'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.
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!