Keys to surviving the indie filmmaking apocalypse

1. Don't be a slave to film festivals

- Unless they pay you a screening fee, and/or pay for your travel + lodging they can do nothing the internet can’t do better/cheaper for you

- They make money off of you while paying you nothing

-Most film festivals are really sponsor festivals wherein they cater to the sponsors and NOT to the filmmakers (there are always exceptions: Waterloo comes to mind  as a GREAT and REAL festival that is a celebration of films)

- They forbid you from making your film available online which prevents YOU from making money on your film and helps them make money off of it

-If they were really interested in HELPING you and your film WHY would they prevent you from making money on it whilst NOT paying you when they are making money on it? It’s fucking ridiculous!

*My first feature film played at Sundance, the biggest venue there seats about 1000, the biggest “venue” online can “seat” over 1,000,000 and unlike when it plays at the festival you will actually make money!

2. When the official trailer for your film is released the film must be for sale online

- Getting peoples attention online is difficult to do and extremely valuable. 

- So they see your trailer and get excited YET they can’t buy it because its playing in film festivals or you’re trying to build up suspense? Nobody cares! They want it NOW and if they can’t get it most will forget about it... opportunity lost

*The trailer for my first feature film ended up getting over a million views BUT it wasn’t for sale until it already at 800,000 views...that’s 800,000 opportunities lost... people were contacting me ASKING to buy it and my reply was “sorry its playing in festivals it’ll be out later this year” LAME

3. Sell it as cheap and as easy as you can afford online

- Since it worked for Louis C.K. $5 sounds like a good number

-Don’t make the same mistakes Hollywood makes NO DRM, NO REGION RESTRICTIONS, NO OVERPRICING

-No one wants to sign up for a service like Itunes just to buy a movie, just let them use paypal or a credit and be done with it

-It must be as easy or easier than downloading a pirated film and so cheap that buying your film isn’t a big deal to yeh $5 sounds good today

4. Cut out the middlemen

-There is NO NEED to have a middleman when selling your films online... Itunes  takes a %30 cut, forces users to sign up for Itunes, has regional restrictions, charges an encoding fee, forces you to go through an aggregator or distributor who also takes a cut...other services are similar

*I’m using DPD to sell my new film, its a digital product delivery service. They handle all the heavy lifting and act as a seamless interface between you and your audience. You in essence have your own Itunes store with DPD except you can sell ANYTHING you want at whatever price you want and no one takes a cut except for a small processing fee to your payment processing service like paypal.

5. Share the wealth

- Do you want your audience to spread the word about your film? Well then pay them! Do you want your cast and crew to be excited about the success of your no budget film wherein they worked for free? Well then give them a cut!

- Use an affiliate marketing program and allow your audience to get at least a %20 of sales... Give your cast and crew at least %33

- This will in effect turn your audience or anyone else who wants to make a buck into your 24/7 international marketing team...its also good karma ^ ^

*When my first film was at Sundance I had a “sales rep” who was to be  paid $10,000 +%10 from the sale of the was one guy who spoke one language and lived in one city in the U.S

-With an affiliate program for your film you could have 1000 sales reps working only for a % in all the countries of the world and as a whole working tirelessly to promote sales of the film while pocketing some cash for themselves keeping them happy

-Spreading things via word of mouth takes time and energy. Reward the people that do this for you and you will all succeed.

*DPD has a one click affiliate program setup, it takes 30 seconds to setup and does all the heavy lifting for you automatically generating paypal mass  pay to pay your affiliates each month

-I feel better about giving a cut to my cast/crew/audience than I do about giving a cut to some huge rich corporation like Apple or Amazon

-Try before buy

-You must make a FREE streaming version of your film available online, youtube  or vimeo is great for this and don’t plaster it with your own adverts inside of it.

- Give the SD version away for free via youtube etc and sell an HD download

-If people check out the SD version and they like it they’ll WANT to buy the HD version. If they don’t like and they don’t buy no harm done BUT at least you gave them the ability to try it out...some people need to try things out before they buy them and some people might just be too poor to buy it so lets not lock them out eh ^ ^ 

-Your film WILL BE “PIRATED” anyway... at least make it so you control the release. It also shows some good will on your part. If you show that your money  hungry or too desperate people will sense that and pirate it over 9000 times just  to fuck with you ^ ^ 

-Make something extraordinary

-No one cares about your boring documentary on documentaries starring and  directed by you..... or your run of the mill (insert tired genre here) schlock

-If you want the world to notice you without you having to shove an ad in their face everywhere they look like Hollywood does then make something new and  exciting! Then the hyperbole on your movie poster doesn’t have to be a lie.

-The audience is very intelligent and they’ll see through your tricks, the only solution is to make extraordinary stuff... it must be EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD or EXCEPTIONALLY BAD: EXTREMES anything else in between gets ignored: unless your Hollywood and you spend millions to bully people into seeing it with obnoxious ad’s everywhere

-More and more people are growing to hate and resent Hollywood and the MAFIAA so don’t be like them or use their practices please

*I’ve been to a bunch of different countries for film stuff and it saddens me   every time I see some wannabe Hollywood crap in different parts of the world...fucking quit it already! Hollywood fucking sucks so why do you want to copy them?! Money? How is that Mission Impossible ripoff  you made NOT starring Tom Cruise without a 200 million dollar budget  working out for you? “Straight to DVD” aint what it used to be homie!

- Isn’t the word “INDEPENDENT”?

- We need to stop acting like slaves: We need to know our worth and our value

-Stop asking permission...stop waiting for film festivals to let you in the magical circle

-Stop giving money to middlemen you don’t need, instead give a cut to your  audience and your cast and crew- THE PEOPLE WHO REALLY DESERVE IT!

-Brand recognition is overrated these days... many people would rather buy STRAIGHT FROM THE ARTIST rather than through a big company

-It’s easier to pirate stuff from a company than it is from an individual. Go ahead  and hide behind Apple or who ever it just makes people feel less guilty for  grabbing your film via torrent.

This is all stuff I learned failing with my first film WE ARE THE STRANGE. I hope these things help me make my new film HEART STRING MARIONETTE not fail SO hard ^ ^ Here’s to us nobody filmmakers and their lil audiences being successful!

Thanks for your time and if you have any ideas/questions/suggestions relating to all this please feel free to contact me!