Every couple of months I get together with a small group of people working in the indie film scene. We talk shop, shoot the breeze, and share some laughs. This past meeting there was a lot of talk about finding new online revenue streams for indie films.
Digital movie distribution and search engine marketing (SEM) were the hot topics of the night along with flaming cockroach rounds. We were told lighting 151 was illegal for bartenders in most places and last call was officially 1:45 AM, this was not most places; the bar kept going for after hours and listening to other producer’s ideas on distribution was interesting.
I always try my best to stay current on distribution. Slice Of Americana Films has been fortunate enough to land traditional output deals (some we made good money on and others not so much) with other companies for our content through DVD, video-on-demand (VOD), and distribution for mobile devices.
We have sold every project we have produced knock on wood. It has been a valuable experience for me and continues to sharpen my perspective on producing entertainment content from the business side. Being able to find distribution outlets for independently produced entertainment is not hard with the explosion of digital movie distribution.
The more difficult part of the online entertainment revolution is finding a way to monetize your content. An indie producer that does not need to make money from their efforts can give away their titles free online by uploading them to video sharing sites. Most indie filmmakers I have met need to earn money from their creative efforts to make a living.
One producer shared that she was planning to a shoot a full-length indie film for $35,000 using a cast of non-union actors and crew, which in itself is common for an indie project, but half of that budget was going to be spent on search engine marketing efforts. This was not a common production path a lot of filmmakers take. She was one of the few indie filmmakers I have met that wrote a script with online marketing already included as half of the entire production budget.
She is banking on her SEM investment to pay off by getting online traffic to the film blog. The blog will be selling only digital downloads of her movie to online viewers for a modest fee. More and more indie filmmakers are shying away from signing traditional distribution deals because in most cases they are the last to see any money. Digital content distribution is making it possible for an indie producer to control every aspect of marketing and selling their content. It is like being in total control of a mini-studio without the expensive overhead.
The mean and lean online distribution model for indie producers is taking shape across the globe. It used to be you would just shoot and edit your movie, now you can also choose to self-distribute. Tim Beachum (The SEO Bully) has edited and coproduced a lot of projects with me for Slice Of Americana Films. He is much more into online marketing trends than I am. Besides his involvement in the entertainment business, he runs a successful SEO marketing firm and has clients in many different industries.
As a producer I am finally realizing how important is for me to utilize online marketing tactics to connect with viewers. I have recently completed two scripts, Internet Predator and The Seventh Day based on ideas Tim had. What makes shooting these two movies so different for me is the overall method. The storylines are for online viewers that want an interactive viewing experience.
I can’t give up all the other elements we are going to use, but there will be a fresh take on how we are going to use product placement much different than studios that show a brand of tequila or snack food in a scene. The distribution approach is going to be supported by an aggressive SEM campaign that is ongoing. Tim tried to explain it all to me, but it was like he was speaking computer jargon Greek to me.
Internet Predator and The Seventh Day are being shot back to back in Virginia Beach, VA with a small cast, 4 universal locations, and documentary size crew. These will be the first psychological thriller movies that we are going to produce at Slice Of Americana Films. They are being produced for both online viewers and online advertisers. What’s cool is we already have advertisers that have paid for product placement before we begin shooting. Why pay upfront? We are able to attract advertisers after they learn how we are going to promote their brand in Internet Predator and The Seventh Day in a cool way.
The distribution platform we are using is going to put an equal amount of emphasis on digital VOD downloads and DVD. That’s my call and I could like a fool for even bothering with DVD. I personally don’t think DVD is a dead format yet. This is completely my opinion. I think indie producers that have their own DVD’s replicated can still make cash.
I do see digital movie distribution as a bigger cash cow than DVD. There is no manufacturing of product or inventory to carry and ship, which keeps distribution costs down. Slice Of Americana Films is not going to sell any distribution rights to these next two movies. We are going to turn a nice profit with product placement and self-distribution sales. The engine to this plan is SEM. This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing SEM:
Categories: SEO For Filmmakers Tags: 151, Digital movie distribution, digital VOD downloads, flaming cockroach, indie film scene, Internet Predator, mobile distribution for portable devices, new online revenue streams for indie films, online entertainment revolution, Search Engine Marketing, search engine marketing efforts, SEM, SEM investment, Sid Kali, Slice of Americana Films