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The Filmmaker As Marketer: Documentary Filmmaking In The Digital Age Craig Parks Independent Film Channel. The Filmmaker As Marketer: Documentary Filmmaking In The Digital Age

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The Filmmaker As Marketer:

Documentary Filmmaking In The Digital Age

Craig Parks

Independent Film Channel


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The Filmmaker As Marketer: Documentary Filmmaking In The Digital Age

To be a documentary filmmaker in the digital age, you must assume a greater responsibility for the marketing potential of your film.


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Setting the Stage: Challenges Facing Distributors and Exhibitors

As part of your challenge in convincing distributors and exhibitors to realize the value of your film or concept is also understanding the challenges facing them should they agree to buy or produce your film.

The more you understand the challenges they face, the more you will be able to build a great producing plan – one that will benefit you and them.

A well thought-out producing plan, one that not only takes advantage of all that the digital age has to offer but also helps plan for the eventual marketing of your film, will ultimately help you sell your film, and deliver a more well-rounded message.


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Content in the Digital Age: An Exhibitor’s Perspective Exhibitors

  • How people are consuming content in the digital age?

    • Multi-platform, on demand

    • The film is no longer enough: ancillary content experience

    • Example: if you can watch it on your computer, on a website, what is around the video is just as potent and important as the film itself.

  • How are people finding content in the digital age?

  • How is this affecting those who make and distribute content in the digital age?


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Content in the Digital Age: An Exhibitor’s Perspective Exhibitors

  • How people are consuming content in the digital age?

  • How are people finding content in the digital age?

    • Television brands, curate your content experience

    • Emerging video portals (you tube, daily motion, hulu)

    • Blogs, web-based journals

    • Social networking (Facebook, Myspace)

    • Search engine optimization: Optimizing you and your film for Google, other search engines

  • How is this affecting those who make and distribute content in the digital age?


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Content in the Digital Age: An Exhibitor’s Perspective Exhibitors

  • How people are consuming content in the digital age?

  • How are people finding content in the digital age?

  • How is this affecting those who make and distribute content in the digital age?

    • It’s easier to identify the right viewers but harder to get through to them

    • Audiences are getting smaller, more niche…which presents advantages and disadvantages

    • Lines are blurring between marketing and press

    • Everyone is doing it – making, marketing and exhibiting content - which makes it harder to sell the content and harder for everyone to reach the right viewers


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Build A Plan: Content Is The Utility Exhibitors

What does this mean for you and your films? How does the digital environment affect how you produce your film? How does it affect how you consume the film? How you sell and market it?

The best marketing materials in the world is your content, and that means that you as producers of the content hold ALL the keys to the potential success of your film.


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Build A Plan: Content Is The Utility Exhibitors

  • Not too long ago, there was three ways for people to learn about and connect with your film:

    • Trailers

    • Promotional materials like on-air and outdoor advertising

    • Press (articles, reviews).

  • In the past, we had a greater appetite – or tolerance – for these forms which we now call traditional advertising. Now, hit with more advertising and marketing than ever before, we’ve become so desensitized to traditional advertising that we tend to tune it out, or avoid it altogether.


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Build A Plan: Content Is The Utility Exhibitors

Instead, taking advantage of all that the digital age has to offer, we prefer to discover and learn about your films through trust media: trailers embedded in our friends social networking profiles, exclusive clips on our favorite video portals, interviews and coverage via our favorite television and web-based shows, blogs and online journals, viral materials and stunts that our friends are sharing, websites catering to topics relevant to your film, and so on.


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Build A Plan: Content Is The Utility Exhibitors

It is all built with the materials you collect from the very beginnings of pre-production. Your earliest research and notes, photos, your music, your journals, all your recorded interviews and all footage that didn’t make the final film – it all has value.

In other words, we have all these great marketing and distribution tools at our disposal but they are largely worthless if you – the filmmaker – do not have the materials and inclination to make them work, no matter who is handling the marketing and distribution of your film.

Even if your studio or television network is going to handle the marketing and exhibition of your film, you need to be aware of what they are up against and what materials they’ll need to make the most of your film. If you haven’t or do not secure distribution, then you need to know what tools are available to you to either attract the attention of potential distributors, but also self-market and self-distribute your film.


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Producing for the Digital Age Exhibitors

  • Producing for the Digital Age

    • Everything you do has value –

      • Video: Unused footage, extended interviews, give your subject a camera for a day, stories within stories

      • Ancillary: Journals, diaries, transcripts, photos, audio recordings

      • Who you talk to: Do your interview subjects have blogs or some kind of platform to help promote your film when the time comes?


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Producing for the Digital Age Exhibitors

  • Where your content has value…

    • Your website

    • Network or studio website

    • Marketing partners

    • Press outlets, blogs

    • DVD, for international sales


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Marketing You & Your Film: Early Stages Exhibitors

  • Marketing starts before you shoot!

    • Early promotional efforts: getting the word out there

      • Blogs and partner sites

    • Preview clips , trailers

      • Target sites that are interested in your subject matter

    • Using the web to gather information

      • social networking, online partners

    • Creating a site for your film

      • To build awareness

      • To reach out to potential subjects

      • Connect with community, fanbase


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Marketing You & Your Film: Building Awareness Exhibitors

  • How can you use this material to drum up your own awareness and press? What the web can do for you to spread the word?

    • Emerging video portals (you tube, daily motion, hulu)

    • Blogs & Online Journals

    • Social networking (Facebook)

    • Your niche

      • Who are the sites and blogs that will be interested in your content, your story?

      • Who will support you?

      • Who will be threatened by you?

      • Use these sites to help you.

    • Search: Optimizing your film for Search


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Self-Distribution Exhibitors

  • Things to know before you go: Once you self-distribute, the value of your film/content may go down.

    • Video Portals: Friend or foe?

    • Great place to grow your own audience

    • They make money off of you

      • Participate via rev-shares

      • Demand more from them

      • Use their promotional tools

    • Get them involved early for better promotional support from them


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Self-Distribution: Building your own Site Exhibitors

  • You can build your own viewing experience online. Things to consider:

    • Research online video players

    • Bandwidth charges

    • Streaming vs. download

    • Free players: pro’s and con’s (Brightcove, You Tube, etc)

    • Search & Analytics


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Self-Distribution: Second Life Exhibitors

  • What else can you do with your film, even after it’s been released?

  • Re-packaging: Your film as multi-platform educational tool

    • Example:

    • Morgan Spurlock saw great returns from the education sector when he took his film Super Size Me and cut the film down to an hour, and provided an accompanying curriculum and guide.


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