The whole world of movie distribution is changing. And if you’re reading this, you either have a movie ready for distribution, or you’re working towards your next movie. In both instances, the success of you movie depends on your understanding of movie promotion. And it starts now!
Given the deterioration of DVD sales channels, to become successful as a filmmaker, YOU are now responsible for sourcing, engaging and selling your movie to your intended target audience. In the old days this practice was called self-distribution. These days it’s called direct marketing.
How to Take Charge of Your Movie Promotion
As one of the foremost experts in direct digital distribution, I do a lot of public speaking gigs at film festivals. Over time many filmmakers have asked me a lot of the same questions over and again. Here are the most frequently asked movie promotion questions:
Q: How important is social media when it comes to movie promotion?
A: This depends on your goals. Distribution companies love this because they believe a movie with a large social following will result in more sales. It also shows the filmmaker is engaged, thus making the acquisition seem less risky.
Having huge social awareness for your movie is important, but between you and me, this only part of the strategy. Even if you had a gazillion followers (which you probably don’t), you will still need to convert your social followers to paying customers. This will take time and advertising money.
If you don’t have a YouTube, Twitter or Movie Fan Page following, then you will have to invest quite a few months of social media time, to build relationships, community and authenticity with your audience.
Q: How important is my website to movie promotion?
A: Firstly, stop building stupid, complex flash websites. 1999 is over. And we have entered into an era where fresh, unique, interesting and SEO friendly content is king.
Figure out your website objective. In the festivals it is OK to have press kits and behind the scenes stuff. But when you start selling your movie, your objective changes to BUY NOW. That means you’ll want to simplify your site so it further drives people towards your goal.
Monitor your stats and then eliminate all pages that distract your visitors.
If you don’t have a website, you might consider visiting my affiliate Bluehost (they pay me to promote, so do your own research) and reserve a domain name and hosting. This company pays me to promote, but at the time of writing, it’s the company I utilize for pretty much all my websites.
Q: What about movie promotion with email?
A: Building an email list of people who know you and like your work is essential for your current movie and your long term success.
If you click this link, you’ll see a page where I offer you a valuable filmmaking stuff in exchange for your email address. This is one of the ways I build a list. Feel free to study what I do on this site, then copy this filmmaking list building strategy for your own movie website.
Here is how you do it. And yes, as a disclaimer, I get paid to promote just about everything including the following recommendations. But these are the exact tools I use. So why not?
1. As I mentioned earlier, you will want to reserve your domain address and hosting for your movie and your movie company. There are about a gazillion web hosting companies. But I use Bluehost for everything.
2. After you have hosting, I recommend installing the WordPress CMS to handle your movie websites. Why? With Bluehost, installing wordpress and having your website is only takes a few clicks.
[Note: If you are not using Bluehost, you will want to make sure your hosting company can handle WordPress Installations.]
3. Once your movie website is up, you can add your trailer and also, create a blog to tell people about your movie. Having frequently updated, fresh content will aid in people finding you through internet searches.
4. The goal of your movie website is twofold. For starters, you want a central hub of information. And secondly, you will want to grow your email list. For this, I utilize Aweber. Why? It’s more professional to send movie emails from a 3rd party email company with a good reputation, than your gmail account.
Because this is a wordpress site, I am also able to easily utilize a tool (which you see when you click this link) called LeadPages. This tool has dramatically increased my email subscriptions. You should use something similar on your own movie website.
5. The most important tactic to remember is this (repeat this 100 times): “My audience is my movie business. Without an audience, I have no movie business!” Seriously. You are responsible for cultivating genuine relationships and sharing as much value as you possible can with your audience. Treat them like gold!
Q: I just want to make movies. How much do you charge to do this?
A: First of all, I am not cheap. Sourcing an audience and movie promotion is tough work, time consuming and potentially expensive. This is why studios spend a gazillion dollars on marketing!
But assuming your movie is still playing festivals, and you have a well defined target audience (you do know your target niche, right?) and you have some buzz – Then that makes my job easier. Modern movie promoters (and people like me) usually charge between $15,000-$30,000 dollars for a 3 month strategy.
So with that said, if you are creating a movie promotion strategy, you need to know that marketing is not magic, it’s not a science, and while it’s essential, it’s not cheap. So here is an affordable alternative. I recommend simply grabbing a copy of the Indie Producer’s Guide to Distribution.