I’m not a prolific blogger. I wouldn’t call myself a prolific filmmaker either. You won’t find my films in theaters or rental houses. You probably won’t see them at festivals. 75% of my films you’ll probably never see, but if you follow me on Vimeo or you follow my company Red Futon Films, you might see a few things here and there, but they won’t be mainstream fare. And that’s okay because this is my plan- while you may never see my films, they’re getting made and the right audience is seeing them and in all cases, they’re paid for.
I’m really turned off by the traditional film distribution/indie film model. It’s got this vibe and aura surrounding it that I never want to be a part of. It has a post-student/emo/half-music video feel. I’m not talking about just the technical merits of poor audio, bad lighting, horrible if non-existent color correction etc. The philosophy also turns me off. Wearing funny hats, retro clothing, asking friends and family to bone up several thousand dollars so you you friends can make the next dramatic Sundance hit it your buddy’s livingroom. Yeah not so much.
Maybe I came in to the game late- from a broadcast world of technical requirements, specs, standards- editing on tape and shooting with huge cameras in large studios with paid professionals. I entered when (as I’ve been reading/told) money dried up for indies, festivals were dominated by $1M “low-budget” films with real directors, rental houses were being killed off my Netflix etc. I never worked in that old film world so I don’t know. I came from broadcast- but I’m doing filmmaking now.
It started as a fluke. I got a full time job outside of media. They realized I had skills and started having me do media things. I met people, started travelling and filming. I’m blessed. I work hard for the gigs I get, but getting into it was less effort. In fact, i didn’t WANT to do this when got the job outside of media. But when you love something and it’s given back to you, you really can’t keep away. But like any good broadcaster, I film for my AUDIENCE. I don’t film for me.
Yes, I love it, but if I do it for me, I fall into the black-haired, big glasses, wool sweater, artsy, no-money, filmmaker lifestyle. One that’s about my story, my creative control, my film. Not my audience. It’s drilled into when you start: audience, audience, audience. From a broadcasting standpoint; no audience, no advertising, no advertising, no dollars, you go under. (Reason 1 your local radio station changes formats every year).
Find Audience. Make Film.
Filmmaking is the same. But it’s not necessarily dollars- yes, you need those to get it off the ground and out to your audience- But it’s AUDIENCE. If you have no audience to watch it, what’s the point? They’ll never see your new creation and you’ll nevery get paid. They’re not going to flock to your next half-assed mumblecore flick- rarely is a movie ever that good. So it’s fairly basic: Identify your audience, write/film something they’ll love. Market the hell out of it every way you can.
Which brings me to my last point: Distribution. The cheapest way to distribute now is online. If you plan accordingly, you can make money and your audience can see it. There are more qualified people to talk on this so I won’t say much but audiences are yes, gathering at the next big blockbuster, but also so fragmented and niche-ified online, you can go where they are will a film about something they love. So try it next time.
I meant to talk about some other things, like how I’m doing it, but I just sort of started writing. So instead of “Make Film > Find Audience” Try it this way: “Find Audience > Make film”