Even Bruce Willis talks to his fans

July 30, 2007

One of my previous posts suggests reaching out directly to fans as an effective publicity tool.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re just getting started on your very first film, or if you’re a well-established filmmaker, or even if you’re one of the biggest celebs in the known universe.   In these days of Web 2.0, you really miss the boat if you don’t make an effort to talk directly to people, on the Web, about your film project. 

Check out this diary entry from indieprod.org. It’s an interesting piece from some DIY filmmakers that talks about Bruce’s chat with the fans on Aintitcool.com. These guys understand the power of direct fan interaction. So does Bruce Willis. Maybe you should give it a try?


DIY Distribution

July 28, 2007

I suppose the DIY royal couple right now is Arin Crumley and Susan Buice.  It’s safe to say they’ve broken some new ground on innovative DIY distribution of their film, Four-eyed Monsters.

Talk about embracing Web 2.0. These two seem to live and breathe it, and in the process, have not only racked up some significant credit card debt (you can help ease their pain by registering free at www.spout.com/foureyedmonsters, Spout pays them a dollar for every new registration), they’ve done the heretofore unthinkable — put their entire film up on YouTube for everyone to watch — for free.

Turns out, showing the film for free, along with the partnership with Spout, may be the most profitable thing they’ve done, according to Arin in his interview with Cinematical indie. Check it out, it’s an enlightening interview, you can read the transcript or watch a video version of it from Arin’s pov. You may learn something new, like I did: a new online distribution company, b-side. I looked around their site, read the FAQs, etc. What I liked most about them is (1) their pricing structure: you can purchase a download of a film and watch it to see if you think it’s worth buying the DVD, and the cost of your download gets credit as a downpayment to DVD, and (2) all their downloads are DRM-free. Sweet! I don’t know that their distribution agreement and deal is any better or worse than any other out there, but I think they’re worth checking out.
Tip: There are options for DIY Distribution.
Talk: Are you self-distributing your film? Post a link to your film, trailer, or other info, and I’ll feature it in a future post.

“What is your film about?” “Um….” The perfect pitch (not)

July 26, 2007

 I haven’t ever seen a film that’s about “Um…”, but there must be a whole slew of them being made by emerging filmmakers today.

 “Um….”  —  When this is the first word a filmmaker says in response to my asking them “What is your film about?”  I inwardly cringe, I prepare myself for the long, rambling, sometimes scene-by-scene monologue I hear, and I  listen patiently and attentively. 

Two, ten, 20 minutes later, when they’ve finally finished, I tell the filmmaker, as gently as I can, to be glad I’m not a distributor or a studio exec, or an agent, or broker.  Why?  Because hardly anybody in one of those positions would have listened to such a long speech.  The filmmaker would have lost most of them at “Um….”.

30 seconds!

That’s the most time it should take to describe a film.  Use a stop watch and click off the time,  count out loud as you watch the second hand or the digital numbers.  That’s really not as short as it initially seems, right?   It’s really all the time you need, and it may very well be all the time you get to speak to a busy person in the industry.  More importantly,  if you don’t immediately capture and hold the attention of the person to whom you’re speaking, you’ll start to lose them after 30 seconds.  They’ll tune you out. 

Read, write, edit, rehearse.

Visit film websites, visit IMDb.com, read the taglines and the synopses of films.  Read some of them out loud so you can time yourself to ascertain how many words you can comfortably say (without “Um”s) in 30 seconds.

Then sit down and write your film’s synopsis.  Your goal is to craft something that immediately captures and holds your listener’s attention, accurately portrays your film’s story/message/world, and ultimately, makes the listener want to learn more about it.

Rehearse your pitch by timing yourself as you read it out loud.  Rehearse it in front of a friend, colleague, family member, the person behind the counter at the dry cleaners. Ask yourself, and ask them:   Do the words sound natural as you say them?  Does it sound too stilted?  Is it too long?  Have you left out something important? Does it sound interesting?  Edit as many times as necessary.  You know this drill, you did the same thing with re-writes to your screenplay, editing until you got it right.

When you think it’s the best you can make it, try rehearsing it to a perfect stranger.  I’m serious.  Choose someone who looks like they might be a friendly person, and who looks like they’re not particularly busy at the moment, walk up to them and say “Hey. You know, I’ve just completed my first film.”  Hopefully, they’ll smile and say “Really, what’s it about?”.    Then do your pitch.  Watch how they react.  Use their reaction (positive or negative, or total disinterest),  to help you further hone your pitch to perfection.

Tip:   Be able to pitch your film in 30 seconds or less.

Talk:  Have a pitch?  Post it in comments  and I’ll take a look at it and give you feedback.

Movie fans are our friends. Seek them out. Talk to them.

July 23, 2007

Unless you’re a big Hollywood studio, or independently wealthy, chances are slim to none that you’ll  purchase 30-second commercial time slots on primetime TV to show the trailer of your new film.  The odds that you’ll get a “coming soon” preview article in the pop culture national print magazines, or even be included in Yahoo’s Greg’s movie previews are also stacked against you. 

No worries, though.  With a little time, effort,  creativity, and the power of Web 2.0,  you can still garner some recognition for your film.  Here’s an idea, one that filmmakers are embracing more and more these days:  Go around the traditional avenues for promoting your film, and go directly to fans of movies.  After all, you didn’t make your film for the press, or critics, you made it for people, everyday people, to watch.  Right? 

If you don’t have a MySpace page for your film, then shame on you. It’s totally free, for pete’s sake. Make your way to the filmmaker forum, do the free registration, create your film’s page, upload some production stills, a trailer, and start adding friends like there’s no tomorrow. And once you get those friends, talk to them. That’s right, interact with people about your film. There are tons of websites that provide code you can load into your MySpace page that helps you to talk to people: you can set up a form on your film’s MySpace page for people to sign up for e-mail newsletters from you so you can keep them informed on what’s happening with your project; you can add an instant message widget, like from meebo.com to your MySpace page and/or your website and chat live with people.

Moviegoers absolutely love to interact with filmmakers. Talk about breaking that fourth wall! What better way to get someone excited about seeing your film than to talk to them about it?And then something magical happens, in this world of Web 2.0. They tell someone about you and your film, and then they tell someone, and they tell someone, and so on. Who needs a 30-second prime-time commercial spot that may be seen by a few hundred thousand people (the rest have gotten up from the couch to get a snack, or more likely, will fast forward right past it on their DVR) when you can potentially reach millions of people?

Tip: Interact directly with movie fans.
Talk: What are some of the ways you’re reaching out to talk about your film?