In the previous blog ‘Sharing the Love’ we shared a few crowd-funding projects that had caught our attention and at one point I wrote this:
‘These filmmakers are using Kickstarter to help get their film onto cinema screen. If indie films can’t help each other do that, then what hope do we have trying to compete with the Hollywood marketing machine?’
I wrote it quite glibly but then it got me to thinking…. why can’t independent films work together and promote each others’ films? Why can’t we share audiences?
There is an ongoing debate at Fitzroy HQ about how indie films can stand out and compete with big budget Hollywood fare and multimillion dollar marketing budgets.
Outlets for independent film are becoming smaller and smaller. Just in the last month here in the UK, two of the largest high-street outlets, Blockbuster and HMV, have gone into administration. The Picturehouse cinema chain has also been bought out by Cineworld – they say they won’t be changing the programming to more mainstream but I find that hard to believe.
Meanwhile, the rise of online distribution means small independent films are going to find it harder to stand out. Online distribution is a huge opportunity for small films but lets be honest, i-tunes, Netflix, blinkbox, etc are not a ‘browsing experience’. You are presented with maybe 20 to 40 featured films.
The sad fact is that nowadays, unless you have already heard of an indie film, you’re probably not going to stumble across one and take a punt.
So how do indie films fight back? How do they reach a bigger audience?
One possible answer is to share audiences and cross-promote indie films.
Crowd funding and social networking really is changing how indie films are financed and for me the next natural progression is that it will change how films are promoted and distributed.
Each crowd funded film achieves two things; a budget and, possibly more importantly, an audience. These films are being made and backed by film fans, so the chances are that those backers are also going to be interested in other projects. I know I am always on the hunt for new exciting, moving, interesting films to watch and share. It’s part of being a film fan.
Heck, this isn’t a revelation; Hollywood and the studios have been doing this for decades. They promote themselves as an industry and cross-promote other films. Trailers before the start of the film are the obvious example of this. ‘If you like this film then get ready for this film’. Imagine a world where indie films and indie filmmakers do this for themselves and others.
I’m not saying this is what we should do or that it’s a magic bullet to reaching an audience. There’s definitely a lot of problems in it as an idea. But it’s an interesting idea. If low budget films are to grow and thrive then we should embrace marketing and supporting each others’ work.
One thing we have learnt from our Kickstarter campaign is the power of the internet and working together is immense. Truly anything is possible. Even taking on the ‘big boys’.
Like I said at the beginning, these are just my initial thoughts and I offer no practical advice on how indie films do this or if it’s even practical. I’m just using this blog as a sounding board. If you have any thoughts, comments ideas please share in the comments.
If you’ve made it this far why not check out the previous blog of projects we love. NB we are not formally linked with any of these projects apart from loving what they are doing.