9 May 2011

Sci Fi Genre Filmmaking Day

Recently I was invited to Sci Fi London's Genre Filmmaking Day as part of the festival this year. It was a fantastic day full of interesting panels from different aspects of the industry, distribution, crowdfunding, storytelling.
The only real shame was that so few producers and filmmakers turned up for it (the cinema was about a third full). I highly recommend as something to look out for in 2012, the speakers were a really high level and the lack of a big audience meant that chatting to them afterwards about your projects and getting feedback was much easier.
Here are my notes from the day, they were really for my own use, but I thought someone out there might find something useful!
Especially if you are into low/micro budget filmmaking. Dont miss it next year!

Brought to you by

Sci Fi Genre Film Making Day – put on by Sci Fi London Film Festival 2011
(Unfortunately missed Simon Guerrier and Sable Jak speak about telling the story and writing the fantasy film).

Nic Wistreich – Co Founded Netribution and in 2007 wrote How to Fund your Film sold it details more than 1000 film funds and incentives in over 40 countries.
Gregory Vincent – creator of which is the European equivalent of Kickstarter
Corine Dhondee – Director of Queens Suite (documentary) who raised funds for the film via Kickstarter
Tessa Inkelaar – Producer/Script Developer at Bonepalace Pictures & Production Assistant at Film London for the Microwave scheme
Mark Stolaroff – Film producer and founder of No Budget Film School Producer of Pig which was showing at the festival.

Kickstarter Stats
45% success rate
1700 Films funded so far
100,000k for 6 six projects (2 features, 4 doc’s)

Don’t expect your crowdfunding to bring money into your film. Its better used a tool to promote and the money is a bonus. Mark Stolaroff was very much in this camp and he said that the final figures for Pig were raised this way. He mentioned that crowdfunding $ is also called ‘stranger dollars’ in US.

To really get a kick, try to get on the homepage of the online funding site. It will boost your viewers and you’ll have more chance of being funded by people who are part of the kickstarter community.

Downside is kickstarter is in US dollars (difficult for UK & Europe, as the conversion rates are expensive, paypal charges extra fees and people believe they’re giving £50 when instead they are giving $50 US). I’ve experience this before and also paypal takes a cut, plus the banks do as well for the conversions. So in reality a donation of 50, is $50US which then converted and fees taken out is more likely to equal £25-30.

Mark found that with Pig they were equally funded through their website, as through kickstarter. So make sure you enable people to put money in through bank transfers and various means not just the funding site.
Offering good perks is important $25 for a dvd plus t-shirt plus extra.
Corine, said to sell everything as she did, – sell your cast & crew’s abilities as prizes. She also stressed that the cast and crew need to take ownership of the project. It’s the only way you will get past your immediate network and out to other networks. Once they do this, you need to let them push the project.

Eg. Email, inform your immediate social Network – then go to – Friends of Friends and Friends of Friends of Friends……etc

You can also have the option of putting your project on the sites several times. Once for startup funding, then again for completion funding but make sure your perks match the stage you are trying to fund.

You need to make sure that you followup everyday, update the page, update the funders, spread the word by using bigger blogs to do articles on your project. Write articles about your project, about the websites you’re funding too. Mark being head of the No Budget Film School, wrote an article about Kickstarter and got it published in several big blogs. The article was really to push Pig’s page, but he focused on how kickstarter came about and what it was, then brought in mention of his project being on there.
Be creative in getting the word out!

The Microwave scheme (see their website for more info)
They will only fund films of £120,000 budget.
They will give only £60,000
Approach with a script and director who has good credentials. (This means a director who has worked commercially in music videos, or more recognized and award winning short films.)
Crowdfunding began with Robert Greenwalt, who had a large following from previous films and decided to ‘pre-sell’ his next film to his following.
He raised $300,000 in 10 days from four 4 emails (although he sent out around 150,000 emails).

30 days seems to be the ideal time for crowdfunding a feature. Any longer and the project starts to lag. (according to Mark and Corine).

Hit potential investors 3 times;
1 To tell them about the project
2 To remind them
3 To followup and remind about the deadline.

1 Month, there will be lag in the middle but go hard and go strong.

Try to get onto the Front Page of whatever funding website you are part of. Sponsume is good right now as it is smaller and growing, easier to get onto their front page, wheras Kickstarter is massive and growing every day – therefore making chances of hitting the front page a lot harder.

A couple of Sponsume projects are getting sponsors to match their donations.
Creative Scotland is looking at doing the same thing soon.

Its about a network, building your network, keeping your network and informing them.
Write your emails to different communities, and make it personal to certain people. If you do all the work before hand and then you can just send them out.

MICRO PRESALES – crowdfunding is essentially that.
Reasons to do Crowdfunding on a crowdsource website (indiegogo, sponsorme, kickstarter).
1 Test the Audience – do they like the concept? Is there Interest? If not maybe you should reconsider the project
2 Marketing & Collaborations – You never know who will offer to help out and what they might have to help your project. Printing companies, locations, contacts etc.
3 Money is the last thing you should do it for.

Next Event on the Agenda was;

Social Media Marketing
Tom Hunter - in association with Spread the Word, talks Social Media Marketing: the tools, the techniques and how it all comes together. Tom is a marketing and PR specialist with a background in the arts & cultural sector. He is also the current director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature.

Build a tribe!
(Note must check out what Omelet is doing in the US – Branded Content).

Check out and Daily Motion for up to date info on social media.
Social media is NOT FOR MARKETING!!!!
Social media is for building, joining and participating in communities!

Twitter is for older (29 upwards) professionals
Linked In as well.
Wheras Facebook is for younger audiences.

Ask yourself ‘What do I want to achieve?’

You are all creatives – play, experiment with different ways of media

Give permission to not have to DO EVERYTHING.

Best way to market your film project, is to use existing communities that would be interested in your project, instead of trying to create a community yourself. Find a group, join them, add in your project. Don’t overload them. Its about sharing information. If you are honest and upfront, whilst also contributing to their interests they will be happy to help.
For example on Twitter ask people to pls RT your tweet.
(Keep in mind that it should be short and sharp as more people RT, more the message drops off as only 140 characters are allowed)

Also always share good links, help others, bring the community aspect into it. People are not always interested in YOU! (Remember those tweets from people who only write about themselves, and their projects and eventually you stop following because they are SO ANNOYING?)
Its about adding to the pool and contributing to the community by RT’ing others and adding information, not just your own projects.

For Twitter newbies, start by LISTENING to conversations. Get a feel for it.

Then start to format an idea of:
- the message you want to send out
- the tone of your messages
- who’s talking
- whats of interest

Then think of twitter like a pub conversation between two people about crazy cat videos, don’t barge into it, and tell them about your crazy cat video, but start by RT’ing theirs, talking to them about it and then mention yours. Don’t barge in.

1/10 tweets should be about your message/project.

You can schedule these using Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and others in your lunch hour!

*NB. Google is optimized for Audio and favours the audio links.
Audioboo is twitter with audio
You could use it for:
Dialogue from the film
Fragments of the score

Also try Google Alerts

Thank you for the talk
@clarkeaward @idiottrends
Look at @documentally he is amazing with being on every social media platform.

Go to people who HAVE followers, Don’t do PULL marketing, Work others who have the followings!

Low Budget Film Distribution
Mark Stolaroff of No Budget Film School

Mark used to work for Next Wave Films helping on finishing funds, and distribution.

Mark produced PIG $50-60,000

Reasons not to try traditional distribution
- more films
- less sales
- less advances
- no $ beyond advance

Everyone needs a business plan for their film.

PLAN A - Traditional Distribution
Licence to distribute in overall deal with advance covers cost
- You sell your project for 15-25 years
- You have no control over marketing & distribution
- You only get paid if they’re honest and if you live long enough
- You don’t know who’s buying your film or who’s interested

PLAN B – Hybrid Distribution
- Control all rights and partner with the best companies in each distribution channel
- Sell directly to core audience
- Increase control and profit margin
- Relies on creating a custom marketing plan and marketing to your audience
- Higher profit on sale
- Control over accounting and money
- Control over marking, distribution, P & A
- Best partners in each market
- Names and email address of your audience – so you can follow up in the future
- Empowering approach

If you do decide to go on your own with distribution you need to make sure you are found by your audience:

Service deals – where you hire a distributor to distribute the film. Loads of big US films are doing this now and distributors are offering it too.

You could have semi or nontheatrical – one night only event where you get the filmmakers to do a Q&A, then promote the film using merchandise outside the cinema.

VOD – Cable and Net

TV VOD (cable like sundance, syfy) You could get a sales agent to do this.

DVD retail (stores, Netflix, lovefilm) direct

Digital downloads/streaming

- Reach buyers
- Seal of approval (playing at festivals, winning awards)
- Press – hire a press agent
- Spread the buzz
- Thrusts your film into the zeigeist
- Crucial marketing info. Who likes it and why.
(use exciting and innovative marketing, ‘have you seen this man posters’, badges, cards, posters)

- Discover, aggregate, nuture
- Smaller and more fragmented
- Not demographics – niches
- Audience don’t care how good your movie is
- Build communities of fans, engage and inspire
- Social media – viral, ARG
- Loyal & passionate – spread the word “1000 true fans”
- Broad categories – drilldown and engage
- Organisations, blogs, traditional press, zines, FB, conventions
- Opt-In Email list

The film doesn’t have to be perfect – just make it a BOLD statement.

Kobi Prempeh – Creative Director at a dynamic platform for world cinema, indie films and international documentaries as well as a range of short movies and other types of audio-visual content
Jerome Mazandrani, self-appointed 'King Geek' at Manga UK/ABE UK who has the coolest job in the world! He buys new animated TV series and movies and live-action movies from Asia, North America and Europe for UK distribution.
Mike Hewitt – Home Entertainment Marketing Manager at Revolver Entertainment one of the leading independents in the UK and a multi-award winning, marketing-led all rights distributor who, in recent years, have shaken up the industry with a unique approach to managing releases

Always think about the distributor from start

Preselling territories
Go into Tesco and see films that go direct to video most of those are impulse buys for the customer. Check out those films.

It’s a same day release of:
Mike said it worked really well for their film Mum and Dad.
It also potentially brings down the level of piracy.

Check out Black Death

A recent experiment, where they did a pre-release on VOD before theatrical release didn’t work so well.

Projector TV covers Edinburgh, so you can see films during the festival streaming live for £4-5 per film.

“We don’t necessarily pick up good films, we pick up films we’re gonna sell” Revolver

Thank you to Louis Savy and the Sci Fi London Team 2011

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