Your Film Marketing Plan & Distribution Plan are the hardest parts of your film business plan to complete. FilmProposals has done all the heavy lifting for you for your financial projections, covering the industry, using top tier research and statistics and discussing all the latest release trends and acquisitions. However, Film Marketing and Distribution Plans are unique to every film and this is where a producer has to focus their efforts to be successful. When you have these mapped out, both investors and distributors will know you have a solid deal on the table. Luckily, we've helped so many successful filmmakers over the years, and now offer our expert formula for reaching your audience, winning film festivals and getting distribution.
How to Win at Film Festivals
We all love to talk a good Cannes & Sundance game, but, really what's the likelihood a first time filmmaker without an A list celeb or huge financial backing is getting into those? It's doable, of course, but not common. Here at FilmProposals, we have a secret way of identifying the exact right film festivals for your film and significantly increasing your chances of both acceptance and prizes. It's the process we use with all of our clients and it works!
We start with our proprietary database of almost 400 independent films, which we use to pick our comparable films for our Revenue Projections. When we pick our Comps, we go by budget and genre, so we're as close as possible to other films like ours. Now, let's say Beach Rats was one of our comparable films. It was made for less than $1M and is similar to our film's genre and theme. Now, we head to the Beach Rats IMDB page which shows all 12 wins and 16 nominations - BINGO! This is our film's jam right here...
- American Film Festival
- Americana Film Fest
- Casting Society of America
- GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics
- ...and so many more!
You do that for your 3-20 Comparable Films, create your chart of most nominations and wins across all your comps, and you know exactly where to focus your festival time, money and energy. You are following the proven success of other filmmakers whose films are similar to yours and you know exactly how to complete the festival part of your Marketing Plan in your Film Business Plan - it's like it writes itself! We promise, you don't need to reinvent the wheel here. Learn from the BEST and use our 23+ years experience working with filmmakers.
You then use your nominations and wins to earn prize money, get publicity, announce to your social media and watch your audience start flocking to your film. You can even do this exact same process to find out more about the audiences of your Comp Films and how they were earned. How did the previous successful filmmakers target their audience? Research all the articles with the filmmakers you can find (they are always interviewed at Film Festivals) - there's always gold nuggets in there and we use that information to help us target our audience, find sponsorships and more!
How to Target Your Movie Audience
Our next step is to research the you-know-what out of the producers and directors of our comparable films. We read EVERYTHING we can about them and learn from their interviews. We googled Eliza Hittman, the writer and producer of Beach Rats, and read this great interview. Here's what we learned.
She's done several microbudget movies and even screened one at Sundance, as well as getting theatrical release. So kudos to her! On one of her films she received free location shooting from Planned Parenthood (PP), who also has an arts engagement program, where they connect artists with PP contacts, including their list of celebs who represent PP. So, if our film were a similar genre, we have part of the roadmap already written for us! And that's just a few sentences from one article. Now we know of one organization that provides soft money, in kind donations, talent connections AND free publicity just because of our movie's theme!
The second article about Ms. Hittman tells us who distributed Beach Rats. It was released domestically by NEON Rated. Now, we already knew that, because distributor is one of the columns in our proprietary database. But let's say it was a comparable film not in our database - Cha-Ching, we're now starting on our distributors list to contact! We then research those distributors - what film festivals do they frequent? Where have they purchased the most films? Once again, we roll through all our Comparable Films to work smarter, not harder! We follow the path already shown to be successful. Can we add our own finesse to it? Of course! Should we ignore what has worked already? Of course not!
Finding Your Audience and Partners/Investors
Here's a great article about how filmmaker Tom Huang approached filmmaking. He was waiting, as many do, for a large project to get off the ground. Instead of just waiting, he made an entirely different film happen in the meantime - a micro-budget feature with a budget in the very low six figures. Huang asked permission from absolutely no one in the making of this film. He just had a story he wanted to tell - and he told it! He used one brilliant camera man and saved himself over $750 a day in fees. How awesome is that?
He then worked hard finding the right audience - who ever thought REI and the National Parks Conservation Association would make great film partners? He "held a handful of hybrid-theatrical event screenings, devoted more than $10K to social media ads, worked with organizations like the National Parks Conservation Association and Southern California REI stores to build brand awareness, and worked with distributor Indie Rights on a creative distribution plan that included VOD and DVD/Blu-Ray." The article then goes on to discuss another film he made that "had some festival success, winning a handful of Best Feature film awards with positive reviews." And off we go to research that movie...
We've only mentioned four articles so far and found a ton of useful information on just two filmmakers. When you work your whole comparable films list this way, your Film Marketing and Distribution Plan becomes clear.
How to Build Your Film Audience
There are so many competing priorities when raising funds to make your movie and raising private financing, but, one of the THE most important is the proof of concept. One of the most compelling points you can make to an investor is that you KNOW your movie has a fan base that will pay to see the movie. For example, super hero movies. The reason studios invest millions into these movies is they know there is a built in fan base. They can guess the size of the audience by the success of the existing media. Super heroes are everywhere - reading comics, playing video games, TV and movies. All of them feed off each other and the studios know the audience is invested in the stories and will spend their time and $$ on any and all of the media forms.
Know why books are often made into movies? You guessed it - built in fan base and they already know how many book copies were sold. So, what can you do as an indie filmmaker to demonstrate you've got a solid audience? First, here's what not to do. You don't make up numbers in your business plan saying something like, "1M people saw comedy films last year, so we think 1M people will see ours."
Second, you don't approach anyone for money until you've got an audience. You don't go from "I have a script" or "I am thinking about writing a script" to "Will you give me money?" - there's 1000 steps in between and you have to do the heavy lifting. One of the weights to lift is building a fan base.
We love to use the movie that was raising funds, Capture the Flag, as a best practice example for indie filmmakers. Capture the Flag has over 47k reactions and 5k comments on their promo on Facebook. They knew the military theme lends itself to a Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Veteran's Day release, along with a niche audience of 22 million US Veterans + 100 million immediate family members. That right there is building your film audience. Don't run out and put all your initial time, energy and research into your funding. Put it into building your audience, which will then pay itself off. Get them bought into your ideas long before you ask for money.
Film Distribution Plan
We've covered how to use your comparable films to target your best chance at Film Festivals and the right distributors for your specific film. When you prove your audience is already engaged with your film and will pay to see it, you have a very compelling case, which is exactly what distributors look for when purchasing a film. What else can you add to your distribution plan?
Exactly how are you going to reach your audience? What unique offering do you have? A great example is “We were accepted into our first film festival on a Monday and it was canceled on a Tuesday. Pretty quickly, we realized that we had a problem on our hands,” said director Greg Swartz. “So, we got creative and we began to do online events that were paired with whisky tasting kits, live Q&A with the distillers, and even limited edition bottlings.” (from deadline’s article about PBS’s acquisition of The Water of Life, a documentary about Scotland’s whisky industry).
The Film Festivals you are targeting and why (use the information found in your research) and talk about your comparable films success. Which outlets specialize in your genre/theme? For example, let's say your target audience is the elderly. You might think about conferences that target their needs, partnering with AARP, getting in front of PBS, the BBC, and/or Senior TV. Nature film? You read above about REI, and you know about National Geographic - maybe a nature or sports conference? You can do this type of analysis for any target market - a specific minority market, animation, LGBTQ+ and all the rest. Each will have it's own target distribution plan for maximum exposure to the right market.
As you build your target audience, and as you research the success of other films like yours, your Indie Film Marketing and Distribution Plans come together much more naturally and you won't be staring at a blank page.
Film Marketing and Distribution Plans
With our pre made Film Business Plan Template and Done For You Financial Projections, most of the heavy lifting is done for you. Now you just have to use your creativity to follow the above steps to craft your ideal Marketing and Distribution Plans or we can do it for you!.
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