We are the 99% - Or, Why Marketing Is Not a Job For Filmmakers
Measure, analyze, optimize, integrated data, CTR, CPC, CPM, CPA, bidding, conversions, mobile, organic integration, traffic, visualizations, predictive analytics, performance… ROI! These are all key words you need to master if you register to the notion that “Filmmakers need to be marketing their own movies!” To some degree, yes indie filmmakers need to gain control over marketing to be successful story tellers, and get their films to a wide audience. Yes, the web opened a channel of opportunities for us filmmakers, with amazing tools that are available for us, but here’s the thing, filmmakers are not trained to be marketing experts, and there’s a good reason for that, marketing is a profession that needs full time dedication, and years of experience and money.
You will not learn digital marketing and customer acquisition in film school. The realm of digital marketing is changing extremely fast, and the rate of change is accelerating. Film schools are too slow to adapt. There are some foundational things you will get from film and online courses, but even those won't really help 99% of the filmmakers who are out there trying to get their films seen.
So why are we so keen to make filmmakers also marketing sharks? Well, mostly the reason is that it’s been a very slow learning curve, experimenting with different models, six years to be exact. In 2008, iTunes opened up their movie store for indie filmmakers, and created a digital distribution revolution. More streaming services like Hulu, Amazon VOD, Snagfilms and Mubi started surfacing and generating a new income source. In 2011 the Dynamo player (R.I.P) made a disruptive business model offering filmmakers to cut the middle man and communicate with their audience directly. Kickstarter introduced a successful model for crowdfunding, and once Facebook and Twitter domination took over, that’s when the concept of DIY distribution was fully embraced by the indie film industry.
It seems that we filmmakers think that marketing is all about “social media” and “kickstarter”. No doubt they both have significant roles producing and distributing our movies. Even then, it’s no guarantee that films can break the limited niche boundary, and make a global impact with huge audience. Can we honestly say that spending two years on “building an audience” with our social media campaigns, and another three years “building our mailing list” can get the world to notice our films? or to generate a profit? The answer is no for the 99% of filmmakers, the reality is that even if you offer your film for free, not a lot of people would watch them, and anyone who is preaching otherwise should admit himself to the nearest reality check clinic.
2014 should mark a new approach for filmmaking, public artform, or a successful business. And a long term successful business means making a profit, not just break even and getting people to like us, or get a pat on the back from film festivals.
#IndieFilm startup culture adaptation
I’ve been blessed to have been working in a number of different startup companies and film productions. I have moved around and attended film festivals and startup conferences - and the people in both industries are very creative, world changing, talented individuals. For a variety of reasons, I’ve been reflecting on