June 13, 2014

Need to Sell Your Film on a $0 Budget? This Free eBook Can Help Show You How

I've written previously about my experience producing, distributing and promoting my feature films The Graduates, Turtle Hill, Brooklyn and Drinking Games, and written about the emerging digital landscape for indie filmmakers. One thing I haven't covered, however, are some of the super-specific, yet far-reaching promotions we undertook to bring new eyeballs to these films, and the net results of that work. So, I decided to put the five best promotions we did for my debut feature, The Graduates into a clear, concise eBook entitled The Free Soundtrack: The Top Five Ways To Sell Your Film On A $0 Marketing Budget, for you, my fellow filmmakers, to download for free.

In TFS you will see a mix of online and in-person promotions that netted us over 20,000 email addresses, sold thousands of DVD's, led us to debut as the #1 comedy on Hulu, and have kept us in the top 15 comedies on Hulu for over five years. All this, without an A-list name or a distribution deal.

One thing you'll certainly notice -- promoting a film is a ton of work, but if you're willing to put in the time, the rewards are often great: the ability to make your next film, a truly engaged audience, money, so I hope you find the eBook helpful and empowering. You may not connect with every idea, but I sincerely believe that at least one will spark something in you, and be applicable to the upcoming release of your short, feature, music video or album. You can download The Free Soundtrack here.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, and I'll keep an eye on the comments section below for any feedback and/or questions. Feel free to reach out, I love talking shop.

Oh, and please feel free to download the soundtrack to my movie The Graduates for free here.

Link: The Free Soundtrack download
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Your Comment

16 Comments

Marketing the movie is an area that most of us filmmakers don't know anything about. Thanks for sharing!

My movie Space Trucker Bruce (www.spacetruckerbruce.com) was fun to make but not fun to market. after sending hundreds of emails, trying to get articles and reviews on websites, paying for ads and not seeing much return, I want to say F#@%k it and move on to my next movie.

Is spending all that time getting people to see the film really that important?

It sounds like a silly question but I get the most enjoyment from making movies and surprisingly little from people watching it. I thought it would be thrilling to show the movie to people and it was the first night, but then it didn't really matter so much. The same comments and compliments and reactions over and over. The money is important so I can afford to make films but I think it sucks that filmmakers have to waste so much time marketing when they could be creating.

June 13, 2014 at 1:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I don't think it would be eh... beneficial to market your film, Space Trucker Bruce because a film like that would have such a small market. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the process of creating content but if you want to make a career out of filmmaking id encourage you to stick with a film in your budget. It's unlikely people would want to pay for a film that has a space ship built out of cardboard and acting worse than a soap opera.

June 13, 2014 at 7:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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stephen

Rather critical Stephen! People seem to like the film even with the cheesy acting and cardboard sets. You should rent it and publish a critical review on a popular site. And what's the fun in making anything in my budget (which is zero)? Although if my sets and acting was better, I imagine the film would have more appeal.

June 13, 2014 at 7:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sorry to be so harsh its just that is something I and many other filmmakers I know have learned the hard way. What I mean is that you should consider making films with what you have, focusing on using your limitations and working within those limitations. If you dont have lights, shoot during the day, if you dont have good actors, limit dialogue, if you can't build a set, shoot at a unique location etc. Great stories dont have to be told with big budgets but there's a certain suspension of disbelief that simply can't be achieved if your shooting a huge scale action film with no money.

June 13, 2014 at 7:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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stephen

I get you. Thanks for elaborating. As it was my first feature, my standards were lower then they should have been.

June 13, 2014 at 9:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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excellent advice! I'm glad you elaborated.

June 13, 2014 at 11:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sam

Also I think it would be hard to make a career out of any kind of filmmaking. So much competition for our attention these days. So I'm sticking to cardboard sets and cool space based stories, maybe even throw in a Bigfoot or two because it's fun.

June 13, 2014 at 7:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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As a Filmmaker I would say redo the trailer, it lacks the hook, the reason Film goer should want to watch this movie is....

As a Film Goer I would not pay to watch this, but may watch it for free and if I like it I will follow you on FB to see what else you come up with.

Building a following and a fan base should be more important than making money in the early stages of your career.

Just suggestions I hope you find helpful.

June 19, 2014 at 10:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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PayDro

Really like the title for Space Trucker Bruce. Immediately made me click over to your website.
You should market your film. What's a film if it's not seen?
Marketing is a tricky bird... in the end it's about the product. And the audience has to want it.
Embrace the best parts of your film and make the marketing reflect that.
Cardboard sets? I want to see that on the website and the poster.
Bad acting? Own it.
The film looks fun. If the marketing is fun then people will watch it.

June 21, 2014 at 4:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kevin

Hi Anton- great question.

It really is the ETERNAL internal struggle for an artist. Believe me, my dream scenario is to be plucked out of the race and handed an incredible marketing team, and a budget, and to be free to just create constantly. The reality, however, is the more time and energy you put into marketing/promotion the more likely you'll get to make your next film and the film after that.

Given how easy it is for literally anyone to make a decent-looking feature in the digital era, your competition for eyeballs is enormous and becoming exponentially more competitive every year. If you don't particularly care about finding an audience- as you described in your question- than you don't have to worry about marketing. But I make films to connect with other people, so promoting is a necessity.

Best of luck, and feel free to send any more q's my way.

June 13, 2014 at 5:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Thanks Ryan. Your marketing methods are very interesting and worth a try. The condom idea is funny and clever. Perhaps there is some creative fun to be had in no budget marketing.

June 13, 2014 at 7:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Hi Ryan - a slim but interesting volume. Thanks for posting.

I'd be really interested in seeing a feature that explores alternative marketing routes for dramas and more dramatic genre films. I feel like the route which you describe to use tangential marketing that entertains is more clear-cut (not to necessarily say more effective) for comedies and horror films, but less so in other genres.

I certainly understand that this volume was built from your experiences marketing this specific comedy film (and I think the specificity of the article is really valuable), but I'd love if a feature of this sort could be expanded to include successful test cases from other genres.

Thanks again for the good read.

June 14, 2014 at 12:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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That's an excellent point- the party vibe of The Graduates definitely shaped a lot of our approaches.

I think there's something to be gleaned from our approach even for dramas- partnering with great causes, for instance (as opposed to creating a cause from scratch like we did with Save Senior Week); or instead of handing out condoms with funny quotes on them, handing out equally shocking things more directly related to your film (anything but flyers... anything but more freaking flyers).

Someone interesting to follow and study if you have a drama or doc that you want to market would be Josh Fox, the director/producer of GASLAND. He's built an incredible audience and caused incredible awareness and social change with his film, a small marketing budget, and pure hustle.

One other point about adapting our comedy marketing to dramatic marketing. The eBook is called The Free Soundtrack because it was the centerpiece of our efforts at many film festivals, and in partnering with many organizations. Instead of creating a great party mix to promtoe your drama or doc, you could recruit artists who connect with the point of the film, or if it's a horror film, indie artists who create great metal, or super creepy tonal music...

All films have a relationship with music, and even if the film itself is light on music, it can inspire music just as it inspires fan posters/fan art.

June 15, 2014 at 12:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Youtube is right.

June 14, 2014 at 6:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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edgar

Great Article. And very Good Advice. It gave life to a few new Ideas for me.

And for that Thank You.

June 19, 2014 at 10:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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PayDro

The criticism comments about your film valid or not, are out of place since the article is about marketing.
I like your approach to self promotion and will use it some day when I get to that point of releasing my first film.
Thank you for a good article.

June 19, 2014 at 8:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gary