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Marketing your no budget indie film


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#1 Sanjit Majumdar

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 03:26 PM

I just recently completed my 2nd feature length film "Determinism" and all I can think about now is the marketing of it. I know many filmmakers don't focus too much on that aspect of film making, but nowadays it's essential that filmmakers become proactive about getting their content out there. Stanley Kubrick was very hands on with his marketing campaigns and in a strange way, a marketing campaign almost creates a visual and auditory "culture" around a specific film. My twin brother and I have been working round the clock on Determinism's website and trailers. We've been using twitter, to get the trailers seen but there has to be another cheap way of promoting a film.

Here's a link to the recently cut theatrical trailer for out film:
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 05:11 PM

Hell, you could book a theater yourself and sell tickets. Richard Boddington on here had done that, I believe for his film. Then there is festivals, but you have to know which ones to submit it to. You gotta research 'em and what they have a habit of promoting; which at least gets the film seen.
From there, create-space looks like a alright bet, DVD sales through amazon.com and there's no upfront cost. But, for indie films, what really works, I think it creating a buzz. You gotta get people interested in it and interested in you. Contact local papers, put up ads and have some screenings.
That and try to find some distributors and get 'em to see it. Look for smaller ones, at first, and just keep at it.

my humble non producer advice.
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#3 Paul Bruening

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 05:54 PM

Richard Boddington is definitely the guy in the know around this place. It might help if you could share some info on your product. As well, what is your country of origin?
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#4 Sanjit Majumdar

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 07:27 PM

Richard Boddington is definitely the guy in the know around this place. It might help if you could share some info on your product. As well, what is your country of origin?


I'm was born in Queens, NY and grew up in northern New Jersey.
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#5 Sanjit Majumdar

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 07:34 PM

Well I'm not too concerned about Festivals, I already have some experience with them, but even if a lower budget indie film goes to Sundance nowadays, their trailers don't get that much viewership online. There has to be a free way of promoting a trailer so millions can see it online.
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 08:48 PM

Sure there are plenty of free places to put your trailer, but doesn't mean anyone will actually see it.
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#7 Sanjit Majumdar

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 02:15 AM

That's what I'm struggling with. There has to be a way to attract attention that doesn't involve spamming or a prison sentence.
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#8 Paul Bruening

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 02:57 PM

I'm was born in Queens, NY and grew up in northern New Jersey.


I probably should have asked it another way. I was wondering if you had associations with another country that might provide you a greater sales base. Also, If we knew what your originating medium was, we might be able to recommend marketing options that we have heard about.
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#9 Rob Vogt

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 01:16 PM

Bring your film to a couple of Film Schools and offer a Screening with Q&A. I promise you'll get an audience and sometimes that's enough to create a little buzz.
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 04:46 PM

The sad fact is that if what you have really is a "no budget indie film", your chances of ever marketing it successfully are so microscopically remote that any effort you might expend in that direction is almost certainly futile. There are thousands of such films out there; most of them are almost certainly better than yours. You didn't go to all the right Hollywood parties and you do not know the right people. Unfortunately, this is one of those questions where the best answer is "if you have to ask, you wouldn't know what to do with the answer".

Selling feature films is a black art and I know of only one person who's ever done it with even a tiny degree of financial success - the aforementioned Mr. Boddington. There are a lot of books written by people who claim to have done this sort of thing, but there's a reason they're writing books and not scripts.

The market is owned by less than a dozen major corporations, who will not look at your work until they've sold all their own - and they never sell all their own. Without the support of these people, you're completely wasting your time.

P
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#11 Richard Boddington

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 09:44 PM

I had no idea I was such a legend :D

I could write volumes on this subject, and in fact several people have, have a look at a book called "Independent Film Distribution" by Phil Hall.

Alas, most indie filmmakers dread this most critical step of actually selling and making money with the finished product. After all, you just want to make movies and leave the collection of money and all the marketing work to some one else.

Unfortunately your strategy so far I don't think will yield very positive results. If you want to actually sell it and make money it must go through traditional means of distribution like, NetFlix, Blockbuster, Target stores etc etc.

The reason is that all of these companies already have a vast and very expensive system in place to get movies to the paying public. You'll never be able to match what they can do.

How many people will see your movie on the website you set up vs it being on iTunes?

The bottom line is that you need a distributor to do this work for you. Of course distribution deals are not easy to come by, thousands of new indie films compete for this every year.

The best way into a distributor is via a producers rep. Hundreds of these will converge at AFM this November to sell movies. Producers reps sell movies to distributors in various territories around the globe, who in turn sell the movie to retail and TV. The distributor pays a fee for the rights to a movie in a geographic area, and the producers rep takes a fee of the sale. Usually 25% for foreign and 10% for domestic.

There are dozens of producers reps in LA and they all have acquisition departments. Send an e-mail to this person with a brief description of your film and a link to your on-line trailer for them to view. Hopefully from this they will request a screener. Do not waste time sending un-solicited screeners to any one.

If you find a producers rep that you think works for you, you will sign a deal with them and they will rep your movie at AFM, Cannes, and Berlin, etc.

Here is a list of producers reps that will be at AFM:

http://www.ifta-onli..._exhib_list.asp

They all have websites. Look up each one via Google, find the "acquisitions" link and send your e-mail.

Failing this, get a booth at AFM and sell your movie direct to buyers. Any one can do this, you just need some money. Fact is you can not be shut out of the selling process because the producers reps don't like your movie. AFM is not a film festival, there is no one standing there judging whether or not your movie is worthy of entry.

AFM will accept any one with money, what you do with the buyers is totally up to you.

Here's the info on selling yourself at AFM:

http://www.ifta-onli...afm/exhibit.asp

If you think your movie is good, then sell it at AFM yourself.

Failing all of this NetFLIX does have an option to sell your film to them directly:

http://www.netflix.c...tr=cu_tr&role=1

For this you will need top quality movie art. 99% of indie filmmakers get their cousin to do this for them for free and fall flat on their faces. This is a job for a pro. I went to the best of the best for Dark Reprieve, best money I ever spent.

Like I said I could write page after page on this subject.

Remember you are going to war, this is going to be a tough brutal process that will most likely take 1-2 years before you see any results.

R,
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#12 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 10:00 PM

The sad fact is that if what you have really is a "no budget indie film", your chances of ever marketing it successfully are so microscopically remote that any effort you might expend in that direction is almost certainly futile.


Wow, this is poetry here. Look out Maya Angelou.

Selling feature films is a black art and I know of only one person who's ever done it with even a tiny degree of financial success - the aforementioned Mr. Boddington. There are a lot of books written by people who claim to have done this sort of thing, but there's a reason they're writing books and not scripts.


This is BS and you know it Phil. There are many people in many different fields that write books out of success and not failure. Does this mean Robert Rodriguez is a failure because he wrote "Rebel without a Crew?" I am of the opinion that it is good to be "realistic" but you should add something that might be of help to the man instead of just being discouraging because you have yet to crack the big one (which I haven't either but at least I keep hope alive!)
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#13 Richard Boddington

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 10:00 PM

Sanjit,

I had a look at your trailer. This is the typical response you can expect from a producers rep right off the top so be ready........

They'll most likely say: You have a shot on video low budget movie with no name actors in it. Also, there is no distinct genre classification i.e. horror, comedy, sci-fi. It looks like you could class this as "drama", but that is the kiss of death without at least one name actor in a lead role. It doesn't look like this was SAG?

Next thing they'll look for is a festival run. Was the movie shown in any credible festivals? If so was there any press? Did the movie reporter from a major paper say some thing nice about this movie that can be used in the marketing?

So from a buyers point of view they'll have a real tough time coming up with a way to sell this to the public. This is a major challenge faced by 99% of all indies out there.

Now take "Once" for instance, it was shot on video with no name actors yet it was a huge success. What happened? Well lightning struck in a bottle, they had enough unique elements that overcame the above drawbacks and even managed to use those weaknesses as strengths.

Not sure if you have any fresh new Academy Award worthy songs in your movie the way Once did. But you need to find a new and unique angle.

The market is so incredibly saturated right now and the web piracy has been devastating to indie film distribution. Many foreign buyers won't even look at low budget stuff any more because it will be ripped off and onto the web before they can say, "copyright."

R,
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#14 Joe Giambrone

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 12:58 AM

In all seriousness: I would change the title.

I can't see the masses showing up for "Determinism." An "ism?" Sort of weighs heavily in the bad way.

Good luck.
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#15 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 07:32 AM

Actually I was thinking of Chris Jones and Genevieve Jolliffe, writers of "The Guerilla Filmmaker's Handbook". In my younger, more incompetent days I was stupid enough to pay these people money for a two-day course which spent one point nine days on the stuff that, as Kubrick said, can be learned in an afternoon, and approximately fifteen minutes on the tricky stuff we're discussing here. As far as I know, Chris Jones has never made a penny making films, but he's loud and boisterous and is willing to talk himself up at any opportunity which is more or less the only qualification required for greatness in this part of the world.

Encouraging people to spend fortunes producing stuff which will be crap and unsaleable and wouldn't sell even if it was is grotesque irresponsibility.
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#16 Justin Hayward

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 11:06 AM

Now take "Once" for instance, it was shot on video with no name actors yet it was a huge success. What happened? Well lightning struck in a bottle, they had enough unique elements that overcame the above drawbacks and even managed to use those weaknesses as strengths.


Well, they also played in many, many, "credible festivals" including winning the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, so I think this goes back to your earlier point.

A friend of mine shot a doc that's been playing festivals and winning awards for a little over a year now, but still hasn't officially sold (they've had some small deals where they've made a little money for screenings and such, but nothing permanent). Just recently, the movie showed up on Netflix as a "save"... with the poster and all. The filmmakers had nothing to do with it. Do you think they're sort of testing the waters to see how many people "save", thus possibly contacting them for a distribution deal? Have you ever heard of Netflix doing that?
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#17 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 11:44 AM

Just recently, the movie showed up on Netflix as a "save"... with the poster and all. The filmmakers had nothing to do with it. Do you think they're sort of testing the waters to see how many people "save", thus possibly contacting them for a distribution deal? Have you ever heard of Netflix doing that?


No, never heard of that. We can't use NetFLIX in Canada so I don't have a lot of experience with them. I would think it odd that any sort of seller or renter of DVDs would even use poster art for movie that they have not acquired the rights to. With the number of indie submissions NetFLIX must get from both individuals and distributors I can't imagine them taking the time to contact any one about a movie.

NetFLIX did place a large order for Dark Reprieve, which I was very happy about though. :D

R,
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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 02:21 PM

Simple question, though, Richard - has Dark Reprieve broken even yet? Do you expect it to make any real money?
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#19 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 03:28 PM

Simple question, though, Richard - has Dark Reprieve broken even yet? Do you expect it to make any real money?


I'm sitting here picking out colours for my new Ferrari, so what does that tell you? Maybe I'll order two, red and black.

R,
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#20 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 04:03 PM

I'm sitting here picking out colours for my new Ferrari, so what does that tell you? Maybe I'll order two, red and black.

R,


I thought you were crazy Richard, but at least you have good taste in colors! However, if you find you have too much money, let me bare some of your burden ;)
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