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The Emerging Skills Needed by #Film Publicists

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Now that there is some form of distribution available to every project made, whether it is working with a service company to theatrically release or uploading the project online for free and enabling perpetual viewing, it is time to acknowledge that new mindsets and skills are needed not just for filmmakers, but also for film promotion. Traditionally, a publicist’s role  was to leverage the relationships she had formed with editors and journalists (the media) to ensure story placement in publications and she strived to convey a cohesive message about a film. She endeavored to control the message and those who were allowed to carry it. The prominence of social channels has torn this process apart. Now, the media aren’t the only ones talking about a film and it is getting increasingly difficult to control the message. It is becoming more prevalent to create the dialog instead.

Whether you choose to take on the promotional role yourself as a microbudget filmmaker or you are looking to start working in film promotion, the skills now needed go well beyond writing a good press release and having a good database of personal contacts ( but you still need those too). Here is a look at some emerging skills with the knowledge that it is nearly impossible to find strong abilities for all of these in one person.

-Storytelling and curation. Writing skills still play a vital role in film publicity, but there’s more writing now than ever. As social tools enable a production to reach an audience directly and wherever they congregate online, something besides a “message” must be written. Stories that are memorable, relatable and “sticky” will pull people to you and keep them coming back and the stories aren’t only written by a journalist; not when one has a blog, a newsletter, a Tumblr page, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, Pinterest boards and possibly participating in forums. We’re now talking to the audience, not through third party media. Many more tools, many more skills needed to understand how each one works and how to get the most from them. A visual sense of storytelling is needed as well because many of the social posts that get the most interactions and shared are photos/videos/infographics. In order to develop stories that resonate, one must spend much more time getting to know the audience as people with definite tastes and interests, not as faceless, broad demographics. Also, time must be spent finding great information and sharing it which is just as important (perhaps MORE important) as creating it. Tools that help aggregate useful information and inspire self published content will need to be found and this has become a standard duty in the work day.

-Technical skills. The ability to code, photo and video edit and format, graphic design, link building and SEO,  as well as keeping up with every little trick Facebook settings can throw at you will become increasingly useful. In order to use the new tools effectively and keep to a modest budget, personal training should be undertaken to develop a good understanding and at least a basic level of performance.

-Observation and monitoring. Learning to listen first is without a doubt a very useful skill in the online world. Too many times we are pushed to “sell” “convert” “promote” with no real understanding of who we are talking to and what they care about. Indeed, previously it was difficult to know what “they” care about because “we” didn’t really talk to “them”, but this isn’t the case anymore. Sharing opinions, recommendations, emotions, interests, locations, and personal details abound on the internet and there is no longer an excuse to guess about the needs and wishes of the audience. They are talking online every day, so listen. Monitoring conversations, picking out trending topics, predicting what is likely to spark interest, and THEN actively participating in those communities in an authentic way is how to get the information and interest flowing.

-Measurement. This is now the world of big data and making sense of everything that can be tracked (because lots can be accurately tracked) is increasingly needed. Analytical skills to evaluate trends, outcomes,  and correctly interpret and apply data are skills that enable communicators to turn data into actionable work and measure return on investment. Also, turning data into visual interpretations for management (charts, graphs, statistics) helps show the impact of your work or where things need to be adjusted.

-Fundraising and organizational outreach. Not a week passes that I am not asked about advice on a crowdfunding initiative. Crowdfunding is not only about raising money, but also raising a profile, creating attention, building mutually beneficial partnerships and gathering an audience for a project that may just be starting. Understanding the needs and motivations of a particular group of people sounds quite psychological and it is. Communicators have always needed to be aware of psychological triggers that cause people to care about the message, but in the online space where one isn’t face to face and many decisions hinge on long earned trust, it takes a different mindset and skillset than writing out a good prospectus or pitch letter.   Continual research and outreach to influencers and organizations helps to build up the long term trust that can enable one to call on help when it is needed, whether it is financial help, spreading the word on a project or collaborating together by submitting material (crowdsourcing) in order to give the project a richer life than one the production could create on their own.

-Constant adaptation. Most of the above skills are a catalog of communication demands that didn’t exist 5-10 years ago. Nothing is constant in life but change, right? You can be sure that as new technology and platforms emerge and information gets even thicker and faster, the ability to learn something that wasn’t around even last year will serve you well. Spend time every day learning, reading, and practicing for improvement. A Google search engine is a wonderful thing and nearly everything can be researched and learned for nearly free online. Failing to understand when the shiny new tool becomes THE necessary tool in the pack could marginalize you. Keep up with the trends and adapt accordingly.

I will be participating in a half day workshop in Los Angeles on May 26, 2012 with The Film Collaborative’s Orly Ravid and Jeffrey Winter. This will be an intensive session filled with tools and strategies you should know regarding building an audience with online tools, utilizing film festivals and how to plan your distribution with particular emphasis on digital distribution. This workshop is for filmmakers who are ready to accept the new challenges of film marketing and distribution and not intended for those only seeking a traditional, all rights scenario. Tickets are more than affordable ($20 for TFC members, $50 for non members) and are on sale now.

 

ACTORSandCREW is fully psyched to be featuring Sheri Moss Candler’s 411 for the PMD. PMD stands for Producer of Marketing and Distribution and this is the person in a production whose sole job is marketing and figuring out the distribution path for the film so the producer and the rest of the production crew can get on with their work. Sheri is an expert inbound marketing strategist who helps independent filmmakers build identities for themselves and their films. Through the use of online tools such as social networking, podcasts, blogs, online media publications and radio, she assists filmmakers in building an engaged and robust online community for their work that can be used to monetize effectively. She collaborates with filmmaker/author Jon Reiss (who coined the term PMD) in his TOTBO workshop series by teaching filmmakers about utilizing social media and building personal brands. For Sheri’s complete bio visit her site, here.

 

The Mindset Change of Social Media

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I was recently interviewed for a blog and was asked about using social media for marketing a film. It really got me thinking about that question. Is that all most filmmakers see social media being used for? One big promotional effort only to be used when they are looking to sell something? I think within 10 years this will be a non issue as everyone will be adapted to social media. Those who have refused to start will be so left out it will be like the people who held out on rotary phones and terrestrial TV signals.

The world has changed with this remarkable tool that enables you to reach others on a personal level no matter where they live. We have the ability to hold this tool in our hands and it is used for more than just speaking into. Filmmakers should focus on the word social and less on the word marketing. Using social media is about relationship building and it is really difficult to build a relationship that starts from the premise that you are only there to sell something. Everyone always says “in this business, it is not what you know but who you know” and if that is true, then why are you only using Facebook and Twitter to send out one way messages?

There is a really great talk by Thomas Power from the TEDx conference about the digital mindset. It was pointed out to me by my friend Obhi Chatterjee who is a film sector specialist and case handler at the European Commission. I met him on Twitter and I have actually met him in real life. He lives in Belgium. I think this is an important idea to consider because many artists I encounter are reluctant to enter this digital world and they aren’t really sure why they need to. They create art, films, books, music and normally that is conceived in a bubble and only a set crew of people are enlisted to help in its creation. After that, other people, business type people, figure out how to tell others about it and sell it. The artists of the past were not involved much in how that worked because they went back into the bubble to conceive more art. For musicians, they did and still do tour and maybe that is why they are a little better at dealing with an audience.

Privacy is dead, so says Zuckerberg and if we follow that line of thinking, then audiences will expect information sharing to take place and not just sharing of a promo code.  They will also expect to share with you and not receive a canned reply and sharing with others who are like them united by a connection to you. How will you cope with this going forward? How will you connect with this audience of openness if you only see these platforms as a way to sell?  ”We have to rewire,” says Power because we didn’t grow up in a world of “connectedness” and those a little younger won’t have this problem. They only know a world with the internet and social media in it. The amount of information coming into your life is already much greater than it ever was. It comes by the second, not by the day. Power says it will increase by a THOUSAND times by 2020.

An excuse I hear and even use myself is “I haven’t got the time to do this work” or “I just don’t understand what the big deal is with social media.”  If you think the information load is too much now, what will a thousand times more of it be like for you?

Open, Random and Supportive is what Power advocates for all of us and how he sees this new digital landscape. This mindset change means that we have get away from something that studios, distributors, publicists, managers and agents all adhere to which is a Closed, Selective and Controlling mindset. The longer you hold onto this way of thinking, the harder it will be to grasp the digital reality.

Be Open in accepting that this change in how people communicate has already happened, no matter how much you wish it hadn’t or how much you think it is just a phase.

Accept Random information. There is an endless supply of information streaming at us everyday and the answer is not to cut it off, lest you cut yourself off from society. Part of your learning process is filtering this massive amount of data, curating and sharing that information with your connections and they will do the same for you.

Being Supportive is the new black.  Rather than operating from greed and competition, think about how much faster you could grow by helping others instead of only taking from them. All of us have to do this and truly mean it. I think we’ve all had enough of faceless governments, institutions and corporations who hide behind closed doors and figure out how to wring out everything good from the world for their own benefit. If there is anything that Wikileaks has taught the world it’s that there are no secrets on the internet. Look at Arab Spring, or SOPA or the Susan G. Komen crisis’ and you will see that people are using the internet to mobilize in large numbers at short notice to stand up against something that isn’t beneficial to society.

When I am asked about whether using social media is beneficial for a film, my answer is knowing how to use social media is beneficial period. It isn’t just a marketing tool for your film, it now should be part of your life as an artist.

 

 

ACTORSandCREW is fully psyched to be featuring Sheri Moss Candler’s 411 for the PMD. PMD stands for Producer of Marketing and Distribution and this is the person in a production whose sole job is marketing and figuring out the distribution path for the film so the producer and the rest of the production crew can get on with their work. Sheri is an expert inbound marketing strategist who helps independent filmmakers build identities for themselves and their films. Through the use of online tools such as social networking, podcasts, blogs, online media publications and radio, she assists filmmakers in building an engaged and robust online community for their work that can be used to monetize effectively. She collaborates with filmmaker/author Jon Reiss (who coined the term PMD) in his TOTBO workshop series by teaching filmmakers about utilizing social media and building personal brands. For Sheri’s complete bio visit her site, here.

 

Using #Pinterest as a tool for your #Film #Marketing

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Wow, has it really been a month since my last post?? Of course I sympathize with all of you who face the same obstacle, how to keep your online site populated with fresh and interesting content? It is a real problem in this era of being not only an artist, but a publisher and continually connecting with an audience.

Truth be told, I have been blogging regularly…just not here. If any of you are so inclined, my ballet blog for the Joffrey documentary is here. And I make daily  posts to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, also fairly regularly to my Google Plus. I could do better with balancing and mixing all of my activities; some links, some longer posts, devising a Pinterest board of the week…that kind of thing. So once again, I am getting on that horse and starting back again. I hope a few of you are still around.

Speaking of Pinterest…I only recently started using it for the Joffrey project which is why all of my boards are devoted to that. Looking at them gives a good idea on the kind of thing you could use it for on your production. In my workshop presentations, I talk about posting regularly on your social channels and not just information directly about your film, but also about the interests of your audience; those who would be a fan of your film and of yourself as an artist. I am using the boards to show Joffrey history through pictures and videos. The ballets they created, the ballets they revived, their alumni dancers, Robert Joffrey through the years as well as photos of the merchandise available to buy through our site. It’s a balance of audience interest and promotion for the film.

I noticed Ted Hope is using his boards to express his personal interests, things and people he admires and wants to draw more attention to, his artistic accomplishments and resources he uses that he thinks would be helpful to his connections. All of these things help in attracting an audience both to his films, but also to his professional life as a producer. His personal tastes are reflected in all of his boards and none are devoted to posting family vacations! The point being, we can get to know Ted as a professional person without his having to reveal too much private information.

Transmedia educator/artist Christy Dena uses hers to showcase ideas about narrative, interactive and game design ideas she has discovered. Filmmaker Erik Proulx has created boards that show his advertising and design background and what he finds inspirational for this. You may remember his short film Lemonade about those who were laid off, particularly in the advertising industry, and found inspiration to reinvent their lives completely. I think Erik is kind of into these inspirational, motivational, life changing stories which is why he is making another film called Lemonade Detroit about a city that is reinventing itself.

Pinterest is just getting started so don’t be alarmed that you have missed the boat. You still have first mover advantage here.

While there is a “scoreboard” of sorts showing how many boards you have, followers and repins, it also allows you to glean from others what they are interested in. You can start to “listen” to what your potential audience thinks is interesting. You don’t follow people as much as you follow things, ideas, topics on Pinterest. You can repin something someone else has posted and this can open the door to a conversation. They can do the same with your “pins” or posts and you are alerted via email when someone does this and it shows under that image on your board. This is an enormous help when you are trying to figure out what to post, what boards to create, what resonates most? You know, positioning. I find it a little more open than Facebook. While Facebook is about people and brands, Pinterest is about things and interests. You can only post images or video and some comments and tags in text on your boards.

Why Pinterest?

I know, collective groan “yet another social network to keep up with?” Besides being dead easy to start building boards, here are some reasons and stats on why you might want to take a closer look at Pinterest.

-Statistics show Pinterest drives more referral traffic on the Web than Google+, YouTube, Reddit and LinkedIn combined. The beauty of pinning photos/videos is they link back to websites, thus driving traffic. They are nofollow links, so it doesn’t help with SEO, but any link that drives traffic to a site is good for awareness and conversion.

-Pinterest now has more than 10 million registered users, in spite of the fact that registration is by invitation only and had 11.7 million unique users just last month. In the past 6 months, visits to Pinterest grew by 4000%.

-Mainly, the site now attracts women in the age range 25-44 who love fashion, home decorating and family related products. As it gains more of a following, this is bound to change. Still, if that is a target demographic for your film…

-Activities are based on images so rather than having to write a lot, you can simply post photo collections and they don’t even have to be your own photos! I think this is the highly attractive thing about Pinterest, in fact I am hearing about Pinterest addiction. Users typically spend 11 minutes on the site each visit. Scanning pics is a lot more enjoyable than scanning status updates on Facebook clearly. Plus there is no EdgeRank to deal with.

-The key for users doesn’t seem to be gaining followers, but gaining repins meaning they want to have people think what they pin is cool (or hot, or whatever). They strive to be INFLUENCERS and that is exactly the people you want to find.

-It integrates with your other social accounts like Twitter and  hopefully Google plus is coming, as well as your website (there are Pinterest badge widgets you can use). Word of caution, at the moment it only connects to Facebook PROFILES not pages. Which is why my Pinterest for Joffrey is mixed in with my personal Facebook account. Not knowing this ahead of time, I signed up using Facebook. oops!  If you want to tie Pinterest to your Twitter account, make sure it is the one you use for your film and when G+ comes online, make sure you have signed up using a gmail account for the production, not for your personal gmail account.

As I said before, Pinterest is dead easy to get started on, but if you like tutorials, watch this video.

ACTORSandCREW is fully psyched to be featuring Sheri Moss Candler’s 411 for the PMD. PMD stands for Producer of Marketing and Distribution and this is the person in a production whose sole job is marketing and figuring out the distribution path for the film so the producer and the rest of the production crew can get on with their work. Sheri is an expert inbound marketing strategist who helps independent filmmakers build identities for themselves and their films. Through the use of online tools such as social networking, podcasts, blogs, online media publications and radio, she assists filmmakers in building an engaged and robust online community for their work that can be used to monetize effectively. She collaborates with filmmaker/author Jon Reiss (who coined the term PMD) in his TOTBO workshop series by teaching filmmakers about utilizing social media and building personal brands. For Sheri’s complete bio visit her site, here.

 

Using new #Youtube #analytics for your #Film project (h/t to @shericandler)

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Many of you are already familiar with using Youtube to release trailers and clips for your film, but in the last few months Youtube relaunched their site and they made some adjustments to their analytics functionality. If you haven’t been back in a while to check your data, you should because you’ll find some really interesting tools to help in your efforts at reaching an audience.

As I said in a past post, I have started using a tool called Tube Toolbox to find ballet fans on Youtube for the Joffrey Ballet documentary I am working on. We now have over 300 subscribers on the channel in about 3 months of use. It isn’t earth shaking numbers, but remember these are all people interested specifically in the topic of the film who have chosen to subscribe to the channel. Some of them also have their own followings in the dance world so the ripple effect worldwide is greater, more sticky and far cheaper than if I had used advertising to reach thousands of mostly uninterested people.  And it continues to grow every day. But what do I know about these people?

I know the top 5 countries they come from, I know the gender and age range they fall into and how they came to the page. I know what videos they are watching AND for how long AND where in each video viewing I lose them. Wow! If you have ever wondered why a video isn’t working, you can now access the tab called Audience Retention.

You can choose which of your uploaded videos to analyze and then shows you a graph like this

It  is very useful to know how long the average viewer stays with your video. Do they cut out after 5 seconds? Does it start strong and then decline by the middle? At what point do you lose them? Maybe the video is too long or doesn’t stay compelling. You can use these stats to test how your edit performs and make changes. As you can see, there are 2 parts to this. Absolute audience retention shows the views of every moment of the video as a percentage of the number of views of the beginning of the video. Relative audience retention shows your video’s ability to retain viewers relative to all YouTube videos of similar length. Relative is less important to me than absolute.

Other interesting data can be found in the Playback and Traffic Sources tabs. Playback tells you where people are watching your videos. On the Youtube page, the channel page, through an embedded video player on another site? If it is on another site, you can click that link and it will tell you which ones. Also, it will tell you how many views are from a mobile device. Traffic sources tell you how they found your video, through a search engine, direct links such as Facebook or Twitter, or through suggested videos that line Youtube’s right hand sidebar on videos similar to yours. When you seed your video on other sites (or when others do it for you), it is important to know what works and what doesn’t so you can make adjustments.

Youtube has also put all of this information together in a handy download called The Creator Playbook that you can download for free HERE which was updated in November when they implemented these changes. I hope this information helps when you are thinking about your strategy for using Youtube.

 

ACTORSandCREW is fully psyched to be featuring Sheri Moss Candler’s 411 for the PMD. PMD stands for Producer of Marketing and Distribution and this is the person in a production whose sole job is marketing and figuring out the distribution path for the film so the producer and the rest of the production crew can get on with their work. Sheri is an expert inbound marketing strategist who helps independent filmmakers build identities for themselves and their films. Through the use of online tools such as social networking, podcasts, blogs, online media publications and radio, she assists filmmakers in building an engaged and robust online community for their work that can be used to monetize effectively. She collaborates with filmmaker/author Jon Reiss (who coined the term PMD) in his TOTBO workshop series by teaching filmmakers about utilizing social media and building personal brands. For Sheri’s complete bio visit her site, here.

Click here to read Shari’s original post

“Engagement” and “Connection”. Overused buzzwords in #Film?

I think those 2 words are starting to lose their meaning when talking about using social media to reach audiences. I am not offering another word because at the end of the day a word should only describe an idea of what you are truly doing and maybe THAT is the thing that is becoming lost in all of this talk. What are we truly saying when we use those words?

What is “engagement” really?

Engagement isn’t a measurement from your Facebook or Youtube Insights, it isn’t how many retweets you receive on Twitter. Connections aren’t simply a number of followers and likes. In thinking about the traditional use of this word, your “connection” was someone who was willing to help you, someone who knew you, trusted you and vice versa.

Audiences are now delighted by communicating not with a “brand,” but with a “face” or a person. This mindset shift in corporate America is very hard to make when they really never thought about the audiences actually being people…with faces beyond eyeballs. If they did think this way, would they really keep hitting that face with ads over and over again? Would the conversation be constantly one sided, “buy my stuff” ” buy my stuff” “click here, and buy my stuff.” That is the extent of the brand relationship with customers that the typical movie studio or distributor has now.

When I talk to you about creating a relationship with your audience that is long term, not just for one project, I really want you to think about what this means. The investment of time and creativity and energy this is going to take, not to boost “likes” on Facebook and follower numbers on Twitter, but to really draw people to what you are doing and hold them there willingly. Using these great new tools is just a newer way of communicating, but the communication itself isn’t new. We as humans have always communicated with each other and naturally gravitated to those with similar interests and it is the same now.

That is also an important distinction. Audiences may not only want to communicate with you, but also with like minded people AROUND you and your work. In this way, brands can benefit from heavily using social tools. They don’t have to be the sole source of communication, they can provide a place and content that enables “fans” to speak to each other about the brand. Be careful when you are using these tools only to speak about yourself, but also don’t  become so enamored of people “buzzing” about you and your work that you never step into the conversation. I see this a lot with brands that happily RT positive tweets but almost never get into conversations.

Main thing to takeaway here is not the fact that you are trying to pump up “scores” or numbers on your channels. You are trying to touch people using electronic means and this will take time, effort, energy and a lot of patience. There’s no quick fix, no magic solutions, no one  ”engagement tool” that is going to make these relationships last. For those who don’t have these attributes (time, energy etc), this isn’t going to work and you will have an increasingly difficult time gaining an audience in the future.

How Indie #Filmmakers Can Engage Fans Throughout the Process

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I recently answered a few questions for the kind folks over at Fanbridge for their blog. Below is an excerpt from that post…more to come.

First, filmmakers should start by knowing for whom their story is. NO, it isn’t for everyone. You can’t reach “everyone” so really narrow it down, even beyond demographic characteristics, to interest levels. What would this person wear to your screening? Really get down into that kind of detail. Start with yourself: why do you like this story, what draws you to tell it? From there you will know where to find people similar to yourself and how to speak to them.

Social media is about authentic voice and speaking to real people, not faceless masses. If you only have a vague idea of who your audience is at the beginning, it will stay vague and you won’t effectively be able to reach them or anyone. This work cannot be done from the outside; you can’t just hire a marketing company to tweet for your film. They have no idea what to say to someone who actually starts a dialog. This work needs to be done by someone embedded both within the production and within the audience community of your film. This doesn’t mean you as a director or producer are totally off the hook to connect with people, and you shouldn’t want that anyway, but having what Jon Reiss would call a PMD (Producer of Marketing and Distribution) to help alleviate the total burden of connecting with an audience [burden in the context of generating content that keeps them engaged] and determining the most lucrative and efficient method to release the film is a smart idea.

This work cannot wait until the film is in post because social relationships take time to build and only giving it a month or two of attention isn’t going to result in much awareness. It also takes time to prepare for distribution outlets whether you are going to use the festival circuit as your theatrical or book community screenings, or book traditional theaters. Whether you will release online at the same time, or soon after and which outlets will you use? How much will you charge? What publications do you need to develop relationships with to get great coverage, what is the website going to look like and how will it change during the production process (yes, it will change)? There will be a need for extra content, more than one trailer or a series of clips, sourcing other content or creating it. These are all jobs that cannot be done in a hurry and someone needs to be on it. What about sponsorship? Who will handle the sponsorship proposals and logistics?

These are not the skills of typical film producers but someone now needs to be overseeing it and not involved with the filmmaking process. It isn’t work that falls within the realm of traditional publicist, unit publicist or the average distribution company, so someone needs to be handling this from very early on and that someone is a member of the film team. Also, taking on the responsibility gives you more leverage. You know who your audience is, how they will consume what you make, you are in contact with them every day and you don’t need to give up rights or revenue in order to sell to them, so why would you sign away your rights to do this? It doesn’t make sense.

To read the entire piece, click here.

ACTORSandCREW is fully psyched to be featuring Sheri Moss Candler’s 411 for the PMD. PMD stands for Producer of Marketing and Distribution and this is the person in a production whose sole job is marketing and figuring out the distribution path for the film so the producer and the rest of the production crew can get on with their work. Sheri is an expert inbound marketing strategist who helps independent filmmakers build identities for themselves and their films. Through the use of online tools such as social networking, podcasts, blogs, online media publications and radio, she assists filmmakers in building an engaged and robust online community for their work that can be used to monetize effectively. She collaborates with filmmaker/author Jon Reiss (who coined the term PMD) in his TOTBO workshop series by teaching filmmakers about utilizing social media and building personal brands. For Sheri’s complete bio visit her site, here.  

Click here to read Shari’s original post

How to collect email addresses from fans of your film

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All this week, Jon Reiss and I have been participating in a virtual Q&A panel on the D Word site for documentary filmmakers.  I have to say, I like this virtual panel a ton better than the usual live panels at film events. You can ask very specific questions of the panelists without the need for a moderator controlling the questions and having a bunch of panelists sit up there and basically tout the services of their company or give coy answers. It would be kind of awkward to give short and meaningless answers in this kind of forum. I hope everyone else is enjoying it too. Anyway…one of the questions that came up to day from Richard Phinney of Ontario, Canada asks “there is much talk about getting email addresses from audiences at preview screenings … how exactly do you go about doing that?”

In our book, filmmaker Ari Gold describes how he was able to collect over 12,000 email addresses from the audience of his semi theatrical and theatrical screenings.  Here’s the excerpt:

“Ari attached a short video to the front of the feature at the semi-theatrical and theatrical screenings that included the text-to-join number, whereby one texts their email address to a Google Voice number that he set up…it was (213) 290-DRUM [213.290.3786]…and, at the time of this book’s publication, it still works, even though he has to manually copy and paste the emails into his master list. The video alone was extremely effective, but when Ari was also present at the screenings, or when he did a live Skype Q&A, he was able to get almost all in the audience to sign up. Truly unique and impressive.”

The old fashioned way of doing this is passing out a clipboard and I still think that is fine if the screening is small and controlled by you, but it doesn’t work so well at festival screenings. You aren’t given much time to pass it around the audience before the screening and people leave as the credits roll after, plus you are too busy heading up to do Q&A so even if you started passing it, the clipboard is likely to get mislaid while you are tied up and then you have to keep track of the papers and remember to enter in the email addresses by hand.

Another solution I have seen is using QR codes which can be read with any mobile smartphone that takes the web brower to a special landing page where an email address can be entered. The email address is then sent straight into your email provider’s database. Here is an explanation of how it works with Constant Contact.

Providing incentive to give an email address should yield better results than simply putting a sign up box on your website. Giving away a piece of content like a song, ebook, rare photos or a piece of video not found anywhere else are all incentives to give an email address as “payment” to access this content. Topspin Media calls this E4M (email for media) and it powers their embeddable widgets for websites. There are many more features on Topspin as well so check them out (full disclosure: Topspin is one of the sponsors of Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul and we are using them to power our store shopping cart).

Another company I have been speaking with recently is Fanbridge who has a similar feature for Facebook pages as well as any website. They have a free basic edition for you to try out and a more feature rich edition that costs $30 a month. They advocate offering content only your fans can see so it entices those to become fans and rewards those who already are. I will be putting their system to work on 3 pages I help manage on Facebook and I’ll let you know how I get on. Also, it seems kinda cool in that it captures the comments people leave on your wall and you can export the positive quotes for use in other places. You can find out more about how it works on this site which was just acquired by the company and will soon be rebranded.

Hopefully these tips give you some ideas on how to boost your email list. Remember, direct connections to an audience are the lifeblood of monetizing your work in the most profitable way. When someone has given you permission to contact them, they want to hear from you and they are way more likely to support you which is more cost effective than chasing complete strangers.

The Importance of Having a Good Trailer

film-trailer

Many times when independent filmmakers send a request for help to me, they attach a link to their film trailer. This is the video they have on Youtube and on their website as a representation of their film, a reason to see it or buy it. Often, they are terrible. They are too long, they are too slow, there is no sense of what the film is about or why I would want to see it. A trailer should not be a 3 minute cut down version of your film. It is an advertisement meant to pique the interest of prospective viewers and there is a talent to making them work. This isn’t a job for your intern.

I asked professional trailer editor Bill Woolery if he would share his knowledge about what makes a good trailer, what are common mistakes he sees so many filmmakers (and distributors and studios) making, how to use trailers if you are trying to fundraise and what techniques are commonly used to ensure action is taken. Your trailer should make people say “I’ve got to see this film!” or “I want to donate money to help it reach its goal.”

For over 2 decades, Bill worked as a trailer editor for major studios and production companies on their theatrical and TV campaigns. He has since moved into editing trailers for documentaries and non profit humanitarian projects  for use in fund raising.  He has established himself as the go-to trailer expert for documentary and independent film producers and is often asked to speak and critique trailers in seminars hosted by Carole Dean and other high-profile members in the documentary community. His regularly scheduled “Trailer Clinics” help give filmmakers the tips and tools to improve their fundraising trailers.

An example of Bill’s past work is the trailer for The Unbearable Lightness of Being. “My boss tossed me the project saying, ‘We don’t know what to do with this, so come up with something.’  It turned out to be one of my most satisfying challenges. Janácek’s chamber music set the tone for the editing.  The film tanked at the box office, but AFI now includes it on their 100 best American films list.  A young Daniel Day-Lewis stars with Juliette Binoche.”

How does editing a trailer differ from editing an entire film?

 

“These are not only two different styles of editing, they’re two distinctly different realties.  A trailer incorporates the same scenes as the full-length piece but uses a totally different “language” to express them.  When filmmakers come to me, it’s often because they tried cutting their own trailers.  After much labor in the edit room, they were never able to achieve a sequence that felt like a trailer.  There is a characteristic pace and flow to a trailer you don’t find in narrative editing.  It’s the same material but presented with an urgency and immediacy that’s very different from your whole film.

A feature documentary has emotional moments, but a trailer is basically one emotional moment from beginning to end.  It takes you immediately into an emotional reality and holds you there until it drops you at the end.  During that span, it must also convey specific information: who the characters are, what the story is about, why the characters are doing what they’re doing.  Most importantly, it must answer the questions: Why is this doc (or feature) something you should see?  And why is it important to see it now?

These are a few of the many elements that make a good trailer and constructing it is more complicated than most narrative filmmakers realize.  A well-edited trailer is a very busy ‘world.’  At every moment you’re moving through multiple arcs: characters’ arc, the main story arc, the emotional arcs.  They’re all intertwined.  It’s a lot to keep track of.  And over-arching all that is ‘the build.’

The ‘build’ is probably the element that most clearly defines the difference between trailer editing and feature editing.  A trailer must maintain a continuous forward momentum.  This momentum usually picks up in speed and urgency in the second half of the trailer.”

How to evaluate a potential trailer editor for your project?

“Beware the editor/producer/filmmaker who has some downtime and says, ‘Sure, I can cut you a trailer.  I’ll do it as a favor.’  Also, stay away from anyone who thinks a trailer is basically a cut-down of the feature – because you will get a cut-down of the feature and not a trailer.”

Why should a trailer editor be used instead of just an intern or the editor already working on your film?

“During the past 10 years, the role of the trailer has changed, especially in the funding strategy of documentary and indie production.  Traditionally, trailers were edited by the filmmakers themselves because (a) budgets were tight and (b) they had the edit system and media sitting there in their second bedroom.  ’Outsourcing’ a trailer didn’t make sense.   Over time, with the development of the Internet, people became accustomed to seeing videos (addicted to seeing them, really).  Eventually, the pitch, the proposal, the text on your website – all of these took second place to the video trailer.  It was as if your project wasn’t real unless your intended audience could ‘see’ something on the screen.   Today, some distributors or funders will ask to see your trailer before talking to you. So the trailer has become the most critical element to getting your project funded or distributed.  It needs to be really good, really effective.  Paying a trailer editor is now considered a sound investment.” (I totally agree!)

What are the different types of trailers?  such as theatrical, TV etc

If  you check the Doc Trailers page of my website you’ll find this:

Fundraising Trailer – the key element to your project’s success

Work-in-Progress Trailer – to find your finishing funds

Showcase Trailer – specifically pitched to buyers/distributors/broadcasters

Sizzle / Teaser trailers – to generate buzz when you don’t have much to show

Theatrical Trailers – the all-purpose video that establishes your project’s identity

The majority of my editing projects now involve FUNDRAISING trailers.  As a trailer category, it’s wide open because it depends on what you have to show, how good your footage is and what you want to accomplish with it.  In terms of length, it could be anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes long, possible up to 12 if you’ve got a compelling story and/or extraordinary footage that can sustain it that long.  It also has to do with who it’s intended for: a foundation, grant qualification, a private funder.  Research your intended viewer and find out what they’re looking for.

Everyone agrees a trailer should not reveal the end of the story.  For theatrical-style trailers that is certainly the case.  But when you’re putting together a fundraising trailer the purpose is to sell your idea to people who can share your vision and might invest in it.  They need to see what they’re buying – all of it.  It’s important for them to know you have a satisfying ending so don’t hesitate to show it.

WORK-IN-PROGRESS trailers run longer so the viewer, usually a major funder, can feel confident about the project’s progress, that their investment is worthwhile and in capable hands.  In terms of length it’s determined by the funder’s needs and could be anywhere between 4 to 14 minutes.

Every project needs a THEATRICAL-STYLE trailer.  This is the one that’s used as the all-purpose “calling card” for your project, the one you post on YouTube and Vimeo and the project’s website.  It’s normally made after your doc is finished and mastered – but sometimes there’s need for it before the projects gets to that point.  This kind of trailer is short, usually 1.5  to 3 minutes.  It’s energetic and dramatic and makes no obvious solicitation for funds and does not reveal the end of story.  The cliff-hanger ending that works so well for commercial entertainment trailers is also the most effective “out” for documentary trailers.

Finally, there are TEASER or SIZZLE trailers.  These terms are used pretty much interchangeable.  Their purpose is generating advanced buzz for the project.  In both cases, they’re often put together with rip-o-matic images from the Net with a voice-over telling you how great the project will be once the viewer contributes the funds to realize it.  These kinds of trailers might include a “pedigree” montage of the filmmaker’s past projects – if they exist.  A teaser is short, 30 seconds to a minute and a half, unless the “past projects” are very prestigious and need screen time to be showcased.”

In part 2, Bill will talk about techniques such as motion graphics, using music to set the tone, using voice overs and the biggest mistakes he sees people make in editing a trailer. Stay tuned!

ACTORSandCREW is fully psyched to be featuring Sheri Moss Candler’s 411 for the PMD. PMD stands for Producer of Marketing and Distribution and this is the person in a production whose sole job is marketing and figuring out the distribution path for the film so the producer and the rest of the production crew can get on with their work. Sheri is an expert inbound marketing strategist who helps independent filmmakers build identities for themselves and their films. Through the use of online tools such as social networking, podcasts, blogs, online media publications and radio, she assists filmmakers in building an engaged and robust online community for their work that can be used to monetize effectively. She collaborates with filmmaker/author Jon Reiss (who coined the term PMD) in his TOTBO workshop series by teaching filmmakers about utilizing social media and building personal brands. For Sheri’s complete bio visit her site, here.  

Click here to read Shari’s original post

Book Release: Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul

sellingyourfilmWe released the book Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul 2 days ago. Not counting those who bought from the Amazon site or from Apple, we have had 1800 downloads so far. Not bad since this is a very niche interest book. I want to emphasize this book is FREE until October 1 on our site. After which it goes to $4.99 for all premium digital copies (Kindle, Nook, iBook) but there will always be a free pdf (text only, no URLs, pictures, charts, video) for those who just want the facts.

Also, today is the last day to RSVP for our book launch party in New York on September 19 from 6-8pm. We have about 50 places left at last count so if you’re in town, join us.

An interview I did with Cheap Fast Movie Thoughts was just published.  Here’s an excerpt:

What’s the biggest misconception that filmmakers have about distribution?

SHERI: That there is some kind of magic distributor fairy waiting to give them a fat check and make their dreams come true. I hear many, many times filmmakers say ‘we’re artists, making films is supposed to be fun’ and I am sure thinking about the business of art isn’t fun to them. But it is imperative. As my filmmaker friend Greg Bayne says, “You may not be interested in the business, but you probably like to eat.”

It is your responsibility to your investors, your crew, yourself to take charge of this and have a solid plan from the outset that isn’t solely dependent on a distributor coming along and making your film whole, which is to say paying a minimum guarantee that recoups your production budget with interest. VERY few of those deals exist now, no matter what producer’s agents and distributors like to say.

Ask many questions of anyone currently working in film today and if you can get them to admit it, there aren’t big upfront deals going on, there aren’t a lot of presales going on and the likelihood of most independent films recouping is slim. Don’t base your estimations on box office returns either. Until there is a number revealed that shows how much was spent to get those returns, you don’t have a clear picture of profit. A film that has a $10 million box office may have spent $15 or $20 million to get that.

Setting aside the goal of recoupment though, it is more than possible to start building a career off of the attention you can get from a release. That’s where having a prestige festival premiere comes in. Say what you like about the films that play Sundance or how difficult it is to get in, that festival has the cache to change the life of your film and your career simply because of the amount of press coverage it receives and that is why it is so coveted and competitive.

For the rest of the interview, head on over to Cheap Fast Movie Thoughts.

ACTORSandCREW is fully psyched to be featuring Sheri Moss Candler’s 411 for the PMD. PMD stands for Producer of Marketing and Distribution and this is the person in a production whose sole job is marketing and figuring out the distribution path for the film so the producer and the rest of the production crew can get on with their work. Sheri is an expert inbound marketing strategist who helps independent filmmakers build identities for themselves and their films. Through the use of online tools such as social networking, podcasts, blogs, online media publications and radio, she assists filmmakers in building an engaged and robust online community for their work that can be used to monetize effectively. She collaborates with filmmaker/author Jon Reiss (who coined the term PMD) in his TOTBO workshop series by teaching filmmakers about utilizing social media and building personal brands. For Sheri’s complete bio visit her site, here.

Click here to read Shari’s original post

The Importance of Having a Good Trailer for your Film

Many times when independent filmmakers send a request for help to me, they attach a link to their film trailer. This is the video they have on Youtube and on their website as a representation of their film, a reason to see it or buy it. Often, they are terrible. They are too long, they are too slow, there is no sense of what the film is about or why I would want to see it. A trailer should not be a 3 minute cut down version of your film. It is an advertisement meant to pique the interest of prospective viewers and there is a talent to making them work. This isn’t a job for your intern.

I asked professional trailer editor Bill Woolery if he would share his knowledge about what makes a good trailer, what are common mistakes he sees so many filmmakers (and distributors and studios) making, how to use trailers if you are trying to fundraise and what techniques are commonly used to ensure action is taken. Your trailer should make people say “I’ve got to see this film!” or “I want to donate money to help it reach its goal.”

For over 2 decades, Bill worked as a trailer editor for major studios and production companies on their theatrical and TV campaigns. He has since moved into editing trailers for documentaries and non profit humanitarian projects  for use in fund raising.  He has established himself as the go-to trailer expert for documentary and independent film producers and is often asked to speak and critique trailers in seminars hosted by Carole Dean and other high-profile members in the documentary community. His regularly scheduled “Trailer Clinics” help give filmmakers the tips and tools to improve their fundraising trailers.

An example of Bill’s past work is the trailer for The Unbearable Lightness of Being. “My boss tossed me the project saying, ‘We don’t know what to do with this, so come up with something.’  It turned out to be one of my most satisfying challenges. Janácek’s chamber music set the tone for the editing.  The film tanked at the box office, but AFI now includes it on their 100 best American films list.  A young Daniel Day-Lewis stars with Juliette Binoche.”

How does editing a trailer differ from editing an entire film?

“These are not only two different styles of editing, they’re two distinctly different realties.  A trailer incorporates the same scenes as the full-length piece but uses a totally different “language” to express them.  When filmmakers come to me, it’s often because they tried cutting their own trailers.  After much labor in the edit room, they were never able to achieve a sequence that felt like a trailer.  There is a characteristic pace and flow to a trailer you don’t find in narrative editing.  It’s the same material but presented with an urgency and immediacy that’s very different from your whole film.

A feature documentary has emotional moments, but a trailer is basically one emotional moment from beginning to end.  It takes you immediately into an emotional reality and holds you there until it drops you at the end.  During that span, it must also convey specific information: who the characters are, what the story is about, why the characters are doing what they’re doing.  Most importantly, it must answer the questions: Why is this doc (or feature) something you should see?  And why is it important to see it now?

These are a few of the many elements that make a good trailer and constructing it is more complicated than most narrative filmmakers realize.  A well-edited trailer is a very busy ‘world.’  At every moment you’re moving through multiple arcs: characters’ arc, the main story arc, the emotional arcs.  They’re all intertwined.  It’s a lot to keep track of.  And over-arching all that is ‘the build.’

The ‘build’ is probably the element that most clearly defines the difference between trailer editing and feature editing.  A trailer must maintain a continuous forward momentum.  This momentum usually picks up in speed and urgency in the second half of the trailer.”

How to evaluate a potential trailer editor for your project?

“Beware the editor/producer/filmmaker who has some downtime and says, ‘Sure, I can cut you a trailer.  I’ll do it as a favor.’  Also, stay away from anyone who thinks a trailer is basically a cut-down of the feature – because you will get a cut-down of the feature and not a trailer.”

Why should a trailer editor be used instead of just an intern or the editor already working on your film?

“During the past 10 years, the role of the trailer has changed, especially in the funding strategy of documentary and indie production.  Traditionally, trailers were edited by the filmmakers themselves because (a) budgets were tight and (b) they had the edit system and media sitting there in their second bedroom.  ’Outsourcing’ a trailer didn’t make sense.   Over time, with the development of the Internet, people became accustomed to seeing videos (addicted to seeing them, really).  Eventually, the pitch, the proposal, the text on your website – all of these took second place to the video trailer.  It was as if your project wasn’t real unless your intended audience could ‘see’ something on the screen.   Today, some distributors or funders will ask to see your trailer before talking to you. So the trailer has become the most critical element to getting your project funded or distributed.  It needs to be really good, really effective.  Paying a trailer editor is now considered a sound investment.” (I totally agree!)

What are the different types of trailers?  such as theatrical, TV etc

If  you check the Doc Trailers page of my website you’ll find this:

Fundraising Trailer – the key element to your project’s success

Work-in-Progress Trailer – to find your finishing funds

Showcase Trailer – specifically pitched to buyers/distributors/broadcasters

Sizzle / Teaser trailers – to generate buzz when you don’t have much to show

Theatrical Trailers – the all-purpose video that establishes your project’s identity

The majority of my editing projects now involve FUNDRAISING trailers.  As a trailer category, it’s wide open because it depends on what you have to show, how good your footage is and what you want to accomplish with it.  In terms of length, it could be anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes long, possible up to 12 if you’ve got a compelling story and/or extraordinary footage that can sustain it that long.  It also has to do with who it’s intended for: a foundation, grant qualification, a private funder.  Research your intended viewer and find out what they’re looking for.

Everyone agrees a trailer should not reveal the end of the story.  For theatrical-style trailers that is certainly the case.  But when you’re putting together a fundraising trailer the purpose is to sell your idea to people who can share your vision and might invest in it.  They need to see what they’re buying – all of it.  It’s important for them to know you have a satisfying ending so don’t hesitate to show it.

WORK-IN-PROGRESS trailers run longer so the viewer, usually a major funder, can feel confident about the project’s progress, that their investment is worthwhile and in capable hands.  In terms of length it’s determined by the funder’s needs and could be anywhere between 4 to 14 minutes.

Every project needs a THEATRICAL-STYLE trailer.  This is the one that’s used as the all-purpose “calling card” for your project, the one you post on YouTube and Vimeo and the project’s website.  It’s normally made after your doc is finished and mastered – but sometimes there’s need for it before the projects gets to that point.  This kind of trailer is short, usually 1.5  to 3 minutes.  It’s energetic and dramatic and makes no obvious solicitation for funds and does not reveal the end of story.  The cliff-hanger ending that works so well for commercial entertainment trailers is also the most effective “out” for documentary trailers.

Finally, there are TEASER or SIZZLE trailers.  These terms are used pretty much interchangeable.  Their purpose is generating advanced buzz for the project.  In both cases, they’re often put together with rip-o-matic images from the Net with a voice-over telling you how great the project will be once the viewer contributes the funds to realize it.  These kinds of trailers might include a “pedigree” montage of the filmmaker’s past projects – if they exist.  A teaser is short, 30 seconds to a minute and a half, unless the “past projects” are very prestigious and need screen time to be showcased.”

In part 2, Bill will talk about techniques such as motion graphics, using music to set the tone, using voice overs and the biggest mistakes he sees people make in editing a trailer. Stay tuned!

ACTORSandCREW is fully psyched to be featuring Sheri Moss Candler’s 411 for the PMD. PMD stands for Producer of Marketing and Distribution and this is the person in a production whose sole job is marketing and figuring out the distribution path for the film so the producer and the rest of the production crew can get on with their work. Sheri is an expert inbound marketing strategist who helps independent filmmakers build identities for themselves and their films. Through the use of online tools such as social networking, podcasts, blogs, online media publications and radio, she assists filmmakers in building an engaged and robust online community for their work that can be used to monetize effectively. She collaborates with filmmaker/author Jon Reiss (who coined the term PMD) in his TOTBO workshop series by teaching filmmakers about utilizing social media and building personal brands. For Sheri’s complete bio visit her site, here.


Click here to read Shari’s original post


Edoardo Ballerini is an actor and a writer. He has appeared in over forty films and television series, including Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos and the indie hit Dinner Rush. He was last seen on Theater Row in New York in “Honey Brown Eyes.”You can reach Edoardo on Facebook or Twitter

Actors, What Kind of Success Do You Want?

success

In the span of two hours I was referred to as a “semi-celebrity,” and had a woman write me asking “Who are you?” (Why she bothered to write is entirely a mystery, but hey…) Still, it did illustrate the murky waters of notoriety actors can swim in. Somewhere circling amongst the “A-listers,” the “has beens,” and the “never should have beens” are the “aren’t you?… no, never minds.”

Between the Taping and the Viewing…

waiting-300x225

In the acting life, there is also a falling shadow, and it comes between the gig and the screening. Between the filming and the airing… Theater is different, of course, but for now let’s stick to the world of screens. After you walk off set for the last day, there’s a good chance you won’t see your work for months, if not even years, or if ever.

Reviews: To Read or Not to Read (h/t to @edoballerini)

A friend just opened a play last week and he was very excited. Weeks of hard work had …

ACTORSandCREW is fully psyched to be featuring Sheri Moss Candler’s 411 for the PMD. PMD stands for Producer of Marketing and Distribution. Sheri is an expert inbound marketing strategist who helps independent filmmakers build identities for themselves and their films.

The Emerging Skills Needed by #Film Publicists

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The Mindset Change of Social Media

authorwill

I was recently interviewed for a blog and was asked about using social media for marketing a film. It really got me thinking about that question. Is that all most filmmakers see social media being used for? One big promotional effort only to be used when they are looking to sell something? I think within 10 years this will be a non issue as everyone will be adapted to social media. Those who have refused to start will be so left out it will be like the people who held out on rotary phones and terrestrial TV signals.

Using #Pinterest as a tool for your #Film #Marketing

pinterest-blow-dryer-done-52

Speaking of Pinterest…I only recently started using it for the Joffrey project which is why all of my boards are devoted to that. Looking at them gives a good idea on the kind of thing you could use it for on your production. In my workshop presentations, I talk about posting regularly on your social channels and not just information directly about your film, but also about the interests of your audience; those who would be a fan of your film and of yourself as an artist. I am using the boards to show Joffrey history through pictures and videos. The ballets they created, the ballets they revived, their alumni dancers, Robert Joffrey through the years as well as photos of the merchandise available to buy through our site. It’s a balance of audience interest and promotion for the film.

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