distribution sobering view on the micro-budget film distribution.

We talk about distribution a lot and how the micro-budget film makers are losing the traditional outlets for their movies; DVD/Blu-ray sales.

Here is a video with some sobering views. The people in the video are pretty much saying the same thing that everyone else is; the doors are closing. There is no money to be made.

 
Sometimes I think that maybe part of the problem with distribution for Micro-budget films is that, as a group, we think too big. What I mean by that is, maybe it's delusional to think that a 10 or 20 thousand dollar movie has any right at all to look for placement in the professional world of movies. Kind of like wanting to race a Corvette with your dad's plumbing repair van. I know, that's not a good comparison but it's the best one I could come up with :) Maybe a better way would be to see the Micro-budget movie for what it is; An enhanced hobby, not that different from wood carving, arts and crafts, and pottery.. I say 'enhanced' because films are not made by an army of one (I read that somewhere....) as where most hobbies I can think of are solitary.

So, you have your hobby film made. How do you sell it? Maybe the way you would sell any other hobby product; Ebay, conventions, door to door, garage sales, websites..... You probably won't get rich but you might do better than the guys and gals trying to get a sales agent to license the thing to Warner brothers or Amazon or Netflix. Remember, we're talking about a $20,000 movie. When someone makes a movie for $20,000 it's because that's all they have..

One thing does worry me though, and I don't have a way around it really... Blu-ray player sales are dropping. Streaming is taking over, maybe completely. What do you sell people at a point of sale if discs are gone, what do they buy?

You know this really sucks when you try to paint a picture that shows hope, and you keep coming back to the inevitable conclusion - that in all likelyhood - you are not going to sell your enhanced hobby movie because technology has left you with nowhere to turn except youtube where it will compete with 15 second clips of cats chasing things....

I guess micro-budget enhanced hobby film makers will either quit (as so many have already done) or just keep going.


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mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
Streaming is here to stay, blu ray is just about gone (it never really broke through to mainstream consumption anyway) and it ain't coming back.

I firmly believe that you have to be making movies because it's important to you & you have something to say, not because you're looking to sell your movie to Netflix or Hulu or whatever.

You can go to YouTube. You can check out the required specs on FilmHub (which I use) and see if you can get your movie out that way too.
But if you're looking for a physical version of your movie as an option, I think you're going to just keep waiting.
 
Yeah, when you mentioned FilmHub before I did check them out.

I know nobody likes to talk money and it's rude to ask, but, without being specific, did you and your team see anything from the streaming distribution of your movies? I mean, was it enough so that if you wanted to you could take some of the regulars around here to lunch sometime if you wanted to, and if so, do you know of any good Italian places?
 
OK.. What about this; you put your movie on youtube or any other on-line place you can. You put it out there for free with a simple request at the beginning and end of the movie "If you like this movie please consider a contribution of 25 cents or a dollar so we can make more". - and have a link to paypal and any other on-line one touch payment services available. Why wouldn't that work? I know that if I like a movie that made such a request, I'd cough up a few coins.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
There's no reason that couldn't work
I know that if I like a movie that made such a request, I'd cough up a few coins.
How would you find the movie?

To me that's always the big issue. How does a filmmaker with a great, no-budget movie
get it noticed.

And how many people would be willing to cough up a few coins? How much per month
would you personally cough up? How many ultra low budget movies would you watch
for free on YouTube and then drop 25 cents?

I'm still under the impression that people don't watch ULB movies - even fellow
filmmakers even for free.

On YouTube it's difficult to get people to hit the LIKE button. We all see videos with 10k
views and 100 likes.
 
You have some very good points..
Now we need possible solutions.

One thing is certain and that is that the internet offers free marketing. Anyone can promote anything, but like anything, there are people who are good at this and some who aren't.
 
On Youtube, is it possible to have a popular channel show a 5 second ad for a movie? Approach the content producer and offer them some amount of money to show your 5 or 10 second ad a few times a day. Would Youtube allow that or would they see it as the content provider cutting them out of the loop?
 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
did you and your team see anything from the streaming distribution of your movies? I mean, was it enough so that if you wanted to you could take some of the regulars around here to lunch sometime if you wanted to, and if so, do you know of any good Italian places?
The short answer to this is yes :)
We see revenue every month - it's not huge but the next payment will come through tomorrow (I know because they tell me).

This is code for don't quit your day job right?
Pretty much, yeah, UNLESS you figure out a way that you can make it work. Which of course depends not just on how much you can earn but also what your fixed expenses are.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
James, everything you suggest is a valid, tested method of getting
people to watch a movie. Marketing is the key and there are nearly
limitless way to market a movie.
One thing is certain and that is that the internet offers free marketing. Anyone can promote anything, but like anything, there are people who are good at this and some who aren't.

You are correct. Most filmmakers aren't good at it. It takes far more
energy, time and skill to promote a movie than it does to make a movie.
And now there are so many more avenues available.

I see no reason why your YouTube suggestion isn't possible.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
It takes far more energy, time and skill to promote a movie than it does to make a movie.

that seems like a wild thing to say.
I bet someone could learn the skill of becoming a great marketer in a decade of hard work.

For movies, editors are interns for 8 years, twice what it takes for a college degree and thats just editing...
You have to add on a lot more when it comes to the skill of making a movie.

The skill of becoming a writer, a cinematographer, a director, there's so many areas of gatekeeping.
I find it hard to believe that all of that combined is dwarfed by the massive skill required for promoting something
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
A wild thing to say for sure.

There are so many terrific movies out there that no one has ever seen because
the (fill in the blank - writer, director, cinematographer...) filmmaker doesn't have
the energy, time and skill to market it.

I, too, would bet that someone could learn the skill of becoming a great marketer
in a decade of hard work. I would even say someone could learn the skill of becoming
a great marketer in a two years of hard work. Most filmmakers I know don't take that
time - they want to make movies, not market them.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
A wild thing to say for sure.

There are so many terrific movies out there that no one has ever seen because
the (fill in the blank - writer, director, cinematographer...) filmmaker doesn't have
the energy, time and skill to market it.

I, too, would bet that someone could learn the skill of becoming a great marketer
in a decade of hard work. I would even say someone could learn the skill of becoming
a great marketer in a two years of hard work. Most filmmakers I know don't take that
time - they want to make movies, not market them.
Yeah the lack of passion for marketing is definitely a thing.

I knew this one guy that was on a semi-viral video on youtube, some sports match where he said that it was raining touchdowns or raining homeruns or something -- the point is that he had a business card made with a tiny URL and a QR code so he could hand them out to everyone he met in real life.

How many of us do that, just go around handing out business cards to everyone we pass in the grocery store?
It's interesting to think about.
 
I think there is money to be made in microbudget filmmaker. However two biggest mistakes I see filmmakers make are 1) Distribute 2) Marketing. You need a distribution plan. Streaming only should only be secondary revenue. You need a theatrical release. It will validate your film, you as a filmmaker and you will have a opportunity to recover most of your revenue and or break even with a theatrical release compared to screaming. And remember , marketing cost is a 100% tax write off.
 
I don't know the answer to this, but I wonder, in today's Indie climate, is there greater change at realizing a financial reward by making a 90 minute feature or 9 - ten minute episodes telling the same story as the 90 minute feature? See what I mean? 8 smaller pieces altered slightly to connect to each other plus a 9th piece to conclude the story. This would be something geared toward Youtube audiences.
I think as a ONE-OFF exercise? No. But as an ONGOING exercise i.e., a YouTube Channel? Could work but it's gotta be good and not just a series of short films either that tell a story... I've been studying YouTube off and on for years... Successful channels only. There's a certain structure you definitely have to figure out.
 
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On Youtube, is it possible to have a popular channel show a 5 second ad for a movie? Approach the content producer and offer them some amount of money to show your 5 or 10 second ad a few times a day. Would Youtube allow that or would they see it as the content provider cutting them out of the loop?
You could totally do that, but it becomes a sponsored video which can sometimes cut into the creator's ad revenue. However, you can also create a short trailer, and run your own ad campaign with that. The drawback is that YouTube decides who gets to see your ad, but if the campaign is built right, it could work.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
All kinds of youtube videos have embedded ads, go watch a podcast on youtube -they've all got them.
Heres the sunny podcast that came out today, jump to 18 minutes and you'll see exactly what I mean

 
I think there is money to be made in microbudget filmmaker. However two biggest mistakes I see filmmakers make are 1) Distribute 2) Marketing.
Yeah, I think those are key BUT I also think that microbudget film makers have to remember who they are. Stop trying to be like Hollywood. Stop trying to impress the industry by showing how well you can copy their storylines or lighting or camera angles because, 1. You can't copy them. They are the best and they are not impressed. Why would they be? 2. Decide who and what you are. I mean, are you a storyteller or some guy with a copy of After Effects trying to impress people with your use of a lightning plug-up or muzzle flash plug in or use of greenscreen. In other words, stop trying to kiss their asses and be yourself. Some of the best movies I've seen in the 70s thru 90s were from film makers doing their own thing.... and here's something else I believe; doing 'your thing' better be pretty original if you want anyone to notice you. Did you eve see any of these movies: Kids, Bully, Spanking the Monkey, Let's scare Jessica to death, 13? Great films that I found to be unique if not original.
 
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