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Thoughts on self distributing DVD's?


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15 minutes ago, kaylee said:

+1 these are advanced techniques

Thanks Kaylee. I'm writing a book about it that I trust will be more profitable than the films I make. At the book launch, the plan is have people strapped half way up the auditorium wall, naked. Then, bring in a old world catapult to fire the book they've purchased at them. Whoever gets the biggest welt, gets their copy autographed. And for those want to watch and yell obscene remarks, that's right, I'll be selling tickets.

Drinks at the bar after.

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On 5/24/2018 at 4:47 PM, Liam said:

A travelling filmmaker passed through here a little while ago with his merch and made a decent haul and has a good following from it.

Thanks for the info.  That's interesting.  I would have never thought that would work.

I wish there were more details like how much exactly he is making and where he is peddling his wares.

DVD players are dirt cheap.  I know several people who own them.  A lot of immigrants own region free versions and watch material from their home country.  Well I say "a lot" but that is purely anecdotal.

Xbox and Playstations play DVDs as well.  Half of US households own game consoles.  So between old people, immigrants, and game console owning households I would imagine most people have a device that plays DVDs connected to a TV.  It is weird that people on a video making forum aren't aware of this.  I guess it shows you what kind of an elitist microcosm the independent film maker world is.

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@Damphousse he may not be making tooons, but yeah, it was interesting. I can message you his name if you want. I just don't want that to become part of the discussion here - like is he a hack etc..

And yes! Thank you! Plus like most computers lol, I'm reading this thread kinda baffled.

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On 5/26/2018 at 10:31 AM, Liam said:

@Damphousse he may not be making tooons, but yeah, it was interesting. I can message you his name if you want. I just don't want that to become part of the discussion here - like is he a hack etc..

And yes! Thank you! Plus like most computers lol, I'm reading this thread kinda baffled.

There's a much bigger audience online, but, as you're probably learning quickly, people aren't always as nice!

So the first question is who your audience is. (Online? Festival? Broad? Niche?) The second question is what your goal is with that audience. (Are you doing spec work to get hired to direct at somewhere like Buzzfeed? Trying to build a following for your own unique brand online? Trying to find like-minded creatives to work with or for? Trying to get a technical/craft job or exclusively writer/director?)

The bigger your audience, the more you'll have to stoop to the lowest common denominator. Look at YouTube stars like Pewdiepie and Jake Paul; that's the image of a successful online filmmaker. If your work doesn't resemble that, maybe don't go that route. If you want to direct spec ads, imitate ads and apply to production companies. If you want to direct at Buzzfeed, imitate Buzzfeed videos and apply at Buzzfeed. If you want to go to film school, submit according to the application process. 

But the more niche your voice/its potential audience, the harder it will be to find the audience and the harder it will be to monetize. But also, the more creative freedom you'll have, and hopefully the longer your brand will persist. (There are a few niche web series I love. They don't seem to make much money, but one of them has been around ten years now.)

But even finding your audience is sort of irrelevant unless you're great at marketing.

A family friend used to sell roles in his high school movies to finance them. I think he's now running one of the largest YouTube empires and is making seven figures. Ditto a friend of mine used to sell DVDs and now he runs a very successful corporate video production company. They changed audiences, but their strong sales skills remained. Ultimately it's the same marketing and promotional skills that worked in person that later worked online, and it's more the marketing than the filmmaking that gets you in the door, and then the filmmaking talent that sustains the success. I don't know if I have any talent with video, I hope I do! But I know I don't have much with marketing, or at least I'm uncomfortable with it due to low self-esteem. :/ And frankly not really liking a lot of online content these days or even a lot of theatrical films as much as I used to.

So I won't even be attempting what they did, but my audience is different anyway. We all have different audiences, or maybe we have many audiences for our different projects. I might be doing spec work rather than making a YouTube channel, or I might be applying to festivals... or even getting a PA or low-level job at a company that makes my favorite work just to meet the right people there. Or I had another idea that maybe someone might watch on YouTube. But a letter never goes anywhere if you don't know who to mail it to. If you just want to be internet famous, be a sociopath on YouTube. If you're inspired by a director you really love, reach out to him or her. If you feel you appreciate his or her work better than others, try to work for him or her. Be stubborn about it. Track your heroes down. Find their email. Ask every month to be a PA on a set of theirs. Travel to where they live for an interview. Then hand them that DVD (or script, or Vimeo link) in person. That's your audience of one. This actually works. Regardless of specific tactic (it all depends what you want personally), know your audience and what they want. Your audience might be one person. If you're doing a fan film it might be Marvel fans. If you're doing a camera vlog it might be camera fans. If it's something new... risky, but go for it. Plenty of different approaches depending on your audience. But know them. And know yourself.

Even the festival scene, which is somewhere in the middle of those two options, is all about marketing. I have friends who've gotten into nearly all the top ten festivals and the trick is they're part of that social network and they really really push hard with their applications, even hiring people to promote their films. The other trick is that once you get into a top ten festival, other festivals will ask to program you. The whole festival scene is a bit of a farce, but the farce is simply the disconnect between how they market and what the truth is. Big festivals need content to match their brand, so they're fairly conservative. Even if your brand is "edgy" you have to stay on brand, so it's a conservative approach to edgy. Small festivals need films that played big festivals, so they're even more conservative! (But knowing programmers personally–the DVD route, so the speak, matters here. And I was surprised to learn that a short at a major festival attracts more attention from a talent agency than a Vimeo staff pick and by far.)

The other really sneaky thing is that a lot of the most successful Vimeo videos are actually made with assistance from larger production companies or agencies or post houses, but are marketed as very guerrilla. This isn't always the case, some stories are true, but don't believe everything you read online. (Certainly don't believe me. If I knew what I were saying, I would be working now–not posting this!) But internet platforms aren't all they promise to be; that promise is just the marketing by YouTube and Vimeo to get you to produce content for them so that they can monetize it. The success stories of online filmmakers are their marketing. And they're very good at marketing. And you're their audience. So if you haven't had a lot of success online, maybe try a different route? 

The one thing NOT to believe is that if your work is creative and unique and great others will discover that and flock to you. I saw one of your videos and you have a good voice and should keep doing what you're doing, or exploring what you want to do next, whether it's more of the same or something new. Probably the most original voice I've seen on this forum, but this forum seems mostly to be about image quality and specs. I've seen more creative voices at Slamdance and SXSW and Sundance and Rooftop, for instance. (No offense, perhaps they're just more developed. and I have friends who pay the bills doing corporate and then make really wild and awesome festival films–so you can be interested in both markets for sure.) 

But the idea that people online will immediately recognize what you have to offer and leap to make more of it is a very myopic view. Look at Spielberg's first spec film, it's not a personal story. It's more an example of visual talent and competency. His creative voice developed after he got in the door directing TV. I think Eraserhead is the only example I can think of of a really outsider voice nailing its first landing. People see Jake Paul succeed and assume everyone should see their work and judge it better because of what an asshole Jake Paul is, but that's not how it works. Jake Paul is a genius at what he does. What he does is just act like a high school bully. The Kardashians are geniuses at what they do. But what they do is appeal to lowest common denominator, which is also the biggest audience there is. Don't judge them based on their audience; find a different one.

I'm on time out here for posting incorrect technical information, which I again apologize for. And I feel like I'll probably get some pushback for a lot of the above being factually incorrect; I expect a lot of it is, and I wouldn't take my advice if I were you, since I'm just an anonymous guy online. So take it with a grain of salt. But I do think knowing your audience, knowing how to market your work to them, and knowing how to meet them halfway is crucial. The first thing film schools do is to "normalize" your voice. They look for creative voices then tone them down and improve production value so those voices are tolerable to the other students and faculty and then eventually to festivals. (Although a lot of film schools aren't worth the money, so if you aren't rich, consider that they're also marketing their wares to you and want you to think they're gonna do things for you that maybe they can't. Some are good. But be wary and make sure you apply to the right ones if you do, and you definitely don't have to.) All media are social media, so look at your relationship with your audience as a relationship with a person (or cohort...), whether you make it a real personal relationship (selling DVDs, pursuing your favorite director or production company) or a virtual one. I think maybe this forum isn't the right audience for you (or for me) if we're trying to get into festivals, for instance. If I knew more technical stuff, it might be better for me. Different values. For instance, I have a lot of friends who've gotten into top ten festivals recently with 1080p/2k films, but here I keep getting reminded I need 4k. Both can be true, just for different audiences. (To be fair, some of those were shot at higher resolutions and delivered at 2k DCP... I ate my words once and I'll keep chewing.)

But the festival route is really hard and really slow. (Like filmmaking used to be!) And online feedback is really fast and comes with instant gratification. I don't know if the festival route is right for me, I don't know if anything is, if I even have the talent, or if I do, if there's an audience for it. But I think the replies you're receiving in this thread speak to a disconnect between what you're making and your audience's expectations. (Not to be rude.) So I'd give that some thought. Removed from your current outlets, what are your goals as a filmmaker? Who are your favorite filmmakers? If you could make anything and show it to one person what would it be and who would you show it to?

That's the trick. You're marketing yourself to get into a festival/get YouTube famous/work for your favorite director or at your favorite company. But they're also marketing toward you so you watch their content and believe in their brands. And marketing isn't about the audience or the creator exclusively, it's where the two meet. Know yourself. Know your audience. Meet halfway. 

But also take everything online (including this) with a grain of salt. Online relationships are rarely worth as much as those in person.


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On 26/05/2018 at 9:03 AM, IronFilm said:

Stone tablets must rule the ages!

Sounds like you've spending time with jihadi friends again... and as I remember from your entertaining and insightful location feeds, you've certainly got the beard to fit right in. Well done! ;)

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