Google with Friends? Facebook’s Graph Search and What it Means to You

By Reid Rosefelt

IMPORTANT NOTE:

As I was finishing my recent post on Facebook's Graph Search, Tom Scott’s Tumblr blog on Facebook’s new Graph Search feature, “Actual Facebook Graph Searches,”  went viral.   Scott searched things like others of Jews who like Bacon,  married people who like Prostitutes, and current employers of people who like Racism, and more disturbingly, family members of people who live in China and like Falun Gong, and Islamic men interested in men who live in Tehran, Iran.   It’s likely that some of these “likes” were intended to be ironic.  I’m doubtful that that people would say they liked Prostitutes, even if they did, andGizmodo  found people with dubious likes for “Shitting my pants,” as well as some creepy things that might not be ironic.   But as has been noted a lot, it would be hard for people in China to say they were joking about liking the Falun Gong.

I advise all of you to go to “3 Privacy Changes You Must Change Before Using Facebook Graph Search”  (Gizmodo) and  Facebook Graph Search: Now Is The Time to Go Over Your Privacy Settings (ABC News).  I also think it would be worth studying The Facebook Privacy information page.

Last Tuesday, Facebook introduced a new feature called Graph Search at a highly hyped press conference.  Wall Street, which had been expecting a phone ,was not impressed, and the stock dived by 6.5% (it’s since recovered).  On the other hand, the social media bloggers almost unanimously called Graph Search a triumph and Mashable declared:  “Facebook Graph Search Could Be Its Greatest Innovation.”

What is it?  Graph Search gives you the power to tap into the web of connections between you and your friends in a way that has never existed before.  For example, if you type in a question like “Which of my friends like Moonrise Kingdom?” you will be shown a list of your friends, weighted by the ones you interact with the most, i.e., best friends on top.   You could also ask, “What films do my friends like?” and presumably--I haven’t seen it yet--the films at the top of the list will be the ones most liked by your friends. You can also add other variables to your search like “Which of my female Los Angeles friends who speak French like Moonrise Kingdom?”  As Graph Search indexes photos as well as likes, you can ask to see pictures from the photo libraries of all your friends who have liked something or other on Facebook.  You can see more examples of what Graph Search can do on a very Apple-ish video, and sign up for their Beta here.

Consider for a moment how Graph Search could supplement or compete with the services that other websites provide.  Yelp tells you what friends have to say about restaurants and other businesses; Graph Search tells you which ones are liked by your friends and their friends. LinkedIn is a powerful hiring tool for searching through people’s resumes; Graph Search lets you make targeted social inquiries, such as finding which friends of your friends are film publicists.   Match.com, as USA Today pointed out, allows you to see profiles of strangers who have signed up for the service; Graph Search shows which of your Facebook acquaintances and their friends are single. (Female Facebook users… prepare to be pestered!)

At this point Graph Search only indexes what’s in your profile and the pages you’ve liked, so its usefulness is limited by how much our Facebook profile tell about us.  However, Mark Zuckerberg says that his ultimate goal is for Graph Search to include all the content posted on Facebook.   Imagine if you could instantly call up comments that a trusted friend made about a movie three months ago?  That would indeed be very useful, but it will be many years before Graph Search can do that.   In the meantime, if there’s anything that Graph Search can’t help you with, your search goes to Bing.

If people having all this instant access to your data disturbs you, remember that there is nothing accessible through Graph Search that you haven’t already made public, and it only works within your circle of friends.  This is an excellent time to revisit your privacy settings, perhaps take down some pictures and remove tags. Here’s Facebook’s  information page and a video about how to control your privacy with Graph Search.

As far as your film’s fan page goes, Graph Search will force you to change your strategies. In the past, your page was the nucleus of a network, branching out to your fans and their friends, and to the tributaries of Facebook users that stem out beyond them.   Graph Search serves people on the outer margins looking in.  Previously the likes, comments and shares drove your message into the network, and the number of likes was secondary, but if Graph Search catches on, the number of fans will be very important to a search for “What movies do my friends like?”  However, the quality of the content will be as important as it was before, because it will move your film up to the top of the list.

Will Graph Search become one of those big ideas that changes the way we use the Internet?

Time will tell.  As I said before, Graph Search’s viability is limited to how much our profiles express who we are, and that is never the whole story--all of us enjoy more movies than we “like” on Facebook.  Will people hike up their privacy settings so much that Graph Search never reaches its potential? (If that happens it would have a detrimental effect on advertising.) How well will Graph Search work on phones?  What will be the impact of all the bots and fake likers on Facebook?  On the positive side, will Graph Search make it more likely that people will like film pages and write positive comments, as they can see how it will make a long-time difference?   Secondly, if Graph Search truly lives up to its promise it may become the “killer app” that convinces Facebook holdouts to join so they can get access to it.   At this point I think it’s too early to separate what is hype from what could be a seismic change.  Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg had the right tone  when he said, “This is just some really neat stuff. This is one of the coolest things we’ve done in a while.”

Reid Rosefelt coaches filmmakers in how to market their films using Facebook, and lectures frequently on the topic.  His credits as a film publicist include “Stranger Than Paradise,”  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and “Precious.”

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Don't Think Facebook is Helping Your Film? Maybe You're Not Doing It Right.

By Reid Rosefelt
Can you really sell your film on Facebook with one of those dinky ads on the right side of the page?

 

Let’s begin by taking off the table the fact that many people really hate them.  Assuming that that’s not the case,  usually the 100 pixel x 72 pixel size is too small to even show the poster image, and the maximum 90 characters makes a tweet look like a novel.   It’s true that Facebook ads can be dirt cheap-- for the price of one weekly ad in IndieWire-- I once got 60 million “impressions” (times displayed) on Facebook-- and it offers prodigious targeting abilities allowing you to zero in on fans of any director, actor, movie, social issue, among other  things, but still, you end up with a bargain price on a zillion itsy-bitsy ads that I personally don’t think will directly lead to anything as big as a ticket purchase or a video viewing.  Selling shoes or an exercise program or ice cream cones, yes; movie tix, no.  In my opinion, the sole purpose of those itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie ads on the right side of the page is to drive people to like your Facebook page.  It’s worked for me and countless others and it can work for you (if you do it right).

Now that you have a lot of fans on your page, do you blast them with a hard sell?  Do you put up a series of links to reviews that call it a masterpiece or one of the year’s ten best or the funniest or scariest movie in town?

I’m hoping  most of you know the answer to this one, but all of you don’t because I see it all the time. Earth to Facebook marketers!  Anything that looks or feels like ads is the epitome of what people don’t want to see on social media and will make them unlike your page or hide your posts pronto.  You don’t like it on your page, do you?   The harder you sell the easier they unlike.

Do you sell your movie on your Facebook page by begging your fans to go to the movie theatres?  

Your posts only reach 16% of your fans, of which more than half have already seen your film.  If anybody in that 8% is willing to see your movie as a favor, that’s because they have more of a connection with you than clicking a “like button” and you can reach them much more efficiently through email.  There are many examples of successful social media campaigns that ask people to reach out to their friends, but I personally think it’s a lot to ask your 8% to reach into their contact lists to notify their out-of town friends every time you book a new playdate.

Do you sell your movie on your Facebook page by keeping your fans up-to-date with the latest news?

If you’re a passionate fan of a film, it’s wonderful to receive information about awards, events and the latest reviews.  And it’s a nice thing for filmmakers to be in touch with their fans, particularly when the fan base gets big.   But what’s the point in communicating with people who have already signed on?   You are putting time into Facebook because you want to reach the friends-of-friends, friends-of-friends-of friends, and friends-of-friends-of-friends-of friends.  You want to keep reminding people who have never liked your page and never will… but might be aware of it and this will help keeping it on their wavelength.   My blog post about “The Wire” shows how this can go on indefinitely.   There is nothing in simple news by itself that makes a fan assume their friends will be interested.  You need to create the kind of content that people will want to share.

So how the hell do you sell your film on your Facebook page?

You sell by not “selling.”   You sell not by asking, but by giving.

You win when you grasp the concept that it isn’t about pushing your product on consumers, but initiating a dialogue.   You  succeed when you strive to give your fans an experience that is as close as possible to the one they enjoy with their most interesting and fun Facebook friends--intriguing and funny comments, links, questions,  pictures and videos.    You have a lot of tools like trailers and ads and publicity to help you get through the weekend.   Social media is not about this week;  it’s about what “Homeland”’s Carrie Mathison calls the “long game.”   Social media is about forging relationships that will last throughout your career.

Don’t let anybody ever catch you “selling.” Facebook will work for you from the moment you understand that you only get when you give.

Reid Rosefelt coaches filmmakers in how to market their films using Facebook, and lectures frequently on the topic.  His credits as a film publicist include “Stranger Than Paradise,”  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and “Precious.”

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Come Together: The Future of Independent Film and Social Media

By Reid Rosefelt
 
 
I read that 57% of people say they talk more online than they do in real life.   Whether or not this suspiciously  precise statistic is wholly accurate-- it paints a realistic picture of the way people I know live today, and how we will live as we move forward to 2013 and beyond.

Does social media increase our connection to each other or does it tear us apart?   By communicating with more people more of the time do we let our face-to-face social interaction skills deteriorate?  Will we evolve into creatures with very small mouths and extremely dexterous fingers?

Of course, not all the changes wrought by the internet have kept us physically apart.   In almost as many cases it has brought us together, for example:  computer dating;  reunions with long-lost friends; joining with strangers at meetup.com live events; connecting with nearby friends through 4Square, to name but a few.  The truth is that the internet has probably connected more people in the real world than any entity that preceded it, and it has opened up previously unimagined opportunities for lasting connections with the people we already know.

How does the internet impact moviemaking?  While technology has created the opportunity for parts of the process to be done in isolation, mostly we band together in groups of varying sizes during film production.   In addition, most of us interact at film festivals and through organizations like the IFP, the Sundance Institute and Film Independent.   Where the fissures between people are growing is in the way we watch movies, which is less and less in movie theatres.

Technology is chipping away at the idea of cinema as a communal experience, and this concerns me.   The small screens cut into the art of the cinema and into the vitality of the experience, which is at its best when it flows from the credits through the café conversations that flow afterwards.

Technology has proven its ability to help get people into the theatres, notably the transformation of the experience created by online ticketing.  Social media can help people find out what their friends are seeing  and recommending.   I do miss the golden age of the film critic, but I realize that the purpose of sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic is to get people out of their houses and into the theatres.

I’m as big a believer in social media as you can find, but I am more cheered by new ideas in micro-exhibition like ReRun and Rooftop Films, and the alternative distribution models being explored by  people like Peter Broderick, Jon Reiss, Scott Kirsner,  and the creator of this blog.   We need more ideas like these and we need to integrate them at their core with social media.   As a marketer, I do advise people to consider the digital route, but I never advise them to leave some kind of theatrical showing out of their plans.

My plea to the independent film community for 2013 is simple: let’s use technology to bring us together.    See you at the movies!

Reid Rosefelt coaches filmmakers in how to market their films using Facebook, and lectures frequently on the topic.  His credits as a film publicist include “Stranger Than Paradise,”  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and “Precious.”

Blogreidrosefelt.com

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Following My Own Advice

By Reid Rosefelt had  breakfast recently with Jaie LaPlante, the Executive Director of the Miami International Film Festival.  Jaie has  healthy 13,000 fans on his Facebook page, but like most people, he’s hungry for more.

I explained that he shouldn’t worry much too much about the  number of fans--the thing that matters is how active his page is--he should be concerned with the number of likes, comments and shares.    What was he  doing to stir up traffic?  Jaie said he had a guy named Igor Shteyrenberg who was merrily posting all day long.  “He shouldn’t posting so often,” I said, repeating a truisms I’d rattled off so often in blogs and lectures.   “All Facebook research has proven that you should never post more than two or three times a day.”

 

Umm….wrong.  Rules don’t apply when you have great content.

 

Despite--or maybe because of--the constant postings, I later discovered that Miami had one of the liveliest festival pages I’d ever seen.   Igor turned out to be the George Takei of movies, generating a potpourri of funny, interesting cinema and pop culture graphics he’d excavated from the web.  The page gave the festival a lively personality-- hip, and buoyant  and fun.   Adjusting the numbers proportionately for number of fans, the Miami page had much better metrics than the pages for all of the world’s top festivals.   Posting “too often” didn’t matter.

 

I was happy for Jaie, but the wonderful Miami page made me think of something  that I don’t like to think about:  my own page.   There was a lot of room for improvement there. The advice I give centers around creating square images that are funny and interesting and shareable.  Why couldn’t I put it into practice myself?    I worked hard on my Facebook- related graphics, but they weren’t all that exciting; movies are intrinsically more fun than social media advice.    There were people creating the square images and having luck with them, so I ran examples on my page, but I couldn’t rely on them to be a regular source of content.   I had been experimenting with offering different kinds of information on the page, but when I saw the Miami page, it kicked me in the ass--I knew I could do better.

 

For the first time I asked myself the questions I ask every potential client: what’s your goal?  What do you want the page to do for you?    I decided there were three main reasons:  first, I write a blog and I want to announce the new posts;  second, I want to announce my lectures; and third, and most importantly,  I want the page to be a place to post examples of people putting my advice into action.  So I thought, “why don’t I make my own cinema-themed content to show people what I’m advising them to do?”    It would vividly illustrate my approach and at the same time give people a sense  of what I’m like.

 

I did my first graphic on December 1st, a picture of Jean-Luc Godard:

People liked it, and so I made more: Christopher Walken, Marilyn Monroe,  Abbas Kiarostami, Louise Brooks, Quentin Tarantino,  Groucho Marx,  Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Steven Spielberg, Michel Gondry, Woody Allen,  Bette Davis,  Audrey Hepburn, Pedro Almodovar,  Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Orson Welles, and Tim Burton.

 

The activity on my page has gone up ten times.

 

There’s an important lesson here and it’s not limited to social media.  Don’t give up.   Keep trying until you find a solution that’s right for you.

Reid Rosefelt coaches filmmakers in how to market their films using Facebook, and lectures frequently on the topic.  His credits as a film publicist include “Stranger Than Paradise,”  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and “Precious.”

Blogreidrosefelt.com

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Still Don’t Understand How Facebook Sells Movies? Read This.

By Reid Rosefelt The HBO show “The Wire” went off the air in March of 2008 after five seasons. It never received hire ratings or an Emmy nomination, but many critics called it one of the greatest TV dramas of all time when it was on, and admiration for the program has increased exponentially over the years.

HBO put up an official Facebook page in 2010 which currently has 1.7 million likes. This past Tuesday, December 4th they put up a picture Wendell Pierce as beloved Detective William “Bunk” Moreland accompanied by the quote , and asking the fans to share their favorite Bunk quotes.

So far, 1505 people have commented, 13,129 liked the picture, and 1879 people shared it, for a total of 16,513 mentions on Facebook timelines. Not all of the 16,513 timeline mentions are on unique pages but on the other hand if you scroll through the 1879 shares you’ll see hundreds of comments and shares from those.

A good guess is that over 15,000 people put “The Wire” on their timelines in one way or another.

As Facebook users have an average of 130 friends that would mean that a mention of “The Wire” appeared on around 1,950,000 timelines.

Still, just because a Facebook user has a mention of “The Wire” on his or her timeline doesn’t mean they see it. On average, only 16% of posts get seen, so only around 312,000 people probably saw it.

You heard me right—over 300,000 people saw a Facebook mention of a show that went off the air four and a half years ago, based on a single post by HBO. Even if my calculations are inflated--and I don’t think they are--it is still in the hundreds of thousands.

These are big numbers, but what do they actually mean in the real world? Personally I don’t care much if somebody likes some TV show on my timeline, particularly Facebook “friends” I might not even know. Although there will be some friends whose opinions I trust, with all the entertainment choices I have, I don’t know if a simple mention or even strong praise would be sufficient to convince me. But it wouldn’t be about a single day. It’s a never-ending barrage of praise from friends that goes on for years, until this old show becomes linked in your mind with can’t-miss current series like “Homeland,” “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.”

I admit that you would have to be a hermit not to hear about how great “The Wire” without any help from social media. Still, we all hear about amazing movies and TV shows, but for one reason or another we never get around to checking them out. Eventually our vague plans to see them slip to the back of our minds and disappears.

As long as HBO keeps pumping out content, Facebook never ever lets you forget about “The Wire.” And this goes for kids who are five years old today. They are going to hear about it again and again and again. The only thing that will happen is that number of fans will grow as people watch the show and the numbers of mentions on Facebook will increase by the hundreds of thousands.

Facebook is forever. Facebook is not about selling tickets this weekend or this month; Facebook is a long-term game which has a potential payout unprecedented in the history of marketing.

Or at least until there are TV’s or some kind of visual delivery system and climate change hasn’t killed us all. Even if Facebook is wiped out by some other social media platform, “The Wire” will live on there.

How much effort was put into that December 4th post? It’s nothing more than a wallpaper photo recycled from long ago, accompanied with a line of text. It probably took an HBO staffer a minute to put it up, before moving on to “Sex and the City” with its 13 million likes, “The Sopranos,” with its 2.4 million likes, “Game of Thrones,” with its 4.5 million likes, and “Deadwood” and all the rest.

You can say, well “The Wire” is a very special show, and that is certainly true. But there are thousands of great shows in TV history that aren’t taking advantage of social media like HBO is.

There are a lot of great independent films too, but 80-90% of independent film distributors and filmmakers are totally, completely, utterly not doing what HBO is doing. And I include marketing people who are on Facebook ten hours a day. Once they put on their marketing hat on they use Facebook like the people who are most annoying on Facebook. You know, the kind that never send you any fun links or make interesting comments about current events. The kind that only contacts you when they want something, like for you to like their page or come to their concert or art show or….wait for it…ask you to tell your friends that their movie is opening in Cleveland or Birmingham or Tuscaloosa or Chicago or Tampa or Austin or San Francisco. Did you tune out after the first dozen playdates?  No problem. If you don't like, comment or share, the Facebook computer algorithm will stop showing them to you.

Can we do better than this in our industry?

Hell, HBO doesn’t do Facebook that well either.

Reid Rosefelt coaches filmmakers in how to market their films using Facebook, and lectures frequently on the topic.  His credits as a film publicist include “Stranger Than Paradise,”  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and “Precious.”

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Creating Newsletters For Your Film Project

By Laura Hammer

As PMD on Leah Meyerhoff’s I Believe In Unicorns, part of my job was to send newsletter updates to our base of supporters.  Newsletters are not just for announcing screenings! They are an integral part of audience engagement and get people involved in your project as early as development stages.  Your subscribers email boxes are flooded with newsletter campaigns from companies and projects and they will barely have time for yours.  Do not bother them with something hideous (lacking design effort) and difficult to read (text too small or the length of an encyclopedia).

Newsletter layouts have four essential components: Header, Body, *Sidebar, and Footer.   *Depending on the layout you pick you may have no sidebar, one, or multiple sidebars! If choosing multiple sidebars, I would advise picking a layout where these columns are below the main body text and above the footer.   Choose wisely and investigate your own email box for designs that stand out.

Be creative and consistent. Design choices should match the aesthetics of the film.  Keep the same color scheme, layout, and visual elements throughout your campaign.  Use a minimum amount of graphics as several email clients block images by default.

Declare yourself.  Ensure your readers know who you are and why they are receiving this newsletter.  Try adding the words “movie” or “film” to your sender name.  The “email subject line” should be short and attention grabbing as it serves the same purpose as a logline. This “subject line” should highlight the main topic of your newsletter.

Make sure your (A) HEADER links back to your main website and includes the film’s title as well as the director or key cast members names. Recipients will click mostly on links in the top of your newsletter and most will only view your email in the preview pane.  For the (B) BODY of your newsletter stick with one main topic or idea you are trying to convey.

Choose an eye catching main photo and make sure it links back to your main website or site you most want your readers to visit.

Get Social (1, 5, 9) Prominently display social media profile logo links and your official site url.  Tweet your campaign after sending.

Keep it short! Use short subtitles to break up topics or long sections of text, these can also become navigation links in the (2) table of contents. The main body text can include links back to blog posts that have more detail.  
Highlight recent news. We use the subtitle “More Great News” to highlight the recent accomplishments of our cast and crew.   Next to each blurb is a thumbnail photo that links back to the related press article or the related film’s Facebook page.   We usually include a text link back to a blog post on our blog congratulating them and providing more detail and additional related outgoing links.  This builds community and drives traffic and new fans to your film.

Express gratitude by linking back to any organizations helping your film and include their logos.  Thank cast, crew, and supporters when production goals are reached and let them know how their contribution is bringing the project closer to the finish line.

While optional, the (C) SIDEBAR of a newsletter can be most helpful during development and production stages of a project.   Once a film is completed, sidebars can be utilized to list screening and release dates.

Crowdfund. If you are asking for donations, (3) make the link large and feature a logo if you have a fiscal sponsor or crowdfunding platform.

Get help!  (4) Our “Join” button allows people to sign up for a separate segmented list letting us know they are willing to go the extra mile for Unicorns.  Subscribers have donated their time, equipment and lent other items for our production. This is our go-to list for last minute needs.

Hire people!  (6) You can use your newsletter to find cast and crew. Add a job notice for positions available on your project. We found many of our team this way and saved lots of resumes for future reference.

Change the world. (7) Our project has a social justice issue, so we use a “Stop Domestic Violence” purple ribbon logo to link back to our advocacy blog on Tumblr.

Your (D) FOOTER must include (8) a closing, (10) your company contact information, a (11) “You are receiving this message because...” one line explanation, and an (12)  “Unsubscribe” opt-out.

“Let my people go!” There should be a link for subscribers to update their preferences – in addition to “Unsubscribe” – as subscribers may change their email address but still want to receive your updates.

Codecheck Repeated edits and saves can cause the code behind your newsletter to become broken.  If you don’t know HTML and CSS, find someone who does to double check your code before sending.  Otherwise it may not arrive in recipients mailboxes looking like it did in preview mode.

Spellcheck Proper spelling is fundamental. Cross-reference IMDB for names.   Always check with partners, sponsors, publications and institutions as to how they would like to be credited.

Create a schedule for blasts and set goals.  Once a film is complete, your focus should move from growing support to get the film made to motivating that cultivated audience into the seats at the theater, renting, and/or purchasing your film as it becomes available.

Grow your Subscriber Lists.  You should be always cultivating your contacts and growing subscriber lists. Add a signup form to your website and your Facebook page.  Organize and segment these lists for easy reference.  Make sure you have the individuals’ permission to email them - its the law!

There are many services available for sending newsletters and you should comparison shop for one that best suits your needs. We chose Mail Chimp because it has a great analytics feature, social sharing, and a free plan!  You can view our newsletter in your browser.  Please share our campaign with your friends - http://eepurl.com/ojPc5 - and sign up to join the magic of I Believe In Unicorns.

Laura is a Producer and SAG-AFTRA Actor with a BFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Enamored with the art and business of 21st Century storytelling, Laura is taking on a new role in independent film as a Producer of Marketing and Distribution. http://laurahammer.com/

Traditional Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing… and the Results

By Reid Rosefelt

Everything in traditional movie marketing is generated by the marketers: publicity, reviews, posters, trailers and TV spots, websites, ads, and so on. It is a one way / top-down process. The marketers make all this stuff and hope that all or part of it will somehow register in the consciousness of potential moviegoers.

Social media marketing works the complete opposite way. A Facebook fan page is a group of people who come together online to talk about a topic of common interest, which in this case is a movie. People can decide to form a group like this on their own, or the marketers can invite them when they set up a page.

Instead of one-way, social media is two-way, or more precisely, multi-way. Social media is about dialogue and making connections and no marketer can force a group to convene or control what that discussion will be. Eric Cantor has an official Facebook page; there is also a popular “Eric Cantor is a Douchebag” page.

Our task as Facebook marketers is to set up the online community, try to get people to go there, and then keep the conversation going. Effective social media marketing happens when the audience is the show--not us. But most movie marketers transfer the one-way technique to Facebook by using it as a newsletter or an email blast… and fail utterly. Sending out status updates about what cities the film is opening in or links to reviews and articles is unlikely to provoke people to comment, share or like. And if they don’t do that, the Facebook algorithm sends out fewer posts and the page gradually becomes a pointless exercise.

The whole idea of social media marketing rests on authenticity--you can’t have a Facebook Community for your film unless there really are a group of people who want to talk about it. That’s why the number of likes you have on your page doesn’t necessarily matter. It does you no good to get your friends--who like you personally but may not have any particular interest in your movie--to like your page as a favor.  What matters more than the number of likes is the amount and the quality of the conversation appearing on the page from the people who do care about the topic of discussion.

Having more likes doesn’t necessarily mean you have more activity. The official “Audi USA” page has almost six million members, but it has less fan engagement than the fan page “I Love Audi,” which has only one million members.

audi-1

If you want to check out whether any film page is working or not, all you need to do is click the Likes button.

likes-button

You’ll see something like this:

ptat-1

The number on the left, “People Talking About This,” represents the number of unique people who have liked, commented, shared, or otherwise interacted with this particular movie fan page over the past week.  That’s always more important than the number of Likes.

The frame grab above is from a recent independent film.  Here are a few others:

PTAT-2

ptat-3

ptat-5

Here is “Moonrise Kingdom”

moonrise-kingdom

How does your page measure up?  Facebook fan pages aren’t like posters or trailers, where I might love one and you might hate it.  The “People Are Talking About This” is a cold number that can’t be argued with.  It doesn’t matter how nice your page looks or how hard you are working on it, either people are talking about it or they ain’t.  I would say, however, that though a low number means failure, a high one doesn’t necessarily mean success: it’s not useful if everybody is just telling each other to go to hell.  To evaluate a page you have to look at more than its analytics.

If you’re not happy with what you see, you can:  try using Shareable Square images instead of status updates and links; use calls to action; post daily but not more than three times a day. I’m sure you’ll see a lot of improvement very soon.

This post originally appeared on Reid's website and is reprinted here with his permission.

Peter Broderick: "The Power of Free"

As always Peter Broderick's latest newsletter is a must read -- this time it's about the documentary "Hungry For Change" and how the directors' incredibly success with the film is precisely because they gave it away for free, online. Once again, Peter's been nice enough to let me share the newsletter here with you. I can't recommend enough that you sign up for Peter's Distribution Bulletin. The extraordinary million-dollar success of HUNGRY FOR CHANGE marks a new era of opportunities for independents. It illustrates how "free" can be used to achieve broad awareness, generate revenue quickly, and build a worldwide audience.

The release of HUNGRY FOR CHANGE was unprecedented. The film: - premiered online (having never screened publicly before) - was available worldwide - was absolutely free (for 10 days only)

The results were remarkable: - 453,841 views around the world during the 10 day premiere - over $1.02 million in sales of DVDs and recipe books in the first 14 days

HUNGRY FOR CHANGE is a documentary that challenges the myths perpetuated by the weight loss industry and shows how to develop a healthy, lifelong diet. It is the second film by dynamic husband-and-wife team James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch, who I started consulting with in 2008 when they were beginning to distribute FOOD MATTERS, which went on to sell over 230,000 DVDs (see Distribution Bulletin #14). James and Laurentine are based in Australia but came to Los Angeles last week, where they told me the inside story of their historic "Free Worldwide Online Premiere."

James and Laurentine have learned how to tap the power of free. They've been experimenting with the possibilities of free for four years, first with FOOD MATTERS and now with HUNGRY FOR CHANGE.

FOOD MATTERS

Free Public Screenings - Instead of following the industry norm of charging organizations fees to hold screenings, the filmmakers took a risk and allowed anyone who registered to host a screening for free. The FOOD MATTERS website encourages the hosting of screenings:

"As part of our vision to provide life-transforming information that is accessible to all people, we are excited to allow free screenings of Food Matters around the globe."

The website provides a free screening resource pack, which includes handouts, posters, and other publicity materials. James and Laurentine believed that the cost of lost screening revenues would be much smaller than the benefit of positive word-of-mouth from a greater number of screenings, resulting in increases in visitors to the website, mailing lists sign-ups, and DVD sales.

Free, Dynamic Website Content - The filmmakers regularly added content to the FOOD MATTERS website, making it a valuable resource for their audience. This included videos that were freely available to all visitors to the website who registered, which simply consisted of inputting a name and an email address.

Free Online Screening - In December 2010, FOOD MATTERS DVDs were put on sale from the website for one week at half price. This resulted in 4600 sales, the best week in 2 1Ž2 years of sales. In October 2011, the filmmakers took a more radical approach with even better results. They allowed all comers to watch FOOD MATTERS for free for 8 days. This stimulated direct and indirect sales of 9800 DVDs, twice as many as were sold when it was offered at half price. Even more impressive, over 37,000 people joined the mailing list during this event.

As James explained, when you offer a film for free you get sign-ups from a good percentage of everyone who views the film. When you are having a sale, you only get the customer information from those who actually make a purchase. "For us, we're about creating a long-term relationship with our followers and not just selling to them," noted James.

HUNGRY FOR CHANGE

After their successful experiments with free, particularly the online screening of FOOD MATTERS, James and Laurentine decided to go all the way with HUNGRY FOR CHANGE. They were aware of some films that had been released free online, such as Michael Moore's SLACKER UPRISING, but knew of no major ones that had premiered online.

Pre-Release Marketing - They chose the term FREE WORLDWIDE ONLINE PREMIERE and released the trailer for HUNGRY FOR CHANGE on March 1, 2012. This was followed by two more eblasts with additional video content, including the first 4 minutes of the film, during the 21 days leading up to the premiere. They also partnered with the experts featured in the film. These experts had their own followers and shared in both the promotion of the free online premiere and the revenues from sales they referred.

Global Reach - The Free Worldwide Online Premiere was an instant hit. On its first day (March 21st) there were 45,211 plays. Tens of thousands of people watched the film each day. The premiere ended with a bang with 58,292 plays on the final day (March 31st). Altogether there were almost half a million views from more than 150 countries across the globe in just 10 days. These are astonishing numbers for an independent film that had never been seen before, had no paid advertising, and was not available through any retail channels.

Subscribers - There were 229,000 sign-ups in 14 days, a significantly greater number than FOOD MATTERS had gained in the previous 4 years. James estimates that less than 30% of the HUNGRY FOR CHANGE sign-ups were FOOD MATTERS subscribers, which means that at least 160,000 were new subscribers, almost doubling James and Laurentine's already substantial online following.

Revenue - Everyone who viewed HUNGRY FOR CHANGE was given access to three special offers: the DVD for $34.95, the new recipe book for $49.95, or the DVD and the recipe book for $74.95. Each order came with free bonuses and free shipping. In the first 14 days, over 20,800 orders were placed totaling over $1 million in sales. Although most purchasers had already seen the film for free, many wanted to buy a copy for themselves or purchase it as a gift for family or friends.

Access - Beyond broad awareness, revenues, and sign-ups, there are other important benefits of free. It removes a major barrier between filmmakers and audiences. If the film is available at no charge, at least temporarily, it is accessible to everyone. From the beginning, James and Laurentine have been motivated by a strong desire to get their message out to more people. Free allows their films to be seen even more widely and enables them to build relationships with viewers.

Good Will - Another major benefit of free is good will, which has allowed the filmmakers to develop a truly interactive relationship with their audience. They talk directly to their followers who tell them what they want. This knowledge has enabled them to make and market films that meet their followers' needs and continue to be seen by more and more people. -----

Taking free to a new level has also expanded awareness of James and Laurentine and created new opportunities for them. They are now writing a book for HarperCollins, which will be published this fall to coincide with the retail release of HUNGRY FOR CHANGE.

© 2012 Peter Broderick

Peter Broderick is a Distribution Strategist who helps design and implement customized plans to maximize revenues for independent films. He is also a leading advocate of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, championing them in keynotes and presentations around the world. You can read his articles at www.peterbroderick.com

“A Tree Falls In The Forest” and other ruminations on social/community-based marketing…

by Jeffrey Winter, Sheri Candler, and Orly Ravid.

The old philosophical thought experiment "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" has never been truer for film distribution. With the incredible number of films available for consumption on innumerable platforms, getting some form of distribution for your film is no longer the core problem. The central issue now is: how will anyone know about it? How will you find your audience? And how will you communicate enough to them to drive them to the point of actually seeing it?

Before we plunge into that question, let’s take one step back and discuss the term “distribution.” In today’s convergence universe, where anyone with technical savvy can be surfing the Internet and watching it on their television, every single person with a high speed internet connection is in some way a “distributor.” Anyone can put content onto their website and their Facebook and de facto make it available to anyone else in the world. Anyone can use DIY distribution services to distribute off their site(s), and get onto larger and / or smaller platforms.

Even getting your film onto some combination of the biggest digital platforms – i.e. iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and Cable VOD – is not insurmountable for most films. We’re not saying it is easy…there are a myriad of steps to go through and rigorous specs at times and varying degree of gatekeepers you’ll have to interface with and get approval from. But with some good guidance (for example, we at the Film Collaborative can help you with that), some cash, and a little persistence…these distribution goals can usually be achieved.

But in a certain way, none of that matters. If you have your film available, say, on iTunes…. how is anyone going to know that? Chances are you aren’t going to get front- page promo placement, so people will have to know how and why to search for it. This is why the flat fee services to get onto iTunes (which we now offer too) do not necessarily mean you will net a profit. Films rarely sell themselves. You are going to have to find the ways to connect to an audience who will actively engage with your film, and create awareness around it, or you will certainly fall into the paradox of the “tree falls in the forest” phenomenon… which many independent filmmakers can relate to.

So we arrive at the current conundrum, how do we drive awareness of our films? The following are the basic “points of light” everyone seems to agree with.

• Use the film festival circuit to create initial buzz.
• If you can, get the film into a break-even theatrical, hybrid theatrical, non-theatrical window that spreads word of mouth on the film.
• Engage the press, both traditional press and blogosphere, to write about the film.
• Build a robust social media campaign, starting as early as possible (ideally during production and post), creating a “community” around your film.
• Build grassroots outreach campaign around any and all like-minded organizations and web-communities (i.e. fan bases, niche audiences, social issue constituencies, lifestyle communities, etc.)
• Launch your film into ancillaries, like DVD and digital distro, and make sure everyone who has heard of the film through the previous five bullet points now knows that they can see the film via ancillary distribution, and feels like a “friend” of the effort to get the word out to the public-at-large. • Be very creative and specific in your outreaches to all these potential partners, engaging them in very targeted marketing messages and media to cut through the glut of information that the average consumer is already barraged with in everyday life. This, above all, means being diligent in finding your true “fans,” i.e. the core audience who will be passionate about your subject matter and help you spread the word.

Our book SELLING YOUR FILM WITHOUT SELLING YOUR SOUL and its companion blog on www.SellingYourFilm.com already highlights a good number of filmmakers who have used some combination of the above tactics to successful effect in finding a “fanbase” of audiences most likely to consume the film. Here, in this posting, we illustrate some additional recent films and tactics useful to filmmakers moving forward with these techniques.

WE WERE HERE, by David Weissman Selected for the U.S. Documentary Competition by the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, WE WERE HERE tells the emotionally gripping story of the onset of AIDS in San Francisco in the early 1980s. The Film Collaborative handled festival release for this film, as well as international sales and grassroots marketing support on behalf of the theatrical and VOD (and US sales in conjunction with Jonathan Dana). Theatrical distribution, press, and awards campaigning is being handled by Red Flag Releasing.



On the face of it, WE WERE HERE is a documentary about a depressing topic like AIDS, and therefore doesn’t seem like the easiest sell in the world. However, it also happens to be an excellent film that was selected for Sundance and Berlin, as well as a film that has fairly obvious niche audiences that can be identified and targeted. As soon as The Film Collaborative came onboard, about a month prior to the Sundance 2011 premiere, we set about creating a list of more than 300 AIDS organizations in the United States, and reached out to each of them to ask them to get to know us on Facebook and our website, and also offered to send them screeners, in case they wanted to host a special screening down the road etc. Needless to say, we got an enthusiastic response from these groups (since we were doing work they would obviously believe in), but the goal here was not to make any kind of immediate money…we simply wanted them onboard as a community to tap into down the line.

Simultaneously, we created a targeted list of 160 film festivals we thought were best for the film -- mixing major international fests, doc fests, and LGBT fests – and sent each of them a personalized email telling them about the film and asking them if they would like to preview it. The film (to date, is still booking internationally) was ultimately selected by over 100 film festivals (many not on our original target list of course).

As the screenings began, we reminded the filmmaker over and over to follow every introduction and every Q&A with a reminder about “liking” the Facebook page, and completely to his credit, filmmaker Weissman was always active in all aspects of Facebook marketing…always posting relevant information about the film and replying to many “fan” posts personally. Not surprisingly, a film this powerful and personal generated many deeply affecting fan posts from people who had survived the epidemic etc..., or were just deeply moved by the film. As a result, the Facebook page became a powerful hub for the film, which we strongly recommend you check out for a taste of what real fan interaction can look like ( http://www.facebook.com/wewerehere). Warning….a lot of the postings are extremely emotional! One quick note – some of the most active subject members of the doc were made administrators as well, and also respond to the posts…a clever idea as it surely makes the FB fans feel even closer to the film, since they can talk with the cast as well. This would be an interesting thing to try with a narrative film as well…having the cast reply on Facebook (FB)… which is something we haven’t seen much of yet.

With the basics of community built – between the AIDS organizations, the Festivals, and the FB fans, we now had a pool to go back to…. both on theatrical release as well as upon VOD release (which just recently happened on December 9, 2011). For each major theatrical market, and for the VOD release, we went back to these people, and asked them to spread the word. We asked for email blasts, FB posts, tweets…whatever they could do to help spread the word. And without a doubt the film has gotten out there beyond anyone’s wildest initial dreams…although with VOD release only last month and DVD release still to come, final release numbers won’t be known to us for some time now…

But you can be assured we’ll be hitting up our community when the DVD comes out as well! Also please note that these techniques and efforts apply to any niche. For example, on a panel at Idyllwild Film Festival a filmmaker talked about his documentary about his father playing for the Chicago Cubs and how he sold 90,000 DVDs himself (and he also did event theatrical screenings via Emerging Pictures). He simply went after the niche, hard.

HENRY’S CRIME directed by Malcolm Veneville Starring Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, and James Cannes, world premiere at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Released in limited theatrical run in April 2011, and available on DVD and digital platforms as of August 2011. Although a film with “A-level” cast, the film was produced independently and distributed independently by Moving Pictures Film and Television. The film tells the story of a wrongly accused man (Reeves) who winds up behind bars for a bank robbery he didn’t commit. After befriending a charismatic lifer (Caan) in prison, Henry finds his purpose — having done the time, he decides he may as well do the crime. Ancillaries for the film are handled by Fox Studios. The Film Collaborative’s sister for-profit company, New American Vision, was brought aboard to handle special word-of-mouth screenings for the film, as well as social media marketing, working in conjunction with several top publicists and social marketing campaign companies in the business.



On the face of it, this film couldn’t possibly be any more different than WE WERE HERE. A narrative, heist/rom-com with major names sounds a lot easier to sell than an AIDS doc with no names. And yet, the process of reaching out to the public was surprisingly similar….both in terms of what we did and what other professional consultants on the project did as well.

First, we targeted major film festivals and major film society organizations around the country for special “word-of-mouth” (WOM) screenings of the film – seeking to create a buzz amongst likely audiences. Since the film was to be theatrically released in major markets, we targeted the festivals/film societies in these markets. This result was successful, and we got major WOM screenings in NY, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, as well as Buffalo…which was important only because the film was shot and set in Buffalo and used significant Buffalo-based crew and resources, making it a perfect market for the film.

Next, we broke the film down into logical first constituencies for the film, which we identified as follows: 1) fans of Keanu Reeves and fans of his prior movies, 2) fans of Vera Farmiga and fans of her prior movies, 3) fans of James Caan and fans of his prior movies, 4) twitter accounts that mentioned any of the cast as well as those dedicated to independent film etc., 5) web communities dedicated to anything related to the playwright Anton Checkov (because the film features significant and lengthy scenes dedicated to Reeves and Farmiga performing Checkov’s Cherry Orchard), 6) key websites dedicated to romantic comedies, 7) key recommenders of independent film, etc. Over the course of approximately six weeks prior to release, we reached out to these sites regularly, in an effort to build excitement for the film.

While this grassroots work was taking place, our colleagues in publicity organized press junkets around the film, and of course solicited reviews. In addition, marketing professionals from both Ginsberg Libby and Moving Pictures were constantly feeding marketing assets for the film as well as exclusive clips both to the major press, key film sites, as well as to the official Facebook and twitter for the movie….all with the same goal in mind…i.e. to create awareness for a film that, although it had the feeling of a traditional Hollywood film in many ways, was actually thoroughly independent and lacking the resources for major TV buys, billboards, print ads, and other traditional marketing techniques.

Unfortunately, in the end, HENRY’S CRIME did not truly take hold, and the theatrical release was far less than stellar. The reviews for the film were not complimentary (it is a good film, but not a great film), and the word-of-mouth was also not sufficient to drive the performance of the film.

This of course often happens with independent film releases, and in this case the lessons learned were particularly instructive. It was apparent while working on the film that the community-building aspects of the marketing campaign started far too late to truly engage an audience large enough to support the release (it only began in earnest about six weeks before the film’s release…even though the film had had its festival world premiere nearly SIX MONTHS before). In addition, HENRY’S CRIME proves the old adage that, sometimes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink…meaning that the word of mouth audiences and press reviews didn’t particularly spark interest in the film in the wider community because they weren’t particularly excited by the film.

This is a lesson sometimes we all need to learn the hard way…that in today’s glutted market, it isn’t always enough to put out a decent movie….in fact in today’s competition, you really need to put out a independent movie that is actually great…or at least connects so deeply with your audience that they are compelled to see it.

Of course, one endless question rages on here. What are the long-tail effects of the outreach? Just because people didn’t turn out in droves to see a film in the theater, does that mean they won’t tune in on a later date in the digital platform of their choice. Certainly many people who have HEARD of Henry’s Crime who didn’t see it in the theater may one day rent it on an available digital platform, and that is why the grassroots work is so critical. We are setting up today what we can’t possibly know until tomorrow….or maybe several years from now.

TAKE-AWAY LESSONS from this post

By comparing these experiences, there are several take-aways that filmmakers should be encouraged to keep in mind when thinking about marketing their independent film. Here are some of them….

1) Build a list, both in the real world and online, of every organization and cross-promotional partner you can think of (or google), that might be interested in your film. Reach out to them about your film, and ask for their support. This is arduous work, but it has to be done. From Sheri Candler: “Initially you will take part in the community before you tell them why you are there. For example, I started researching where online the ballet community hangs out and who they listen to. I also endeavored to meet these people offline when I could. If I was going to be in their city, I asked to meet for coffee. Real life interface when you can. I then started following those online communities and influencers quietly to start with and interjecting comments and posts only when appropriate. They were then curious about me and wanted to hear about the film. If I had gone on to the platforms or contacted the influencers immediately telling them I was working on a film, chances are they would shun me and ruin my chances to form relationships. This is why you have to start so early. When you’re in a hurry, you can’t spend the necessary time to develop relationships that will last, you can’t build the trust you need. It helps to deeply care about the film. I think the biggest takeaway I have learned when it comes to outreach is the very personal nature of it. If you don’t personally care, they can tell. They can tell you are there to use them and people are on their guard not to be used. The ideal situation is they WANT to help, they ASK to help, you don’t have to cajole them into it.”

2) Offer your potential partners something back in return. With a film like WE WERE HERE, this wasn’t difficult…because the film naturally supported their work. But, for most films, you’ll need to offer them something back… like ticket-giveways, promotional emails, branding, opportunities for fundraising around the cause, merchandising give-aways, groups discounts, etc. Be creative in your thinking as to why YOU should get their attention amongst the many other films out there.

3) Community-building is an organic, long-term process… Just like making friends in the real world, the process of making “friends” in community marketing and online takes time and real connection. With WE WERE HERE, we had a year to build connections amongst AIDS orgs, film festivals, and attendees at numerous screenings. The opposite was true with HENRY’S CRIME….six weeks just doesn’t work. Ask yourself…how many “friends” could you make in six weeks?

4) Community-building only really works with films that truly “touch” their audience. In today’s glutted marketplace, you need to make a film that really speaks profoundly to your audience and excites them ….unless of course you have a huge enough marketing budget to simply bludgeon them with numerous impressions (this, of course, is usually reserved to the studios, who can obviously launch mediocre films with great success through brute force). You, probably, cannot do this.

5) You need to be very specific and targeted in your outreach to likeminded organizations etc. Don’t rely on organizations to give you “generalized support.” Provide them with very specific instructions on how and when they should outreach about your film. For example….make sample tweets, sample FB posts, and draft their email blasts for them. Give them as close to a ready-to-go marketing outreach tool as possible…with a specific “call to action” clearly identified.

6) You’ll need warm bodies and some technical know-how on you side to accomplish this. There’s absolutely NOTHING mentioned in this post that an individual filmmaker with a talented team of helpers cannot accomplish. But whether its using HootSuite or Tweetdeck or Facebook analytics, or a compelling set of marketing assets and the time and energy to get them out there….you’ll need a team to help you. Remember, all DIY (do it yourself) marketing is really DIWO (do it with others), and you’ll need to build your team accordingly. If you are short on cash…you’ll likely need to be long on interns and other converts to the cause. But if you are seeking a professional team that’s long on experience and expertise, you can find many of them on The Film Collaborative’s new Resource Place page. There are many services out there to help you who have done this before….you are not alone! Sheri wonders: “how many people are reasonable”? Of course it varies, but I think 4 is safe. A traditional publicist with a big contact list for your target publications who handles press inquiries and placements; an outreach/social media person who is a great fit for your audience to regularly post and answer questions/comments from the audience not the journalists; a distribution/booker who figures out how the film will be distributed and all of the tech specs, shopping carts, contracts, festivals, community screenings that are appropriate; and the graphic designer/web designer who figures out the technical and aesthetic elements needed to make the online impact you will need. It is still a big job for only 4 people but it would be completely overwhelming for just one person to do or a person who doesn’t know what they are doing and a bunch of interns to handle.

7) A final take home: You may not see immediate results of each outreach and we know how dispiriting that can be. A lot of times early in the process, you will fail to connect, fail to get a response, but keep plugging away and you will very often come to enjoy the fruits of your distribution / marketing labor whether by emboldening a cause, generating more revenue, or enhancing your career, or all of the above.

Happy Distributing!!!!

Orly Ravid has worked in film acquisitions / sales / direct distribution and festival programming for the last twelve years since moving to Los Angeles from home town Manhattan. In January 2010, Orly founded The Film Collaborative (TFC), the first non-profit devoted to film distribution of independent cinema. Orly runs TFC w/ her business partner, co-exec director Jeffrey Winter.

Sundance and Topspin Bring D2F to Indie Film

By Bob Moczydlowsky

The following post was originally published on TopSpinMedia.com.

 

Sure has been a lot of talk about movies around here lately, huh? ;)

This morning, the Sundance Institute announced an expansion of their incredibly forward-thinking Sundance Artist Services program, and we at Topspin are honored to be included alongside distribution outlets iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, Hulu, New Video, Netflix and Sundance Now as the provider of Direct-To-Fan Marketing and Distribution tools. We’re humbled to have our first major expansion outside of music to be with such a storied and benevolent institution, and we’re quite literally stoked to start helping Sundance filmmakers connect with fans and create new channels for their amazing work.

This quote from Robert Redford really says it all:

“When I founded the Institute in 1981, it was at a time when a few studios ran the industry and an artist’s biggest concern was whether their film would get made,” Redford said. “Technology has lessened that burden, but the big challenge today is how audiences can see these films. The Artist Services program is a direct response to that need. We’re not in the distribution business; we’re in the business of helping independent voices be heard.”

If you’d like to read the official press release, you can DOWNLOAD HERE.

In addition to the expansion of the Artist Services program today, Sundance also launched an online alumni community containing blog posts and essays from some of the brightest and bravest minds in indie film, like Tim League and Ted Hope. The goal is to provide a place where Sundance artists can share data and advice, and interact with distributors, technology partners and each other. Somehow, I managed to sneak my two cents in there, too. Below is a reprint of my “Direct-To-Fan Keynote” that appears inside the Sundance Artist Services site.

My hope is that all filmmakers find it useful. Please share it liberally.

You can it download it as a VIDEO or as a PDF.

Hello. My name is Bob.

I’m here to talk about Direct-to-Fan Marketing (D2F) and Distribution. I work at a software company called Topspin. We’re honored to be a part of Sundance Artist Services.

Topspin makes software used by 
Kevin Smith, David Lynch, Ed Burns, Trent Reznor, Arcade Fire and thousands of other artists to sell downloads, merchandise, tickets and memberships directly to fans. Our company mission is to create an artistic middle class, and we’re doing it by building a self-serve application you can use to market and distribute your work yourself.

You may think I mean self-release. Or DIY Distro. Or “creative” distribution. But those are not the same as Direct-to-Fan. What I’m talking about is a distribution and marketing strategy that should be a part of every filmmaker’s career. I’m talking about making sure you are directly connected to your core audience. I’m talking about selling premium products to super fans. And I’m hoping to persuade you to treat your audience like your most important asset. It is time to invest in your fans.

Here’s the problem I see: Filmmakers have been taught to be wholesalers, not retailers. Filmmakers make films — so the teaching goes — and then it is the job of distributors to market and distribute films.

There is actually a stigma attached to doing it oneself, as if every direct release was a sign not of true independence and autonomy but instead an indicator of the film’s quality or filmmaker’s professionalism. “Did you hear about XX film? They couldn’t get distribution. They have to self-release.” Sounds familiar, right? The goal is to make films and sell them to distributors. That’s the model.

That shit is broken. Permanently. I mean it. Yes, the “traditional model” still exists as a best-case outcome for a few films. But most likely not for your film. Sorry. Just being honest. It’s time to stop calling the best-case, long-shot, home-run option “the model”. Let’s get realistic about what’s happening:

Everyday, the odds of the traditional indie model working for your film get longer and longer. Even at Sundance, upwards of 80 percent of the films fail to find traditional distribution deals. A ton of interesting and excellent films don’t reach audiences and fail to grow the careers of the artists who made them. That’s sad. And yet, more and more excellent films get made everyday. Because technology makes production easy.

And the Web makes distribution easy, too. My phone will shoot video and upload to YouTube. Production and distribution is in your pocket! But here’s where the trouble starts: Free content, empowered fans and unlimited choice make marketing very, very hard. Fans can watch and share all day, effortlessly. But competing for their attention is really tough. Fans who want to watch a movie used to choose from the 10 films at the theatre on Friday night. Now they choose from the entire historical catalog of filmmaking on their laptops, phones, set-top boxes or VOD services. Or they skip the film altogether and play Words With Friends online. Think about your own habits. Getting fans to pay attention is harder than it has ever been.

“So, how will anyone see my work?” you ask. It’s simple, actually. You need to grow a database of fans, and market to them. Here’s how you do it:

First, make amazing films. I don’t mean pretty-good films, or better-than-average films… I mean INCREDIBLE films. Invest in quality, and invest in new. New sells. But also please make sure to budget appropriately, based on the size of your audience. Don’t have an audience? Then keep the budget LOW.

Second, give away free downloads in exchange for connection via email, Facebook and Twitter. This might mean a soundtrack, or the opening scene of the film, or some killer making-of footage. The point is to get fans excited, connected and sharing. You can’t make dollars until you have fans, and giving away incredible content is the best way to attract new fans.

Third, offer premium products fans actually want to buy, and sell these premium products at a mix of price points FIRST. Many of the folks who will end up with the $2.99 rental on iTunes would be even happier with a great-looking shirt, HD download, photo book and a Skype-call-with-the-lead-actress for $75. Don’t miss the opportunity to convert your core demand into a high-revenue product. Get creative with your products and your prices. You’ll earn more money and create happy fans who spread the word online.

Now, once you’ve grown your database and you can monetize your core fans, it’s time to look around for distribution partners. If you can prove there is demand for your art, you will have traditional distribution opportunities. But long-term success requires reversing the common logic:

Direct-to-Fan is NOT the last resort. Direct-to-Fan is the foundation of your career. Think about this way: Imagine your career is a ladder.

Each rung represents more audience paying attention to your work. Which rung are you on? For the sake of example, let’s say the ladder has 100 rungs. On rung 100 is Steven Spielberg, smiling down from the top. At rung zero is every first-time filmmaker just trying to get a project made. At rung 25 is someone like Miranda July (one of my personal favorites) and at rung 75, someone like Kevin Smith, who has a rabid fan base and relative autonomy.

Everyone starts at the bottom. From rung zero to 25, Direct-to-Fan will likely be 100 percent of your income. You won’t have traditional distribution offers, so you’ll do it all yourself. If you do it well, your audience will grow and you’ll move up the ladder. Once you start climbing, you become much more attractive to potential partners.

In the middle, you’ll mix it up. From rung 25 to 75, the mix of Direct-to-Fan income and other distribution deals will vary depending on the project.

You’ll have to license rights to move much past 25, but you’ll do it in a way that allows you to retain your control of your core audience and monetize them via premium products you control.

At the top, you’re really in control. If you make it to rung 75 or higher, Direct-to-Fan will start trending back toward a larger percentage of your revenues.

You’ll have a dedicated, connected following, and you’ll want as much creative control over your fan experience as possible. Read Kevin Smith’s Red Statements for a perfect example of this return to Direct-to-Fan in action. Sure, he’s done deals, too… but on his terms and with his audience as the top priority. In music, we’re seeing well-run D2F campaigns with top-tier artists earn 15 to 35 percent of gross revenues — and the lion’s share of the profits. There is no reason those numbers can’t be replicated in film. And during this year.

And there are many more practical examples out there, too. The film Broke* is giving away its soundtrack to grow its database. NYC filmmaker and musician Cory McAbee opted to take his serialized film Stingray Sam out exclusively via Direct-to-Fan, and he gets you hooked on the first two episodes before asking for your money.

Ed Burns has killer posters and t-shirts bundled with downloads of his new film Newlyweds, and William Morris and Barry Ptolemy have created a killer Direct-to-Fan experience for the Ray Kurzweil doc Transcendent Man.

 

With a database of fans, you can raise money on Kickstarter, sell premium products and ticket your own event screenings with a director Q&A. Like Kevin Smith is doing RIGHT NOW, TODAY. But most importantly… you’ll be able to RETURN to the same group of core fans for all of your future products. Build an audience. Build a brand. Always compare the money you’re offered to the value of your fan database down the line.

You may find that you’re better off keeping your film under your control than doing that no-advance, all-rights distro deal. Especially if we’re talking about short films!

Now, I know I’m getting long-winded, so I’ll wrap it up.

Here’s the summary: It’s time to make Direct-to-Fan Marketing the foundation of your career. It’s time to assume your films will be marketed by you, not acquired in a Sundance bidding war. It’s time to start building a database of core fans that you own and nurture throughout your career.

Stop calling it Self-Release. Stop calling it DIY Distribution. It’s called Direct-to-Fan Marketing, and it works for filmmakers at every rung on the ladder.

Direct-to-Fan Marketing is:

- Growing your email, Facebook and Twitter database by giving away free downloads and encouraging sharing

- Maintaining a great website that sells merch, downloads, memberships and tickets directly

- Owning your fan marketing data, and using it to raise money and promote your work throughout your career

Good Direct-to-Fan Marketing will make you more attractive to distributors. But you may find yourself telling them “No, thanks.” Your audience is your biggest asset. If you sell it, make sure you get full price.

Questions? I’m accessible. Let’s chat.

Thumbs up for rock ‘n’ roll,

-bob

@bobmoz

VP, Product & Marketing

Bob Moczydlowsky has been kind enough to offer HOPE FOR FILM readers his service for free:

The code HOPEFORFILM entitles you to three free months of Topspin Plus, the most powerful direct-to-fan platform on the planet.

Topspin empowers you to:

- Promote your film across websites, social networks and mobile devices

- Connect with fans and offer free downloads for emails, Likes & Tweets

- Customize your store & sell digital media, physical items, tickets and more

To redeem your free account, go to topspinmedia.com and submit your email. Follow the instructions in the email to create your account, and then click "Upgrade" in your account header. Scroll down and enter this code: HOPEFORFILM

CINEDIGM DIGITAL CINEMA LAUNCHES INDIE DIRECT™

Everyday brings a better world for the independent filmmaker. Why should today not be like all others?

I was glad to receive today's press release announcing Cinedigm's new endeavor. I was even gladder though to learn of it, which is why I gave them this quote expressing it! CINEDIGM DIGITAL CINEMA LAUNCHES INDIE DIRECT™, A FULL SERVICE THEATRICAL DISTRIBUTION AND MARKETING SOLUTION FOR INDEPENDENT FILMS

Utilizing the Digital Cinema Backbone, Indie Direct™ Navigates Indies Through Theatrical Release Process

Woodland Hills, CA, September 7, 2011 – Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. (NASDAQ: CIDM), the global leader in digital cinema, today announced the formation of Indie Direct™, a full service distribution and marketing solution for independent film producers and distributors. Utilizing the digital cinema backbone, Indie Direct™ provides independent producers access to Cinedigm’s long-time industry standard services for managing theatrical digital distribution, including booking software, content delivery, sales, distribution strategy, marketing planning and execution and box office recoupment.

“From day one of digital cinema, Cinedigm has been at the forefront of deployment and installations,” said Chris McGurk, Chairman and CEO of Cinedigm Digital Cinema. “With Indie Direct™, we have tapped into our many years of experience and expertise to pioneer a turnkey method for indie producers to benefit from the flexible, precise and efficient distribution model digital cinema enables. Now, indie producers can reap the benefits of a full service studio in a one-stop shop.”

“Cinedigm is offering independent film makers autonomy to control their own destiny with Indie Direct™,” said Ted Hope, acclaimed independent producer of such films as 21 Grams, American Splendor and In the Bedroom. “Anything we can do to strengthen the indie community is vital to the health of the entertainment industry overall and I applaud their efforts.”

The first two production entities to sign up for Indie Direct™ are ARC Entertainment and Seven Arts Pictures. ARC is using the highest level of Indie Direct™ for eight titles it is releasing by the end of the year, including a horror film double feature with Zombie Diaries and Hellraiser, Smell of Success, Revelations, Killing Bono, Bunraku, Greening of Whitney Brown, Sundance Film Festival pick-up Knuckle, and Snowmen. Seven Arts Pictures will be using Indie Direct™ for the US release of The Pool Boys on September 30, 2011.

”A theatrical run tremendously enhances the value of the ancillary downstream revenue opportunities for our projects,” said Trevor Drinkwater, CEO of ARC Entertainment. “Cinedigm’s Indie Direct™ makes that theatrical play both efficient and affordable.”

”We are pleased that Indie Direct™ promotes the independent film community by putting a theatrical release within reach, both financially and from an execution perspective, ” said Jill Newhouse Calcaterra, Chief Marketing Officer, Cinedigm. “Previously producers had to go to multiple vendors for these services that are now available under our one roof.”

Completely customizable based on scope of needs and project release, the suite of services provided by Indie Direct™ includes: · Booking software · Distribution strategy · Sales · Content management and delivery · In theatre marketing · Box Office tracking, settlement and collections · Marketing strategy planning · Marketing execution · Publicity campaign strategy and execution

About Cinedigm

Cinedigm is a leader in providing the services, experience, technology and content critical to transforming movie theatres into digital and networked entertainment centers. The Company partners with Hollywood movie studios, independent movie distributors, and exhibitors to bring movies in digital cinema format to audiences across the country. Cinedigm's digital cinema deployment organization, software, satellite and hard drive digital movie delivery network; pre-show in-theatre advertising services; and marketing and distribution platform for alternative content such as CineLive® 3-D and 2-D sports and concerts, thematic programming and independent movies is a cornerstone of the digital cinema transformation. Cinedigm™ and Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp™ are trademarks of Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. www.cinedigm.com

Masterlist of PMDs ("Producer" Of Marketing & Distribution)

Okay, I am not truly a fan of the term "Producer Of Marketing & Distribution", but I am even more NOT a fan of how easy we throw around the term "Producer" in general. To me the Producer of a film is the individual or team that is there from the very beginning until the very end -- there is no in between -- and ultimately responsible for EVERYTHING. If you were not involved in any aspect of either the development, financing, casting, production, post, sales, marketing, distribution, and reporting, then you are not a "producer" and should not take that credit. There: I said it. But a nickel is bigger than a dime, and we drive on the parkway and park in the driveway, so who am I to say that this world or a job title does not really make sense? And frankly, if the collaboration between a "PMD" and a film works the way I dream it can, that individual is certainly there from at the very least VERY CLOSE to the beginning and all the way to the end -- like a producer is.

Regardless of how I feel, at this moment in time we are calling those that work in DIY/DIWO films, the PMD, and the world knows they need all the incentives we can provide to do this necessary work, so who am I to quibble over semantics? But the real question really is, who are the people that do this work and where can you find them? Today I launch the Masterlist of PMDs. I will allow someone else to take it from here.

Two weeks ago I asked "Can We Create The Future Of Indie Film Marketing & Distribution -- Or Is It Already Dead?". Ultimately it was a plea for the indie world to take serious the training & utilization of people specializing in DIY/DIWO marketing and distribution. The readers of this column started a lively discussion (check out the comments). Many revealed themselves to be precisely the sort that is gaining this expertise from actual experience in the field. Jon Reiss kept the conversation going with a subsequent post.

If you are prepping a new film, you should budget to collaborate with them, and bring them aboard. Jon Reiss contributed a great post last week on the why and also another on the responsibilities of a "PMD". I wrote out a list of all the services a "PMD" could utilize (now at 31!). I thought that the excuse of why I wasn't collaborating with a "PMD" on my last production, was because I didn't know who they were. I won't let you get away with the same excuse. Nor will I use it in the future.

The important thing is to recognize that PMD's are not simply for-hire service providers. They are collaborators. They are intimate with the production and can speak with an authorial voice. Community building and audience outreach are VERY personal endeavors. To do the job, not even to do it well, but just to do it, requires a tremendous amount of earned-trust from the creative heads. It should be recognized as a job that involves creativity as well as tactics and strategy.

So... Wondering who does PMD Marketing & Distribution work? This is what I found (please add to the list by posting some comments). Many thanks to Jon Reiss who provided several of these in his recent post on the subject.

I have listed contact information when I had it and when the filmmakers okayed it. The credits have not been confirmed. It is a start though...

Michael R. Barnard- Contact: michaelrbarnard@iname.com | (917) 409-7294 | 444 E 10th St #104 New York NY 10009

Michael R. Barnard, Producer of Marketing & Distribution, brings years of experience in the production and distribution of low-budget video, broadcast TV, and films, along with experience in sales and marketing, to work with filmmakers to help make their efforts as profitable and widespread as possible. Michael is looking to partner with talented, ambitious, and exciting filmmakers. His goal is: "Bringing the audience to the film. Bringing the film to the audience."

See http://michaelrbarnard.wordpress.com

J.X. Carrera -

Bill Cunningham

I am a PMD who has created, developed and executed over 75 motion picture marketing and distribution campaigns (both international and domestic) for clients including Omega Entertainment, York Entertainment, Peace Arch Entertainment, and Artist View Entertainment.

In addition to my motion picture marketing and distribution experience:

I was the Associate Producer of .COM FOR MURDER (Starring Nastassja Kinski) I was the Producer of SCARECROW as well as its co-writer. I was the producer and co-writer for its sequel, SCARECROW SLAYER.

I have also been hired to write screenplays for several production companies here in Hollywood. In other words, I have a background that makes me useful on set, in post, and developing marketing plans to sell a producer's movie.

My specialty is high-concept, low budget movies - horror, science fiction, action, etc...

I am well-versed in setting up promotional web media, creating exceptional, compelling marketing materials and making sure a motion picture is ready for delivery to a distributor, or ready for a producer to distribute himself. I attend the AFM every year, and keep close ties with the buyers there.

Bill can be reached at this email address: cinexploits@gmail.com Or at the office:

Bill Cunningham Pulp 2.0 2908 Allesandro St. Los Angeles, CA 90039 323.662.2508 skype: madpulpbastard

Stephen Dypiangco (@Dypiangco) PMD “How to Live Forever” & Oscar winning short “God of Love” Contact: Email - Dypiangco@gmail.com Website - StephenDypiangco.com Twitter - @Dypiangco Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/thepmd

As a PMD, I must serve multiple functions on a film: strategist, project manager, communicator, problem solver and entrepreneur. But first and foremost, my primary goal as a PMD is to create and execute a customized marketing and distribution strategic plan (MDSP). I created this term, MDSP, to acknowledge the need for all film productions to have a concrete document from which to work. The term, “strategy,” is just too vague. This MDSP is a concrete strategic plan, a roadmap (a real physical document) of ALL OF THE WORK that needs to be done in the coming days, months and even years, before, during and after the film’s production. By moving forward without creating this roadmap beforehand, a PMD can become sidetracked and eventually get lost. If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, you’ll never get there.

Audrey Ewell - Contact :Stay tuned for the website launch, and in the meantime Audrey can be found at audrey[at]cyborgpr.com, 347-495-1476, or at Union Pool in Brooklyn.

"I position a film so that distribution is both more likely and then more successful. As a filmmaker (and one who's done all this for myself), there are nuances to the interactions between film, filmmaker and audience that I just get, a level of engagement that comes naturally and doesn't reek of marketing.

I start by helping filmmakers identify and engage their audiences. Then I tailor multi-platform digital outreach campaigns that organically amplify core audience excitement to reach new and larger audiences. I strategize and coordinate transmedia elements and game/incentive-based audience development (when desired), do website consultation with an eye toward social and new media optimization, and implement social media campaigns with an emphasis on peer to peer marketing. During festival runs, sneak peaks, premieres, launches and theatrical or semi-theatrical engagements (whether booked by me or an outside party), I consult on promotional materials, coordinate their manufacture and distribution, develop and coordinate street teams, and set up co-promotions with localized partners to cost effectively access targeted local audiences, push early ticket sales, and build awareness and excitement. I seek out new ideas and avenues of engagement and exhibition across multiple platforms.

I help the filmmaker demonstrate audience support and then leverage that visibility and fan support during the theatrical engagement. Once that infrastructure is there the filmmaker can build on it, use it to drive distribution in other markets, and help leverage their success into the next project.

Laree' Griffith Ambient Muse Production Services 310-986-0177 www.lareegriffith.com

Specializing in social media and promotional admin services for entertainment industry. Consulting with filmmakers and producers to create, implement and maintain an online presence for their productions. Other services are, email campaign maintenance, promotional material handling, and event organization.

Laura Hammer PMD @unicornsmovie http://unicornsthemovie.com/crew.html | contact: http://laurahammer.com/contact/

As Producer of Marketing and Distribution I work closely with the creative team to develop a Marketing and Distribution Strategy translating the goals of the team into a plan; identify and engage with the film’s core audience and target markets; secure brand sponsorships; assemble and supervise all necessary specialists and consultants. I believe that a successful marketing and distribution plan enhances and supports the overall vision of the film's director. I prefer to work with a film from pre-production through distribution but also offer a la carte PMD services. I have produced several narrative, experimental and documentary shorts that have screened at festivals, BAMcinématek, and the legendary Two Boots Pioneer Theater. At MUBI Garage I curate short films, produce interviews with established industry, and promote emerging filmmakers. I have set up and developed successful social media campaigns and web sites for individuals, small businesses, and feature films. I have additional experience in marketing, public relations, and audience outreach working with Broadway producers and Off-Broadway theater companies. I graduated with a B.F.A. in Drama from New York University Tisch School of the Arts and trained with Atlantic Theater Company. While an undergrad, I focused on Interdisciplinary Studies and graduate courses in Web Design at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

I am currently PMD for I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS from Student Academy Award nominated director Leah Meyerhoff (Slamdance Grand Jury Prize winning short Twitch), executive producers Allison Anders (Gas Food Lodging, Things Behind the Sun), David Kupferberg (Magic Valley) and Robin Leland (4th and Goal) and producers Heather Rae (Oscar nominated Frozen River) and Mark G. Mathis (Oscar winning Precious, Brick). I am also PMD for GRIOT, a feature documentary in post-production from Volker Goetze, Victor Kanefsky (Style Wars), and Samuel D. Pollard (Emmy winning When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts).

http://www.unicornsthemovie.com http://www.griotmovie.com

Sally Hodgson @SallyHodgson or sally@pipocapictures.)com, also see http://www.indiegogo.com/sounditoutdoc

Joe Jestus (via Jon Reiss' post)

Michele Elizabeth Kafko - PMD “Revenge of the Electric Car”

Eddie Kahlish - "Happiness"

Jason Kohl - "Acting Like Adults"; currently 3rd Year student at UCLA.

Adam Daniel Mezei

About Adam Daniel Mezei's PMD-For-Hire:

PMD-For-Hire (www.pmdforhire.com) is a full-service, full-time, 6-days/week film marketing and distribution shop.

I serve the needs of indie documentary and features clients (mostly docs, truth be told), working intimately with production crews on a strictly embedded basis as part of a minimum 3-month introductory commitment -- or longer -- to help get projects needed audience traction and off the ground.

The overall aim of the service is to help filmmakers brand their films accordingly. I harp on the need to develop sound traditional marketing, blogging, and social media evangelism techniques -- among a dozen others -- to painstakingly replicate in "micro-version" what mini-studios devote hundreds of thousands -- millions, even -- of dollars to achieve.

My techniques are custom-designed to inculcate solid habits from the get-go for filmmakers who are deathly serious about their long-term career prospects and who wish to harness the boundless power of the newly-democratized filmmaking milieu in true DIY/DIWO-style. Moreover, the point of the exercise is to get filmmakers generating a steady cash flow from their work so they can continue to shoot films.

The techniques I employ are varied, yet standardized because they work.

While every project's ultimate marketing and distribution goals are indeed different, demanding a bespoke approach each time out after a critical evaluation of a project's current marketing assets and personnel, the methodologies I leverage are similar depending upon which stage of the production process I'm parachuted in.

Several approaches I've applied for clients in the past include: organizing themed live events from "soup to nuts" as a way to promote a project and sell product at the event. conceiving of and assembling the pieces for a comedy documentary's entire behind-the-scenes DVD Special Features section. managing a team of half a dozen editing and marketing interns as part of a film's post-production rapid rollout. representing a client at a marquee L.A.-area film festival as part of that picture's world premiere, taking potential distribution meetings in the process. providing coverage on a spec script with suggestions for possible location improvements with the aim of potentially capturing better co-branding prospects in the future. My rates are monthly, comprised of a flat fee, first and last's months paid in advance (one month is always on deposit), and I no longer accept month-to-month contracts as past experience has shown not much of impact can be achieved in just 30 days. Clients wishing to sign me for 30-day periods are throwing away perfectly good marketing budget, and I tell them so. I also tell clients I can't help projects which don't move me personally. So if I'm not "method acting" certain aspects of the production role, there's no PMD in the business who can help you.

PMD-For-Hire is proudly Toronto-based and to my knowledge I'm one of the few Canadians who does this for a living. Given how public funding bodies like Telefilm Canada have now committed to releasing grant money only to those co-produced projects with a clear audience engagement or transmedia strategy in place, the need for PMDs on indie production crews has never been more imperative.

Since I only work the projects where I think I can be of assistance, genres like soft snuff, horror, or certain types of foreign dramas are out of my league. Furthermore, I collaborate with only a limited number of projects each quarter, so once that quota is filled don't take on new clients until the current period is over.

For custom requests or to find out when the next opening is, info@pmdforhire.com, or dial 416-827-4196. I answer my phone almost always. Thank you.

And of course, client references available upon request.

Errol Nayci - PMD working in the Netherlands

John Oravec -

I worked with Jon Reiss as he was releasing his film Bomb-It, helped him with flyering, distributing merch, coordinating deliverables, updating social media sites etc. I also did the same for a USC Grad Thesis film Carpet Kingdom by Michael Rochford and also for the feature documentary Danny Greene by Tommy Reid. I am based out of Santa Monica, CA and my contact info is Johnny Oravec 323 698 6900 johnoravec@gmail.com and my website is http://www.facebook.com/l/RAQCRrkJkAQDWj7UqyQgPYCC0R8M3

Diana Iles Parker PMD on "Eat The Sun". Spoken Media Contact: 415.225.8121 (c) 415.388.8281 (o) diana@spokenmedia.com www.spokenmedia.com www.eatthesunmovie.com www.desertrunnersmovie.com

I am a PMD who partners with documentary filmmakers as early as possible in their filmmaking process so we can develop a strong, cohesive and well-supported launch for their film. I specialize particularly in hybrid models of distribution that focus on splitting rights and maximizing profits; festival strategy, publicity and marketing.

Amy Slotnick - PMD for “The Business of Being Born” (she received producer credit for her work); outreach for “Red State”; "Wake Up". Contact: aslotnick@mac.com

As a PMD I work with filmmakers to help them build, manage and optimize digital and traditional marketing and distribution, allowing them to better engage their audiences. This includes strategizing and executing marketing, publicity and distribution of independent films, often aimed to reach a niche audience or to promote a particular cause. Partnerships with organizations, brands and businesses as well as planning screenings with non-profit, student and regional groups has proved effective for raising awareness for a film. Creating and managing social networks, mobile and online promotions and overseeing online distribution, theater bookings and licensing deals are all part of the PMD position. A plan that is specific to a particular film’s subject matter and perspective can be crafted and implemented to leverage its assets and build momentum. Titles for which I have worked in this manner include Kevin Smith’s RED STATE (pre-release 15 city tour), THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN and WAKE UP.

Lila Yomtoob lila@yomtoob.com Lila Yomtoob is a Brooklyn based producer specializing in marketing in distribution. She's got 12 years in different areas of the industry, a statuette named Emmy, and has produced three features, "Hidden Battles", "Foreclosure", and "High Life," which she also directed. As an independent filmmaker in her own right, she understands and respects directors' needs, and is especially passionate about getting good films seen by their audiences.

Tool Review: Stonehenge Mobile Apps For Films

The other day, I posted a WIP list of some of the many tools and platforms filmmakers have it their disposal these days. It's hard to make heads or tails of them. How do we determine which ones we should use? Luckily we have each other to help sort it out. Ari Gold takes the leap today and shares his experience on working with Stonehenge to build an app for his film ADVENTURES IN POWER. Hopefully those of you have that have used any other tools or platforms will let me know and share a post.

In marketing my movie "Adventures of Power", I've said yes to every opportunity that came my way, from making collaborative videos with Youtube stars, to making a phone App for my movie, to standing on the street in costume. The Film Collaborative, which every filmmaker should work with, put me in touch with Stonehenge, a company that makes Apps for movies. Being an early adopter of new distribution technologies can be exciting because you write the rules; on the other hand it's sometimes hard to track the return on investment. Stonehenge made a really cool air-drums and film App for my movie, and we've had people downloading it all over the world. It was fascinating to see where the App has done well (I never would have predicted big downloads in Jordan, for example!). Unfortunately, in a world where people like to get their digital content for free, we've had tons more downloads than sales of the paid-version of our App, which includes the whole movie, and it's impossible to track how many DVD sales were driven by people getting into the App. But Stonehenge has been on-the-ball with making this experiment as good as it can be.

...///\\\... Ari Gold AriGoldFilms.com

Jon Reiss on "What Are A Producer of Marketing And Distribution's Responsibilities?" Part 2 of 2

Yesterday, Jon Reiss explained why indie films need a "PMD" -- and if words don't work for you -- just look at Tuesday's list of all the new tools and services available that we can't afford to miss. Today, Jon takes it further, and tries to lay out the job description for both experienced and aspiring marketing & distribution collaborators. The responsibilities of a PMD are wide and varied. Not all films will utilize all of these elements (since every film is different and will have a unique approach to marketing and distribution), but each should be considered when strategizing and planning for the film’s release.

1. Identify, research and engage with the audience for the film.

2. Develop a distribution and marketing strategy and plan for the film in conjunction with the key principles of the filmmaking team. Integrate this plan into the business plan for the film. This should also be done as early as possible and should be incorporated into your business plan. This helps your investors, donors, potential grant committees know that you have a clear idea of what your goals are and how you will achieve those goals.

3. Create a budget for the M&D plan.

4. As needed and appropriate, strategize and implement fundraising from the audience of the film in conjunction with or in place of traditional financing which would include: crowdfunding, organizational partnerships, sponsorships and even modified versions of traditional fundraising.

5. Assemble and supervise the necessary team/crew elements to carry out the plan which can include social media, publicity, M&D production crew for extra diagetic material, key artists, web developers, trailer editors, bookers etc.

6. Audience research, outreach and relationship building through organizations, blogs, social media (including email collection), influencers, online and traditional publications.

7. Supervise the creation of promotional content and work with the development of trans media elements in either coordination with a Transmedia Producer, or in the case where the production is small – their might be one person who fills both roles, PMD and Transmedia Producer. Other elements to be created: the films website and social media sites, production stills, video assets - both behind the scenes and trans media, promotional copy and art/key art. Plus the PMD devises an organized content calendar to plan out what elements are released when and how they will disseminate online.

Just FYI – nearly all of the above and much of 8 & 9 happen before the film is finished.

8. Outreach to potential distribution and marketing partners including film festivals, theatrical service companies, community theatrical bookers, DVD distributors, Digital and VOD aggregators, TV sales agents, foreign sales agents as well as sponsors and promotional partners. The advantage of having the PMD on board is that it gives the filmmaking team many more options for distribution and marketing. No longer do filmmakers have to give up all rights just to get help in releasing their films. Filmmaking teams can create split rights scenarios that can be much more favorable to achieving their goals than many typical distribution deals. It puts the artistic team in the drivers seat instead of being dependent on taking any deal offered.

9. Coordinate, organize and supervise the creation of traditional deliverables in addition to creation of all media needed for the execution of the release as needed including: • Live event/theatrical: Prints either 35 or Disk or Drive. Any other physical prep for event screenings. • Merchandise: All hard good physical products including DVDs and any special packaging (authoring and replication) and all other forms of merchandise: books, apparel, toys, reproductions of props etc, and hard versions of games. • Digital products: encoding of digital products, iPhone/Android apps etc.

10. Modify and adjust the marketing and distribution plan as new opportunities present themselves during the film’s life span regarding information about audience, market, and partnerships arise.

11. When appropriate, engage the distribution process, which includes the release of: • Live Event Theatrical – Booking, delivery, of all forms of public exhibition of the film including all elements that make the screenings special events (appearances, live performance, discussion panels etc.) • Merchandise – Distribution of all hard good physical products created for the film. • Digitally – oversee all sales of the film in the form of 0s and 1s: TV/Cable/VOD/Mobile/Broadband/Video games etc. • This not just in the home territory – but also internationally. • Some of these activities may be handled in conjunction with a distribution partner in which case the PMD would be supervising the execution in conjunction with that partner.

12. Ramp up the marketing of the film to coincide with the release, which includes: • Content rollout • Additional Social Media activities such as contests, soliciting screening demands, posting press mentions . • Publicity including feature stories, interviews, reviews • Organizational Relationships • Sponsorship Relationships • Affiliate and Email Marketing • Promotions • Media Buys (as warranted) • Seeding trailers and other video content. • Any specific marketing especially tailored to the film.

This list should indicate how it would be difficult, if not impossible, to expect existing traditional crew categories to accomplish or even coordinate the work outlined above. In addition, while some of the work above is “quantifiable”, much of it is not – just like much of what a producer or even director does is not “quantifiable”. All efforts working in tandem produces the ROI.

Jon Reiss is a filmmaker and author of Think Outside the Box Office. His new book, Selling Film Without Selling Your Soul, cowritten with The Film Collaborative’s Orly Ravid and Jeffrey Winter with social media marketer Sheri Candler, is sponsored by Prescreen, Area23a Movie Events and Dynamo Player available September 13, 2011 via Apple iBooks, followed by Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, a printed edition and free ePub version.

He can be reached at:
jonreiss.com/blog
twitter.com/Jon_Reiss
facebook.com/reiss.jon
You can order Think Outside the Box Office here, or on Amazon.

Jon Reiss on "Why A Producer of Marketing And Distribution?" Part 1

Yesterday's HFF post on the plethora of new platforms & options for truly free filmmakers should have made you leap for joy and run for the cliff simultaneously. It is wonderful that filmmakers have SO many great tools and services at their disposal. But how does anyone take advantage of this situation. The choice is overwhelming. Sure the rewards could be great -- but so is the risk. Well, the answer, my friend, is... best explained by Jon Reiss. The Producer of Marketing and Distribution and The New 50/50

On the recent discussion concerning the Producer of Marketing and Distribution on Ted’s blog recently, there was some confusion as to what are the responsibilities of the Producer of Marketing Responsibilities. I offered Ted the list of responsibilities that I wrote for the introduction of a book that I am writing on the PMD. Ted offered to post the entire introduction in three parts. This first part concerns why I think a PMD is useful to independent filmmakers. The second post concerns responsibilities of the PMD. The third post will look at how the PMD is currently being adopted and what kind of training could help not only people who want to be PMDs, but also the filmmakers who want to have them as part of their teams. Here is the introduction.

As a filmmaker myself, I am well aware of the paradigm shift that has occurred in the last several years as independent filmmakers try to get their films distributed. Through my own work – and talking to countless filmmakers - I have become a firm believer that filmmaking is a two part process. The first part is creating the film – the second part is connecting that film with an audience. There is still a strong belief in the independent film world that filmmakers are only responsible for creating the film – someone else will take care of distribution and marketing. For a very few filmmakers this might still happen. But for the vast majority of filmmakers – and all artists and media content creators – it won’t.

Loose estimates range that there are between 5,000-17,000 feature films made in North America every year and that approximately 35,000 feature films are on the international festival circuit. Most of these are looking for, hoping for, a company to give them a check in exchange for the right to distribute their films. Even in an excellent year of acquisitions – only a relative handful of films will have some form of distribution entity “take their films off their hands”. (Whether having a distributor is the best course for any film is another debate – I am also a firm believer that every film is different and each film thus needs its own unique distribution and marketing strategy and implementation – but that is for another chapter.)

So it is up to filmmakers and artists to not only own the means of production – but also to own the means of distribution and marketing.

Hence the New 50/50 is as follows:

50 percent of an artist’s time and resources should be devoted to creating a film or artistic work. 50 percent of their time and resources should be devoted to getting the film/artistic work out to its audience, aka distribution and marketing.

This is not a hard-and-fast rule. Rather, it is a guide to changing our preconceptions.

In the year and a half since I coined “the New 50/50” I feel that it creates too much of a dichotomy between creation of a film and the distribution and marketing of a film. In the best of circumstances – these two “halves” should be integrated into an organic whole. Audience engagement needs to start as close to inception as possible – and with advances in technology – mainly Internet and mobile technology, it is more possible than ever.

I believe that this integration allows for not only much better results in filmmakers achieving their goals of their releases (whatever those may be) – but also allows for the distribution and marketing process to open up to new forms of creativity as well. Distribution and marketing can be as creative as the filmmaking process – even to the point where they become indistinguishable. This should not be scoffed at, as some form of branded entertainment – rather should be embraced as a revolution of artistic possibility. (However it is actually branded entertainment in which the artis is the brand.)

The Birth of the Producer of Marketing and Distribution

I find that most filmmakers (directors and producers both) I speak to are so overwhelmed with the amount of work involved in creating “a film” –they don’t have the time to connect with audiences or create additional assets during production to aid in later marketing efforts (or as creative extensions of the project). Further, many filmmakers (especially directors) do not have the skill set or inclination to engage directly with audiences. As a filmmaker, I can relate to these feelings myself.

In addition, just like you most likely did not make the film on your own, you should not be distributing and marketing the film on your own. I would propose that from now on, every film needs one person devoted to the distribution and marketing of the film from inception, just as they have a line producer, assistant director, or DP.

Just before sending Think Outside the Box Office to print, I came up with the concept of the Producer of Marketing and Distribution or the PMD. I gave this crew position an official title of PMD because without an official position, this work will continue to not get done. I gave this position the title of producer because it is that important.

In addition, in doing the work as a PMD for my own film as well as consulting on a number of other films, (and having produced three feature films myself) I can state that this work is producorial in nature.

The purpose of the PMD is for one person on a filmmaking team to be responsible for audience engagement. {Note that I use “distribution and marketing” and “audience engagement” interchangeably. I do this so that filmmakers will start to view distribution and marketing (the whole process from beginning to end) as audience engagement. E.g. Audience engagement starts at awareness – and keeps going through consumption and beyond to the future. }

To continue: the purpose of the PMD derives from the recognition that filmmakers (filmmaking teams) need to own the audience engagement process and that this process should start as early as possible – either at inception or no later than the beginning of pre-production for the best results.

The need for a PMD also results from the recognition that audience engagement is a lot of work (perhaps as much or more work than actually making a film) and that traditional filmmakers (writers, directors, producers etc) are already busy with the task of making a great film. These traditional members of a filmmaking team rarely have the extra time to devote to distribution and marketing (so it often falls by the wayside). In addition, many traditional filmmakers are not suited or interested in the kinds of tasks that audience engagement requires. It also recognizes that most split rights distribution partners and some traditional distributors will not spend adequate time or money on promotion when the film is ready for distribution. The earlier in the process this is started, the more successful it will be for everyone involved.

Jon Reiss is a filmmaker and author of Think Outside the Box Office. His new book, Selling Film Without Selling Your Soul, co written with The Film Collaborative’s Orly Ravid and Jeffrey Winter with social media marketer Sheri Candler, is sponsored by Prescreen, Area23a Movie Events and Dynamo Player available September 13, 2011 via Apple iBooks, followed by Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, a printed edition and free ePub version.

He can be reached at:

jonreiss.com/blog

twitter.com/Jon_Reiss

facebook.com/reiss.jon

You can order Think Outside the Box Office here, or on Amazon.

How Would You Use All 27 New Platforms Available For Direct (aka DIY/DIWO) Distribution?

UPDATED 8/31 730A (Now 30 Platforms & Services!)Thanks for the recommendations in the comments and elsewhere! UPDATED 9/1 630A (Now 31 Platforms & Services!) UPDATED 9/1 830A, UPDATED 9/8 8A (32!), UPDATED 9/15 6A, 9/23 UPDATED 5/15/2012 (Now 33 Platforms & Services!)

We are awash in wonderful opportunities. Distribution has long been said to be one of the top concerns of Truly Free / Indie filmmakers. Ditto on the marketing side. We've been neglectful to address the equally important social side, but that's changing. Financing is always a challenge, but even there we have new help and hope. The great news is that never before have we had so many opportunities in all these areas.

Now comes the time to develop some best practices. How do we use all of these wonderful opportunities? How do we prepare for them? How do we access them? Here's a list of the 27 platforms & tools I know of; I am sure you know some more to add to the list. Let's get this new model started!

How about everyone pick a platform (ideally one they used) and write up some recommendations on how to use it well, and we run them as posts on this blog?

So...

How do you think we should utilize all of these great tools and platforms? We are not going to figure it out one by one on our own. The truth will only be revealed through collective endeavor (and a little good fortune). I would love to hear some advice from all the budding and experienced PMDs out there... not to mention filmmakers who have utilized or plan on utilizing any of these.

I am having a bit of a hard time coming up with the proper discriptions for the tools and services. This is very much a Work In Progress. If you have a better definition, please let me know. Several services show up in different categories. There are definitely suppliers that I have forgotten or neglected to mention (my apologies, but this is a public service and not my job job).

1. Artist Direct Distribution / Platforms: FilmDIY (promo video), MubiGarage, Ooyala, Viddler,

2. Artist Direct Distribution / Platforms - non-specialized: These are places filmmakers can "sell" their work, but are not filmcentric. Craigslist, Etsy,

3. Artist Direct Distribution / TVOD Players: Distrify, Dynamo Player (Review), EggUp (review), FansOfFIlm.tv (still in Beta) , FlickLaunch, Groupee, OpenFilm,

4. Artist Direct Distribution / Service Facilitators: Sundance's Artist Services,

5. Audience Aggregation, Analytics, & Commerce: FanBridge, TopspinMedia

6. Audience Participation: LiveFanChat, Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Social Guide, SoKap, Watchitoo

7. CrowdFunding/Audience Participation:      IndieGoGo • 4% fee if you make your goal, 9% otherwise, +3% credit card processing fee      Kickstarter • 5% fee, +3-5% credit card fee (only funded if you make your goal)      RocketHub • 4% fee if you make your goal, 8% otherwise, +3-5% credit card fee      SoKap • 5% fee, 10% fee on product sold via their marketplace, +3% credit card fee      United States Artists • 15% fee + 4% credit card fee      Eppela • 5% fee + PayPal processing fee (~2-4%), (must use PayPal, only funded if you make your goal, Italian)      Kapipal • Currently no fee + PayPal processing fee (~2-4%), (must use PayPal, Italian)      And 10 others listed here

8. Digital Delivery Facilitators: Veedios (article)

9.Digital Distribution Access Providers: Brainstorm, Distribber (analysis), GoDigital, Gravitas, Inception Digital Services, IndieBlitz ,Might Entertainment, New Video, Premiere Digital,

10. Digital Download & Streaming Aggregators: Amazon, AsiaPacificFilms.com, CinemaNow (aka BestBuy), FilmDIY, iTunes, Vudu, XFinityTV (aka Comcast),YouTube

11. Digital Limited Run US Theatrical Exhibition: Cinedigm, FathomEvents, Screenvision

12. Digital Streaming Aggregators FREE (AVOD): Crackle, Snag (Owners of IndieWIre, host of my blog), Vimeo, YouTube

13. E-commerce: E-Junkie (shopping cart)

14. Educational Market: An Overview, Educational Market Streaming

15. Exhibition/Four Wall Services (i.e. self booking): QuadCinemaFourWall

16. Exhibition/New Model: Emerging's Digital Repertory Program, Specticast

17. Free Peer to Peer: VoDo, BitTorrent

18. Fulfillment: Amazon Services, Amplifier, theConneXtion, CreateSpace, FilmBaby, IndieBlitz,Kufala Recordings, Paid, Transit Media, I got a lot more when I did a search but I don't know one from the other.

19. Influencer / Social Media Analytics: Klout, PeerIndex, Topsy, Traackr, Twitalyzer,

20. Markets / Online On Demand For Territorial Licensing (B2B): Cinando, Festival Scope,

21. Mobile Phone & Tablet Film App Builders: Mopix (see demo here) Stonehenge

22. Mobile Video Sharing: Thwapr,

23. Platforms: Facebook, Playstation, Roku, RoxioNow, XBox

24. Search (for SEO): Ask, Bing, Google, Yahoo

25. Social Discovery Platforms ( Online TVOD): PreScreen

26. Social Networks: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Weibo

27. Stream To View Transactional VOD (Pay): Constellation, Prescreen (review)

28. Streaming Subscription (SVOD): Amazon, AsiaPacificFilms.com, Fandor, Hulu, LoveFilm, Mubi, Netflix

29. Trailer Distribution / Online Internet Video Archive

30. Video Conferencing / Multi-party (for Fan Engagement & Remote Appearances): Watchitoo

31. VOD Aggregation: itzon.tv,

32. VOD Channels: Multichannel Video Programmers (note: not all offer VOD), FilmBuff

33. Facebook Video Players/Channels:Cinecliq, Milyoni

Can We Create The Future Of Indie Marketing & Distribution -- Or Is It Already Dead?

We speak of the need to utilize PMDs (aka Producers of Marketing & Distribution) on Indie/TFF movies these days, but how do these people get trained (not to mention, paid for)? Where do they learn their skill sets? Two or three years into this DIY Indie Movement of sorts, can you name more than three or four people (at best) who do this? Isn't this the missing piece? How come we all aren't doing more to train these folks?

Two or so years ago, Jon Reiss and I developed a pretty extensive proposal for a Marketing/Distribution Lab. Our goal was to make it long term, six months to a year, with films in all different stages participating. We brought it to most of the indie film support organizations, and got a great response. Tribeca, Sundance, IFP, and FIND all said yes. Well they said "yes, but...". Financing it, maintaining it, and in one instance, monetizing it, were unsolvable issues too big for each for them to truly take on. IFP committed to bringing Jon in to speak to their lab participants, so not all was for naught, but the problem remains. Everyone recognizes it. Where will the people who can do the M&D work well come from?

On the agency level, I hear the problem amplified. Their clients, filmmakers, can make excellent movies at a very low out-of-pocket price point, but how can the movies get out and find audiences. Creators who have any regular work can not usually make the commitment to push their work out to audiences, let alone build vibrant communities. And often the agencies don't want them to, as it is perceived to "devalue" the clients if they go the DIY route. They need to find reputable and ideally prestigious entities to take on the film, and hopefully not in a manner that takes the rights forever and has little hope of upside.

Sundance has made great strides under new Executive Director Keri Putnam to not only recognize that most independent film won't find a traditional corporately-backed distribution home, but also most shouldn't even opt for that. Sundance's Artist Services is the first real step The Industry has taken to help build a true Artist/Entrepreneur class. Through this lens we can see a real creator middle class being born, not dependent on building their work to appeal to the widest audience, not self-censoring from the start, but recognizing that every option is theirs, if they are willing to take responsibility for their work.

But their lies the rub: are artists willing to take responsibility for their work yet? Is it even what is best for them? Twenty years in to being led to believe that great work will always not just find an audience, but also make money for all concerned courtesy of the golden hand of distribution entities, can we even glimpse what an alternative approach may bring?

I encounter the problem with myself. I know what I need to do to truly prep a film, but have a hard time allocating the labor and expense to it. I can imagine a better life where I distributed the majority of my films. Yet, how do I shift my priorities when I feel that my top skill set is in the development and production of feature length movies? Really, what I would like to do is supervise talented up & comers on the marketing and distribution of my films -- but I can't trust my work to total newbies. And I don't see a supply of PMDs coming out or up the pipeline and ladder.

Is it enough to hope that the producers that are pushed into or opt for the DIY or Hybrid approach are the ones who will build those skills and turn to that type of producing, if they enjoy it and are successful -- much the same as other producers focus on financing or packaging or development or physical production? Can we rely on partnerships developing between those who focus on it and those who focus elsewhere in producing pipeline? One can hope that this develops, but if I had to wager a guess, at the very least it is a ten year wait for such a natural progress, and that is ten years of not only good movies not being seen, but the entire chain of distancing from audiences and communities that will be indie's ruin.

In the studio world, there are producers more focused on marketing and distro than any other part of the process, and they are very successful at it. But Indie Film is a different calling, and a far different reward structure. Those of us in it, have chosen it fully because of the content, and are not compensated well for that choice. Fees for indie producing consistently have dropped over the last five years, requiring working producers to take on more jobs and commit less time in the process. The focus on marketing is something those in the indie world simply cannot afford to do.

So what is to be done? I could be wrong, but I think pure economics prevents a PMD sector from developing naturally in the indie world. Intervention is required. Starting out, I recognized I wanted to be a "creative" producer, but could not get a job remotely in that area for the longest period. Production skills were what was valued in NYC -- and still are. I was fortunate enough to have paying script reading work (in addition to my production stuff) that exposed me to some of the process and players -- but that wasn't enough to earn a living on. To get development work I had to first save my money, and then sell myself cheap in the dead production months to producers who were happy to find there was someone willing to be exploited. I eagerly agreed, but it was the only way open.

The newbie producers coming out of film school understandably look to make movies, and the desire to make the next one is never as strong as when you have just wrapped the prior -- you can feel your skill set at it's peak power and it wants to play in a new field.

We've known we need new blood in the distro field for decades, but as the previous crew won't (and some shouldn't) yield their seats at the table, there has never been much incentive for folks to try to step in that direction. The new generation has taken over international sales, but there is no equivalent in domestic distribution. Glen Basner who runs Film Nation, one of the true leaders in international sales. He was my assistant and for the longest time resisted the move into sales -- despite everyone at the company recognizing it was his calling. He was drawn to the lure of creative producing. Now he gets more movies made than most producers combined, and earns a far better living too, but it wasn't something that happened over night. He was fortunate to have great mentors in the sale business and a corporate structure that allowed for it. I can think of several others in his field that have a similar story. To foster similar innovation, growth, and success to that of the international sales arena that Glen and his compatriots have delivered, we need a structure in the marketing and distro world that can actual facilitate it.

We simply don't have the time to hope that a natural process of film by film growth will yield the new breed that we desperately need. I don't think it can be done without incentivizing producers to venture in that direction. They need to know that they will not only be expanding their skill set but also gaining prestige, connections, and opportunity. It won't just come naturally. People show their best when you can give them a path that promises the best view. They need a lab and other incentives. Where will the funding and leadership come? Can we get them to act before it is too late? Will the community recognize this as a real need and act to make it a reality?

Guest Post by Jon Fougner: Cinema Profitability Part 5

This is Part 5 (and the final part) of Jon Fougner's guest series on Cinema Profitablility - today he concludes the discussion of marketing as well as margins. Marketing Continued: 



Once the site is in good shape, let's get people to it. Today, a user may be unlikely to find the website in the first place, since none of the Big 3 has successfully SEO'ed its site for current releases (e.g, searching for "Wolfman showtimes" on Google). One side benefit of the affiliate program described above will be improved search rankings for this common and valuable query type, since affiliates will be linking to the site. Besides common sense, the reason for optimism that each of the Big 3 should be able to get above-the-fold on Page 1 of search results is that the bar has been set low; here's the above-the-fold part of the Google SERP for "avatar tickets" from a San Francisco area IP address on 1/17/2010:

In the organic results above, Movietickets.com and the Big 3 are MIA, and Fandango is getting beaten by 2 less relevant sites. In addition to such "universal organic" SEO, the Big 3's sites should optimize for the increasing array of data type-specific search results modules, most notably, showtimes and local.

Google's showtimes module exemplifies the importance of offering publishers an appealing, open affiliate program; Google hyperlinks Fandango showtimes, but not Movietickets.com. When a consumer is looking at movie showtimes, only some of which are hyperlinked to a POS, I suspect that he often believes that the non-hyperlinked times are not available for sale online anywhere6. Therefore, when he values pre-ordering (i.e., when he anticipates a sell-out), non-hyperlinked theaters will suffer. I anticipate that Google's showtimes module will gain adoption, as a clean alternative to the cluttered UIs of the online brokers. Therefore, with respect to the Big 3, barring a private affiliate deal between Google and Movietickets.com, I believe that AMC's Loews will lose pre-order market share.



The Big 3's core customers are Facebook users. For any of the Big 3, creating a Facebook Page for each theater offers a free re-marketing channel for both brand and direct response. Even if it already has a "master" Page run by corporate, it's worth trying localized Pages as well, since the share of user attention that (say) Regal could command is not fixed: users can fan both a national Page and a local Page. These could be managed centrally, via a 3rd party Page management dashboard, or locally by the theater manager (with assets and guidance from HQ). Giving many local teams a chance to shine in friendly competition with one another will engage employees' creativity and help best practices bubble to the top. Two easy ways customers can connect to a Page for (say) Alamo Drafthouse Cinema are: • visit facebook.com/alamodrafthouse, or • text "like alamodrafthouse" to 32665 ("FBOOK"), Facebook's U.S. short code.

As the Harvard Business Review pointed out in an article demonstrating the loyalty value of Facebook Pages, one should avoid "if you build it, they will come" thinking; most of your customers aren't yet your fans on Facebook. It's key for a given cinema to present the opportunity to connect when the consumer is enjoying its products. For instance, these two methods to connect could be publicized on: • marquees, • ticket stubs, • receipts, • concession packaging, • and pre-trailer ads. What's more, when these consumers connect with the Page, their friends will learn about it and have the opportunity to connect as well. Turning these fans into repeat customers hinges on direct response best practices. The linchpin, of course, is experimentation. Facebook shares advice and updates regarding Facebook Pages, Facebook Ads, and brand marketing.



Once a Facebook strategy is humming along, it may be worth trial-and-error forays into other leading social media platforms, most notably, Yelp, YouTube, and Twitter. The proliferation of UGC (including negative reviews) across these and other sites is spurring a reputation management industry serving frustrated local business owners; Marchex is emerging as an early leader. Besides outbound marketing, these tools can help identify which locations and employees are undermining the brand promise of customer service.



Margins

 Most of the commonly suggested concessions ideas forget that the food gross margin is already heroic. Even alcohol is not a slam-dunk, since its gross profit per sale won't be much more than soda; I believe that the main benefit would be to increase the overall beverage sell-through rate (albeit at increased costs7).



I believe that the most effective strategy to improve the ticketing gross margin is to demonstrate to the studios that one has profitable alternatives to their products, as described above. Perhaps counter-intuitively, a given Big 3 player would want his 2 peers --against whom he bids for films -- also to discover these profitable alternatives, so that their demand for studio product is similarly attenuated.



AMC has decided to invest in large theaters in highly trafficked neighborhoods of dense population centers. I believe that its industry-leading average ticket price, box office per screen, and revenue per theater are a result of this decision. (Increasingly, in the future, the fraction of screens that are 3D and IMAX will influence these KPIs more than they did pre-Avatar.) I believe that cinemas tend to be anchor tenants, bringing customers to nearby restaurants and shops. They should try to internalize those positive externalities in the form of subsidies from their landlords and/or local governments.



What's Next 

I continue to believe that digital and 3D are the most important near-term innovations for the Big 3. Avatar's $2.6bn worldwide take will accelerate DCIP's roll-out. Next highest on the strategic priority list, I'd: • Unfetter (contractually and game theoretically) from restrictive relationships with content vendors, ticket brokers, and their own consortia (DCIP and National Cinemedia) • With that increased runway, relentlessly experiment, like a technology company • Invest at least $10mm annually in Internet marketing, not including paid media 
If they can move fast, they might just keep seeing us at the movies.


Footnotes 


 6 Since these links are not labeled as sponsored but are, in effect, sponsored by Google itself, I would not be surprised to see Google, in the interest of organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful, hyperlink even showtimes that do not offer affiliate commissions.

 7 These costs may be high. They include explicit cash costs (alcohol licenses, janitorial, insurance, etc.) as well as implicit costs of undermining the customer experience for those distracted by their fellow customers. That latter risk will be particularly acute if the service model is as casual as at baseball parks.

-- Jon Fougner

Jon leads local product marketing and monetization at Facebook, working with the advertising engineers and product managers to build products for local businesses, ranging from restaurants to movie theaters.

Guest Post by Jon Fougner: Cinema Profitability Part 4

This is Part 4 of Jon Fougner's guest series on Cinema Profitablility - today he focuses on the marketing.

Marketing

The last time you went to a movie, how did you decide where to see it? If you're like most Americans, you simply went to the nearest theater showing it. (Of course, if you're reading this, you may be a cinephile and therefore a bit more discerning in your choice!) That's even less brand loyalty than you might show in where you buy commodities like gasoline.

The cinemas have historically deferred to their vendors, typically owned by large media companies, to advertise their products. (Of course, the cinemas have done the crucial re-marketing work of on-site merchandising for the products, in the form of movie trailers, but I doubt that those trailers do much to engender loyalty to the particular cinema (chain) in which they're shown.) That's extraordinary; even in verticals where the manufacturers typically buy a lot of media, such as auto, CPG, and QSR, the retailer typically advertises as well, both to complete the bottom of the demand generation funnel and to take share from competing demand fulfillers.

It's extraordinary, and it may have to change. The good news: many of the needed tactics don't require paid media. A few are laid out below.

The Big 3 should build low-touch customer relationship management systems anchored by e-mail. A few of the places to capture e-mail addresses from:

• online sales,

• ticket kiosks,

• face-to-face ticket and food sales (when customer lines are not prohibitively long),

• social media,

• and even the studios, whose e-mail lists sometimes go wasted.

Around each e-mail address, build a CRM profile, including:

• first and last name,

• gender,

• home address,

• preferred genres,

• preferred screening times,

• preferred screening days,

• average purchase size,

• price sensitivity (e.g., coupon redemption behavior),

• and viewed trailer history (for data analysis once the advertised film comes out).

Send customers highly-customized e-mails, measuring success by value of tickets sold. (This measurement requires conversion data from the online POS, which should be a show-stopping negotiating demand in any agreement with a 3rd party broker.) Some of the blocking and tackling of optimizing these e-mails is obvious. For instance, the preview field in a major Webmail provider like Gmail shouldn't tell people to unsubscribe:

And, for instance, no clickable film title (in the screen below, "A Single Man")...

...should land on a page whose above-the-fold content makes no mention of it:

Some of the fruits hang higher, but tips from entertaining decks like DJ Waldow's will help spot them. Most of the benefit, however, will come from relentless testing, likely through an e-mail marketing agency.

The promotional engine of this CRM system should be a loyalty program. Unlike AMC and Regal, Cinemark doesn't even appear to have a loyalty program in the U.S.:

The program should leverage game dynamics, such as points collection, leveling up, social status, rewards, and randomization. As CRM gold standard Harrah's knows, variable positive reinforcement is key. AMC owner Apollo co-owns Harrah's and could choose to share some of its CRM playbook. The rewards should be meaningful. At a 58% weighted-average gross margin with 90%+ wasted admissions inventory, it's hard to understand why AMC spends less than 1% of revenues from loyalty customers on their rewards. (For 10 ticket purchases = $83, you get 1 small popcorn, with COGS less than $83 x 1% = $0.83.)

The company's website will serve several purposes: loyalty program, e-ticketing, gift cards and more. Modeling the value of users' interactions with these features is the first step towards prioritizing amongst them and optimizing for the highest value conversions while culling all else. Today, if a user visits the Big 3 sites, she'll experience: • an emphasis on products rather than her needs, • clutter, • irrelevant banner ads, • text in all capital letters, • unconventionally small text, • unconventional hyperlink colors, • inscrutable text color schemes, • unconventional background colors, • links whose landing pages have no apparent correspondence to the link text, • unclear calls to action, • search parameters pre-filled to show 0 results, • altogether empty search results without helpful suggestions, • overcomplicated registration flows, • missing standard navigation to home (clickable logo in upper left), • broken mouse-over ajax interfaces, • unnecessarily narrowly constrained clickable areas, • and e-mailed passwords (!).

Experts like SiteTuners.com offer consultation and testing in order to identify and remedy problems like these.

END OF PART Four Tomorrow: Marketing 2 and Margins

-- Jon Fougner

Jon leads local product marketing and monetization at Facebook, working with the advertising engineers and product managers to build products for local businesses, ranging from restaurants to movie theaters.

Guest Post: Orly Ravid: Marketing Is King (Yes, It Is Still So...)

Today marks the final installment of Orly Ravid's 3-part "If I Was A Filmmaker Going To Sundance..." series. I have been fortunate to have been able to host Orly's look at filmmaker options, both before Sundance, afterwards, and now in reflection. Whereas Part One considered the DIY approach, and Part Two evaluated the sales and how they may benefit the filmmaker or not, today examines what added value a digital partner may bring you. It is a rare glimpse inside the process, and who better to give it than the co-founder of The Film Collaborative, the filmmaker's true friend, the first not-for-profit distribution partner out there. Without any further ado, Orly Ravid...

Post Sundance what I have to say is this: there were more deals done since I started tracking them along with the rest of the industry, so for more deal counting and analysis please refer to that blog post I wrote up post Sundance.

But thank you Fox Searchlight, TWC and Oprah for injecting the biz with just the right amount of adrenaline to keep it dreaming big; we hope you’re buying big next year. What else is new? Focus has an emerging digital distribution initiative, Amazon is giving Netflix a run for its money (or not, depends on who you talk to)…. everyone is waiting on Wal-Mart to see how much voodoo VUDU can conjure up and SEARS and KMART are in the digital space just in case you though big retail was dead. Blockbuster is still for sale. Google’s stock price is high as ever and Apple is not going down any time soon judging from its (130,000,000 credit cards on file and that was just the last time I checked) even though some speculate it will meet its match.

So now that there are almost as many digital plays as they are films (hahahaha of course not literally) how can we distinguish them? TERMS and MARKETING. I have made much fuss about terms before (how long, how many rights, fees and above all, what are the splits between platform/ service and aggregator/distributors).

We hope that filmmakers and their team build community and buzz around their films and start engaging audiences and potential audiences well before and leading up to and following the first public exhibition of their films. But after a distributor or aggregator comes on board, then what? What do they do for the fees, other than the selling and servicing of the film and its assets to the platforms / services.

Here is an overview of what a few companies do to market films for home entertainment release, either DVD & DIGITAL or just DIGITAL, and mostly in their own words:

FILMBUFF

“FilmBuff is an established leader in the development of innovative release strategies, digital merchandising and promotions. Our strong retail relationships allow us to emphasize merchandising and promotional placement on all platforms and video portals. Our internal marketing builds custom outreach programs to build audience awareness and activate the online communities that are ideal for each film. Custom promos and features on FilmBuff’s social media networks across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a host of online video portals work in concert to ensure that films reach the widest possible audience.”

We asked FilmBuff for some more detail but we have not received anything yet. As soon as we do we will post the extra information.

NEW VIDEO

“New Video’s suite of marketing services for films released on DVD, Blu-ray, digitally and on-demand includes:

Direct contact with retailers and platforms for developing and supporting in-store placements and point-of-sale promotions. (TFC notes: They have a lot of DVD volume so their relationships are more valuable than a filmmaker can get on their own dealing with the retailer).

A full-time in-house public relations team directing outreach to national and regional print, online and broadcast media for both industry and consumers- Collaboration with partner organizations to drive grassroots awareness; a custom affiliate program for DVD sales referrals.

* Best practices to reach existing fan bases online and off with a solid emphasis on social media. * Strategic advertising to maximize ROI. * Promotion at consumer and trade shows.

The mission of New Video is to leverage 20 years of distribution and marketing experience to provide the broadest possible reach across all distribution channels, while raising awareness through major press, grassroots organizations, and everything in between. Titles we’ve distributed and marketed include GasLand, King Corn, Autism: The Musical, Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog and The Secret of Kells. We collaborate with filmmakers, create custom marketing strategies and share our best practices to build on the momentum they have developed over the life of their project. With expert in-house publicity services, our campaigns cover long lead press, short lead, online, industry, and consumer press outlets (both national and regional, in print, online and broadcast media). Our press releases are media-rich and social media-ready for posting and sharing, and we offer next-gen screener service for press review. We have a proven track record in leveraging talent to maximize press and promotion through marketing opportunities such as podcasts and exclusives. We have a hands-on, strategic approach to grassroots marketing, and we employ social network marketing through our own presence on Facebook and Twitter, and through coordination with supporters’ social networks. We prize our longstanding relationships with store merchandising teams, and add enormous value in our ability to customize and create in-store marketing strategy, such as thematic shelves, customized artwork, and priority placements. We collaborate on selective online, print and radio advertising to strategically improve ROI through targeted buys, and we build opportunities around media events, consumer and trade shows to further press coverage and consumer awareness for a property. We complement these practices with a custom affiliate program for DVD sales referrals to incent partner organizations online. New Video is committed to building and maintaining buzz organically, through extended campaigns, early editorial pitching, and social outreach. We communicate with consumers through our website and blog, social media, and a newsletter reaching 15,000 subscribers.”

TFC NOTES: New Video is a key iTunes aggregator not only for its own titles but for many traditional distributors and even IndieFlix and Indie Rights and TriBeCa Films (remember filmmakers, always ask the questions that help you know how many middle men there are in any given category of distribution). I know that on the ‘Social Media Outreach’ front for iTunes releases for example, New Video sends out social-media releases with images & clips to sites such as Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon and they post release on PR Distribution sites such as ClickPress, i-Newswire, eCommWire, The Open Press. From past experience we know they do a feed-based announcement made available on Google blog search, Technorati, Yahoo! News, Topix, tagged with keywords for easier discovery. New Video does email marketing to its subscribers as well and Trailer or Clip Tagging Promotional clips tagged with “Now Available on iTunes” and syndicated to top video sharing sites (e.g. YouTube, Yahoo!, MySpace, Google, Revver, Dailymotion, Blip, Veoh). They monitor and post reviews in-store Individual reviews posted about the content. On the online grassroots outreach front, they connect to digital portals; targeting topical, genre and talent fansites and blogs and service those with press release and special offers (exclusives, clips, contests, review copies). And they work fans and friends via the social networking sites. (TFC notes: on Facebook New Video as a company only has a little over 1,700 people. The page is largely used to promote titles, not facilitate dialog as Sheri Candler observed.).

WOLFE VIDEO

“25 years developing relationships with national retailers, VOD companies, the press and media, film festival programmers, LGBT organizations and our vendors. Over 25 years building traditional and electronic mailing lists, plus a wide social media presence. Wolfe believes that the key aspect to being an effective Distributor is marketing. In the absence of this expertise, a distributor is merely a middleman. Wolfe is widely known for mainstreaming films with gay content. The most invaluable asset Wolfe brings to filmmakers is experience. Wolfe has over 25 years developing relationships with VOD companies, DVD retailers, niche and traditional media, film festival programmers, broadcasters, LGBT organizations and our vendors. Wolfe has one of the largest channels in the gay niche market which includes traditional and electronic mailing lists and a wide social media presence.

One of Wolfe’s most notable assets is its direct access to gay consumers; better known as WolfeVideo.com. The website supports heavy traffic and is widely known as a commerce site for gay feature films. It should also be noted that Wolfe does not sell adult product, so the website is accessible for many audiences. WolfeVideo.com is supplemented by the QMovieBlog.com and Wolfe's social network strategy includes a variety of ongoing campaigns across all major platforms. Wolfe has a particularly substantial and active following on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube; for example Wolfe’s work on Were the World Mine generated nearly 100K views on YouTube alone and the famous re-release of Desert Hearts promotion generated over 847,000 views! Wolfe’s direct to consumer assets also include significant opt-in mailing lists via email and traditional snail mail, which continues to be a strong sales tool for the company and its products. (TFC Notes Wolfe’s Facebook page has 3,368 likes).

Sales and marketing via mainstream outlets is key to the success of Wolfe films. Wolfe leverages client relationships with VOD, EST and DVD retailers to further market films. Strategic partnerships bring Wolfe’s films front and center in programs such as the Gay Pride month feature on the home page of iTunes, Internet promotions with Xfinity & dominant presence with DVD retailers such as Amazon.com. Wolfe has also engaged companies like Sony to develop marketing campaigns. The Sony Ebridge program was designed to add value to the DVD. E-bridge gave consumers cool stuff like the chance to win a trip to Australia. It also offered advertisers unique consumer access they would otherwise not reach.

Other clients that partner with Wolfe promotions include hundreds of non-profit organizations nationwide such as LGBT film festivals and political orgs like GLAAD. These organizations work with Wolfe to both screen films for hundreds of consumers and promote the subsequent VOD & DVD releases. These relationships expand consumer outreach and do the good work of promoting the important work of non-profits

Publicity is a major focus in every Wolfe campaign. Wolfe's publicists (not in-house) facilitate reviews, interviews and other coverage for all Wolfe releases across a wide range of media outlets from national and regional print publications to blogs and websites. Broadcast networks also work with Wolfe on publicity and marketing. For example, the Logo Network is presently airing Wolfe PSA’s to educate consumers about the effects of piracy featuring actors from Wolfe films.

Additionally, they not only market films on the Wolfe label, but work extensively with larger labels such as Sony, Universal, Fox, and Showtime to name a few. Every successful distributor with gay content has hired Wolfe to support their products. Wolfe has a “soup to nuts” approach to film marketing and they work hard to reach millions of consumers for every release.”

INDEPENDENT LENS

“Independent Lens has a strong social media community including nearly 70,000 engaged Facebook fans —the largest of all PBS primetime series, second only to Antiques Roadshow. Independent Lens social networking and online impact: Independent Lens believes social networking is one key component to reaching new, younger and more diverse viewers for our broadcasts, engagement work and online distribution.

Independent Lens is the second most popular PBS series on Facebook. We post daily, and our posts average 55,000 impressions each. We receive an average of 100 interactions (Likes + Comments) on each post. This engagement rate ranks first among PBS series and means that 5 out of 6 of our fans see each post. (e.g. their The Calling Livestream event from the Chicago Art Institute in December 2010 attracted more than 3,000 viewers on their Livestream channel on their Facebook fan page.).

We have more than 11,000 followers on Twitter. We post three or more new Blog postings each week, and they feature interviews with the filmmakers, documentary news, dispatches from filmmakers in the field, live chats with filmmakers and the subjects of their films, and more. In the first quarter of our current season, Independent Lens had 18,000 page views from more than 15,000 unique visitors.”

GRAVITAS

“With there being thousands of films available in the VOD marketplace, here are four ongoing tactics we use to raise the profile of Gravitas films:

1. Traditional PR- As this The Wrap article shows we believe it important to convey to the industry and entertainment enthusiasts that Gravitas continues to innovate in VOD. In this instance, we will be releasing American: The Bill Hicks Story "day and date" in theatres and on VOD in April. This is a film was adored when it screened at SXSW in 2010 and having pre-release PR supporting the film will help us get wide carriage in 100 million North American VOD homes and marketing support from cable and online operators concurrent with the film's debut.

http://www.thewrap.com/deal-central/column-post/gravitas-variance-pick-american-bill-hicks-story-24145

We have an outside PR firm on retainer and we also do PR/marketing in house. None of these expenses are charged back to the filmmaker. We work in house, w/ our PR firm and with our Licensors to ensure appropriate messaging is being conveyed. Good reviews are crucial, but of paramount importance is letting the Licensor know when and where the film are being played in VOD. To this end, we communicate with our Licensors every time their film is on a new VOD platform.

Here are a couple recent links to coverage on IFC.com

http://www.ifc.com/news/2010/10/2010-holiday-movie-guide-online-vod.php

http://www.ifc.com/news/2011/01/winter-preview-2011-dvds.php

2. VOD Guide Optimization- As you know, there are over 100 cable, satellite, and telco operators in North America and each operator has their own VOD guide characteristics. As a result, we spend considerable resources internally making sure that our films are mapped so that customers can easily find them. As a result, we have Slingboxes set up in homes all across North America where we can remotely use our office internet connections to peer in to the cable boxes of friends and family to make sure our films are in as many VOD guide folders as possible. The enclosed images shows the layout of 8 different large operators. Our goal is make sure our films show up 4-5 times within each operator VOD storefront in folders frequently called "New Release", "All Movies A-Z", "Indy Films", "2 Day Rentals", "VOD Premieres", "In Theatres", and the appropriate genre categories like "Documentary" or "Comedy."

Almost each guide (aka UI or User Interface) is a little different and we monitor as many of the UI’s as possible to ensure that we are aware of any guide changes that we should be taking advantage of that would be appropriate for our content so that it is merchandized appropriately. We do this for all of our licensed content.

3. Online Editorial Outreach: Gravitas' marketing team has a monthly dialogue (including sending DVD screeners) with dozens of websites and bloggers that cover independent, genre, and new VOD content including: IFC.COM On Demand Weekly Hammer to Nail Twitch Film Film School Rejects Gordon and the Whale 28 Days Later Analysis Fangoria Dread Central Arrow in the Head VideoScope Magazine Horrorphilia Bloody Disgusting

Here are some recent samples:

http://www.ifc.com/news/2011/01/winter-preview-2011-dvds.php

http://ondemandweekly.com/blog/article/ip_man_-_on_demand/ 4. Online and Social Media- Each month we host monthly marketing calls with filmmakers to help implement and grow the online presence of their film prior to and after VOD debut date. Here are just a few examples:

a. Gravitas Website-We run on ongoing Film Spotlight section off of our home page where we interview writers and directors of Gravitas films currently in VOD release. http://www.gravitasventures.com/films/

(TFC notes: no info on site traffic and Sheri Candler noted that Gravitas themselves only have a little over 500 people on their own FB page and almost no engagement from fans; few likes, few comments on the material posted there.)

ORLY asked: “Do you have any plans to expand your social network marketing? Any community engagement you want to speak to? I say this because for example Independent Lens does this very well, but most distribs and aggregators don't. Since you mention it, if you have anything to say about it please do”.

GRAVITAS answered: “To the extent that our social media sites continue to grow, yes, but it’s equally important and effective to spread best practices with our Licensors. i.e. If Gravitas licenses a film with a FB page of 10K fans, we want to share best practices with that Licensor as to harness their social network to drive VOD activity”.

Back to the rest of the GRAVITAS info about their marketing ONLINE & via SOCIAL MEDIA:

“b.) Partner Portal Marketing- Hulu is one example of a key partner portal that we collaborate with weekly to raise the profile of Gravitas films. Here is a screen shot of the well-regarded documentary Circus Rosaire that is currently being highlighted in the top carousel off the Main Hulu Movies page.

Recently, we were able to work with the website www.Jesse-Eisenberg.com to have them cross promote one of Jesse's earlier films The Living Wake right after he was Oscar nominated for his work in The Social Network.

http://www.jesse-eisenberg.com/news/2011/01/29/the-living-wake-now-free-to-watch-on-hulu/

We also frequently collaborate with many of our filmmakers to heighten discussion, interaction and interest in many of our Hulu films.

http://www.hulu.com/studio/gravitas?sort=name

c.) Social Media- Gravitas and its film partners are active users of Facebook and Twitter. Here is one example where are Documentaries on Demand partner PBS tweeted about the VOD release of The Buddha to its over 500 thousand followers.”

http://www.indiewire.com/article/gravitas_ventures_to_launch_documentaries_on_demand_with_pbs/

BRAINSTORM MEDIA Brainstorm submitted this campaign plan in answer to our desire to what they do on the marketing front. They work with Eventful.

Eventful What Would You Give Up to Find True Love? Submit Your Answer for a Chance to Win!

One lucky winner and three guests will win a trip to NYC, stay at the luxurious Kimberly Hotel, get a pampering spa day and more!

Campaign overview: Eventful will execute a social media campaign to engage consumers around the film, My Father’s Will. The campaign will allow fans to submit their answers to win a trip to NYC, see submissions from other fans, and watch the trailer for My Father’s Will. Eventful will execute digital, email and social media marketing to drive campaign participation.

The goals of the campaign include: • Drive entries for the sweepstakes • Build awareness for My Father’s Will through trailer views • Build awareness for accommodations being provided, i.e. hotel • Generate social media and viral engagement for the film and sweepstakes • Create an engaged social community for direct marketing of VOD rentals of My Father’s Will with including folder locations for each affiliate

Phase 1: Social media campaign – Win it! 1. Eventful will design, build and host: • Campaign micro-site including movie trailer and hotel branding • Custom widgets and social media apps for distribution across Facebook, MySpace and other sites, enabling consumers to enter the sweepstakes

2. Eventful will execute a comprehensive targeted marketing and promotional plan to engage existing users from among Eventful’s audience of 16 million consumers: • Demographic targeting by location, age, gender, and entertainment tastes • Eventful will engage consumers via dedicated email, onsite promotions, and one-click social media sharing tools

3. Marketing by Eventful will drive participants to the campaign micro-site which will include: • Campaign artwork branded for My Father’s Will • Primary call-to-action to enter the sweepstakes by submitting an answer • Live stream of entries from fans • Official trailer for My Father’s Will • Campaign details with basic rules • Social media sharing tools for Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and email

Phase 2: Drive VOD rentals of My Father’s Will

1. Eventful will promote VOD sales for My Father’s Will through a digital and direct marketing campaign targeting all sweepstakes entrants plus a broader target audience within the Eventful user base. Campaigns include: • Dedicated email • Onsite promotions • Email newsletter insertions

Proposed Timeline: • “Win it!” Sweepstakes: 2/15/11 – 4/15/11

To see the campaign, access it here. http://movies.eventful.com/campaigns/myfatherswill2011

(TFC note: we hope to look forward to hearing the outcome on this campaign) -- So, in conclusion, you can see a range of what companies do. In general, some companies are more focused on consumer marketing and publicity and social network marketing than others and some are focused more on marketing to retailers and services and getting best placement and some may do both. We recommend the latter when you have a choice and of course, no one can market your film better than you can. In my experience most companies lack on the publicity side, though I will say First Run Features, for example, (since we did not cover them herein) seems to do a great job on that front working with a wonderful publicist, driving Netflix queue action, hiring outreach teams, posting the trailer all over, and take out ads, e-blast loads, as well as work social network sites etc.

I am sure other companies will want to chime in here about what they do and filmmakers too about their experiences, good or not-so-much. We want to hear from you so weigh in! Please offer specific examples, not just marketing speak. In the meantime, our resident social network marketing guru, Sheri Candler, has offered her take on what the above distributors have described.

Sheri Candler says: I am happy to see distributors explaining what they do to market titles under their control. Often, the text on their websites sounds like a generalization of typical activities conducted by any marketing department in any corporation. I urge filmmakers to press for a customized, detailed plan of EXACTLY what will be done on their films and how much it will cost. Ultimately, that cost will be deducted from your backend, so it is important to understand what you can expect from your distributor before you sign up with them. It also gives you an idea of what you will still need to do yourselves. This isn’t fix it, forget it and the money just rolls in.

As noted above, I think social networking activities by most distributors is minimal at best. If you already have 10K fans on your Facebook page and the distributor offering to perform social networking activities for your film only has 500, they really can’t offer much. Especially look at how they handle their pages. Is it mostly shill? Is there any engagement going on? Evaluate them on what they can bring you that you can’t do yourselves.

The only impressive distributor in the above list with regard to social networking and utilizing it effectively is Independent Lens. Look at their page and see how they are using it. Very impressive. No wonder they have almost 70K fans. Ask if your distributor has a social media team (not 2 interns!) and ask to speak with those people to get a sense of what they will do with your title or how you can combine efforts effectively. Just getting a large entity to tweet about your title once is not going to do much; it is not a Twitter strategy.

Retail DVD placement (for the next few years anyway), iTunes, Netflix, and VOD marquee placement, relationships with major publications for reviews and feature stories, these are things a typical filmmaker cannot get on their own and are worth utilizing with a distributor. Sending out eblasts and unsolicited screeners to journalists is really spam; so if that is the extent of your distributor’s publicity efforts, it isn’t worth paying for. Be sure to ask EXACTLY which publications will be approached and evaluate whether those outlets reach your target audience. You should also be consulted on what story angles will be developed for the publications. This is especially necessary if you do not have notable stars or notable accolades from festivals attached to your film as publications will be more reluctant to cover it.

Since grassroots relationships were mentioned, press your distributor to name which organizations they work with. Are they just affiliate sales relationships? Are they just a member of the distributor eblast list? Real communication should be happening and for a relationship really to be fruitful, it has to be 2 way. Of the above mentioned distributors, only Wolfe strikes me as having actual relationships with target organizations. Their content is of value to the organizations they are affiliated with and I would venture a guess that Wolfe strongly champions the orgs cause and mission too. THAT is a relationship.

Advertising placement makes sense, but find out what the spend will be and what publications/sites. While I understand that distributors get better rates going with a media broker, the spend is wasted if the placements are in publications or on sites that do not reach your target audience.

My view on this is a distributor is a marketing partner. The bulk of what they should be bringing you is marketing prowess. Really dig into what their plans are for your film and ask to see examples of work on similar films. When deciding on which distributor to sign with, don’t just sign with someone offering you access to 15 million homes. It sounds great, but if few of those homes know your film exists, there won’t be many sales.

Orly Ravid has worked in film acquisitions / sales / direct distribution and festival programming for the last twelve years since moving to Los Angeles from home town Manhattan. In January 2010, Orly founded The Film Collaborative (TFC), the first non-profit devoted to film distribution of independent cinema. Orly runs TFC w/ her business partner, co-exec director Jeffrey Winter.