Ok Indie Film Maker, you’ve written your script, casted all of your characters, rented or purchased everything you needed (trucks, props, shooting materials etc) and you’ve shot and edited your film. Now it is time to get your masterpiece out to the world!
There were days not long ago that the ultimate issue for filmmakers was the ever-challenging problem of distribution. We used to fight to get that film copied and delivered to film houses, then promoted in such a way that actual humans would come out and watch our films, and then, maybe then, become a fan or benefactor to our career. Now, distribution is hardly an issue as you can upload to YouTube and have your film available to be freely distributed to nearly 5 billion people.
Distribution, we got you.
However, you and about 5 billion other people are uploading content to YouTube every second, so now our issue is an overcrowding of the medium. So many people make so much content, that we need to now figure out a way to get those eyes and ears to our film. It’s no longer distribution, it’s finding an audience that is the issue. Here are some pro tips to gaining an audience.
1. Generate and Feed a Community
With social media, now more than ever, community is what rules. Build the hype. Get emails. Make friends. Go to film screenings and socialize. So many people fall on the mistake of uploading to the internet and assuming that they will go viral simply because the video sells itself. No – you need people to be interested in it from the get go. Before releasing the film, release teasers, get a hashtag going on twitter and instagram, be active and fun in your community. When it’s time to release, people will be intrinsically excited as opposed to feeling pressured because you went to high school together.
2. Be Yourself
The worst thing to do is to cater to what you think people will want to see (see: modern “country” music). Be yourself and trust yourself and most of all express yourself. Would you rather appeal to 10,000 people who aren’t really that interested in your work and are just caught up in a trend, or 500 people who truly think you’re a genius.
We want everyone to see every brilliant thing we do. But it’s much more effective to give a little something special to those who are special, or different distributor outlets. Give them something that makes them feel special and they will actually feel special.
4. Fear Not Asking for Help
Many people have an archaic view, and by archaic we’re talking five years ago, about asking for money. It’s foolish. Not everyone thinks of crowd sourcing as begging. In fact, most people want to be a part of your project and will not only be happy to contribute, but will feel cool for doing so. They will share all your posts because they feel they are a part of it. It’s the opposite of free advertising – they’re basically paying you to advertise.
5. Don’t Fear the Free
You can give some stuff away for free. It’s not a big deal. Think of it as client development. If you charge for it and 100 people buy it, fine. If you give it away and 10,000 people see it, your next project will be much more well received.
6. It’s Okay to Talk About Yourself
We’re shy, a lot of us. Pretend you’re not if you are. It sounds weird, but you have to go out there and talk about yourself. Don’t be that annoying person who only talks about himself, but don’t be so shy you don’t self-promote.