Indie feature films need two things to be a success: Money and a Market. You may have money to spend on talent, crew, equipment, design, etc., but without a channel for marketing, the money is trapped inside a DVD disc that sits on your shelf. You may have a large and eager market who awaits your masterpiece, but without the financial resources to create a worthy picture, you will under deliver and lose your audience. Money and Market go hand in hand, and with the right finesse, you will begin to see your dream of cashing in on a passion/hobby/job become a reality.
Means to an End
Money is not magic, it won’t write your script or shoot your film, but it does provide a means to accomplish various stages of production. Without money, you are limited to freebies, favors, and selling your soul. Many films are made with super limited budgets, but any filmmaker worth his color-correcting knows that there’s no such thing as a “no budget” production.
Marketing is the avenue through which you hope to recoup your production costs, at the very least. Without it, there is very little hope that you’ll pull in anything. And for clarity sake, Facebook and YouTube posting don’t count as legit marketing. Although it’s great to get your film venture out there in hopes that someone will find your treasure and offer you a multi-figure distro deal, the reality is that the current market is saturated with indie DVDs of every genre. Unless you have a marketing strategy, with resources (people and organizations) to promote your film, you’ll just end up with “hits” and likes,” and those don’t translate into dollars.
Finding money is a difficult task, one that requires people skills, a strong business sense, and/or rich relatives. There are many books and articles out there on funding a film, so I won’t pretend to know more than the next guy. If you’re looking for tips, see what tips are selling.
Marketing is something each of us can manage more readily. There are principles to marketing that matter before you begin pre-production. Knowing what you can hope to recoup on the back end, assuming you create a product worthy of an audience, should determine what you spend on the film, therefore it’s best to acquire a basic understanding of how marketing works.
Marketing is about one thing: who wants to see your product? Or more importantly, who wants to see your product enough to hand over cash for that privilege? You can typically count on family and close friends to make an investment through the purchase of a DVD, although they might also expect a free copy because they are family/close friends. But beyond the familial ties, who out there is willing to spend 1.5 hours plus of their life sitting through your creation, or dropping $20 on a DVD, and why does it matter to them? What are you “selling” that appeals to them? Knowing your market and its Achilles tendon is hitting closer to center.