steps whenever you want to find your target audience. And once you have a good understanding of your target audience, all future advertising, marketing language and your trailer should be created with your target audience in mind.

Then later, when your movie enters the marketplace, this research will provide you a contact list full of organizations that may help you promote your movie. And if you would like more information on how to market and sell your movie, come to my next webinar: www.filmmakingstuff.com/sell-your-movie-webinar

How To Promote Your Movie Fan Page On Facebook

As a filmmaker, you need to be promote movie on Facebook.

I am assuming that you already have a personal profile. And if so, you know the platform allows you to stay in touch with friends, have conversations with co-workers and find pictures of your ex-girlfriend. (Not that I ever do those searches.)

But from a promotional perspective, Facebook is a powerful tool for filmmakers. With nearly a billion monthly users, Facebook is one of the most awesome ways to reach your movie target audience.

If you are part of the Filmmaking Stuff community, you probably noticed how nearly 37,000 filmmakers participate and share ideas about filmmaking from all over the world.

How To Promote Your Movie Fan Page On Facebook

If you are wondering how to promote your movie on Facebook, the first thing you need to do is create a page. To get started, open a new tab and log into Facebook. Once you are logged into Facebook, follow this link create a Movie Fan Page.

Step 1 – Set Up Your Movie Fan Page

When you click the link above, you will be redirected to a web page that asks you to pick your page type. If you’re promoting a movie, choose “entertainment” and then pick “movie.” Facebook will then ask you for the name of your movie.

Promote Your Movie On Facebook

From there, Facebook will ask you to log into your account. If you do not have an account, (and you should), you’ll have to create one. Once complete, your Movie Fan Page will be set. All you gotta do is fill in pertinent information about your movie, including a description, photos, links to your movie website and possibly, your movie trailer.

how to promote your movie on facebook

Step 2 – Invite Your Friends to “Like” Your Page

Your next step is to reach out to your Facebook friends and invite them to “Like” your Movie Fan Page. Depending on your genre and storyline, not all of your friends will respond to your request.

Don’t take it personally. Many of my movie projects have been ignored by friends, probably because they are over-inundated with various requests from Angry Birds, Farmville and other distractions.

Assuming you can break through the noise, the advantage to utilizing Facebook to promote your Movie Fan Page is your ability to connect with your audience. Unlike BIG Hollywood power-players, your fans have access to you. This allows you to add value to their experience, beyond simply watching your movie.

By cultivating these relationships, your audience is more likely to promote your movie to their friends, which helps you build your fan-base and make more sales, without spending much money.

Step 3 – Link Your Movie Fan Page to Your Movie Website

When you’re looking to promote your Movie Fan Page, it is important to understand Facebook works best when you supply your followers with relevant info and updates. Where does this info come from? Your movie blog! (Affiliate link.) I’m assuming you have a blog, right?

If you study how successful filmmakers utilize Facebook, you’ll often notice they write content or create videos for their blog. Then they share the info on their Movie Fan Page. The content is usually a behind the scenes production diary. Or in the case of documentaries, it is usually info related the subject matter of the movie.

Step 4 – Promote Your Movie Fan Page

In the event you would like to promote your Movie Fan Page further, Facebook  provides you with some very targeted advertising opportunities to reach your target audience. For example, if you are promoting a zombie movie, you will actually have the ability to reach out to zombie enthusiasts and get them to “Like” your Movie Fan Page.

One of the coolest aspects of building a Movie Fan Page is the ease at which you can build buzz and community around your title.

Step 5 – Update Your Movie Fan Page Frequently!

Marketing is a conversation. Goofy sales pitches and silly “Hey… Look at me…” stuff never works. You need to always think in terms of value. Will your next update add value to your audience? Again, the content needs to be relevant. It should spark a discussion and allow you to meet the people in your audience.

In turn,  your fans will respond favorably. This will be able to monitor word of mouth and find out what people are saying about your movie. And in the event you get a few spammers, you can moderate comments to ensure that the content doesn’t become stupid. (Nobody benefits from stupid content.)

In addition, some filmmakers allow fans to post photos to the fan pages. This sort of activity reinforces community and encourages word of mouth. For example, if your movie is in the festival circuit, you might ask your fans to post pictures of the screening. Then once the photo is posted, friends of these fans may see the picture – which may cause them to “Like” your Movie Fan Page too. But the hidden benefit of user generated content is – you don’t have to worry about generating additional content!

If you’d like to market your movie on Facebook, take a look at my Movie Fan Page system.

Email Marketing For Movies (Why You Need To Start Now!)

Did you know that email marketing for movies is as important as making your movie?

Sounds weird right?

I mean, you’re a filmmaker. What does email marketing for movies have to do with your success?

Everything…

In fact, I believe that email marketing for movies is essential.

And here’s one example why:

Picture This – You’re meeting a prospective investor for the first time.

You enter her gigantic office and you sit down. The assistant asks if you’d like anything to drink. You politely decline. (The truth is, you’re thirsty – But this is a big meeting and you don’t want to spill anything on your shirt.)

After a few minutes, your prospective investor walks into the room, sits down and you start talking. Everything is going well and the conversation organically flows into why you’re there. You’re there because you’re looking for investors. Specifically, you’d like her to fund your movie. And it goes something like this:

[Disclaimer: I am not a tax, legal or investment professional. So what I am about to share should be no way construed as any sort of advice. In fact, I am merely demonstrating via dialogue why I believe email marketing for movies is essential for filmmakers. Please speak with a qualified professional before taking any meetings with anybody anywhere in the universe.]

BEGIN SCENE

Filmmaker
I’m going to make a movie right here in this town. And I am looking for prospective investors who would be interested in backing the project.

Prospective Investor
Sounds interesting. As you can probably imagine, I have meetings like this every week. Last week someone proposed I should invest in their purple-pine-cone business. They are already profitable. And they are offering me an amazing opportunity with very low risk. Why should I invest in your project?

Filmmaker
We have this really great script. And we are going to make a movie. Take it to Sundance, sell the movie for maximum profit. And then we are going to use those profits to make more movies.

Prospective Investor
Get out of my office!

Filmmaker
Why?

Prospective Investor
Because what you just presented is not a business. It is a gamble. You don’t know if you’ll get into Sundance. And you don’t know if someone will buy your movie. And even if you do, you have no idea how much they will pay.

Filmmaker
But Paranormal Activity did awesome!

Prospective Investor
Get out!!! And only come back when you have a REAL business plan.

END SCENE

The world of independent filmmaking is changing.

The market is flooded with backyard indies. As a result, there is no longer a world where you get into Sundance and simply sell your movie to the highest bidder. And even if that world still existed, it was always a crappy bet for new filmmakers and inexperienced film investors.

Email Marketing For Movies

Email Marketing For Movies

As a result of these changes, filmmakers who want to make a living making independent movies need to start thinking about their target audience BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR MOVIE!

While I would never suggest that you completely forgo your artistic integrity, I would suggest you answer the following questions:

  1. Who is going to buy and watch your movie? (Hint, if you answer everybody, you answered nobody.)
  2. How will you reach your intended niche, target audience?
  3. How many VOD downloads will it take to recoup your initial investment?

Since those of you who make movies are mostly filmmakers, not marketers, it becomes increasingly challenging to market your movie and your work. But some aspects of marketing are easier than you think.

How to get started?

One easy thing you can do is set up your own email marketing system. Email marketing for movies works like this – The bigger your list of targeted subscribers, the more sales you can potentially make. And for an example of how this works, click here to grab your free filmmaker checklist.

Pretty cool right?

Did you see how that big box just jumped right at you?

If you signed up, you did so because the Filmmaker Checklist is more valuable than the time it takes to type your email address. (And I really did put a lot of work into making it valuable for you.) This is what marketers call an “ethical bribe,” “opt-in candy” or a “lead magnet.” And you need to create a lead magnet for your movie website visitors too.

Common lead magnet examples for movie website usually consist of: behind the scenes photos, movie song downloads or soundtrack, poster downloads, short video clips, or pretty much anything your audience would value…

There are two tools I utilize to create this and build my list. And both pay me to promote. (So do your own research.) One is called Aweber. And the other is called LeadPages.

Aweber manages my professional email correspondence and helps me avoid ending up in the Spam trap. And LeadPages links with Aweber and helps me come up with really awesome subscriber forms like the one you clicked above.

As a rule of thumb, never email blast from your own servers. Always use a 3rd party email marketing company that insists on something called a double opt-in. A double opt-in means that after people submit their name and email to your list, they will still need to check their email for a confirmation link.

Then in each subsequent blast, the email will always provide an easy way to unsubscribe.

For a recap, here are the three steps you take to get started with email marketing for your movie.

  1. Come up with a “lead magnet.”
  2. Get started with Aweber (they pay me.)
  3. Link Aweber to Leadpages (they also pay me.)

Collect Email From Your Movie Website

In the context of movie promotion, several other movies do this really well. Check out Food Matters, Camp Takota and Forks Over Knives. Each example is a highly successful movie. And one major reason for this success is, you guessed it:

Email marketing for movies!

As you can see, most of these movie websites are very streamlined, usually limited to trailer as well as an opt-in form. This is intentional. Above all else, building an email list is essential for the long term success of these movies, selling related merchandise and subsequent sequels.

Copy this strategy for your own movie website! Like these other filmmakers, start collecting names and email addresses of prospective audience members as soon as you can. Or to put it another way:

You are no longer in the movie business. You are now in the audience engagement business.

Through both online and offline marketing efforts, your objective is to grow community around your movie – which could spread positive word of mouth. This could eventually lead to direct video on demand sales! And the other benefit? If you start now, you could begin to grow a list. this can help you while you’re raising money.

Here’s that example again (with the added value of a robust email list.)

BEGIN SCENE

Filmmaker
I’m going to make a movie right here in this town. And I am looking for prospective investors who would be interested in backing the project.

Prospective Investor
Sounds interesting. As you can probably imagine, I have meetings like this every week. Last week someone proposed I should invest in their purple-pine-cone business. They are already profitable. And they are offering me an amazing opportunity with very low risk. Why should I invest in your project?

Filmmaker
We have this really great script, a robust email list of 15,000 raving fans! So far, the responses for this next movie seem favorable. So this at least gives us a direct market base to hedge our bets. Aside from selling the movie directly, many have expressed interest in additional merchandise, like t-shirts. So this offers us a great opportunity to create multiple retail, revenue opportunities.

Prospective Investor
Sounds like you’ve done your homework. Tell me more!

END SCENE

While this is a totally fictional example, I am hoping you see the power of email marketing for movies. Having a plan for email can accelerate the growth of your movie business. And we aren’t just talking your current movie, but all movies moving forward!

sell your movieSometime down the road, long after your movie has played the festivals and sold out on iTunes, you may find there is value in promoting other movies of a similar genre – or better yet, selling your next movie. This is when email marketing for movies really pays off. Remember, with email marketing for movies, the real money is in your list!

If you liked these marketing tips, you will love the sell your movie action pack.

 

How To Sell Your Movie Idea

If you want to sell your movie idea and actually get your movie made, you need to stop procrastinating and take action.

To do this, start the process by breaking your BIG filmmaking project into small, manageable chunks.

How do YOU plan on taking your movie project from script to screen?

Do you plan on finding prospective investors outside of Hollywood to fund your movie? Or do you plan on moving to Hollywood and then networking your way through the studio system?

Sell Your Movie Idea

How To Sell Your Movie Idea

1. What Are You Selling?

Everybody has an idea. Trust me.

The other day, while waiting to get my oil changed, I sat within earshot of two idiots pitching movie ideas to each other.

Both thought the other was gonna jump at the chance to “produce” each other’s epic story. The problem was, both of these yahoos wanted the same thing – to get THEIR movie made.

(And both bragged about knowing some movie star.)

In this example, even if these guys were real, there was no buyer in the conversation, just sellers.

Before you make your pitch, make sure you’re actually pitching to a buyer. And secondly, make sure the buyer actually cares about what you’re selling.

2. Make Sure Your Movie Is More Than An Idea

Everybody in Hollywood has an idea for a movie.

Everybody thinks they can write screenplays. Everybody thinks they are special.

Everybody is crossing their fingers, waiting and praying that SOMEONE ELSE will recognize their talent and sprinkle them with Hollywood famous fairy dust.

Ideas are everywhere and ideas are worth less than something tangible.

If you want to be taken seriously, make sure you have more than an idea. I suggest having the rights to an outstanding story, or some money in the bank, or the interest of a NAME actor. At least this is something. . .

3. Speak The Language Of Your Buyer

Everybody asks: What’s in it for me?

If you don’t get this, you will pitch water to fish – with no success. (Fish do not need additional water.)

While I enjoy all movies, my own interests involve skateboarding, time travel and science fiction that explores theories of physics. I also like knowing if there is an easily accessible market.

Is there a niche target audience for your story?

Story aside, some people are interested in helping you because they think it will help them get laid, make more money or simply feel good on the golf course, bragging that that they are now a film producer.

What does your buyer want? If you do not know, you have no business pitching.

get movie moneyIf this aspect of film producing seems totally cray, cray and you never sold a thing, I highly recommend you get some sort of sales job. This will teach you cold calling skills, how to face rejection and if you’re good, you might just make few bucks in the process.

Or you could just grab a copy of the Indie Producer’s Guide To Film Finance and find out how to meet and build relationships with prospective investors.