A vast majority of filmmakers are passionate to tell their story – this is primal. And now more than ever, that stage on which to show your film has never been more crowded. Most potential filmmakers have a vision and passion, besides being highly trained to make impactful content, but most of them lack the skills of commercializing the art.
It is critical to note that a film’s life cycle from pre-production, production and post-production can take years to develop, market and distribute.
Today, a filmmaker must consider combining creativity and business essentials for the art to make any sense. As film maker’s we all want our final products to be recognized. Then how do we ensure the success we are yearning for? As a creative, it is essential to be an all-round professional with skills and knowledge of creative, legal, financing, production, marketing and distribution, and be able to practically apply them.
On a set, a filmmaker is faced with various caliber of people, thus must be able to multi-task, handle all types of personalities, pitch, coach, stand their ground, corral, cajole, and yes, sometimes scream and demand to get results. As we endeavor to perfect the art, let us attempt to give the independent filmmaker an overview of all the areas they must take into account and take responsibility for in order to succeed. The key areas include; development, packaging, financing, production, marketing and distribution.
Film Development is one of the least understood and least prepared for phases of a film’s cycle in Kenya. It is the foundation on which your film will stand or fail for the rest of its phases. Understanding this, filmmakers ought to ensure that each aspect of their film’s development is just as perfectly planned, budgeted and sufficiently funded as its production. As an all rounded producer, you must be fully funded and prepared to get the film from option of material to fully funded and ready to start pre-production.
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At this stage, consider paying for writing, legal work for contracts generated, business plan, memorandums, budget and schedule, location scouting, visual pitch and promotional materials, marketing among others.
The Pitching is an important step in getting a film financed, produced and distributed. Consider addressing 3 pitch audiences and be prepared to respond to each of their different expectations and needs, especially financing as it is the trickiest part of the process.
Next is the production which entails but not limited to preproduction; preparatory measures that include opening of a production office; hire all crew; engage a locations scouts, secure the locations, rentals for camera and lighting packages; prepare shooting schedules, post production and finally marketing.
So what are the best ways to market your film? It requires a lot of hard work and time, provided the filmmaker is willing to take some responsibility for developing and implementing a well-thought out marketing plan.
The plan may include among others various marketing tools, that may comprise; social media, niche-targeted advertising to reach their audience. It is important to begin this process as soon as you start development of the film.
Filmmakers should connect with viewers online and at screenings, establish direct relationships with them and build core personal audiences. Ask for their support, making it clear that DVD purchases from the website will help you break even and make more movies. Every filmmaker with a website has the chance to turn visitors into subscribers, subscribers into purchasers, and purchasers into true fans who can contribute to new productions.
Equally important is the distribution process, simply put, how distributors or aggregators will get the film into the marketplace via theatres, VOD, DVD or television. Theatrical distribution arguably is the single most beneficial release window, as it can establish a film’s brand extending to all other ancillary markets.
However, you need time, money and effort to create that brand. In the advent of the digital platforms, media revolution is having a massive impact on the delivery and options for distribution, as well as, the marketing and brand creation of the project. This is a window for empowering filmmakers to explore alternative distribution options.
The writer is CEO Kenya Film Commission and a Certified Film Commissioner and a Creative Economy professional