Make A Horror Movie

As a filmmaker, you need to start somewhere. I suggest you take action and make a horror movie.

Our first feature was a silly zombie movie. The production value was horrific. But the movie got a write up in Premiere Magazine, Fangoria and about one hundred horror related websites. As a result of this buzz, our crappy horror movie gained a cult following and sold very well.

As a result of popularity, our horror movie was pirated and is now available for free all over the internet. While this is not a filmmaking article focused on the merits of piracy as a marketing strategy – I did want to take a quick moment to remind you that you should probably get off your butt and make something.

Here are three reasons why filmmakers should make a horror movie:

  1. Horror Movies are inexpensive. With a good story, you do not necessarily need “name” actors.
  2. When you make a horror movie, finding your target audience is easy
  3. Even if your horror movie sucks, horror fans love to hate (and talk about) horror movies.

If you want to make a horror movie, my suggestion is to find a great script. Then break your script into a schedule and a budget.

Once you have an initial budget, create a crowdfunding campaign to test your concept. While getting money is a benefit of crowdfunding, the greater objective is to guage audience response and demand in the marketplace. Additionally, your crowdfunding campaign will allow you to test the reach of your social networks.

If successful, your crowdfunding campaign will emphasize the viability of your project in the marketplace. You can detail this in your business plan. Then with the added confidence of social proof, you can confidently enter meetings with prospective investors and demonstrate demand for your title.

Of course, if your crowdfunding campaign fails, all you gotta do is think up a new horror concept and start over.

Here is the trailer for Special Dead, our first feature, a crappy horror movie.

If I can make this type of movie, what is your excuse? Go grab a camera and make a horror movie!

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.

Movie Self Distribution DIY

Image representing Amazon EC2 as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

A few years ago, I got myself involved in a Zombie movie. It was my first feature. And right out of the can, the movie garnered a lot of buzz and attention. In fact, it even made it’s way into one of the popular movie magazines. Agents, producers and distributors called. For awhile, it seemed like everyone in town had heard of our movie. But then… nothing. The Hollywood buzz had fizzled. There was no deal.

Yet, because the movie was specifically targeted to a zombie loving audience, demand for the movie increased. Eventually the demand grew so great that the producers decided they would self distribute. To many of you new filmmakers, you probably don’t know this. But long before the internet and Amazon Video on Demand, self distribution was for losers. Of course, if you have to travel the route of self distribution – these days, reaching a global audience is as easy as the click of a mouse.

My suggestions (based on profitable experience):
1. Put your trailer on Youtube, with a link to your movie website.
2. Also, post your trailer on your movie website. How is your traffic? If it’s good —
3. Upload your movie to CreateSpace (which opens you up to the Amazon marketplace.)
4. Then take everything off your movie website that could potentially distract your customer from buying the movie. (Pictures, behind the scenes stuff, stupid IMDB links that nobody cares about, etc…)
5. Replace that old stuff with “BUY NOW” links to your site. These links should re-direct your site visitor to Amazon.

The good part about VOD through CreateSpace is, you don’t have to keep any inventory. It’s like iTunes for indie movies. But the bad part is, they take a huge chunk of your profits. And you have to wait 60 days for your sales reports. You can sort of tell if you’re selling or not based on your movie’s popularity. For example, if you’re in the top 100, you’re probably doing pretty well. If your movie is not selling, consider re-working your poster, art and website to emphasize the best selling points.

My Filmmaking Story – Part 4 of 4

Mac Stone Tattoo

Mac Stone Tattoo

During the NYC shoot, one guy gave me the telephone number of a NYC indie feature film producer who was working on his seventh feature.

In the months that followed, I packed my car and moved to New York City. There, I quickly learned how to hail a cab, where to find cheap food and how to navigate the subway. I remember those first couple months… Everything in that town seemed like an adventure!

Soon after, I began reading stacks and stacks of screenplays and writing coverage for the producer. Every day a new shipment of scripts would come from managers and agents (and a few savvy writers who got past our gatekeeper). Then it was my job to go through the pile and read everything in hopes of finding a gem. Unfortunately, most of the screenplays were pretty bad and ended up in the filing cabinet.

But every so often we found a story that worked. As this happened, my role in the company changed. Because I had so much production experience from my days working corporate shoots, I was invited onto set, and helped out with production. In addition to this, I was invited to deal making meetings with potential investors and was able to participate in conference calls with acquisitions executives. This experience gave me a script to screen understanding of indie filmmaking.

But my best lesson came on our last movie together. We were going into production on a 1.5 million dollar budget. At the time, this was our most ambitious project, which seemed like a good investment because all the marketable elements were in place. We had great actors, a great script and money in the bank… Then disaster stuck. Three weeks before production commenced, the project fell apart.

Suddenly, I was in New York with no job, bills to pay, and 96 dollars in the bank.

But like all periods of adversity, there is always a silver lining. My former instructor in Maine needed an assistant for his filmmaking course and I was just the guy for the job. So I packed my car and drove to Maine, where I spent the rest the summer helping new filmmakers learn the ropes.

Somewhere between then and now, I relocated to Los Angeles, spent time working as an executive for a fortune 500 Investment bank, started a production company, garnered producer credits on some feature films, became a cult zombie fighting action hero (dream come true!), and made friends with some of the most well respected professionals in the industry.

With Filmmaking Stuff, I’m going to work very hard to provide you with Hollywood success strategies and help you avoid common pitfalls. And above all, I want to give you confidence to not only make features, but make money making features.

I invite you to check out the filmmaking articles, the filmmaking and screenwriting books. Additionally, we have included filmmaking 101 videos as part of the site. Basically, I’m working to supply you with everything I wish I would have had. Also, if you look to your right, you should sign up for the free 21 part mini course.

Thanks. Happy filmmaking. www.filmmakingstuff.com

Next:

  1. My Filmmaking Story – Part 1
  2. My Filmmaking Story – Part 2
  3. My Filmmaking Story – Part 3
  4. My Filmmaking Story – Part 4