INDIE BUSINESS: ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS BEFORE THE CAMERAS ROLL
In my years of working in distribution, I find it interesting that many indie filmmakers have no idea where the films that they are making are going to be seen.
They make their films on spec, many times based on assumptions. They hope their film gets on Netflix. They hope their film gets on Itunes. They hope their film gets on cable TV. They hope a buyer will be there when the film is complete.
When the studios and established companies green light films, they have specific platforms and strategies, even solid commitments where their product will be placed. There is much less risk when you know that your film will be up for sale on various platforms.
Many indie filmmakers make films on dreams and not business plans. With the marketplace getting more and more crowded, it is time for indie filmmakers to make a plan BEFORE the cameras roll. I put together a list of questions that all indie filmmakers must ask themselves when they are putting together a film project. I feel this is a way to enrich your project and make the experience more rewarding and successful.
WHY ARE WE MAKING THIS FILM?
What are the reasons we are making this particular film? Regarding subject matter and genre: I recommend that filmmakers make films that they are passionate about. It takes so much time, money, hard work and determination to make a film, make the film about something you love and you'll get through it beautifully.
WHO IS THE AUDIENCE FOR THIS FILM?
Is there a built in audience for the genre or style of the film? Are we making it for a specific market? Horror? Family? LGBT? Action? Thriller? Faith Based? If so, what are the age groups? Are there websites and social media platforms that we can build to create more interest before the cameras roll? Are there issues in your project that can be supported by special groups or communities? Can you attach actors that appeal to that audience?
HOW DO WE PLAN TO MARKET THE FILM?
Marketing a film can start right from the getgo durring pre-production. What are the ways you can build excitement for your film?
WHAT MAKES OUR FILM COMPELLING AND UNIQUE?
Has this film been made before? What makes your film different? Is it outside the box? If it is a traditional story, are there modern twists that can be incorporated? Is your film offering a unique perspective?
WHAT ARE THE ATTACHTMENTS THAT MAKE OUR FILM VALUABLE?
Who is in the film? The cast might be the single most important key to getting your film out there. Certain actors have power in South America, Europe, or Asia. Some actors will help with North American distribution, as well.
WHERE DO YOU SEE OUR FILM DISTRIBUTED?
Where do you see your project? In theaters? DVD & Bluray? Pay cable? HBO? Hulu? Netflix? Itunes? The International Sales Market? It is important to look into the requirements and needs of these platforms, before you shoot. Many of these platforms will require a distributor or aggregator to place them. (that's gonna be another blog...)
CAN WE MAKE THE FILM TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A TREND?
Can we take advantage of a growing trend or craze? It is all about timing. Chasing trends is dangerous business. If it takes too long to make the movie, the trend will be dead and gone. One year at the American Film Market I heard: "Talking dog movies are in demand!" Then the next year I heard from the same source: "The market is saturated with dog movies..." Some of these mini-studios have the infrastructure to pump out a film in less than a month to meet the demand of a growing craze. It usually takes much longer for indie filmmakers to make their films.
HOW CAN YOU CONTINUE YOUR SUCCESS?
Once you made a film that everyone loves and did well in the marketplace. Can you build on your success and make films of similar quality and style?
That's all for now, so far. Making films is a fun and exciting venture. If we cover our bases and plan the right way, we can making a living out of doing the thing that we love.