It's too easy to neglect having a marketing strategy and movie distribution plan when producing on an indie film budget. Producers are focused on fleshing out a tight screenplay, firing cast and crew while keeping track of every dollar they spend. Studio budget movies hire goliath companies to develop a marketing strategy and movie distribution plan for their latest blockbuster.
Indie filmmakers have to get creative with their marketing strategy and movie distribution plan so their creative hard work does not just disappear after it's done. I've been learning a lot of good stuff by following what other filmmakers are doing to market a movie in order to make film distribution money.
One movie with a sexually driven theme created artwork and an attention grabbing marketing package that included condoms with the name of the film printed on them. I read they stand out at film festivals with this creative approach. There are also rare indie produced movies that are so damn entertaining they secure meaningful movie distribution without a strong marketing strategy to promote them.
But why take the gamble that your movie will be one of the rare ones? Thinking about a marketing strategy and movie distribution plan early as possible is what successful indie producers do. I do not read entertainment industry trades like The Hollywood Reporter or Variety because they do not have information based off the real life indie cinema scene.
I've been turning to blogs more and more that are ran by indie producers and filmmakers that share what marketing strategies and movie distribution plans have worked for them. I really like reading Indie Slate Magazine and MovieMaker Magazine because they spend time focusing on the business of indie filmmaking not just the creative part of the process.
Creating an online buzz for an indie feature is one of the most effective ways to market a movie without having to spend money you do not have. It only takes personal time to run a movie blog, Twitter account, Facebook page, Google +1 and other popular social networking outlets. Crowd funding for indie movies has really shown that people do respond to online marketing. The effort to keep a movie blog fresh and stay connected with people pays off in the end. Building interest for a movie online is the way to go.
Having an idea of what the movie distribution plan is going to be will depend on what you want as a producer. Are you going to self-distribute or look to land a distribution deal with a company?
Movie self-distribution makes financial sense for smaller budget indie films. Self-distribution allows the creators to keep control of the rights to their movie. Less money has to be made from direct sales to make a real profit from a movie because there are not distribution fees and percentages taken out by a distributor. Many filmmakers have made money for their film investors and themselves from their work through self-distribution combined with an aggressive online marketing push they do themselves.
Landing a movie distribution deal typically offers greater exposure and more people see a movie that is released by a film distribution company worldwide than a self-distributed titled. Movie distributors that cater to releasing indie films usually do not put together a big marketing strategy. They have relationships with film buyers all over the world that receive their catalog of available titles or see what they have at film markets.
Avoid a past mistake I made by sitting back after signing a distribution deal expecting the distributor to market the hell out of the title. It's important to still have a workable marketing strategy after you sign a movie distribution agreement. You'll have to check with the distributor to see what you can and can not do to market your movie online. But overall it's a win-win for both parties in exposure and film sales.