I’ve been going round and around on film marketing for years.
Can it be simplified? What are we missing?
Usually indie filmmakers lack both 1) a large audience and 2) millions for marketing.
In the absence of a lucky viral campaign or gimmick, one of these is needed.
The studios rely on #2: millions.
Brands, art theaters, and film festivals rely on #1: an established audience.
Filmmakers hope and wait for access — with seemingly little power.
Yet they make the product.
So what is going on? Where is the gap?
For starters, indies and studios are completely different industries, different business models. What is successful to one is disastrous to the other. Making tens or hundreds of thousands — the life-blood of an indie — is a flop for a studio.
We need to stop trying to match or emulate the studio model.
Indies have an advantage. Time and relationships. We do not need to scale to support thousands of studio employees.
Our business models can match our films — personal, transformative, collaborative, connected, and nurturing. We are built for this model.
We still need one of the two — audience or millions. We must choose audience — and therefore relationships.
But where is our audience?
Unless as filmmakers we have spent many years nurturing, nourishing and growing a fan base, it is likely that we do not have the necessary audience.
So what do we do?
Through generosity, we offer a film (a product) in exchange for audience. With great care, a partner accepts the offer if the film is a fit. With gratitude, the audience is fulfilled. The circle is complete.
It’s very similar to a festival model, except that the filmmakers do not make revenue from festivals. It’s similar to an art house model, except with that, the audience is not shared and there is much distrust and land-grabbing between distributors and theaters.
With none of the above is there any type of transparency or sharing of data.
Could we build a new model based on trust and mutual benefit — between artist, partner and audience?
I think so, yes. Every strategy I devise going forward will be built with partners in mind first — theaters, festivals, influencers, organizations, associations… Partners.
Everything else is secondary.
Most of the tools available in the distribution space are based on the studio model of direct to consumer sales without having millions or a built-in audience. Very little is available for the partner and audience growth model. And when it is, it is somewhat one-sided, and is missing tools for sharing and transparent collaboration.
More on this later as I percolate…