For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about ways to disrupt the typical Hollywood business model. In Part 01 and Part 02, we discussed how new digital distribution options are becoming common and how new filmmaking processes and technology are making it easier for filmmakers to create their own films without big studio support.
This week we’ll check out how the modern way of marketing is proving to be an advantage to small studios and film/video production teams.
The Hollywood Way of Marketing
Typically, when Hollywood releases a film, you often hear of the huge budget that goes with it. But what most don’t know, Hollywood probably spends a lot more in marketing their film.
Marketing, especially in North America, is expensive. And every year, the market costs rise. Then, there’s also marketing to consider overseas to accommodate international markets where majority of the film’s revenues are made. As of 2014, each major Hollywood film spends at least $200 million for marketing. Although Hollywood has embraced social media to reach their audiences, there’s still the desire to reach more people and majority of the studios still prefer to market traditionally (TV spots, print, publicity etc.) rather than strategically pouring it in the most accessible way to reach their audience, online.
This also goes for the fact most studios still prefer to market in North America and sometimes spend no more than $1 million in marketing in China, when it’s the second biggest market in the world. But there is a silver lining and some studios are learning they need to focus on China and the international market to help bring their film some success.
Top Tips for Marketing Your Own Film
As an independent filmmaker or studio, marketing for your film needs to be taken into account before you even start filming. And it often begins with knowing who your main target audience it. There are also some basic things you need to prepare to ensure you marketing plan goes smoothly. We’ve listed a few of them here.
Prepare a Trailer
When preparing a trailer, don’t just think of splicing together some of the more exciting parts of your film and releasing it as a trailer. Think about what you are trying to say first. The trailer serves as a first glimpse to your film, it should entice and intrigue potential viewers and give them an idea what your story is about. If you have a release date for your film, make sure to include it in the trailer as well.
Have a Website
It’s not a must-have but it will help. A website serves as a virtual billboard for your audiences. If there are media outlets or the press who want to showcase your film, it gives them a chance to point to one place for information as well. Your website can also list down important information like media feeds, festival updates or places to see and watch your film.
Create a Poster (And Get it Right)
The poster is as important today as it was back then. What’s great with a poster is it can be shared easily online now and in other places. Make sure your poster is relevant to your film. Also don’t just create a patchwork of artwork, slap on your title and call it a poster. You spent time creating your film, why not be diligent in creating your poster too.
Consider Entering in Festivals
For most indie filmmakers, film festivals are the most common route to getting their films noticed. Festivals, whether your film eventually gets sold or not, can be used as a great marketing tool if you plan correctly. Festivals mean screenings, lots of press, photos and tweets. If it’s great enough, your film could win awards too – adding to the exposure. This means you will have to pay fees though, so consider this into your marketing plan and whether the amount you spend will be worth it or not.
Theatrical screenings are no longer out of reach for indie filmmakers today. Most film theaters and screening rooms now make it possible to let you hire them and charge your own ticket price. This is only advisable though if you have the budget to do a theater rental since it’s still a gamble on whether you’ll make your money back this way.
Online Streaming and Aggregator Sites
Today, this is the way to go for most filmmakers. Be warned, it can be messy business to get your film out online. Luckily, you do have options from no cost to pay to play. You just have to work out what’s best for you.
If you want to get it into some of the largest streaming services around like Netflix, iTunes, Hulu etc., going thorugh aggregator sites is ideal. They do charge fees depending on where you want your film to show up. There are several aggregator sites out there so pick one that works best for your needs and whose fees are within budget.
However, make sure you read the fine print when going through aggregator sites. There’s still no guarantee your film will get through these large platforms even after you’ve paid because there are usually strict quality control in these sites.
Other options you might want to check out are flexible platforms like Vimeo on Demand or Amazon Instant Video. You will still pay but in the long run, they have a more friendly filmmaker share option. Getting on Amazon Instant Video is easier to do rather than going through an aggregator site, by the way. There’s also the option of Gumroad. It’s the most flexible platform so far and you get to keep 90% of your revenues – a better deal than what most are offering.
If you can afford to hire a dedicated PR person to help market your film, do it. It’s going to take away a lot of the stress from you. First make sure to have a story the press will be intrigued with. It’s not necessarily about your film, but you as a filmmaker, and why people should care about it. There’s always an “angle”- something interesting – that the press would want to showcase. Maybe you want to tell people how you crowdfunded your film, like how New Dawn Film’s is doing with their latest feature, An Angry Boy. Once you find that one angle, create a press release surrounding it.
Hollywood has changed over the years. Cheap digital filmmaking, aside from easier distribution and accessible marketing thanks to the Internet, have opened up the world of films.
Small video production companies are now creating their own, generating funding through equity funding and other sources while giving potential investors, and audiences a chance to interact with them.
It’s a great example of the new possibilities available to those who are willing to disrupt the old Hollywood business model.
After checking out New Dawn Film’s campaign page, make sure their Scary Mysteries Channel at YouTube for some amazing and terrifying mysteries.