Tag Archives: movies

Webseries — Marketing

So you’ve made a webseries, now what?

I am going to list what I believe is most important for the marketing of your webseries. Some may be irrelevant to your project, or you may need additions. Adjust it according to your project.

First and foremost, make a website for your webseries. Place the series on as many sites as possible, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Blip.tv, etc. Different viewers go to different sites, so opening it up to as many people as possible should always be your goal. You should know about youtube’s partnership program that allows you to gain some “sponsorship” from them. They will likely not pay you much, but it is definitely worthwhile.

Maybe try to enter it into film festivals, especially those specializing in new media. I see the publicity for media heavy festivals as publicity within the industry, which can certainly help you with future collaborations.

This is kind of obvious, but make a facebook for the series. Twitter account. Tell your family and friends to share it with their families and friends.

If you find that your locale may be to your advantage, approach local media sources. If not, or in addition to, approach relevant blogs and other similar media sources or possibly any random but somewhat relevant sites on the internet.

Sign up for Cynthia Turner’s cynopsis media for the latest breaking news about everything digital…it’s called Cyn Digi for the sign up. I highly recommend it to stay up to date on the happenings within the industry. It’s the insider’s news source.

Think about attending different new media festivals to meet other artists.

Read read read all that you can about webseries. And watch! Know what else is being aired online. Maybe you can ride the wave with someone else that’s already popular. Or maybe you can fill a void that you believe exists. Maybe there is a wave of content about a subject, but nothing more than news sources about it….and you say to yourself, “how cool would it be if there was a show on this subject?”

This leg of the game is all about putting yourself out there. Be scared, but realize fear can drive you. Come up with other creative ways to get the word out there. Make sure to get people’s opinions on it. Let your audience be interactive with it. Let them feel involved. Who knows, they may be able to help you more than you can imagine.

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Morgan Spurlock’s Tips for Filmmakers

At the Sheffield Doc/Fest, Morgan Spurlock, director and creator of the documentaries Super Size Me and POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold gave some great tips to filmmakers during his film’s panel. Those of us that know the Academy Award nominee from the hills of West Virginia know that he loves to push boundaries in his docs, and he has made quite the name for himself for that very reason. We’ve learned to love him and respect his work. So we certainly appreciate any advice he offers.

If you’re in your own movie, don’t be afraid to cut yourself. He surrounds himself with “no men” those that will honestly tell him what they think. I had a friend and mentor tell me, never be afraid to kill your babies in the editing room. You may love it, especially if you yourself is in the film, but if it’s not absolutely necessary for the movie to progress forward, chop it. ​

Keep it on the fly. They don’t shoot anything multiple times. Everything is shot in real time. Rarely do they use a tripod. ​

Love thy lawyer. Spurlock says, “I love lawyers. A good lawyer will keep you out of trouble. A great one will help you cause it. We want to make sure we can dance as close as possible to that edge of that line, but stay on the side of the law.”

Do what needs to be done. Everybody worked for free on Super Size Me. He did odd jobs during the production to keep it flowing. His grandparents paid for the crew to fly out to the premiere at Sundance. ​

Keep it positive! He recommends keeping a good team surrounding you. Drop all negativity, no matter what. His biggest goal is to always hire people smarter than he is. ​

Envision how you’re going to market the film before completing it. This is something I repeat constantly, both in my own head and in the Filmmaking Blog. I believe it is vital to the success of your film. ​

Listen! Listen to people. Make sure that everyone has the opportunity to chime in whenever possible. ​

Trust your editor. Spurlock says, “If you want to empower the editor, don’t hover over them. The more you leave the room, the more they’re involved, the more they’re invested. That’s the reason all of our editors want to come back. They get a real sense of creative freedom, which makes all the projects better.”​

​Great advice! Do you have any advice you would add to this?

For more on Morgan Spurlock advice, check out this video about his doc POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold How I sold out

photo (10)

​I guess this flips screenwriting to a more literal term than ever before…considering now your writing will never leave the computer screen. That is, unless your audience upgrades to stream videos straight through their TV.

Now that we’ve shot our pilot episode for our webseries, I decided to step back a moment and read all that I can dig up about writing for the internet. Needless to say, I still need to finish the full script for the series. Procrastination is my ultimate enemy when it comes to writing screenplays.

I’m reading a book called, “The Script Selling Game: 2nd Edition” by Kathy Fond Yoneda. It has a new section in the 2nd edition about writing for the web, specifically for web series.

Laurie Scheer says, “The Web audience has a much shorter attention space. Anyone who wants to write Web content has to understand the web audience wants convenience…they want everything in short bites or segments.” What a straight forward and awesome quote to sum up everything you need to know about writing for the web. KISS works here too…keep it simple stupid. Very few hunt for videos online to sit around and watch on their computer for 30 minutes or an hour like they would for television. Not to mention, you have to consider that a 30 minute TV show is actually only 22 minutes. Those breaks in between allow us to get up and do something else that our mind won’t stop pestering us about. Think about how all of us joke that we’re all a little ADD. Our busy lifestyles are flooded with media that pushes us to be scatter brained. Think about how hard it is to convince yourself to sit still for a long period of time…and when we’re talking about 10 minutes watching a single video on the internet, it feels like 30 minutes. Just something to think about when deciding how long to make your episodes…

I’ve been watching a ton of webseries to get to know what’s available on the internet. One thing I’ve noticed is that if I don’t like it within the first 10 or 15 seconds, switch. Onto the next one. Hook your audience, in some form. Many times awesome opening graphics will hook me into at least watching the first 10 or 15 seconds of live action videography before I switch. BUT, if there are opening graphics, and they are terrible, switch. Those first 10 or 15 seconds are SO important when hooking your audience. It is much simpler for me to move on than to sit around and watch another 15 seconds to give it a second chance. There are no second chances on the internet.

In the book I am reading, they discuss the structure of a webisode. “Each webisode much have the following: A beginning (set-up), A middle (conflict or challenge), and an end (in a comedy, it is usually a humorous resolution to a discussion or situation; in a drama it is generally a cliffhanger designed to have the viewer return for the next installment). It is important to remember that the web audience wants to forget where they are and wants to be taken somewhere, even if it is just for that small amount of time while watching a webisode or short. This is what separates a successful web series from being no more than simply random video.”

The book relates the relationship of strong character development importance for a television show to that of a webseries, “…having interesting characters with a unique, quirky or outrageous point of view is every bit as important to a web short, and especially a web series over the course of a season.”

Other points made in the book for writing suggestions are: Comedies are generally less expensive and time consuming to stage and shoot than dramas. Typically webisodes are restricted to one or two scenes that usually take place indoors or a public place that is free to shoot in. They lack large crowds, complex action scenes or battle scenes due to budget. Watch a ton of webseries…good and bad…to get a feel of what works and what doesn’t work. Most successful shows have their own unique pacing and rhythm. Look at webseries to understand their device or hooks. Also ask yourself, what isn’t our there? What needs to be said that isn’t on the television?

Some more suggestions are think economically when you write. What do you have access to? What does your family or friends have access to? Ask local businesses to sponsor you by asking to shoot at their location after hours to not disturb business, or ask a local boutique to supply clothing for an ending sponsorship credit. Go for product placement. Youtube has a partners’ program that you can easily sign up for to earn some kind of money for your viewership. It may not pay your bills, but it may pay for your some of the props in your next episode. Announce on facebook or craigslist for local actors that will work for food and credit only. Go for a kickstarter if you have enough of an online following or media exposure.

Something that I had not considered is, how many episodes should a webseries contain? This book suggests between 8 and 12 episodes, which seems reasonable. If you are releasing them weekly, that keeps you at the same pace as any television show. Something my company has been considering is whether we should shoot the first four episodes, air those to see how they do, and then continue filming the rest after the first two or so air. The only problem with that idea to me is what if…and this is considering the fact that everyone is working for free….we can’t get everyone to get together to film in time for the next one to air. Then all of a sudden we don’t release a week. There goes our viewership!

As of right now, this is how we are working our plan: We shoot on Sundays. We now have the pilot episode shot, and are planning on shooting a couple other videos (separate from the webseries) and a commercial in September. By that time, we should have the pilot episode in its finished state. While we are busy filming the other episodes, we can send the pilot episode to people we believe will give us a truthful critique. IF they like it but say, “I’m not intrigued enough to watch another episode” or “I don’t know that I would remember to watch the next episode next week” then we will drop the show, air the pilot and move on to another webseries. BUT IF people love the idea and are eager to see another episode, then we will go into production for the rest of the fall to finish out the season. As soon as all of the episodes are finished in post, we will air it online with as much media coverage as we can muster. We will even try to figure out if we should have a premiere in a theater or some other idea that we can muster out of our crazy minds. As you can tell, our distribution phase is still in the making, which is why we have several months to prepare it.

And just to say this ahead of time, we are not making a webseries with the future outlook of money. We are making it to establish our company’s abilities at visual storytelling and solidify our team. We see this as the perfect way to start it all. If you are creating a webseries, ask yourself why? You should have a better reason than money or getting discovered. Yes both can happen, but setting your expectations a little lower will help you from getting crushed or give you an uber amazing surprise if it does happen. A web series can be a great calling card. It can be a huge inspiration for yourself to get you out of the drab work of your 9to5. If you have spent countless hours and years working on other people’s projects, here ya go! Webseries it up! It can be the perfect way to learn for a cheap budget. It can be a great way to create a demo reel for yourself for raising money for a future project. Webseries can be great….use them wisely. The best thing you can possibly do as a filmmaker is get out there and make something.

BTS Indie Film Vlog

Usually behind the scenes videos show nothing more than celebrities talking about their motivation, or a director talking about his struggle to put the film together. Rarely do we honestly get to see what all of the filmmakers do on set, let alone some in depth details about those jobs. It’s been my dream to share all of my experiences on our sets with you, which take just as much work to put together as the actual film shoots do. But here’s The Nerd Writer’s version of what I want to provide everyone with….an insider’s look at what happens on a film set. Enjoy, I certainly did. ​

Next Up for DIY Distribution

Last week I touched on an article written by Jon Reiss to follow my discussion on DIY distribution through theatrical, online, and DVD release. I continued researching him this week, finding many more articles about his experiences.

One at filmmakermagazine.com goes a little more in depth about DVD distribution. He was lucky to find a reliable company for DVD distribution rights ONLY, fully allowing him to continue selling his film online and do the theatrical distribution route….although most of his theatrical showings were prior to releasing the DVD. Definitely check out this article if you will be negotiating DVD distribution deals in the future.

He recommends asking yourself these questions before you begin preparation for DIY distribution. “What is its best market? Who is its audience? How are you best going to reach them? Will you potentially sell to libraries and universities as much as or more than you will to individuals? Is there pressure to release your film in a timely way (will it be dated, is there another film you are racing to beat to market)? Answering these questions will help to fashion your DVD release strategy.”

Note: In these articles he used the company Neoflix. This distribution company has shut down due to not paying filmmakers.

This week, to dive deeper, I’d like to discuss DIY web marketing to support your film distribution. In another article by Jon Reiss, he recommends creating your presence on the web by starting a basis with your website. Constantly update your website with intriguing information that is similar to your films or to the audience you are looking to reach. By consistently blogging, you can easily keep traffic frequenting your site. Make sure to tag your blogs. Embed links to your site in your social networks. Also, create relationships with other sites that would find interest in your film or in your blogging. He gives his students this assignment:

Ways to create a relationship with other sites/organizations:

Next he says to create a marketing strategy early, even while you are in the script stage. This is when you have the most energy and are not burnt out on the film.

To read this full article, go here:http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/issues/spring2009/bombit-part3.php

Utilize your social media networks, which seems obvious, but many people do not create a facebook page for their work. Friends and family can be huge advocates for your film. Hit up film bloggers online for reviews of your film. Or even hit up other non-film sites that are related to your subject material for reviews or press. Find a way to cross-promote with other companies. Put a trailer up on youtube or a sample of the material on youtube with a link to buy it. Provide an incentive for people to sign up for your email list. Email them weekly or bi-weekly with updates on new articles or pictures, clips, whatever may be interesting for your audience. Be careful how often you email them. If emails come too often, they will quickly unsubscribe. Then there’s always advertising on the web or through affiliate marketing. Do your research to figure out what routes are best for you.

All of this information is a bit dated, but it provides great ground work to get someone started. Do you have any experience with indie distribution? How did it work or not work for you?

Get Started Working

Since I am working with MTV all week, I thought I would write an article about working in the film industry, aka “the biz”.

2 questions that I get all the time are, how did you get started in the industry? How do I get started? Well, here’s my answers:

I started out working as a PA (production assistant) for the first year or so, much of that time volunteering my services for free. Being a PA sucks, but it allows you to see how a set runs and hopefully find your way into a certain department. That department for me was the production team or the producing staff. Eventually I started coordinating on commercials and indie films. Then I worked my rear end off with one company as a PA on a television pilot, and as that show went further into development, they moved me up the ladder. I became an associate producer, and then a producer on the series. Even though I have produced, coordinated, and managed sets, when I’m not busy and a new company calls me for a few days to work as a PA (for a good day rate) I almost always take it. I believe in networking, and the opportunity to work with new people opens up more doors. Put yourself out there and do it! Let others know you want to work!

Getting to this point in my career was a ton of hard work and a bit of luck. ANYONE can do the same if they set their mind to it. I am constantly learning, growing, and expanding my career. Never quit pursuing.

Oh that dream of working in the movies….

Photo courtesy of Mark Totten​

If you’re dreaming of one day working in the biz, I recommend putting yourself out there to PA on set. Go to local film schools and ask if you can assist on their projects, or find local production companies and ask to apply as a PA for upcoming productions. Don’t worry, no experience necessary. All you have to do is show them that you want it bad, and you are willing to work your tail end off to get it.  Create a quick resume of your skills. If you need help with what to put on your resume, ask anyone that knows you well or knows your talents.

Want to move up?

If you have been PA’ing for months or even years, and are asking yourself, “how do I move up?” the answer is easy. Ask to move up. When you work with a new crew, network like crazy. Keep in touch with anyone that you connected with. Even just to say a quick hello or hit them up on facebook. Give them a reminder that if they have anything coming up, you are available to work. If you’ve recently worked on a big project, let them know. Ask them how they recommend taking on a higher position. If you show interest in it, they will likely recommend you in the future. You never know when someone from two years ago will call you to do such and such for their upcoming film. And if you are lucky, that person will ask what you are currently doing or trying to do and bring you on in that position.

If you found a department you want to work in, ask if you can work as a PA in that department. Or hire you as an extra person within that department at a lower pay. If you can find an independent film to work on, they will likely take less experienced people. Get on Mandy.com or craigslist to see if you can find some local jobs. If it’s driving distance or you know someone that lives nearby that you can crash with, go for it. even if it’s far away. If you are applying for a bigger budget film, particularly a studio film, it’s a bit tougher to get on to their crew. Don’t be discouraged to apply. If you are bound and determined, find their production office and ask for a place to apply. Sit in the room until they get you someone to talk to in person. In person is ALWAYS better. You are much more likely to get the job. Persistence and Determination are key.

Good luck!

If you have any questions, please comment below or send me an email at jen@ingenpic.com​