Over the past decade, everything has changed for the indie filmmaker. These days, there is no excuse not to make a feature film. But just as importantly, there is no excuse not to view your filmmaking as a business. That means, you not only have to focus on making the movie – but you really need to have a strategy for making money from your movie.
Many filmmakers spend years making their first feature, only to have their hopes of prosperity evaporate at the first sign of rejection and disappointment. The festival circuit can be hard enough. Add thoughts of a non-existent traditional distribution deal, and you might find yourself becoming very cynical.
To avoid some heartache, before you start rolling the camera, I recommend creating two idealized plans for how your movie will make money:
PLAN A: You get everything you want. Your distribution is solid. You have a great audience. You’re now financially free and you have money in the bank for at least two more motion pictures.
PLAN B:You did the festivals. You got the meetings (or maybe you didn’t) but nothing happened. You got a lot of hot air, but no action. If this happens, what is your strategy for making money with your movie?
Loosely, here are some steps you can take to start selling your movie:
1. Set up an account at CreateSpace. Feature your movie as a digital download, rental and physical sale. Unless you want to spend all your time shipping stuff around, consider letting those folks deal with the shipping and order fulfillment. Yes, they will take a huge cut. But at the same time, all you gotta do is cash checks. Also, pick a price that ends in a 7. For some reason people like this number. $14.97 – maybe.
2. Rework your website. Up until this point, you’ve had a website that features a bunch of production photos and extra cute stuff from the movie. Get rid of all the extra stuff. Include a high resolution trailer, a low resolution trailer and a “BUY NOW” button. Also include one of those social networking buttons that allows you to tell your friends.
3. You’ll know if your trailer is no good. If people aren’t buying your movie, consider refining your trailer. The trailer should reflect the best aspects of your movie, without giving away everything. It should target your intended audience. If you’re missing the mark, re-cut. Also, make sure you include a trailer on YouTube with a back link to your website.
4. There are two ways people get traffic. Organic and paid advertising. When possible, go organic – but don’t spam. Do a Google Search for SEO. Read everything you can about this. It will help you. If you decide to pay for traffic, you can do it online and offline. Offline would be in things like magazines, etc. Online – well, here, online. Again, make sure you’re targeting your intended audience.
5. Test, test and retest. Install Google Analitics into your website. This will tell you where your visitors are coming from, how long they stay on the site and how many people are converting to sales.
Finally, if you like this sort of stuff – that’s great. If you don’t, you’re in luck. There are plenty of marketing-producer-consultants who are willing to work with you and help you achieve your movie making goals!