I recently gave a talk at Bill Gentile’s Video Workshop in Washington DC on what do you do after you have made a documentary video. How can you make money with it, how can you take the content further.
The Traditional Ways of Distributing Your Film and Video Content
• Documentary film festivals
• Submit for awards
• Pitch and sell to a network
• Grass roots showings, small theaters or house party screenings
• Education Licensing, school, libraries and universities, include a study guide
Web Based Marketing
• YouTube and Vimeo
• Social Media, FaceBook,Twitter-Vine, Instagram, KickStarter
• Mailing Lists
• Product Launches, Jeff Walker, Product Launch Formula
Build Your Platform
• Email List
• Social Media Followers
• People Who Buy Your Products
• People Who Come to Your Events
Ideally you should start the marketing of your film before you start writing it. This usually entails building your filmmaker platform. A platform is essential for being an independent filmmaker. Your platform is your followers, people on your email list, your Facebook page. People that come to your events. Anyone that is connected to you in anyway. Some of your connections are stronger than others such as your email list. Your Twitter followers are connected but aren’t particularly strong. These are the people that will buy and watch your films. If you are really paying attention to building your platform, you should start the process the day you start working on your projects.
In reality very few do this. Most filmmakers finish their projects and then wonder how do I get it shown and then sell it. Or they are at the beginning of a project with a big pile of research and marketing is just not in their agenda.
In this section I will cover some basic simple steps you can take that will help give your films some notice.
10 Tips for Marketing Your Film
1. Set up a producer/film blog/website, a home port for your projects
The goal is to set up a central site for you and your films, lead people here and then link them back out to the sites you are using for distribution. Think of it like a wagon wheel. The film blog/website is at the center and all of your marketing efforts are around the edge. This can be pretty easily done using a blog.
Google’s Blogger site will work very well. You can also use WordPress or Tumbler. There are many WordPress Templates available. Try to pick a relevant URL
– Have a general blogging page for posting about your film and what you are doing, keep fans up to date throughout the process.
– An about producer/filmmaker bio page, include quotes, contact info
– Project info page, trailer, maybe some key scenes, synopsis, specs, who is in the film, where to get it.
– Press/media page with images and sample bios and film descriptions. Descriptions and bios should be different lengths for different kinds of needs. Include sample questions for interviews
– Set up a resource page about your equipment, research, anything that might be useful to your fans.
– Opt-in form for collecting emails to build a mailing list.
– Sales Page, Have a BUY NOW button.
2. Build a mailing list using a sign-up box on your blog or website, give away part of your film, or make a short book on the project, or some other support material to help capture a name.
• Aweber – has auto-responders, very use, lot flexibility
• MailChimp –first 2,000 subscribers are free, no auto-responders
3. Produce a library of promotional content, jpg images of the film poster, 6” 4” 2” 300dpi and 72dpi. Make some stills of key sections to have at your ready for promotion. Come up with a standard filmmaker bio and film description text ready to go for a story or interview. Have several different lengths, 140 characters, 100 words, 500 words. If you are doing an interview send the bio and storylines to the interviewer. Also prepare some sample questions for the interviewer that you can easily answer. Make sure the branding all matches
4. Build out your social media presence, set up pages on the popular social media sites, FaceBook, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, Twitter and Instagram, be sure to crosslink between sites, with your sales site and your film/producer website. Post stills and videos on all these sites. A key task here is to make sure you have filled in all the contact info, description and any other boxes for every site you use. Be consistent with the names and numbers. Also have clear paths of contact for you and for how to buy your DVD or the site where you are streaming your video. Engage with your audiences, have two way conversations.
5. Setup your YouTube Channel and make a YouTube film trailer video for your project. How about a behind the scenes, people love watching these. Hosts interviews and scenes that didn’t make it into the film. When you post them have clear links to the sites that are distributing your film and for additional info about you. Have a call to action
Optimize Your YouTube videos a, add live http links, healthy descriptions, keywords and calls to action. Make an effective channel page. YouTube is the #2 search engine, make it work for you.
6. Put together a good press release, Include project descriptions, key people with short bios, release dates and any awards, very important-include your contact info and website, links for photos and trailer.
7. Rewrite all of your bios to include your project. “Bruce Jones, producer of the film “The Hills of Sample, Sample”, is a Boston based . . .” A finished project that is distributing changes how you present yourself, take advantage of it. Add your project title, and a link to your film sites, to your email signature line. Where ever your email goes it goes.
8. If you have a list or newsletter or any regular mailing, let people know your film is coming out or it is available and how to find it.
9. Add a picture of your poster or DVD to your business card, or at least put the name of it on your card.
10. Contact your local newspaper or other press organizations about your project. Maybe a trade publication for an industry group you are in.
Slides from the presentation
Additional Marketing Ideas
11. Set up a film launch either locally or on-line. Run a virtual film tour with other websites and blogs. Start early building these relationships
12. If you are distributing and selling on Amazon fill out your Amazon Author Central page, connect your blog and add this page address to other websites where you are marketing.
13. Make some selfie pictures or have a photographer take bio pictures of you with your poster. Hold your poster or DVD case up, be proud, tie it to you.
14. Make up a pdf one sheet about the project, be sure to include the basic story, images from the film, add a filmmaker bio and add a page with an ad for the film with a direct web link to the sales page.
Resources lists, additional info, behind the scenes of how the film was written or additional experiences about the journey you went through, also work very well to get people to sign up to your mailing list.
15. Customer images on your Amazon sales page. Anyone can upload images to Amazon on the sales page that relate to the DVD. This is a great way to highlight shots from inside your film. You can add a lot of keywords and descriptive text to these images.
Filmmaker blogs or websites are a great way to promote your documentary. It gives you a central place to write about and highlight everything about the project. You can have excerpts, bios, resources, press material, everything you need to connect to your fans and readers. It is a central place to connect and contribute to your community.
You can blog out your project scene by scene or at least post sections or images from your film. This can be a very effective way to bring traffic to your site. Have a picture on the side of the DVD cover or poster and link it to the Amazon or wherever streaming sales page.
A producer blog should have the following components
• Blog page for new posts and updating your fans
• About Page, Filmmaker bio with contact info, and images
• Project descriptions and links to sites for purchasing or showing of the film
• Press Page with you and your crew photos, film poster photos-different sizes-ready for downloading, different length film descriptions and bios. The press page should also include interview questions to help out a reporter
• Videos, film trailer, interviews with the key players
• A picture of the film poster on the side of the blog that links to the sales page, BUY NOW
• Opt-in box for your email list with some kind of free give away-lead magnet, the story of the making, book of images from the film, access to extended sections of the film, and resources. Aweber, MailChimp,
• Resources page related to the film
• Calendar of events of places that you might be appearing at or showings of the film
Start connecting with other filmmakers that you like and as you get close to your launch set up a Virtual Film Festival. Each filmmaker in your networks writes a short article about your film and sends it out to their followers. These articles also make great blog content. Connect yourself with these filmmakers and cross promote your work. Google+ is very good for this
You can also run a “meet the filmmaker event on Facebook.” Post an extend excerpt for the event and then be there to answer questions. You can also run film festivals this way with other filmmakers.
There are many tools that you can use to market your films. The sites listed below are just some of the popular ones.
Marketing Tools, Sites, Blog, Social Media
Google Blogger, WordPress blog, Tumbler, website
YouTube, Google+, FaceBook, Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin
Mailing List Program for Collecting Email Names
Aweber, MailChimp, Constant Contact, Lead Pages
Selling Your Content
There are a number of ways to sell your film on-line. There are many sites that can stream your film on including Vimeo, VHX.com for pay. I am going to just focus on two for this talk, CreateSpace.com/Amazon and Gumroad.com
Web Based Selling
• YouTube and Vimeo Pro
• Video on Demand,
– Amazon’s Create Space, video-on-demand, streaming
– Vimeo Pro
• VHX.com, distrify.com, fillim.com, filmbinder.com
• Gumroad.com, YouTube connection
• DVD Distribution, either yourself or using Amazon CreateSpace print on demand
• Watch the streaming video on demand rights to your film
• Important to build your email list
CreateSpace.com and Gumroad.com
CreateSpace is the print-on-demand side of Amazon. Not only do they do books but they also distribute print-on-demand DVDs on Amazon. Use the power of Amazon to distribute you film.
CreateSpace can also stream your video through Amazon.
Basically you just send them a copy of your DVD, the cover artwork, fill out the descriptions and filmmaker info and you are ready to go. Use your blog and other marketing efforts to drive traffic up to Amazon for buying. Amazon distributes content worldwide.
Gumroad is an ecommerce platform that allows you to upload basically any electronic file and sell it, including a pdf, zip files, and mp4s. Gumroad takes care of all the ecommerce and downloading or streaming of the files. The charge is 5% + $.25. Gumroad has a number of selling options including pay what your want, discounts, and bundling of different kinds of media.
Gumroad also has a relationship with Youtube that allows for direct links from the surface of the video. This allows you to run video trailers, interviews, behind the scenes videos, etc. on Youtube and then offer a a direct link to the sales platform for selling the final product.
They also allows you to offer packages of lets say the video, with a book, support materials, behind the scenes videos, etc. all in one package.
Re-Purpose Your Content
Repurpose Your Film Content for Additional $ Opportunities
You have finished your documentary and it is published and selling. Congratulations! Now what? Well first is to keep up the promotional activities across all your social media and blog sites. Keep posting your progress and accomplishments on your blog. Talk about your film on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.
What you have created with your documentary is one set of content. At the moment it is in video form, but it can be so much more. Take the audio track and produce podcasts with it, sell the on iTunes. Depending on the length it is one file or several. The average commute in the US is about 27 minutes, make your pieces work around the 20 minute length. This is a great way to bring in extended interviews or behind the scenes tales
Connect with ACX.com and Audible and you can sell it on Amazon as an audio file. Turn the film into chapters.
If you are putting together stories about the making of the film you can use Audacity. Audacity is a free recording and editing software for making podcasts or audio books. Audacity works on PC or Mac. To make an mp3 file you will also need to download a second piece of software but it is all pretty easy.
Take the audio files, transcribe them and make them into a book, add images from the film and you have a mini Ken Burns kind of project.
Depending on what kind of film you have produced, consider making a teacher workbook or discussion book that goes along with it. That would be cool. Education packages can sell for five to ten times the cost of the original film.
Or maybe you produced an informational film. Take it and create a PowerPoint presentation that gets uploaded on SlideShare and Linkedin. Take the PowerPoint and using Screenflow or Camtasia record it as a second video. Stream it on Amazon.
I hope you took photos of the areas that you went or the process of making the film, how about pulling them out and using them first off as content on your film blog. You can also use the art for calendars or mugs or all kinds of products at one of the print-on-demand products sites like Zazzle.com or CafePress.com? Take your images and create a children’s book version of your story.
It is all about repurposing your content. Create it once and use it over and over for different products.
All of this just emphasis the need for building your mailing list. More people you are connected to the more opportunities you have to sell your content.
Film Content Can be Turned into Any One of The Following Products:
• Physical Book
• PDF book
• Workbook, worksheets, teacher lessons, study guide, educational material
• Audio recording of the film, mp3
• Audio program or course built around the film
• PowerPoint presentations
• Record the PowerPoint presentation and make a new video, preview on YouTube, link back to your sales site
• Annotated versions, director cuts, behind the scenes
• Webinar. Use some of these other products as a bonus or sell Seminars
• Google Hangout with other filmmakers or experts to discuss the film or topic
• Interviews and guest blog posts around your topic
• Video training courses around your topic.
• Cheat sheets, assessments, how-to sheets
• Take the photos or illustrations and make a picture book, children’s book
• Take the illustrations or photos and use the art on sites such as CafePress.com and Zazzle.com for products like t-shirts, mugs, clocks, pillows, etc.
• Use as content to start a monthly membership site or newsletter
• Resell the content for Private Label Rights or stock
• Film content can easily become blog posts or podcasts
• Build a resource guide to go with the film, readers love resource lists
• Break your film into sections and sell it as a series.
• Produce a course or workshop from the material,
• Use for consulting and lead generation for speaking opportunities
• Blog content.
Sites to Use for Creating Additional Products
Gift and Apparel Producers. On Demand Manufacturing:
• CafePress. https://www.cafepress.com
• Zazzle. https://www.zazzle.com
• Spreadshirt. https://www.spreadshirt.com/
• Printfection. https://www.printfection.com
Sites for Creating and Selling Physical Audio, Video, and Print-On Demand Products
• CreateSpace, they are more than just books, https://www.createspace.com
• Speaker Fulfillment Services. http://speakerfulfillmentservices.com/
• ACX.com and Audible.com. https://www.acx.com
• Gumroad.com, perfect for selling digital products. https://www.gumroad.com
• Udemy. https://www.udemy.com
Great ideas for re-purposing your content
Distributing Your Film