Digital Distribution & Marketing for Filmmakers


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Slides for a workshop on how filmmakers can use the Internet (and other new technologies) to market and distribute their work. This is a talk I've been giving at film schools, and most recently, the Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco. Related blog:

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Digital Distribution & Marketing for Filmmakers

  1. 1. Digital Distribution & Marketing Film Arts Foundation October 11, 2007 Scott Kirsner [email_address]
  2. 2. Digital Distribution: The Opportunity <ul><li>A direct pipeline to the viewer </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer middlemen </li></ul><ul><li>Niche content can reach its rightful audience, efficiently </li></ul><ul><li>More profit in pockets of filmmakers and their financiers </li></ul>
  3. 3. Workshop Overview <ul><li>Discussion of digital distribution strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Exercise: Sample distribution contracts </li></ul><ul><li>Guest speaker: Filmmaker Jim Kerns </li></ul><ul><li>Exercise: Building audience for your project </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion of digital marketing strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Guest speaker: Distributor Alex Afterman </li></ul>
  4. 4. Digital Distribution, Defined <ul><li>There are two kinds of digital distribution: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Digital distribution over the Internet </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Digital distribution to a network of digital cinemas (Christie/AIX, Technicolor, Emerging Pictures) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Who’s Watching Video on the Web? <ul><li>75 percent of US Internet users watched an average of three hours of online video in July 2007, according to comScore Video Metrix </li></ul><ul><li>Apple’s iTunes store has sold over 50 million TV episodes ($1.99 each) and 1.3 million feature films ($9.99 to $14.99 each), as of January 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>On YouTube, the most popular video, “Evolution of Dance,” has been seen 60 million times, and the average viewer spends 26 minutes per month on the site, according to Nielsen/NetRatings </li></ul>
  6. 6. What are They Watching? “ Evolution of Dance” - 60 million views, $0 on YouTube
  7. 7. What are They Watching? “ Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments” 7.5 million views, $35,000 on Revver
  8. 8. What are They Watching? “ Matrix - For Real” by Joe Eigo 5.5 million views, $27,000 on Metacafe
  9. 9. What are They Watching? “ 405” on iFilm 5.3 million views, $??
  10. 10. What are They Watching? “ Ask a Ninja” $20,000 on Revver in 2006
  11. 11. What are They Watching? “ Back Massage Techniques” 1.4 million views, $7277 on Metacafe
  12. 12. Commonalities <ul><li>Videos making money on the Net so far are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Short (typically 10 mins or less, 2.7 mins on average) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Entertaining or instructive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not reliant on dialogue </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Consumption Habits News: 72 percent Television or movie clips: 59 percent Music videos: 48 percent Sports highlights: 44 percent Amateur videos: 43 percent Concert highlights: 23 percent Full-length movies or TV shows: 22 percent Live sporting events: 17 percent Video podcasts: 17 percent Live concerts: 9 percent A September 2006 AP/AOL survey of 1,347 online video users reported on the types of videos they were consuming
  14. 14. Where Consumption Happens Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Videos Viewed July 2007 (Source: comScore Video Metrix) Videos Share (%) of Property (MM) Videos Total Internet 9,077 100.0 % Google Sites 2,454 27.0 % Yahoo! Sites 390 4.3 % Fox Interactive Media 298 3.3 % Viacom Digital 281 3.1 % Disney Online 182 2.0 % Time Warner Network 181 2.0 % Microsoft Sites 149 1.6 % ESPN 75 0.8 % 53 0.6 % Comcast Corporation 51 0.6 %
  15. 15. Filmmaker Experiences $7 million budget….Digital download on AOL in October 2006: $2.49 for 5-day rental, $7.99 to own…AOL committed millions to promotion…Later released by Sony Home Entertainment on DVD
  16. 16. Filmmaker Experiences Budget under $1 million…Director turned down $125K distrib offer…Debuted on Google video in Jan. 2006, with 70/30 revenue split at $3.99 per download…300 downloads, not 3000…About $1000 in revenue, but 22,000 DVDs shipped (MTI Home Video)
  17. 17. Filmmaker Experiences Budget under $10 million…Distributed on Net two weeks after theatrical release, in December 2006 … $9.99 for rental, $19.99 for download to own…Released on DVD in February by First Look.
  18. 18. Filmmaker Experiences Doc made by two first-time filmmakers…Self-distributed to theaters and on DVD…Filmmakers have sold 4000 DVDs, 700 downloads through their own site (powered by E-Junkie) and Amazon Unbox, as of September 2007.
  19. 19. Economic Models <ul><li>Paid download or rental (Brightcove, Amazon/CreateSpace, Jaman, eventually iTunes?) </li></ul><ul><li>Ad-supported (Revver, Metacafe, YouTube) </li></ul><ul><li>DVD purchase (Amazon/CreateSpace, IndieFlix, IndiePix, FilmBaby) </li></ul>
  20. 20. Challenges <ul><li>iTunes not open to indie content </li></ul><ul><li>Aside from iTunes, no obvious second-tier player for paid rentals or downloads </li></ul><ul><li>No widely-used connection yet between Internet and TV (Apple TV, TiVo/Unbox, MSFT Xbox all candidates) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Snacking” behavior; preference for short videos </li></ul><ul><li>Windowing issues </li></ul><ul><li>Deal terms (varying splits…some traditional homevid distributors want to lock up digital rights) </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing in a noisy environment with near-infinite choice </li></ul>
  21. 21. *A Note on Aggregators <ul><li>iTunes, CinemaNow, and some other sites won’t buy from lone filmmakers </li></ul><ul><li>FilmBaby, IODA, MediaStyle angling </li></ul><ul><li>How much will they take? </li></ul>
  22. 22. Challenges of D-Cinema Distribution <ul><li>More than 10 percent of all screens in US can now play digital content </li></ul><ul><li>Most of these are operated by Christie/AIX (aka AccessIT), though Technicolor, Dolby, and DCIP plan to be players, too </li></ul><ul><li>Cost of encoding your movie in the DCI-approved format is still high… do you want to both create a digital version and also a film print? </li></ul><ul><li>Today’s digital screens tend to play mostly studio content, not self-distributed movies </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions: Landmark Theatres, Emerging Pictures </li></ul>
  23. 23. Reinventing Distribution: “Four Eyed Monsters” 1. Played SXSW 2. Didn’t get picked up 3. Video podcasts 4. The importance of e-mail addresses and ZIP codes 5. Demand-based theatrical showings
  24. 24. Reinventing Distribution: “Iraq for Sale” 1. Made to influence the 2006 mid-term elections 2. Online financing 3. House parties/DVD sales
  25. 25. Reinventing Distribution: House Parties
  26. 26. Distribution Deals: Exercise <ul><li>Fine print matters </li></ul>
  27. 27. Marketing Exercise <ul><li>Marketing (let’s call it “audience-building”) begins the moment you decide to make your movie </li></ul>
  28. 28. Marketing <ul><li>What is your movie about? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is the audience for your movie? </li></ul><ul><li>Where do they hang out online? </li></ul><ul><li>What can you give them / how can they help you? </li></ul>
  29. 29. Where Film Fans Hang Out
  30. 30. Where Film Fans Hang Out
  31. 31. Where Film Fans Hang Out
  32. 32. Marketing: Pre-Release
  33. 33. Marketing: Pre-Release
  34. 34. Marketing: Pre-Release
  35. 35. Marketing: Pre-Release Documentary: “Half a Soulja”
  36. 36. Marketing: Pre-Release
  37. 37. Marketing: Pre-Release
  38. 38. Marketing: Release Time
  39. 39. Marketing: Release Time
  40. 40. Marketing: Release Time Feature: “Head Trauma”
  41. 41. Marketing: DVD & Post-Theatrical
  42. 42. Marketing: DVD & Post-Theatrical
  43. 43. Marketing: “Embed and Spread”
  44. 44. How Can You Get the Audience Involved? <ul><li>Auditions/casting </li></ul><ul><li>Music submissions </li></ul><ul><li>Research </li></ul><ul><li>Scouting locations </li></ul><ul><li>What else? </li></ul>
  45. 45. Video: M dot Strange
  46. 46. Q&A <ul><li>Thank you for being here! </li></ul><ul><li>Scott Kirsner / [email_address] / </li></ul>