How to sell your movie quick guide for filmmaking


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If your a filmmaker seeking a traditional movie distribution company, this self distribution guide will help you sell your movie via the many video on demand marketplaces.

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How to sell your movie quick guide for filmmaking

  1. 1. How To Sell Your Movie A Quick Guide For Getting Started Copyright 2010 Brubaker Unlimited LLC
  2. 2. IntroductionMy name is Jason Brubaker. I’m a Los Angeles based independentmovie producer. This short guide will provide you with an overviewon how to sell your movie.I can give this guide away free, because most of the following prod-uct and service recommendations are my affiliates. That means, ifyou decide any of my suggestions are a good fit for your moviemak-ing business, I may receive compensation from the providers.This will not affect your purchase price!In the event referrals aren’t cool, feel free to ignore my picks com-pletely. With that said, if you have a movie and you’re trying to fig-ure out how to sell your movie, I hope this guide helps you. copyright 2011 - - - - page 2 of 25
  3. 3. How to Sell Your MovieAs a feature filmmaker, one of the biggest problems YOU have isfinding a traditional distribution deal (that actually makes sense) foryour movie. With each passing day, we get closer and closer to aworld where DVDs are being replaced by video on demand. Andwhile we are not there yet, after spending the greater part of lastweekend watching streaming content online, I am now of the opin-ion that the days of DVD distribution are numbered.As a result of this evolution, filmmakers need to quit relying on out-side 3rd parties to source an audience and distribute independentmovies. From now on, YOU need to start thinking about your moviebusiness like any other small business. YOU will create a product,YOU will distribute your product, YOU will market your product andYOU will sell your product. copyright 2011 - - - - page 3 of 25
  4. 4. Our StoryLike many first time filmmakers, our first feature was met with emp-ty distribution promises and crappy deals. So by necessity, we start-ed selling our title on the internet as both a physical DVD and a vid-eo on demand download. At first, nobody liked that idea.I mean, even if a traditional deal sucks, at least there is still valida-tion in seeing your title on the shelves at the local video store. Butthen we made our first sale. We thought it was an anomaly.How could we possibly make money with our movie? We had nomovie stars, our production value left a lot to be desired and mostpeople on earth had never heard of our title (including you.) Butthen we made another sale… And the a third. And then a dozen… copyright 2011 - - - - page 4 of 25
  5. 5. That was 2006 and since that time, my enthusiasm for video on de-mand distribution has only increased. These days filmmakers have agazillion options for reaching their audience, creating communityand building buzz. As your own VOD distributor you can finally getyour title seen and selling without waiting for some middle-man togive you permission. And assuming you have all the necessary legaldocuments, releases and (possibly) E&O insurance for your movie,the following seven secret steps will help you get started today! copyright 2011 - - - - page 5 of 25
  6. 6. Sell Your Movie In Seven StepsI have provided seven steps I use to promote my own movie busi-ness. When applied, it is my hope that the following steps will serveas a nice foundation for your own VOD marketing strategy: Step 1 – Sharpen Your Hook Step 2 – Target Your Target Audience Step 3 – Get Into The VOD Step 4 – Create Your Movie Sales Funnel Step 5 – Refine Your Trailer (And Promote It) Step 6 – Increase Targeted Web Traffic. Step 7 – Leverage Your Following. copyright 2011 - - - - page 6 of 25
  7. 7. Step 1 – Sharpen Your HookOne of the first questions people ask is, what is your movie about?While this seems like a pretty easy question, if you find yourselframbling on about a complicated, character driven story, full of peo-ple reflecting on life’s moments of love and loss, STOP! A long de-scription is confusing. And a confused mind doesn’t buy your movie.So in order to sell your title, you must communicate your movie in adistinct and memorable way.To do this, ask some trusted friends to watch your movie and de-scribe it to you in one concise log-line. For example, let’s say yourmovie is described as “A boxer fights for the title.” Obviously this issuccinct, but lacking detail. So your next job is to incorporate someflavorful elements into your log-line. copyright 2011 - - - - page 7 of 25
  8. 8. Here is the same example with added detail: “An impoverished box-er is given a once in a lifetime chance to fight for the world heavy-weight title.” (Sound familiar?)With this example you can see how the extra detail adds sizzle tothe description. This will help you in two arenas. Firstly, with thisdescription, your prospective audience will immediately understandhow your movie differs from all the other boxer movies.From a marketing perspective, the words “boxer,” “fights,” and“heavyweight title” will help you to target your core audience. Butbecause they are very broad, you will want to niche down your tar-get. Perhaps you want to seek out “female boxers,” which furtherdefines your audience. After research and a few decisions on yourpart, these targeted keywords will help you jump-start your internetsearch engine optimization campaign. copyright 2011 - - - - page 8 of 25
  9. 9. Step 2 - Target Your Target AudienceOnce you have refined your movie concept, you can use this as aspringboard to further locate blogs, websites and publications al-ready targeting your target audience. For example, when youGoogle “boxing” you will get over forty-nine million results. This isnot surprising. Interests such as boxing, horror movies, martial artsand race car driving have prominence in our culture. But if yourmovie focuses on more obscure subjects, you have to dig deeper.Thankfully, even if your core audience is esoteric and comprised ofa small population spread all over the globe, the internet provides agreat tool for reaching them. Assuming you find websites and tradi-tional publications targeting your audience, your next step is toreach out and request their demographic statistics. copyright 2011 - - - - page 9 of 25
  10. 10. These stats will tell you how many people subscribe to the publica-tion and will often provide details on age and gender. Once youhave a good understanding of your target audience, all future ad-vertising, marketing language and your trailer should be createdwith your target audience in mind. Then later, when your movie en-ters the marketplace, this initial research will provide you a contactlist full of organizations that may help you promote your movie.Given all the changes in distribution, as a filmmaker, getting yourmovie seen and selling is no longer solely the responsibly of a 3rdparty distributor. Once you have sharpened your hook and targetedyour target audience, your next step is to set up shop in some of themany popular internet based marketplaces.Where is the best marketplace? It is wherever you can reach some-one within your target audience and get a sale for the least money. copyright 2011 - - - - page 10 of 25
  11. 11. Step 3 – Get into the VOD MarketplaceYour next step is to determine the appropriate video on demandmarketplace for your movie. There are many options for this, in-cluding setting up your own internet storefront, joining otherfilmmakers in a shared storefront or setting up shop in popular Vid-eo On Demand marketplaces. Since most VOD outlets do not re-quire an exclusive deal, I recommend getting your movie selling inmultiple markets, including iTunes and Amazon.To do this quickly, research a company called distribber. I first foundthe service when I was looking for an easy way to get my moviesseen and selling. I liked the service so much that we have workedout an affiliate deal (so do your own due diligence prior to purchas-ing any services.) copyright 2011 - - - - page 11 of 25
  12. 12. The reason I like the service is, for a one-time upfront fee, offers filmmakers the ability to get theirmovies into iTunes, Amazon and quite a few other popular video ondemand marketplaces. Then once your title goes live, you will beable to monitor your sales across all platforms in one place.Aside from the initial fee and a small yearly maintenance fee, will not take any of your future earnings.And unlike the creative accounting found in traditional deals, youwill be able view and withdraw your funds at any time. In the eventyour title is not selected for iTunes, distribber will refund your in-vestment, minus a small set up fee.In my opinion, using a company like this is way better than givingyour movie rights to some bottom-feeding distributor for no moneyand limited validation. copyright 2011 - - - - page 12 of 25
  13. 13. Additionally distribber stays current with emerging VOD market-places. For example, if some new iTunes competitor emerges, youcan rest assured that is already outthere, working to make the pipeline available to filmmakers. copyright 2011 - - - - page 13 of 25
  14. 14. Step 4 – Create Your Movie Sales FunnelTo set up an internet movie sales funnel, you will have to modifyyour website to funnel all traffic towards a sale. This can beachieved easily by removing all the potentially distracting contentfrom your site including production photos, press kits and actor bi-os. Once removed, further emphasis should be placed on your trail-er, your about page, and most importantly, your “buy now” buttons.Most of your visitors will exit your website and never return. So toincrease your odds of converting these visitors into paying custom-ers, you will want to create ways to capture visitor contact infor-mation. One easy way is by creating a Facebook page for your mov-ie and then placing a Facebook link on your site. copyright 2011 - - - - page 14 of 25
  15. 15. This way, once your visitor joins your movie’s Facebook community,the added social proof of like-minded fans touting the joys of yourmovie may increase your sales. This goes for Twitter and other so-cial networking communities too.But because many social networking sites run the risk of going outof vogue, you will want to migrate your fans off the social networksand get them into your own mailing list. For this, I recommend us-ing an email marketing service such as site provides ease of service. As soon as you sign up for one oftheir inexpensive accounts, you can easily create a way for your fansto connect with you. For example, if you would like over $97 dollarsin useful filmmaking tools, FREE simply enter your info into my optin box at this site: copyright 2011 - - - - page 15 of 25
  16. 16. If you just signed up, you probably got an email asking you to click alink. Assuming you clicked the link, you were redirected to a “ThankYou Page.” And on that page you were able to download all sorts ofpremium filmmaking tools, for free. While I am obviously utilizinglist-building to create a more meaningful relationship with filmmak-ers (and YOU), this model can be (and should be) applied to yourown movie business. But instead of giving away filmmaking booksand audio courses, you might consider allowing your prospectivemovie audience to download a free movie soundtrack.The reason why I stress Audience List Building so much in myFilmmaking model is because no matter what happens in distribu-tion, you will need a community of people who know you and yourwork – this will determine your rate of success over your long-termcareer. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. copyright 2011 - - - - page 16 of 25
  17. 17. Three Tips for building your Audience List:  From now on, as soon as you have a website, start building your list.  Put your website on your business card.  Collect names and email addresses at film festivals.Companies like allow you to manage youremail communication with thousands of fans. And since reputableemail companies have good relationships with internet service pro-viders, the odds of your movie newsletter ending up in spam foldersis decreased. copyright 2011 - - - - page 17 of 25
  18. 18. Step 6 – Increase Targeted Web TrafficTo increase your website traffic, you might decide to work outSearch Engine Optimization tactics with your web marketer, pay foronline or off-line advertising, or incorporate a bit of everything. Un-paid traffic is called organic. Organic traffic is the best kind becausewhenever you pay for a customer, you diminish your profit marginfrom the outset. So obviously, the goal for all movie marketers is toacquire a customer for the very lowest price possible.One secret I utilize is frequent press release submissions. Years ago,it was advised that you only wrote and submitted press releaseswhen you had something newsworthy to say. But these days, in ad-dition to targeting traditional news outlets, most press releases areincluded in search engine results. copyright 2011 - - - - page 18 of 25
  19. 19. Without getting overly technical, this means for a very smallamount of money, submitting one press release complete with linksto your website can increase your web footprint. Over time thesereleases are picked up by blogs and other websites hungry for relat-ed content. And the resulting benefit is more awareness of yourmovie, for a minimal cost.If both your traffic and your budget are low, search out otherfilmmakers who have successfully sold their movies to a similarmarket and find out if they would be interested in promoting yourmovie to their mailing list. Assuming your movie is congruent withwhat their audience enjoys, these other filmmakers may gladly helpyou out for a cut of the profits. I have found that giving affiliates agood return for effective marketing creates long term win-win busi-ness relationships. copyright 2011 - - - - page 19 of 25
  20. 20. These other filmmakers are able to create a stream of revenue be-tween their movie projects. And you benefit by expanding yourmovie’s reach quickly.This is also a good time to revisit those sites from your initial re-search. Compile a list of one-hundred target websites, then reachout to site owners and kindly ask if they would be interested in re-viewing your movie. Regardless of whether or not these folks likeyour movie, what is secondarily valuable to you are links back toyour website. Over time, these back-links, combined with your trail-er and social networking profiles will serve to funnel more andmore prospective viewers back to your website.One of the most important filmmaking strategies you must adopt inthis era of modern moviemaking is a long term perspective. I copyright 2011 - - - - page 20 of 25
  21. 21. n years past, filmmakers focused on making one movie, selling itand then moving on to the next movie. While the idea of creatingmultiple titles over the course of your filmmaking career has notchanged, it is now vitally important that you plan a series of moviesfrom day one. The reason for this is simple. You are responsible forthe success of your movie business. And to stay in business, you willneed to create a profitable library of titles that continually pay you.To use a real estate business analogy, in years past you built a houseand sold it for maximum profit. But given changes in the real estatemarket, it makes sense to hold onto the house, rent it out and col-lect rent checks every month. This is the difference between capitalgains and cashflow. And as an independent filmmaker, the growingdemise in DVD sales outlets means that filmmakers must now focuson creating multiple titles – and increasing cashflow, over time. copyright 2011 - - - - page 21 of 25
  22. 22. Step 7 – Leverage Your FollowingAs I mentioned previously, creating a highly targeted mailing list isnow essential for your success.Thinking long term, the most important component of your moviemaking success is establishing a loyal following. From a businessperspective, the size of your mailing list will provide a solid metricon which to base forward looking revenue projections. In otherwords, you can take look at your list and say “two percent of ourfollowers bought this movie. I wonder how many fans will be inter-ested in my next movie?”But instead of guess work, you can send your followers an emailand ask them. “Hey. I’m thinking about making this type of movie.Do you think it sounds interesting?” copyright 2011 - - - - page 22 of 25
  23. 23. As you grow your community your fans will begin to know you,know your company and celebrate your work. And as long as youcontinue to provide good entertainment, you may eventually reachmass great enough to fund your future movie projects. Imaginehow much prospective investors will appreciate your pitch whenyou already have one-hundred-thousand fans eager to buy yournext movie?In the end, the heart and soul of all forms of distribution is findingan audience willing to pay you for your work. Video on demandsimply removes the middle-man from the process and allows you toconnect directly with the people who matter most - your audience.For more information, check out: copyright 2011 - - - - page 23 of 25
  24. 24. LA Producer Jason Brubaker About Jason Brubaker Jason Brubaker is a Hollywood based Independent Motion Picture Producer and an expert in Video On Demand distribution. He is fo- cused on helping YOU make, market and sell movies more easily by growing your fan base, building buzz and creating community around your title. He is also available for speaking engagements. Jason is a contributing author of The Independent’s Guide to Film Distributors, he is the founder of Filmmaking Stuff, a professional resource for independent filmmakers, and his articles on independ- ent movie marketing, distribution and film production have been featured in The Independent and Movie Maker Magazine. Brubaker has lectured on these subjects to filmmakers from around the globe through various seminars, panels and workshops. copyright 2011 - - - - page 24 of 25
  25. 25. Filmmaking is where I give away over $97 infree filmmaking tools, including my filmmaking book and is designed to help you solve yourmost pressing filmmaking, screenwriting and distribution is Peter Marshall’s online courseon how to breakdown your screenplay and schedule your is business plan software for movie mak-ers who know they need a plan, but hate allows filmmakers to easily get hosting, adomain name and set up a website for their allows filmmakers to capture leads fromtheir movie website, build a mailing list and create newsletters. copyright 2011 - - - - page 25 of 25