“If you’re gonna make it, LEARN HOW TO SELL IT!”
It is not the responsibility of the platform to get your audience—it is yours. Each platform gives you tools that help you achieve success but in order to succeed you have to aggressively use them.
This approach is fundamentally different from licensing your film to a traditional distributor, a method I would call “indirect distribution”.
Most filmmakers do not understand the difference between “direct” and “indirect”. This gap in understanding holds many (if not most) indie filmmakers back.
How can this gap be closed and indie film dragged into the 21st century?
Let’s imagine an audience fund for indie film.
We start with 1 million dollars. We want to underwrite direct distribution for up to 15 films that will be released roughly over the same year period. We will put in between 50K to 100K per movie.
Filmmakers must have skin in the game so we require a few things from them.
Each filmmaker must bring a minimum of 25K to the effort, preferably through a crowd funding effort. If they come with 25K we give them 50K, if they come with 50K, we give them 100K, a 2 to 1 match. So each audience building campaign has a range of 75K to 150K to work with.
They have to commit a substantial amount of their own time to the audience gathering effort. It has to be a central part of their job during their film’s release. (For this we allow a modest filmmaker fee as part of the budget.)
We require that these filmmakers learn and use every tool of every platform they need to use. We design a boot camp that educates them quickly and thoroughly. (Best if they already use some of the tools and this boot camp is about intermediate or advanced work.)
We also bring in companies outside the world of indie film like Collective Digital Studios or Maker Studios who understand the YouTube ecosystem and people who get where the Internet is headed like John Borthwick or Andy Weissman to connect our filmmakers with the latest in social media thinking and practice.
We require that the filmmakers write publicly and often about how they are building their audience. They must blog about what they see, what they learn, what works and what does not.
They need to tell us where they experience success and where they find failure.
We stipulate that they collaborate with the other filmmakers supported by the fund. They must promote each others work. They must share information about the strategies they plan to implement and how the implementation is working (or not). They must act as resources for each other.
We stipulate further that all the filmmakers share the numbers. How many email addresses did you collect, how many tweets or emails did you send and respond to? How much money did you spend and how much did you make?
This all has to be shared with each other as well as the public at large.
Why all these stipulations and requirements?
This is a fund that aims to fundamentally change the way indie filmmakers think about their audiences and how they distribute their films.
A few filmmakers have used the models that this fund will support– but not nearly enough. This fund intends to amplify the work of those that are funded and create models that many others can follow.
As Bob Lefsetz writes,
“The point is people have plenty of money to give you, you’ve just got to find a way to make it palatable. That’s Amanda Palmer’s genius.”
This fund will create and support some new Amanda Palmers in the indie film world.
Who is in?