Digital Distribution & Marketing for Filmmakers

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Slides for a workshop on how filmmakers can use the Internet (and other new technologies) to market and distribute their work. This is a talk I've been giving at film schools, and most recently, the Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco. Related blog: http://cinematech.blogspot.com

Text of Digital Distribution & Marketing for Filmmakers

  • Digital Distribution & Marketing Film Arts Foundation October 11, 2007 Scott Kirsner http://cinematech.blogspot.com [email_address]
  • Digital Distribution: The Opportunity
    • A direct pipeline to the viewer
    • Fewer middlemen
    • Niche content can reach its rightful audience, efficiently
    • More profit in pockets of filmmakers and their financiers
  • Workshop Overview
    • Discussion of digital distribution strategies
    • Exercise: Sample distribution contracts
    • Guest speaker: Filmmaker Jim Kerns
    • Exercise: Building audience for your project
    • Discussion of digital marketing strategies
    • Guest speaker: Distributor Alex Afterman
  • Digital Distribution, Defined
    • There are two kinds of digital distribution:
        • Digital distribution over the Internet
        • Digital distribution to a network of digital cinemas (Christie/AIX, Technicolor, Emerging Pictures)
  • Whos Watching Video on the Web?
    • 75 percent of US Internet users watched an average of three hours of online video in July 2007, according to comScore Video Metrix
    • Apples iTunes store has sold over 50 million TV episodes ($1.99 each) and 1.3 million feature films ($9.99 to $14.99 each), as of January 2007
    • On YouTube, the most popular video, Evolution of Dance, has been seen 60 million times, and the average viewer spends 26 minutes per month on the site, according to Nielsen/NetRatings
  • What are They Watching? Evolution of Dance - 60 million views, $0 on YouTube
  • What are They Watching? Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments 7.5 million views, $35,000 on Revver
  • What are They Watching? Matrix - For Real by Joe Eigo 5.5 million views, $27,000 on Metacafe
  • What are They Watching? 405 on iFilm 5.3 million views, $??
  • What are They Watching? Ask a Ninja $20,000 on Revver in 2006
  • What are They Watching? Back Massage Techniques 1.4 million views, $7277 on Metacafe
  • Commonalities
    • Videos making money on the Net so far are:
      • Short (typically 10 mins or less, 2.7 mins on average)
      • Entertaining or instructive
      • Not reliant on dialogue
  • Consumption Habits News: 72 percent Television or movie clips: 59 percent Music videos: 48 percent Sports highlights: 44 percent Amateur videos: 43 percent Concert highlights: 23 percent Full-length movies or TV shows: 22 percent Live sporting events: 17 percent Video podcasts: 17 percent Live concerts: 9 percent A September 2006 AP/AOL survey of 1,347 online video users reported on the types of videos they were consuming
  • Where Consumption Happens Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Videos Viewed July 2007 (Source: comScore Video Metrix) Videos Share (%) of Property (MM) Videos Total Internet 9,077 100.0 % Google Sites 2,454 27.0 % Yahoo! Sites 390 4.3 % Fox Interactive Media 298 3.3 % Viacom Digital 281 3.1 % Disney Online 182 2.0 % Time Warner Network 181 2.0 % Microsoft Sites 149 1.6 % ESPN 75 0.8 % Veoh.com 53 0.6 % Comcast Corporation 51 0.6 %
  • Filmmaker Experiences $7 million budget.Digital download on AOL in October 2006: $2.49 for 5-day rental, $7.99 to ownAOL committed millions to promotionLater released by Sony Home Entertainment on DVD
  • Filmmaker Experiences Budget under $1 millionDirector turned down $125K distrib offerDebuted on Google video in Jan. 2006, with 70/30 revenue split at $3.99 per download300 downloads, not 3000About $1000 in revenue, but 22,000 DVDs shipped (MTI Home Video)
  • Filmmaker Experiences Budget under $10 millionDistributed on Net two weeks after theatrical release, in December 2006 $9.99 for rental, $19.99 for download to ownReleased on DVD in February by First Look.
  • Filmmaker Experiences Doc made by two first-time filmmakersSelf-distributed to theaters and on DVDFilmmakers have sold 4000 DVDs, 700 downloads through their own site (powered by E-Junkie) and Amazon Unbox, as of September 2007.
  • Economic Models
    • Paid download or rental (Brightcove, Amazon/CreateSpace, Jaman, eventually iTunes?)
    • Ad-supported (Revver, Metacafe, YouTube)
    • DVD purchase (Amazon/CreateSpace, IndieFlix, IndiePix, FilmBaby)
  • Challenges
    • iTunes not open to indie content
    • Aside from iTunes, no obvious second-tier player for paid rentals or downloads
    • No widely-used connection yet between Internet and TV (Apple TV, TiVo/Unbox, MSFT Xbox all candidates)
    • Snacking behavior; preference for short videos
    • Windowing issues
    • Deal terms (varying splitssome traditional homevid distributors want to lock up digital rights)
    • Marketing in a noisy environment with near-infinite choice
  • *A Note on Aggregators
    • iTunes, CinemaNow, and some other sites wont buy from lone filmmakers
    • FilmBaby, IODA, MediaStyle angling
    • How much will they take?
  • Challenges of D-Cinema Distribution
    • More than 10 percent of all screens in US can now play digital content
    • Most of these are operated by Christie/AIX (aka AccessIT), though Technicolor, Dolby, and DCIP plan to be players, too
    • Cost of encoding your movie in the DCI-approved format is still high do you want to both create a digital version and also a film print?
    • Todays digital screens tend to play mostly studio content, not self-distributed movies
    • Exceptions: Landmark Theatres, Emerging Pictures
  • Reinventing Distribution: Four Eyed Monsters 1. Played SXSW 2. Didnt get picked up 3. Video podcasts 4. The importance of e-mail addresses and ZIP codes 5. Demand-based theatrical showings
  • Reinventing Distribution: Iraq for Sale 1. Made to influence the 2006 mid-term elections 2. Online financing 3. House parties/DVD sales
  • Reinventing Distribution: House Parties
  • Distribution Deals: Exercise
    • Fine print matters
  • Marketing Exercise
    • Marketing (lets call it audience-building) begins the moment you decide to make your movie
  • Marketing
    • What is your movie about?
    • Who is the audience for your movie?
    • Where do they hang out online?
    • What can you give them / how can they help you?
  • Where Film Fans Hang Out
  • Where Film Fans Hang Out
  • Where Film Fans Hang Out
  • Marketing: Pre-Release
  • Marketing: Pre-Release
  • Marketing: Pre-Release
  • Marketing: Pre-Release Documentary: Half a Soulja
  • Marketing: Pre-Release
  • Marketing: Pre-Release
  • Marketing: Release Time
  • Marketing: Release Time
  • Marketing: Release Time Feature: Head Trauma
  • Marketing: DVD & Post-Theatrical
  • Marketing: DVD & Post-Theatrical
  • Marketing: Embed and Spread
  • How Can You Get the Audience Involved?
    • Auditions/casting
    • Music submissions
    • Research
    • Scouting locations
    • What else?