First off, we need to explain who you are, and why my readers should follow your advice. So, please introduce yourself.
Hello, thrilled to be here! I’m originally from New Zealand, but have lived in London for 9 years, and moved to Sydney in September 2008.
I’m the Co-Founder/Digital Producer for White Ronin Productions (WRP). We specialise in VFX for independent productions (and more). WRP were fortunate to work with the team behind 54 Days by creating the VFX for the feature which has won the Special Jury Prize at 30 Dies Festival. Festival de cinema fantàstic a Andorra! Our first feature film Other World is near completion, and has just finished doing the rounds at The American Film Market.
I have 30 years combined experience as Online Digital Advisor and Actor/Executive Producer in the Film and Television industry NZ/AUS/UK/USA/SE. TV credits include: Communicado’s "The Steven Shuttleworth Story”, Renaissance Pictures "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys","Young Hercules". (NZ) Feature films include: “Jen” (UK) “Dealing with Destiny”, "Other World" & "A Blow to the Head" (AUS), “The Horror Vault 1-3", "Little Big Boy" (USA | Sweden | Denmark) & LA based online thriller "Cell/Phone. I’ve trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, and attended Ewan McGregor's Masterclass at the Royal Haymarket Theatre.
In 2012, I interviewed for a position at Causeway Films to drive the online promotion campaign behind “The Babadook” but was unsuccessful, however, I remained enthusiastically involved by backing the Kickstarter Project, and obsessively interacted in the social media space. I knew it was going to be a hit – snappy concept, sharp Director, smart team.
When marketing a film we have a few avenues at our disposal. Email, mouth-to-mouth, social media. Can you list the top three according to you and their strengths / weaknesses.
These are all great avenues to explore.
There are myriad benefits building your e-newsletter audience and engagement, generating revenue through sponsorship and ad revenue and helping to power your social strategy. What clicks with your customers? By reviewing reporting data you will understand which content works best to engage customers' interest and ultimately drive sales. One of the greatest benefits is the fact that registration builds a user database for email marketing, generating leads for you and your advertisers.
On the flip side the issue is that most people end receive several marketing emails a day from many different companies. It is possible that many customers will delete your email as unimportant before they even take the time to read it, personally, I’m quick to hit the “delete” button! Using a bulk emailing program means your marketing email could get caught in the recipient's spam folder and they may never see it. Also, some people do not appreciate having their inbox filled by unsolicited marketing emails. Using mass emailing could cause customers to consider your brand less than reputable.
I’m hooked on social media, so it’s hard for me to respond negatively. However:
Updating your social media accounts takes time and effort - the information is only visible for a short time before newer posts replace it. In addition, unless you have someone check your social media accounts several times a day, people can publish negative comments that are not always removable. For example, every post on Twitter is public and you have no control over what people say. Bad news can go viral as easily as good news and can do your project irreparable harm.
Facebook volume/spam! There’s heaps of local independent films being made, and that’s great – however, I sometimes feel a bit assaulted with the amount of promotion clogging up my timeline – that and photos of babies, sunsets, and food! Haha!
Social media networks were a novelty 5 years ago, but today their importance is no longer debated. Social media marketing is integral to your overall marketing and PR mix.
Eg: Viral marketing has proven to be a useful tool for filling theatre seats. For example, a flight-safety video promoting Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey garnered around 2 million views before its release.
Word of mouth
I believe word of mouth is still the best form of marketing.
While there’s no single formula for word-of-mouth success, I’ve found it often starts with creating a culture that encourages your audience to consider themselves valued and connected to your project. This is especially true among the 18-29 demographic, a group that’s notoriously suspicious of advertising and well aware of the proliferation of fake positive (and negative) reviews.
Despite the multitude of media platforms available, verbal buzz about your business or product passed from one reliable person to the next is still the most cost-effective way to build a loyal following, expand your business, and reach new customers, but it won’t be as effective without traditional and digital marketing to build brand awareness
Most directors / producers don’t have time for more than two perhaps three social media platforms. Which ones do you recommend they use to reach their prospective audiences, and why did you choose these?
Three’s plenty! Each platform has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, so do a bit of research before engaging with the audience. Check what other films did/are doing well (or are not) and learn from that. The Babadook, Rise, Other World, 54 Days.
Generally speaking, you’ll do just fine with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Facebook has a number of excellent marketing tools/data insights, Twitter is instant – much like a conversation at a pub or bar, and Instagram is a great way to share content such as “behind the scenes” snippets or connect with cast and crew – also you can cross promote to other social media buttons with one press of a button.
If you find it difficult to keep on top of things, check out a social media monitoring dashboard such as Hootsuite to help you manage your content.
Where do you see the future film industry heading in the next 5 – 10 years. At the moment we have issues with copyright and illegal downloads. How can we combat this while still turning a profit. In essence, how should we evolve our marketing and distribution efforts?
That’s the 10+ million dollar question isn’t it? Australian cinemas face a small but steady decline in revenues over the next five years due to piracy, streaming services, digital and pay TV, according to a recent report by IBISWorld. Consumers are turning away from the cinema, to home downloads so until the government steps in and establishes a “fair” way of warning then punishing people who are illegally downloading, it’s not going to get better in a hurry.
However, those in the entertainment industry are a resilient hardy bunch, and we must find ways to remain stoic and creative - never sit still; keep diversifying, try different things. Eg: “Ali’s Wedding” the first Australian Muslim rom-com has just received funding from Screen Australian. Or from across the ditch, “What We Do in the Shadows” a 2014 New Zealand horror comedy mockumentary by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014, and has been hugely successful
From a marketing stand-point, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is not due for release until December 2015, however, the marketing wheels are already spinning, whereas when new Australian films come out, it would appear no one has even heard of the film in question.
What are the top three mistakes directors / producers usually make and how can they avoid them?
As a result of the digital revolution, it’s now much easier to produce film more cost effectively – but that doesn’t mean they’ll be any good. The market is saturated with indie films.
1: Don't allow your arrogance to destroy you or the film you've put so much heart, time and money into. Treat your distribution journey with care and diligence. Unless you're a hobbyist who's making films for the fun of it, this is a business, and succeeding as a Producer or Director requires you to learn and embrace all that comes after making your movie or documentary.
2. Think original. Everyday we see short films, scripts, and features about the following topics: a depressing story about a dysfunctional family, people trying to make it in the movie business, the difficulties of dating, the daily life struggles for millennials, a coming of age story about leaving a small hometown, etc. It's not that these ideas are necessarily bad, but they've been done over and over again. Without industry backing or very famous actors, these stories will not help you break into the Film and TV business.
3. Check out any distributor that you begin negotiating with, before you get "married" to them. Research any distributor you might make a deal with before you sign a contract with them - look at films they've handled in the past, and contacting those producers for appraisals. This is a professional courtesy most producers will do for other producers.
What are your top three recommendations for finding your audience?
Most filmmakers fail to consider their target audience. Or worse, many filmmakers will tell you that everyone is their audience - this sentiment is seriously flawed.
Without a marketing budget to reach a global audience, you must focus on finding a niche audience. Eg: The community of people for The Babadook were primarily those who love psychological horror, supernatural thriller and psychological thriller films. This was not one particular age group, but more of a subculture of people of all ages.
Research and refine:
Understand your audience. Who are they? Are they primarily men? Women? Teenagers? Do they have jobs? Are they business owners or unemployed? Do they live in the city or on the farm? From this information, you can create audience profiles for five ideal types of movie fans that you want to target within your niche.
Why would they want to watch your movie? What makes your movie unique from the other, competing movies in existence? How will your movie to appeal to viewing needs of your audience?
From there, you will get to know your audience; in turn will talk about it and be great promoters of your film.
Locate blogs, websites and publications already targeting people who may be interested in your subject matter. Get networking - LinkedIn is your friend! Don’t produce for fame or ego – work hard, stay humble – do it because you enjoy the challenge and you will be rewarded creatively and hopefully, financially.
Thanks for your time, feel free to connect with me, and let me know if you have any questions.