Indie Filmmaking: D.I.Y. Distribution Methods for Your Indie Film
Handling marketing and distribution yourself is a great way to ensure that you retain your rights, and maximize the amount of money you are able to earn with your independent film. The tradeoff is that you’ll need to do the work yourself, but in many cases you can make more money this way than if you have a traditional theatrical release. Unless your film has broad mainstream potential and a star or two, a theatrical release is often not even an option unless you are willing to effectively give your movie away.
You are already a filmmaker, which requires creativity, so why not use that creativity to your advantage? Here are a few tips from the trenches on becoming your own publicist and marketing your independent movie yourself.
Developing Your Own Website
Creating a user-friendly site allows you to advertise and distribute your own videos however you like. Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) even provide template-based websites and e-commerce shopping carts for a turn-key solution with no knowledge about programming necessary. If you’re willing to do a bit more learning, you can even produce a high-quality completely customized website to advertise your indie film in a matter of hours.
A quick Google search on ‘dvd duplication services’ reveals that there are plenty of companies who can manufacture your DVDs for $1 or less each (if you buy them in lots of 500 to 1,000). This can be a great option because there is not intermediary involved for the most part, and all profits remain yours. The only thing you have to do when you get an order is slip the DVDs in padded mailers and drop them in the mail. If you really want to eliminate your workload, there are even order fulfillment companies who will do this for a fee.
If the outlay of cash for DVDs is more than you want to spend, another Google search on ‘online film distribution’ will introduce you to a world of companies who want to help you sell your film as downloadable content. Since there is no product that needs to be manufactured, or stored, the up-front costs are kept at a minimum. Even the big e-commerce players are getting in on the action. Via CreateSpace, you can leverage Amazon.com’s distribution network and get your downloadable content placed right next to the biggest movies being sold using their sales and distribution network.
YouTube, and other video sharing sites are an excellent way to give people an idea of what your film is about, so make a trailer and post! Uploading to YouTube is simple and free and this will give people the chance to see what your movie is about. If your trailer is clever, those that like it will easily be able to forward the link to others, which can lead to good word-of-mouth advertising. The hope is that your trailer will drive curious viewers to your website in order to purchase your movie.
Promotion can range from simple things like handing out business cards with your website address, or putting out flyers around your home town, all the way to sophisticated marketing campaigns which include film festivals or renting out theaters in cities and having paid screenings. As with every other method outlined, as you build more connections, you can lead them over to your site where curious viewers will be able to buy your movie.
As you can see, there are many ways to leverage new and emerging technology to create sales for your independent movie. The best part is that when you use these services, you retain all the rights to your movie, and you don’t have to split any revenues with a distribution company. Many indie filmmakers find that they are able to create very profitable products without ever setting foot in a distributors office, or splitting any profits with a 3rd-party.
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