How To Sell Your Indie Movie With iTunes, Amazon and Netflix For Maximum Profit

If you’ve made a feature film, congratulations! As an independent filmmaker, you’ve just accomplished a feat that many find impossible. But behind all the excitement, you and I both know there is one nagging question on your mind. And it is the same question asked by every independent feature filmmaker. You’re wondering: “How am I going to sell this thing?”

That is a good question. And if you’re crossing your fingers for a huge paycheck and a three-picture Hollywood deal, what I’m about to tell you is going to be very different than what you had hoped for.

Thanks to technology, any person with a thousand dollars can grab an HD camera and create a backyard indie. And while this does not guarantee quality, it does create a market flooded with cheaply produced movies. Couple this with a decline in traditional sales channels and your odds of finding a profitable deal have become increasingly challenging.

For most filmmakers, this revelation comes as a shock. After all the work you put into making your movie project a reality, the prospect of putting a no-deal DVD onto a bookshelf and failing to get a return on investment is discouraging. And if it wasn’t for the internet, I’d probably tell you that a career selling life insurance wouldn’t be too bad.

But I have good news! Like you, our first feature was met with empty distribution promises and crappy deals. So by necessity, we started selling our title on Amazon as both a physical DVD and a video on demand download. At first, none of the producers liked that idea. I mean, even if a traditional deal sucks, at least there is still validation of seeing your title on the shelves at the local video store…

Then we made our first sale. We thought it was an anomaly. How could we possibly make money with our movie? We had no stars. We had no formal distribution. And most people on earth had never heard of our title (including you.) But then we made another sale… And then a third… And then a dozen…

That was 2006. Since that time, our movie has sold in ways we never imagined. As a result, every four months I get a nice check. And while it’s not enough money to buy my retirement, I can’t complain.

This success was enough to convince me that making money as an indie filmmaker is no longer about the BIG pay day. These days filmmakers need to create good work, find their target audience and focus on selling movies consistently over time. As a result, I now believe the modern moviemaking model is to eventually create multiple streams of movie income.

For many filmmakers, this sort of talk might be crazy.

Think about it. In years past, filmmakers only self distributed their movies when they had to. It wasn’t a choice! But these days, filmmakers can choose to self-distribute, because 9 times out of 10, making your title available on Amazon and iTunes and other popular VOD marketplaces can potentially pay more than a traditional deal. Because a deal that pays zero is not a deal. (Of course I’m expressing my opinion.)

The following “How To Sell Your Movie” checklist will provide you with a broad overview of how to market and sell your movie without the middle-man. Also, wherever I thought it would help, I have mentioned some of my partner companies. This means if you utilize any of these services, there is a possibility I will receive compensation. This will not affect your purchase price. That said, let’s get started!

How To Sell Your Movie – Check list

1. Create a website specific to your movie. Research various hosting companies and grab hosting for your site and reserve your domain name there. When you purchase your hosting, a domain name is usually included in the purchase price.

2. Branding is the marketing equivalent of matching your belt with your shoes. Don’t make your marketing complicated. Make sure your colors, logos, posters and fonts are consistent.

3. Most filmmakers make a crazy website with all sorts of bells and whistles. Your website should be simple. You should have a trailer, an about page, a buy now button, links to your social networks and an audience list.

4. Out of everything I mention, getting people onto your opt-in audience list is most important. An audience list will allow you to collect a name and email address of your visitor.

5. Take a moment to think about your target audience. Hopefully you have a marketable hook for your movie, and a plan for reaching your target demographic. If not, figure it out!

6. Get your movie selling as a Video on Demand rental and download. Upload your movie to the many VOD marketplaces, such as iTunes, Amazon and NetFlix. To make this easy, research a company called Distribber. Tell them I sent you.

7. You can sell DVDs too. Amazon’s Create Space makes this easy. And even though it’s more expensive, I advise you to stay out of the shipping business. Let CS manufacture your DVDs and fulfill your orders on demand. This way, you can focus on increasing your sales, as well as your next movie projects. Not shipping.

8. Your trailer is your sales tool. Upload your trailer to YouTube as well as other, popular video sites. Make sure your trailer mentions your website. Put your focus on optimizing YouTube. Why? Because YouTube is both a social network and the second largest search engine on earth (also owned by Google.) It’s worth it!

9. Write press releases related to the availability of your movie. Include back links to your site. Send the release out via one of the online press release submission sites. In addition to this, don’t be afraid to call magazine editors and journalists who write for your target audience. As they say, if you don’t ask – you don’t get!

10. Join online forums related to your target market. Create a profile, complete with a signature link to your website. Now, whenever you join a conversation, you’ll spread your links.

11. Just because you’re in a forum doesn’t mean people care about you or your movie. If you join conversations without adding value – or if you become one of those spam happy people who talk about your movie and fail to add value to the discussion, you will be seen as a spammer.

12. If the idea of contributing to forum conversations annoys you, then just pay for advertising on the site. The whole point is to increase awareness of your movie and get prospective audience members to your site.

13. Create a Facebook page, a Twitter account and join the popular social networking sites. Again, you’ll want to build a fan base for your movie. And to manage it, try http://www.Ping.Fm This tool allows you to update all your social networking sites at once, which is cool!

14. The purpose of using social networks is to connect with your target market, spread word about your movie and once again, lead people off the networks and onto your Audience list.

15. The reason you can not rely solely on social networking for your audience list, is because many of those sites have gone out of vogue. I lost 10K “friends” on one of them. As a result, I estimate this tip is worth $100,000.00.

16. Additionally, have your webmaster put a button on your website so people can tweet, bookmark, and share your movie website with friends on their social networking sites. (Can you please click the tweet button at the top of this article?)

17. If you have the budget, purchase some offline advertising in publications related to your movie. To find related publications, go to a book store and look for magazines. Also, try Google.

18. All of these methods are intended to get people back to your website. The purpose of your site is to get people to watch your movie trailer and click the BUY NOW button. Anything that distracts these visitors must go!

19. You’ll soon realize that most people will not buy your movie on their first visit to your website. If they don’t click, then at least try to get them to opt into your audience list. Then you have a chance of getting them to buy later.

22. Out of all the people who click the BUY NOW button, many won’t buy. But some will!

23. Consider using that money to purchase more advertising and then repeat the cycle. The goal is to keep investing and reinvesting the money until you produce a self sustaining machine.

24. Sales will tend to level off after a few years. This is the normal. When this happens, find some other filmmakers with a movie geared towards the same target audience. Offer to promote their movie to your audience list. If these other filmmakers have an audience list too, ask them to promote your movie. Be willing to pay them a cut of your profits.

25. Time for your next project. But unlike before, you’ll have a strong mailing list at your disposal. And as a result, you can now ask yourself the following magical questions: “How many VOD downloads do I have to sell to recoup my investment? And how am I going to sell them?” Answer those questions, and you’ll also be talking the talk with your investors.

Writing a Novel, Screenwriting, and Bar Scenes From a Movie

Writing a novel, screenwriting, and bar scenes from a movie are entertaining. Writing a novel based on an existing movie screenplay is not the most common approach writers choose to take. It goes against the grain of how it usually works. Many entertaining novels have been adapted for the movies by screenwriters. Sometimes it works and other times people that have read the novel are disappointed with the movie.

I have caught myself saying, “I thought the novel was way better” and other times I think the movie was good or even better than the book it was adapted from. I love screenwriting, producing, and directing movies. It does provide a creative rush to see an idea you had for a movie really happen and not stay the person always talking about making a movie, but never taking action to move forward.

Almost everybody in the entertainment business knows someone that talks about a hot movie idea, but never writes the screenplay. They might write a detailed movie treatment and it goes no further than that. End of story. Nobody likes to see themselves as that person that never goes all in with their idea. The roles were reversed on me lately.

I was out with friends not wanting to think about anything on a deep level or business. Just wanted to relax and enjoy the moment of what was happening as it came. Like a script page out of a bar scene from a movie I get cornered by that one person that always somehow shows up you know is going to talk your ear off about something. In this case it was their hot movie concept they had been pitching for years. There never is a finished script or treatment, only ideas coming at you like machine gun fire. What if this? What if that?

Politeness beats rudeness. I shot straight with her that I could not afford the time and energy to write a spec screenplay and bet on the come she would find the money to produce it in order to pay me later. We have known each other for years, but in a very casual sense. The reversal happened when she reminded me that over the years I have talked about always wanting to write a novel and have not done it. If I told her about my aspiring novelist dreams, I can only imagine how many times I must have said it to family and close friends over the years.

She was right. I had not done it and only talked about it. Writing short fiction was my transition to screenwriting, but I skipped something I have always wanted to do – write a novel. I have finally committed to completing a novel that is based on a screenplay I wrote titled Crazy Love Story that fell out of production. Writing a novel is a different process that has taken getting used to.

The biggest difference for me as a filmmaker is the level of lucid description that is needed to draw in readers and paint a picture in their mind. With movies people see the story being played out visually. Viewers can see what a character and location looks like. In novels the writer needs to be able to describe in only words the world they have created. Writing a novel based on an existing movie screenplay is not the most common approach writers choose to take. At least there is going to be that climax when it is done that I finally stopped talking and finished the job of writing a novel. This is filmmaker and aspiring novelist Sid Kali typing FADE OUT

How to Make a Decent Movie

Here are some tips to help you make a movie that may not bring you the Oscar, but that does not get ugly in front of friends:

· First, it is important to have an idea. Put your head to work and try your best to restrict your ideas to what you can do comfortably. Try not to imagine anything much beyond your capabilities.

· Then it’s time to decide some things like if you want an animation movie or have real actors step into the shoes of different characters. You need to decide if you want a silent movie, talking movie, total budget, location and number of people needed etc.

· Then mount a “storyboard” which is nothing more than a plan. Put the lines in order; describe the scenes, the theme and the title. Put it all more or less in order, so you can orient them and remember everything clearly.

· Finally start the project. Start by searching for materials, people and sets etc.

· Finalize the costumes, the sets and dialogues. Let the actors rehearse their lines and you can record that. This will help you identify flaws in the script and your actors also would be able to perfect their dialogues through practice.

· Shoot the scenes slowly. It’s not necessary to shoot them in the same sequence they are going to appear in your film. It’s a good idea to group scenes based on costumes, location and actors; you can shoot all scenes that have stuff in common together. Record short movies if your camera does not have good memory and if necessary, use a list of scenes to check what has been done.

· So it’s time for editing. With a good computer, move the camera scenes to your PC and start editing. If you’re really not experienced with editing, use the Windows standard Movie Maker. Find tutorials for it and then edit the scenes, cut the unnecessary scenes, put scenes in order, add titles, credits and at last add sound effects. There are tons of free stuff available on the internet for novice movie makers; you can use pre-recorded sound sequences, backdrops and also nominal special effects. Make sure you don’t try anything that you know nothing about; you don’t want to spoil the unedited version of your movie.

· Finally convert the project into Avi or another format. Just make sure that the picture quality is not compromised.

· Convert it to a format that can be burnt on to a DVD.

· Burn it on to a blank DVD and your movie is ready!

· Finally, use Photoshop or similar programs to make the cover of your movie.