What Is The #1 Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Film Aside From...

Today's guest post is from IndieFlix founder and CEO Scilla Andreen.

What is the #1 most important thing you can do for your film aside from telling a good story?

It’s not what you think and it’s often taken for granted. I believe the answer is to honor your film and the people who support it by having meaningful engagement in everything that you do.

Yes, it sounds broad and vague and it falls into the category of listen to your gut, but when applied to each and every action you take it becomes a highly, customized, sharpshooting tool that prioritizes your time and money.  It will act as your compass on your filmmaking journey.

I am a filmmaker turned distributor out of pure necessity. I had to start IndieFlix because I couldn’t fully comprehend standard distribution. No matter how many times it was explained to me it felt wrong. I would nod yes and wait for that aha moment but it never came. I didn’t understand how indie filmmakers would ever make money?  We launched IndieFlix in 2005 with 36 films and now have a growing library of over 2500 films.

I spend much of my time experimenting with different ways to create meaningful, audience engagement that can be converted into meaningful revenue. The key operating word here is “meaningful”.  If we don’t include this element in our work all of our efforts and energy is for naught. Now that I have adopted this policy I learn something new everyday. I have gone from hurriedly getting hundreds of films up and selling on all major platforms to spending more time listening to feedback, analyzing data and noticing what works and what doesn’t.

I created a movie game called Film Festival in a Box that has evolved into a movie club based on honoring the filmmakers and respecting the desires of the audience. I didn’t rush and it went from concept to market in less than 6 months. Slowing down seems to move things along much more efficiently. Each film has it’s own path and we must honor that path and be realistic in our expectations. Go ahead and dream big but do the research and don’t assume. Filmmakers must be smart and have a good team. Ask for help. Share your needs. Collaborate.  People will come out of the woodwork to assist. This is one of the most exciting times to be in our industry.

There now exists an abundance of free information, tools, technology and delivery platforms available to us. We’re bound to find some success right?  Wrong.  It’s all about the choices we make and how we use these tools to connect the dots.

Here’s a great example. The Weinstein’s deal with Google: they took proven, quality content and made it available for practically nothing on one of the world’s busiest platforms, YouTube. The Michael Moore documentary Sicko, has a meager 151 paid views and is currently the most-rented Weinstein movie in the past few months.  Surprising?  Not really, peddling Weinstein films on YouTube is like selling Prada shoes at Wal-Mart.  I don’t think it’s a good fit at all, just as I wouldn’t want to go to Denny’s for sushi. The offering of the content doesn’t fit the platform.  YouTube is free. Why would anyone pay for something there?  So, do the research and make choices that are right for your film.  Honor your project. Honor the platform.  Respect the demographics.

Think about meaningful engagement for yourself. Does having tens of thousands of fans to share every step of your process feel meaningful or are you exhausting yourself trying to keep the beast fed?  Honor the relationships you create. Keep it manageable.

I think that a smaller group of “meaningful” fans, friends or followers who believe in you is a much more effective way to build long-lasting, measurable audience engagement.

We are all so inundated. Let’s slow things down and adopt the less is more approach.  Let’s be better listeners to others and to ourselves. Quality over quantity is powerful and much more viral. So, circling back to honoring your story, the art of filmmaking and the way in which you share it with others is like eating your meal slowly appreciating every bite and savoring all the different flavors.   That is something to experience and talk about. That is meaningful.

What do you think is the #1 most important thing you can do for your movie aside from telling a good story?

Scilla Andreen (CEO/Co-founder IndieFlix.com) award winning producer, director and Emmy nominated costume designer, Scilla has deep roots in the entertainment industry and is a popular speaker, juror and tireless champion of independent film. In 2004 Scilla co-founded IndieFlix.com a next generation film distribution and discovery site founded on the principles of community, promotion, syndication and transparency.

A New Filmmakers' Coalition: FilmEES

Via social media, namely Twitter and Facebook, I have gotten to know a lot of filmmakers, their work, and all the excellent things they are doing to build a artist-centric, sustainable, and profitable film community. One of the latest such endeavors is FilmEES, founded by D.A. Sebasstian (Go-Kustom). I asked him to explain what he was up to. This is his post.

The basic idea to start a film Coalition came from several discussions film makers were having on Twitter about Indie-Film Distribution Models and Film Screening Clubs. Two popular hash tags used in the discussions were Ross Pruden’s #infdist and Craig Wilson’s #indieMM

The biggest difference between us and other Indie-Film Coalitions or Collectives is we are not just a website. We are scheduling real events starting in Seattle and San Diego and moving around the globe. Of course you can see members bios, discussions and Video Clips on the FilmEES website but the site is basically just a watering hole.
Lisa Heselton got the basic site up just a few days ago and we just added several new website moderators to add functions quickly to FilmEES. I also am really excited about the DVD Short Film Series we are putting together under Craig’s #indieMM Series. These DVDs will be available online and through other means.
As a record label owner I am very familiar with compilations and their marketing, much more so than an average film maker. I come at this from a musicians background. Being a signed recording artist for decades doesn't help my film making but definitely schooled me on marketing and self promotion. I hope to share that with others- as well as how to make money on your film very quickly, like I did. If you bypass the traditional distribution models and make the film as cost effective as you can you have a chance.
My first feature Hot Rod Girls Save The World has sold 1,300 DVD copies in just 10 months, with very little advertisement and because I made the film for less than $5,000 I am in profit territory now. It can be done. But FilmEES is definitely not the D.A. Sebasstian show. I am a catalyst and moderator. It is the members that will shape what this organization becomes. So far it seems this starting group of FilmEES Members are doers, not just talkers. This brings results into the real world quickly.

We’ve also got support from IndieFlix.com who is helping us set up a FilmEES - IndieFlix Catalog page for our members so they can sell their titles through the FilmEES website, but retain direct control of their titles.

This was an initial idea list for the FilmEES Goals- originally presented in #infdist on Twitter.

1: To establish an international network of Indie-Film Producers, Actors and Companies.
2: To build a data base of information contributed by Members both in the promotion of Indie-Film and making of Indie-Films
3: To create a series of International Showcases using Membership to promote Short Film, Webfilm, Feature Film and Music Video.
4: To create regional networks to help regional Indie-Film Producers & Productions.
5: To establish websites to promote FilmEES Member Films.
6: To create DVD releases with Member trailer and promotional content for Member Projects.
7: To create a massive once a year meeting and Festival for all Members to share, meet and screen their work.
8: To foster upcoming indie-film makers (programs) so they can find creative channels to get their film made.
9: To structure fund raising channels for aspiring FilmEES Film Makers. Maybe with partner groups or organizations.
10: To make movies!!!

As the FilmEES group grows and our projects are available for film viewers to see fist hand the quality of members and their work, the Coalition will gain recognition. Of that I am sure. FilmEES website www.filmees.com
Join us!

D.A. Sebasstian is an artist, film maker, sculptor, writer, inventor, television producer and musician. He fronts the bands Kill Switch...Klick (or KsK) and D.A. Sebasstian & The Inner Demons.
He also runs Go-Kustom Rekords, Films and TV
. His first feature film was Hot Rod Girls Save The World released in 2008 and he is currently in post-production with Rat Rod Rockers! Sebasstian is also a features writer for Car Kulture Deluxe, Gearhead Magazine, Industrial Nation, Outburn and Ol Skool Rodz.