Sunday, November 15, 2015

Indie Film Distribution... Lessons We Learned- the Hard Way - PT 1

A sample of content originally written as guest content for Smarthouse Creative.
(see the original three part series here)

There is a unicorn in independent film: distribution. Actually, believe it or not, that little unicorn is precious to all filmmakers. Because even George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are also considered "indie" filmmakers (that's a whole 'nother post) that sometimes find themselves on a challenging road to distribution. Sometimes it seems like a fairy godmother descends in an opalescent magic bubble to bestow upon the lucky few a magic deal that leads to a fulfilling career in independent film. Sadly, as the industry makes a massive shift in how films are acquired and distributed, the yellow brick road is more than a little jagged - not mention playing hell on our ruby slippers.
While I consider myself and my partner among the lucky few who have managed to get our film into distribution, the road has been long, difficult and not without a few shed tears. More than once our whole team was ready to throw in the towel. Our sales agent was our best friend during that time. He coached us through it, holding our hands when necessary. He also ignored us wen we got a little to needy, making sure to bring us back in when the situation demanded it. We made a whole lot of mistakes, but fortunately for us we learn quickly. While I could write a whole novel, there are a few things we learned that I feel many of my fellow filmmakers are under-prepared to face when they get ready to market and distribute their film without the help of a studio.


I'll tell you one thing: Titles = Marketing. Selecting the perfect title that encompasses everything about your film is as delicate and personal as selecting the name of our first-born child.

Just don't get attached to it.

From beginning concept to the distributed film, our feature has gone through three title changes. One, right before we ran our Kickstarter campaign, and another when the distribution company didn't think they could sell our current title, The Anniversary. They gave us a list of titles, all of which made us roll our eyes.

Then it dawned on me what these new titles were. Search Engine Optimized, or SEO in digital shorthand. In marketing terms that means our title is likely to come up in a Google search based off of the gambit of things a potential viewer (customer) might be looking for. We made a horror film. The chance that the words run, hide or die may be part of your search are incredibly high. Ergo, the new title: Run. Hide. Die. No seriously, that is the new title. That's what they decided best fit the film, and you know what? Go ahead and Google it. See what comes up.

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