The Online Presence

I’m going to change gears a little bit with DIY distribution to talk more about online presence. At Ingen Pictures, we are filming our first web series now. It has been an exciting process, and we hope that it will better our company. We will be airing it on youtube, but decided to do a hybrid between youtube styled video and a television show to accommodate our mixed targeted audience of youtubers and traditionals. So, I decided to not only write about our experience of making this new series and how it works out in the long run but to also write about all of the research I will be doing regarding that series. So here it goes…

I think one of the greatest things about making online content is you are not controlled by the network OR by distributors OR by the market. If you’ve ever worked with a television network, you know that they have the final say and will manipulate the content however they please. It is a VERY frustrating process for the artist. It’s about what will sell for the highest ratings. With the internet, all of sudden we have a freedom to develop content that no one has ever seen before…ORIGINAL. If you are passionate about one thing in particular, create content around that. Go with what you know and what you love when you write the story.

Next, who is your audience? It’s always best to have a niche audience to target. You can start with that niche audience and then hope it grows outward from there. Come up with a plan before you start filming….or as soon as possible.

The Tom Cruise blog is a great read. When talking about how important the story is, it states:

Mike Ajakwe jr, founder and Executive Director of The LA Web Series Festival, has watched more than 500 web series. He’s endured and enjoyed more web originals than most mortals, and he is unequivocal about what works: “The story has to move. The same rules of film, television and theater apply. You want a three-act structure—a beginning, a middle and an end. Every scene must mean something, must drive the story forward,” he says. ”You can have a show that looks great, but if it’s not about anything, then it’s not taking your audience anywhere.”

Felicia Day is the creator of probably the most successful webseries to date, the Guild. In her blog  she writes that four questions should be asked before you start. How is my project unique to the Web? How is my series unique to ME? Who is my audience and how will I reach them? Do I Know what I’m getting into?

A great quote clarifying just how important the audience is from Felicia Day’s blog: “If you can’t sit down and easily identify what kind of person will like your show and name 5 places that person might go to on the internet, you will have a hard time getting the word out, no matter how good it is.”

Two great guides are: How to Build An Audience For Your Web Series and Youtube Creator Playbook. You can download both of these books. I will write separate articles about these reads coming up.

Michael Henry’s blog post about the formation of his production company Quandary Productions and the making/promotion of his latest film “I Work” is a great read about the importance of online presence and the importance of getting creative with your advertisement. They took their advertising to another level of creativity. And…it seemed to work. He made a great point: he took a much needed break after filming to travel. It gave him some time to gain inspiration and motivation again to push through post production. After he finished post, he had a one time premiere at a local school. At that point, he had only promoted the film locally, but directly after the screening, he set off to travel Southeast Asia for 7 months. He was able to build his plan over those 7 months, not to mention the reach expanded to worldwide while he met people from all over the world on his trip. Michael Henry posts, “Over the course of the seven months I slowly built a strong Twitter following, set up the Quandary Productions Filmmaker Support Scheme, made the decision to support charities around the world which we had visited, with 5% of all our profits, and made a thorough list of promotional material I would release in order to get the film the attention we felt it deserved. When we returned, all the hard work paid off. We made back the (modest) budget in the first ten minutes of release, and ‘I WORK’ has started to receive something of a cult-following online.”

Now they are using their online following to support a kickstarter (but on their personal website) for their future projects. In this article, he writes about utilizing social media at every step of production. People love to watch behind the scenes, so even before filming begins, flood (or generously post) about casting announcements, crew announcements, thoughts, or any message pertaining to the film. During production, keeping an on-set blog up-to-date peaking interests. Post messages, announcements, pictures, anecdotes, actor and crew profiles or even short clips of video. Make sure to have varieties of high resolution press photos, allowing the media to easily write up a story about the production. Remember publicity is free advertisement!

Coming to the bottom line, online presence is what will propel your filmmaking products beyond anything in the past. If you utilize to its potential, you can truly make something powerful move. Remember as filmmakers, all we dream for is to get as many people as possible to view our work. Now we have the opportunity via the world wide web. Let’s figure out how to make it work for us.

Have you had the web help you with your film? Or have you heard of it hurting someone’s film? Do you know of any success stories? Looking forward to your comments below.

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