Most of us love making films but hate the business side. This is a major reason why filmmakers are notorious for making movie distribution mistakes and taking crappy deals. I am speaking from experience.
After wrapping our first feature, like most filmmakers, we were eager to sell our film around the world. To start the process, we actually rented a theater, held a premiere, got great feedback, refined the movie and entered the festivals. Along the way, we made some serious blunders…
5 Movie Distribution Mistakes That Make You Look Dumb
1. Our Movie Website Sucked: On our last day of production, a photographer for (the now defunct) Premier Magazine snapped a few pictures. One of the photos made it into the magazine and immediately drove 10,000 visitors on our website. We were not ready. The traffic crashed the servers.
To avoid this mistake, make sure you work with a reliable web hosting company. These days I utilize (and also promote) Bluehost. For a very small investment, you can reserve a domain name and year’s worth of hosting. Since making the switch to Bluehost, I have experienced very little downtime.
2. We Hosted Our Trailer: Once we fixed the website, we made the mistake of self-hosting our trailer. The load time sucked and the trailer burnt bandwidth. Additionally there was no option for movie enthusiasts to re-embed the trailer on their fan sites. We eventually switched to YouTube.
To avoid this mistake, don’t host your movie trailer yourself. Upload it to YouTube. Aside from saving you the bandwidth and providing re-embedding opportunities, YouTube allows your fan-base to build community around your movie. This helps spread word of mouth and offers you the opportunity to keep your finger on the pulse of your audience.
3. We Forgot To Grab Visitor Info: Despite our mistakes, word of mouth about our movie spread quickly. Our website had thousands of visitors each week. This was great, except we had no way to ask visitors for their email addresses. Most bounced off our website and never returned.
To prevent this, make sure you set up an opt-in form on your website. I prefer (and also promote as a paid affiliate) Aweber. For a minimal amount of money, the service helps you build subscribers and also manage your email marketing.
4. Promotion VS. Sales: Your initial website will allow you to spread word about your movie and provide contact information for fans who want it. Your initial website will also include production photos, silly stuff and a press kit. All of this is fine when you are promoting your movie…
When you make the shift from movie marketer to movie seller, you will need to optimize your movie website for sales. You will need to remove anything that distracts visitors from your buy now button.
5. You Don’t Have A Movie Distribution Plan: Most filmmakers enter festivals and hope for the best. This is hardly a plan. Instead, you need to determine your distribution goals and how you’re going to achieve them. Will you work with a traditional distributor, go the self distribution route, or incorporate a little bit of both into your strategy?
Hopefully you can avoid these movie distribution mistakes. If you’d like to find out more about movie distribution, you may want to grab a copy of The Indie Producer’s Guide To Distribution.