As Producer of Marketing and Distribution for the feature film Penny Black (filming July 2012 in New Zealand) I’ve been spending a lot of time researching different ways to find and engage with our audience. I’ve been very encouraged seeing what other creative and innovative film projects are attempting, eg. The Tunnel, who sold frames of their film for $1 to raise their budget then allowed their film to be torrented freely on completion, and El Cosmonauta‘s forward thinking and transparent business model which involves crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and really cool t-shirts (I own one). Of course there have been disheartening moments, like when I realised that Hollywood studios are using the same techniques as Indie filmmakers, but with every indie distribution success I am filled with hope for the rest of us. If one succeeds, we all succeed.
Achieving traditional distribution is increasingly difficult for independent film, especially anything made outside of the USA, as demonstrated by Taika Waititi’s amazing film Boy. Finding and engage with the people who are really passionate about the idea of your film is a good start. Whether they know you personally, or they live where the film is being made, or they are interested in the topic or genre of your film, these are the people who will encourage their friends to come to a screening, or loan them their autographed DVD.
I’m a big fan of crowdfunding, raising all or part of your budget before you make your film, often by ‘selling’ unique items (t-shirts, signed DVDs, stickers…) or experiences (a roll as an extra, name in the credits, tickets to the premiere screening) on sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or the New Zealand site Pledgeme. The financial help is great, but to receive your supporters votes of confidence in your project is invaluable.
As our film, Penny Black, progresses I will share what I learn and attempt here. I believe there is room for many more independent films to achieve success than is currently the case, and that by working together we will eventually construct a model that will help filmmakers achieve this goal.
Also, I wanted to pass on this link to a free ebook called Engagement from Scratch. I’ve gleaned a few ideas of how to build an audience, and within it are links to other social media gurus.