'Menthol' Micro-Budget Film Case Study Part 5: Release Day! (Video)

Menthol is finally done playing film festivals and we're in the clear to release online. It's been a long road getting to this point, navigating various distribution strategies and seeing what we can implement with a $0 marketing spend. Menthol will finally enjoy its online release today, August 4th through Vimeo on Demand and Reelhouse. To whet your appetite for the film, here's the next installment in the Behind the Story interview series and some words on what we've learned.

Our Path to Choosing The Tools

While I was in NY showing Menthol at the Brooklyn Film Festival I was able to visit the Vimeo headquarters and meet Kerry Trainor and Jeremy Boxer, both of whom are very passionate individuals about the online distribution of motion pictures. If you're thinking about following a direct-distribution path, I highly recommend getting in touch with the people at the platform you're distributing through. By talking to and forming relationships with people at both Vimeo and Reelhouse, it showed me that there are people out there who are trying to make the model work, to help small films find the audience they need.

We're excited and proud to have both Vimeo on Demand and Reelhouse not only as our chosen tools for this release, but to have formed relationships with them as well. I recommend them both.

The Production

Here's part 2 in our Behind the Story interview series, which will hopefully give you a sense of what we went through when shooting the film:

And our Abby Singer (second to last) update for our Kickstarter backers:

It's funny that I say end of the film's life in the video, because it could very well be its beginning again. It's another testament to how long the process of creating and releasing a film really is. I hope the film will continue to find its intended audience and that audience will proliferate it.

Marketing Up Until the Release

We're releasing some "hype posters" -- images with a little tease of information and release dates (like you see in the header of this post). This is a simple and fairly effective way of spreading the word to people who are already in your core audience, and it's that core -- the community that we built through Kickstarter and through blogging about the film -- that really count. We kept our core audience waiting a long time for the film, but found they still have enthusiasm for the project. It's things like that you can't take for granted, so keep your core happy!

We're spreading these images around social media, as well as holding our tried and trusty Facebook events. We've held a Facebook event for all the major milestones in our project, whether it was our Kickstarter launch, festival premiere, or private screening. These have been really effective at spreading awareness of the state of the project, and are something I foresee doing a lot of on future projects.

Join our Facebook event for the launch tomorrow, August 4th!

Lessons Learned / What Kind of Person Are You?

Out of our meeting with Vimeo came an opportunity to work with them to help market the film, but in the end we decided to keep doing it ourselves and stay true to our $0 marketing spend approach and see how far we could go with that. It's been one huge experiment, from the film's conception to its distribution.

Releasing a movie in our competitive market is extremely difficult if you want to do it successfully. It takes as much planning, care, and attention as creating the film does. Depending on what kind of person you are, it can be a curse or a blessing. Unless you're the kind of person to be able to maintain the release of the film and not get wanderlust for a new project, I think its smart to think about having a dedicated marketing person on your team (when the budget allows).

So before choosing your distribution strategy, ask the question: what kind of person are you?

During the process of releasing Menthol, I learned that I'm probably not the right kind of person to do the marketing/releasing work full-time. But for filmmakers today, most of us don't have the luxury of being the person who just hits publish and walks away. Whether we like it or not, the social element to financing, producing and distributing films is here to stay.

For those of you who have been waiting for the film, thanks for your continued patience and support. I look forward to hearing from you once you've seen the film, hopefully it will be the catalyst for more conversations, both about distribution, the state of independent film, and the craft of filmmaking.

We'll check in one more time on this case study next week for the third installment of the video series and to talk about how the release went.

Oh yeah, and -- ORDER TODAY!


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Your Comment


NIce, congrats on the release! Trailer looks great, I'll check out the whole film when I get a chance.

August 4, 2014 at 6:46PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Hi, congratulations on the VOD release. The shift directly from a festival run to DIY VOD brought some questions in my mind about the chosen monetization path for the film.

- Did you investigate the possibility of foreign (non-US) sales, i.e. did you attempt to find any foreign sales agent willing to add the film to their slate?

- Did you investigate US domestic retail DVD, or cable distribution?

- What drove the decision to go directly to two DIY distribution platforms, Vimeo and Reelhouse? Did you investigate working with a VOD aggregator such as Gravitas, which could potentially get your film onto more than 2 platforms?


August 5, 2014 at 12:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Bruce Hahne

Hey Bruce, thanks for reading.

Like I've mentioned in this series, this is a release done for $0. We had $0 to market and release this movie, which counts out sales agents for us. In terms of cable distribution, we knew we wanted to release ourselves online from the beginning. We had some offers come in for domestic distribution, but at this level those offers are pretty much scams, needing upfront money and making unlikely promises.

We chose these two platforms because I felt they are the two platforms doing it the best. The market is Flooded with a capital F. It doesn't matter that your film is on 20 platforms if nobody can find it. It's all about the traffic you can send to the platforms that it is on. So we chose just 2 platforms that stood out to us and are funneling our efforts into those.

August 5, 2014 at 1:09PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Micah Van Hove

Hey Micah,

In regards to views and VOD revenue what are you going to consider a success on these platforms? I read about your efforts via Film Specific. Will be watching the film over the weekend.

Congrats on getting the word out about the release.

August 5, 2014 at 3:52PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Kudos to Micah and the Menthol team as we've taken a similar approach with our first feature Broken Leg, which we released August 1st on Vimeo On Demand. Our team Kickstarted this feature with the goal of making a film that showcased the talents of our young cast and crew. It's cool to hear from other filmmakers who are in a similar boat to us, experimenting with new technologies to try to connect to an audience.

After examining our options for distribution Vimeo On Demand jumped out as the best by far. They're putting the power to connect with an audience directly in the filmmakers hands with little to no upfront costs (they waived the fee for our pro account), and their profit sharing can't be beat at 90/10. We've found many viewers have watched the trailer on Vimeo and given us a chance because hey, it's only $3.99 to rent!

Our Kickstarter backers have been instrumental in spreading the word about our film. On top of that, many strangers have found us through social media. It's a lot of hard work for our small team to market Broken Leg with no money, but it's been incredibly rewarding to have it result in people watching, enjoying, and sharing our film. If you're interested please have a look for yourself! https://vimeo.com/ondemand/brokenleg

Menthol looks intriguing and I look forward to watching it soon! Thanks for sharing Micah.

August 5, 2014 at 10:42PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM