The other night I puked a little in my mouth. It was just a little puke. It was the sort that burnt a bit, resulting in bad breath I couldn’t quite brush out…
The whole mess came after I read some BS article from a “filmmaking guru” (who will remain unnamed here) talking about some old fuddy duddy way to make money in filmmaking. The information was outdated, impractical and further perpetuated the myth that I’ve heard many times…
“Just make a great movie, work with a distributor and let them handle the business stuff.”
That sort of crap is responsible for creating a horrible epidemic among indie filmmakers. The epidemic is this: Most filmmakers never take time to learn how to make money in filmmaking!
“I’m an artist. Money is dirty.”
How To Make Money In Filmmaking
You may have thought about making money in filmmaking. You may have hoped (or you may be “hoping”) that all you gotta do is make a movie and the world will discover your talents. And let’s face it, it is okay to think this way.
The truth is, you and I both know your stuff is better than 90% of the crap that comes out every summer.
But the problem is, there are a TON of poorly produced backyard indies flooding the market each year.
This makes it hard to find your movie.
And this means you can no longer simply make a movie and wait.
You have to make a film remarkable enough to rise above the noise.
After helping hundreds of filmmakers get their movies to market, I have seen quite a few successful filmmakers grow really successful movie businesses.
Distilled down, aside from making a great film, successful filmmakers create and then execute a marketing plan.
Successful filmmakers do not wait around for a distributor to do all that business stuff.
Conversely, I would say the number one reason filmmakers fail is because most filmmakers NEVER plan to make money in the first place. I am going to be blunt here.
Most filmmakers lack a plan for how to make money in filmmaking.
Case in point, I have heard the following line dozens of times:
“I just want to get my movie on Netflix or iTunes or Amazon or Cable VOD. I don’t care if my my movie makes money. I just want people to see it.”
See what I mean?
Whenever I hear that (and I hear that sort of thing a lot) I get another grey hair.
Because you’re killing me softly.
Even if you don’t care if your movie makes money, I can assure you that every platform, distributor and sales agent in existence is in the business of making money. And if you don’t care about how to make money in filmmaking, nobody else will either.
And your movie will suffer.
And your career will suffer.
Let me be clear, making money as a filmmaker is not easy. I can think of a gazillion other businesses that work much more smoothly than trying to produce projects, source an audience and get a return on your investment.
Yet despite these odds, serious filmmakers push on.
Assuming you are serious – And assuming you want to make money in filmmaking – here are 3 simple tips that most filmmakers never consider:
1.) Focus on your niche, not masses. When it comes to making money in filmmaking, most filmmakers focus on making a blockbuster film on a backyard indie budget. Instead, focus on the resources you have. And make the movie you can make (safely) this year. If o not make a movie unless you know your niche audience.
2.) Take some time to identify your audience. You don’t need to build your own audience. But you do need to identify the type of person who will enjoy your film. And you then need to figure out how to get in front of those people.
3.) Allocate some of your budget towards marketing. Heck, allocate lots of your budget towards marketing. Having this money will give you leverage when negotiating with a potential distributor. “Really? What else will do you Mr. Distributor?” And this way, even if you don’t land a major distribution deal, you still have a Plan B.
I know you secretly hold onto the myth that “if I make my movie, Hollywood will buy it for a gazillion dollars.”
But here’s the thing. The reason why successful movies get a golden ticket is because someone can answer those three questions. And if you take time to answer these questions, you will be ahead of the majority of filmmakers who do not care to make money in filmmaking. And if you like this stuff, make sure you download the filmmaker checklist.