Tag Archives: online

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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​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.

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?

The Changing World of Film Distribution

The old tradition for filmmakers: make your movie, enter film festivals, distributors eat it up, and Waalaa….you make your investor’s money back…and hopefully you put some in your pocket. Today, it seems that is the old man’s way of doing it. If I were to rely on that method, it would be equivalent to putting all my savings into buying lottery tickets. Times have changed. And keep changing. Every day. How do we, as independent filmmakers, keep up?
Many people are running to Netflix and VOD. Is that a better option? Or an addition to the film festival route? So far, I haven’t heard any positive reviews about Netflix experiences. Maybe you know someone who has? VOD seems to be a positive route, but does your film have enough hype around it for VOD to be useful. For that matter, millions are making movies all the time, so how are ours going to stick out of the crowd?
I keep going back to the potential of proper use of the internet. The majority of people are on the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE going to the theater, but marketing usually hits me online. Maybe the best route today is finding your niche audience online. Let them enjoy your film.
Thomas Woodrow, the producer of the film Bass Ackwards, came up with one of the first creative distribution solutions after failure to get distribution from a successful festival run. Said Woodrow, “We knew that the only one thing Sundance guaranteed us was a tremendous amount of publicity, a chance for people to hear about the film and to be curious about it. We also knew that we had an anti-commercial film, difficult to market, without an obvious target audience outside of the people that go to film festivals. We knew we had virtually no chance for traditional pick-up, and imagined that if we did things the regular way and waited for other companies to come to us, we’d probably see ourselves on IFC’s digital platform six months later, and nothing else.
We also knew that we had spent so little on the film that we could afford to take risks,” he continues. So we decided to just go for the jugular and to use the publicity generated by Sundance to release the film directly to the audience. We knew we couldn’t wait until people forgot about the Sundance press, so we decided to launch the film as wide as possible immediately after the Festival, meaning February 1st…one day after the Festival concluded.”
After spending $15,000 for the Sundance release, the team also made preparations for the aftermath of the release. Theatrical bookings were being made to run immediately following Sundance. Digital platforms were being armed with the film so that people could see it as soon as they heard about it. DVD release was scheduled immediately after the festival with Amazon.com on pre-orders to ship on Feb 1. Cable VOD was coordinated to work immediately after the Feb 1 release, except it ended up being pushed back 1 month.
For more detail on Bass Ackwards.
Bass Ackwards was the first to take the step into the unknown. Now things have changed considerably, but at least Woodrow made $35K back on his film. Better than nothing. Maybe it was worth it, maybe not.
Curt Hahn, director and producer of the film Deadline, took a unique approach. The film is about two investigative reporters so felt they could get support of the newspaper industry for this movie. Major newspapers hosted premieres of the film in their cities. Not only did they write stories, but they also promoted the film in their ad space, $700,000 worth. They took this grassroots approach and traveled in a tour bus to 46 different premieres in 46 cities. They set up a red carpet every night, which is a big deal in smaller cities and towns. Television stations covered it as well. Genius!
For the interview with Curt Hahn.
For more on the film, visit their website: deadlinefilm.com.
So, what is the best method for you to distribute your film today? I believe that is entirely up to you and your creativity, and how much involvement you want in the distribution process. There is no harm in going the traditional route if you want to hand the job over to someone else. You may not make as much money as you would have several years ago, but you never know.
IF you want to get creative with it, get out there and study study study BEFORE you make your film. If you’ve already made it, it’s never too late to start studying now. Develop your own method, mix and match, pull from other ideas, whatever you have to do to make it happen. There is help in sites built specifically to teach, such as Film Specific who helps in all areas from packaging your film to distribution, or something I found recently on indiemoviemaking.com called Distribber.
It seems somewhat pricey to me, but maybe others have had much success out of it. Has anyone used this before or know someone who has?
I am in the process of piecing together a distribution plan for our “secret” project. It’s not really secret, we are just in the VERY early stages of development and don’t want to release any details until we are further along. I will post details of any projects that have used distribution methods that I find intriguing as I do my research. If you know of any interesting methods, please comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Also feel free to make any additions or comments about anything in this article or anything completely random!
Ingen’s out.

Web Series by Ingen Pic

We are working on our first web series titled “123 UnderGround.” We are extremely lucky and thankful that we have a great crew and cast working for experience only. ​It has been quite an experience for us. First off, we offered positions to many of our friends that have never worked on a set before. I filled many of the positions myself: Producer/Co-Director/Production Manager. Definitely a way to keep me busy. Even though I explained responsibilities to the newbies on set, I should have offered more training to keep them busy. Learn for next time.

I’m not sure we would change anything on this round. We procrastinated a bit too much and ended up not being able to use a good portion of the equipment we were offered, but it turned out great. Thank you so much to our friend Mark Totten for offering his equipment. ​

One thing I didn’t expect….we said no budget but it ended up being a heavy chunk of a budget out of mine and Kevin’s pockets. Equipment is expensive. Luckily we had lunch donated, which is something I will have to lock down for any future shoots as well. But to keep budget down, we decided on the rule that if it’s not a full day, people will have to provide their own lunch for the next few months or until we can afford to provide it. ​

The great thing about indie filmmaking is that a small crew allows you to move fast! Luckily we had enough people on set that Kevin and I could direct without having to worry about minuscule bits​, but next round I will teach my friends exactly what we need help with to make things move even faster. I believe that if we continue to do this often, people will learn, and we will be more efficient than I ever dreamed.

Planning was key to being efficient. We posted the broken down script on the wall to analyze scenes the week before. All props and equipment were prepped and ready during the week prior. All cast and crew were locked down several weeks beforehand…actually it was more like a month. I changed the script at least 10 times to make things easier on us to shoot. Lunch was arranged a month ahead of time. We had table readings arranged weeks ahead of time to prep the actors. We practiced with the equipment beforehand to make sure everything was in working order. We bought plenty of extras (media cards, cables, batteries etc.). We brought everything to set we could possibly think may be needed JUST IN CASE. We notified the police department. We made sure everything was arranged with the location owner as needed. And nothing went wrong. ​

The only bad thing out of the entire experience was the sound. We chose a location on a major roadway, and wow was it loud. I was hoping we could work while the church crowd was off the roads, but that only lasted for two hours. Sunday’s are just as busy as any other day on the road. ​We will have to ADR everything, build the sound from nothing. But, I don’t necessarily think that will be a bad thing. We may end up with amazing sound. Who knows…we will find out soon.

Mark Totten covered the behind-the-scenes footage for us. He will cutting it together to provide tutorials. Check back soon.​

If you would like to stay up to date with us on our webseries, please follow the facebook page.