Guest Post: Lloyd Kaufman "Some Of What I Learned From Porn About Marketing"

Troma's Lloyd Kaufman is the definition of independent. He doesn't ask for permission or even appreciation. He doesn't let anything get in his way. He keeps making movies and he keeps them making money. We can all learn a few things from the man.

Luckily for all of us, he has a new book out: SELL YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE!. Luckily for you, I have stolen a few passages to post for you today.

GRASSROOTS MARKETING, ALSO KNOWN AS GUERILLA MARKETING (WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE MARKETING OF KING KONG )

 

When I’m looking for a new, innovative idea, I always look to porn.
The porno industry has led the way for years, in everything from
home video and cable to the Internet. Back in 1970, when we were
looking for ways to advertise The Battle of Love’s Return for little
money, I noticed that the guys in Times Square handing out strip
club fliers had a pretty good technique. They would wave the fli-
ers in your face as you walked by and yell, “Check it out! Check it
out! Check it out!” They’d say it three times like that, and invari-
ably, the hapless passerby would take the flier and, for all I know,
end up at the strip club later that night, checking it out. I decided
to borrow this technique when it came time to get the word out about our movie. I called everyone who had worked on The Battle
of Love’s Return
and was still talking to me,5 and we started blan-
keting New York City with little yellow fliers. Of course, the few
people who went to see the film as a result of our “check it out” fly-
ers were understandably furious when they were presented with my
boring movie instead of naked, dancing sluts.

For our second attempt at cheap marketing, we made a card-
board stencil of the film’s title and went to work spray-painting the
sidewalks. Unfortunately, the cop who saw us doing this was under
the impression that it was illegal, and he grabbed our stencil, broke
it over his knee, and threw it in a garbage can. Luckily, he didn’t
know who he was dealing with. I dove right into that garbage can
and got our stencil back the minute he walked away. The cop need
not have worried, though. Even before he broke the stencil, our
spray-painted stenciled titles were unreadable. But if there had been
a movie called BADD DLEI%*# in theaters at the time, it would
have benefited greatly from our stenciling attempt.

Learning from the spray-paint fiasco, we moved on to posters. And
like smart guys, we figured we would glue them in a place where a lot
of people would see them. For some reason, we chose the storefront
window of a Chinese restaurant. Now, let me impart some practical
knowledge on you in this chapter—if you are going to put up a poster
on a Chinese restaurant owner’s window and royally piss him off,
make sure that the poster does not say who you are and where you
will be at a certain time on a certain day. Because, if you do, that irate
Chinese restaurant owner will know exactly where to find you. Since
our posters were advertising our film’s premiere at the prestigious
Thalia Theater, this particular irate Chinese restaurant owner knew
exactly where to find us. He came to the theater on the night of the
premiere, yelling in Cantonese6 and looking like he’d been waiting his
whole life to beat up a skinny Jewish kid in a bowtie. Poor Mrs. Lewis,
the owner of the theater, was horrified. We agreed to take down the
posters and clean the windows that next day, but the whole thing was
embarrassing. But you know what? After the irate Chinese restaurant
owner beat the shit out of me, he sat down and watched the film, and
gave us our first great review, which was printed entirely in Cantonese
in the 报纸 Daily. We were the hit of Chinatown!

Back then, we didn’t need the Internet to get the word out, and
we still don’t! In fact, we use it far less than we should. Don’t think
that the Internet is your only option when it comes to generating
word of mouth. Sure, the Internet is great, and it can make it easier
for word to travel over distances, but don’t ignore your own home-
town! These are the people that are most likely to support you, so
get them on your side first! And don’t forget the Chinese!

-- Lloyd Kaufman

Net Neutrality Supports Independent Art

Troma's mastermind Lloyd Kaufman is quite a serious man. Seriously. He puts in a great deal of time and passion trying to preserve and enhance the life of Indies everywhere. He most recently penned a good rallying cry for Net Neutrality that you should not miss.

The Internet, the last free, open and diverse democratic medium, is under attack. Net Neutrality, which provides that no content is favored over any other, and that content creators have an equal opportunity to freely disseminate their information, is being imminently threatened by media mega-conglomerates and their vassals. It is urgent that we fight those who would sacrifice our freedom for a profit. Net Neutrality will be the savior of independent art and commerce if we preserve it.

Read all of it on Save The Internet here.

Indie Film Lobbying In DC

I wasn't aware of this until it was too late, but there has been a fair amount of inquiry within the community about how we can build better relationships with our representatives.  There's probably never been a more critical time or an important one than now for a host of reasons.  There are critical issues being decided.  The MPAA has had it's budget cut by $20M!  Although the studios' issues sometimes conflict with the indies, generally we have all greatly benefited by their lobbying efforts.

Lloyd Kaufman of Troma films brought this apparently annual summit to my attention (after a tip from Peri!) via Facebook.  Unfortunately it was yesterday.
“Filmmakers on the Hill” -
Location: Capitol Hill – Rayburn Building Room 2203
Organized in association with the Office of Congresswoman Diane E. Watson, Hosted by the Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus

Filmmakers come have your Mr. Smith moment. Formerly known as Advocacy Day, this Forum provides leading industry, legal and government experts the opportunity to discuss key issues that impact the independent film and media industry. In the past the panels covered varied subjects including: How to stimulate independent film production in the U.S.; creative new solutions for filmmakers struggling with financing, distribution issues and copyright licensing issues; new international financing opportunities and the role of governments in film production. DCIFF 2009 marks an expanded program with prominent speakers in two consecutive interactive panel sessions. This is a unique opportunity to hear concerns about the state of the independent film industry in the U.S..

9am - Meet & Greet – Meet your government representatives and other filmmakers.

10:00 - 11:15am: Session I:
A discussion of the ways in which American independent film strengthens the U.S. economy both domestically and abroad and how it is integral to the artistic and cultural profile of the United States. This industry is also an incubator for forward-looking digital innovation and technological advances. Considering its economic impact and cultural breadth in the global digital era, can legislation protect and nourish independent filmmaking and media? Data and research will be presented.

11:30am. – 1:00pm: Session II:
The challenges of making independent filmmaking sustainable by discussing options, incentives and realities under the umbrella of small business, taxes, distribution and location production costs. In particular, independent filmmaking is a potential engine of small business growth. The discussion will take on existing issues and creative ways of conceptualizing independent filmmaking in the context of state government involvement and incentives.