Tag: facebook

Guest post by Lila Yomtoob: The Added Value of Blogging

Posted on by Jon Reiss

The Added Value of Blogging – by Lila Yomtoob

Lila contacted me via the web – introducing herself and I asked if she would like to write a blog post – and she offered to write a post  about:  blog posting! Not only the importance of it – but how to do it effectively.   Thanks Lila!

Lila Yomtoob is a producer specializing in marketing and distribution. She has 12 years of experience in different parts of the industry, including directing, editing, teaching, curating, and consulting. She has been a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Science as a result of her Emmy Award, and was a card-carrying member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild until she went rogue. You can read more about her at www.yomtoob.com and contact her at lila@yomtoob.com.

Blogging is not dead, and should not die.

No one reading this is a stranger to the multitude of ways to get the word out about a project. Recently, I’ve seen articles suggesting that blogging is dead and that Facebook and/or Twitter is sufficient. In this article I will make a case for blogging, recommend some ways to go about it, and present a few case studies.

Blogging is a great way to root your project in a community, create a tone for your project that extends beyond the actual film, and can even attract press.  A blog allows you to create original long form content that lives on your website, as well as aggregate news about topics surrounding your film, and make announcements about the status of your project. Having a blog that is embedded into your website (via WordPress, Tumblr, or Blogger) allows people who visit your films website to find out more about what the project is about, without having to leave the site. It sets a personal tone, one that may allow a visitor to get just a little bit more excited about your project.

Foreclosure (Narrative, psychological horror)

I co-produced “Foreclosure” through development and pre-production, and I insisted we start a blog early on. The director did not want to spill the beans about the themes of the film, which may be seen as controversial, so we created parameters on what we would write about. As a result, our blog was about the art of horror, including quotes from different filmmakers on filmmaking, reviews of esoteric films, and artistic and intellectual items that influenced the filmmaker. We rarely discussed the actual film. This gave a visitor “a peak into the director’s mind” and, unbeknownst to us, we created a compendium of intelligent horror content.

Once we had around ten entries, we posted a short and simple trailer and sent press releases about the film to all of the horror blogs and websites we could find. We were thrilled and very surprised by the response. The director was interviewed for a few of the larger horror sites, and we began relationships with film writers who continued to write about “Foreclosure” as it progressed. We were still in development – hadn’t even set a shoot date, and already we had press.  The writers often commented on the content of the blog, hinting to me that it left a positive impression on visitors.

Subsequently, “Foreclosure” attracted Michael Imperioli (“Soprano’s”) to star, and a top sales agent before production began. It would be silly to say that this was because of the blog, but the blog was clearly one step in the right direction.

The Bang Bang Club (Narrative Feature, based on a true story)

I recently visited the website for The Bang Bang Club, a new narrative film based on real events about a group of journalists in South Africa during apartheid. The trailer and story were compelling, but I was on the fence about the film. I noticed they had a blog, and so I clicked on it. There were stories of journalists covering wars around the world now being detained, recovering from injuries, etc, and the films’ timeliness and urgency hit home. It gave me a frame of reference, and made me want to see the film just a little bit more.

Hidden Battles – feature documentary

I started working on “Hidden Battles” when the film was finished, and we were working on a self-distribution strategy. For this blog, we had to be very careful, because of the subject matter of the film. “Hidden Battles” follows five soldiers as they understand their combat experience. The film stays away from making any judgments, and is consciously apolitical, and the director wanted to make sure not to politicize the film in anyway. So we created parameters: the mission of “Hidden Battles” was to educate people on the mental health issues facing veterans. We were only going to be supportive and caring. Largely, the blog reports on organizations that help veterans, new things the government is doing to help, and statistical reports on the status of mental health amongst soldiers and vets. We set up Google alerts with keywords like “veteran,” “PTSD,” “military”, which made it easy to find stories to write on. This also allowed us to find organizations to forge partnerships with, who have subsequently helped publicize the film.

We also share news about the films progress on our blog. Most content is also shared on Facebook and Twitter as well. A distributor approached us and when I asked him how he heard about the film he said, “Twitter.”

Fresh – feature documentary

I spoke with Ana Joanes, director of “Fresh,” a documentary about food production.   After a few years of successful grass roots self-distribution, and a limited theatrical release, she is now concentrating on creating original content for their blog. For years they have aggregated news relevant to their community through their blog, Facebook and Twitter, but now they want to go a step further and become a resource to the community they’ve created. In essence, they are planning to extend the life of the project through the blog. I asked Ana, if they set parameters for what they blog about, and she said no – they just go with their gut. They have posted stories that have gotten bad reactions, but she doesn’t find it to be problematic.

A few tips for getting started

• If you don’t have a clue about how to start a blog, check out mashable.com, they have lots of  “how to” articles that might help you get started. Or enlist/hire a web savvy person to set it up and explain it to you.

• If you don’t know what to blog about, imagine yourself as a potential viewer of your film. What would you want to hear about? OR take a chance and write about what you want to write about! Until you are ready to create original content you can start by reposting relevant news stories and comment on them. Set up Google Alerts, or start an RSS reader to aggregate stories from reliable sources to get ideas.

• Cross post your content on your other social networking platforms. Your blogging platform may have an option to do this automatically, but I find that it’s often problematic. Take the 5 minutes to do it manually, write a short description and add a link back to your blog.

• The most difficult part of this might be setting aside time to do it, especially if you don’t fashion yourself a writer. Independent film involves a lot of juggling of time and resources, and blogging may easily be the thing that falls off the to do list. Fair enough. This is why a lot of filmmakers hire someone (or have an intern) to work 10-12 hours a week on their social networking. “Fresh” had a full time person working on their social networking, which may account for their 4000 grassroots screenings. Just keep that in mind when you decide not to do it.

I don’t have any metrics to back up my case studies, because I don’t believe that the number of people that sees your site amounts to success. It’s about getting the right people to see your site and your film. And sometimes this takes a long time. Be patient. Do what you can do. Good luck.

Guest Post by Jon Fougner: Cinema Profitability

Posted on by Jon Reiss

I had the fortune of meeting Jon Fougner, who is the Principal, Product Marketing Monetization at Facebook at Sundance this year (he was showing filmmakers how best to use Facebook to connect with audiences). He works with the ads engineers and Product Managers to define products that will be successful in the marketplace. I mentioned Think Outside the Box Office and he said «Hey, I wrote this white paper on how movie theaters could be more profitable if they would experiment more, especially with online and social tools. Would you like to take a look at it?»  I immediately jumped at the chance to read it and publish it with my good friend Ted Hope.   The original is 4000 words – so we have broken it into 5 sections which we will run consecutively through the beginning of next week.   Jon will be appearing at the American Pavilion at Cannes on May 13th as well as the Produced By Conference in Los Angeles on June 4th.  He’s at facebook.com/jfougner.  Note that this draft was written last year; its qualitative and quantitative descriptions of the landscape are still fairly accurate, with at least one key exception: AMC has since revamped their loyalty program.  And as Jon predicted in April 2010, Blockbuster’s equity capital was wiped out.”

Here is Jon’s Post:

Introduction/Abstract1

The role of film exhibition in our imagination dwarfs its role in our economy. Dolby surround sound, residual awe of movie-going as children, proclamations of Hollywood’s sway — all this industrial light and magic create the illusion that movie theaters are a big industry. In fact, cinemas represent only 0.1% of the $14 trillion U.S. GDP. State lotteries rake in 4 times as much. Ticket sales barely outpace inflation, and wispy margins bounce around the single digits. Whether family- or sponsor-owned, their mandate has been to spit off cash.

The result is a space that has attracted an anemic level of innovation, led by three scaled chains: Regal, AMC, and Cinemark. Together, the “Big 3″ control 43% of the U.S. market. I say “together” because the three tend to act as consortia and exhibit (no pun intended) parallel behavior. Some adjacent innovation offers hope. For instance, as Avatar demonstrated, the studios’ development of 3D may prove one of several sorely needed silver bullets. But most adjacent innovation — in particular, high-resolution flat screens for home viewing, and Internet-based distribution vehicles to supply them with video — is an existential threat to the cinemas.

I believe that, without innovation, at least 1 of the Big 3 exhibitors risks losing its equity capital2 in the next five years. To be sure, their plight facing looming debt maturities is not as dire as Blockbuster’s. What’s more, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit. What I lay out below is an array of product, channel, marketing, and (in less detail) cost control tactics to get the ball rolling. More important than any one of these tactics, however, is the overall strategic mentality: to think more like a technology company. They need to embrace the scientific method to experiment, analyze, and iterate. They need to distribute to the edges of their employee base permission, responsibility, and incentive for delivering great products (think Starbucks or Nordstrom) and generating new ideas (think Best Buy or Google). And they need to move fast.3

Here’s a summary of where they stand4:

Footnotes

1 My employer is Facebook. This article represents my thoughts, not its. Thanks to Zakia Rahman, Colin Darretta, Harry Chotiner, and Jared Gores for providing helpful comments on a draft. The usual disclaimer applies.

2 In the case of Apollo-owned AMC, it’s possible that, instead, value will be transferred from debt holders to equity holders, as was the case with Harrah’s, which Apollo and TPG own.

3 Some of these insights may be applicable to smaller cinema businesses, too.

4 Does not yet reflect 4Q 2009.

END OF PART ONE  Tomorrow:  Products

TOTBO Tip of the Day 18 Don’t Despair

Posted on by Emy

Since sales reps generally work on commission, they will be choosier about the films that they select. Hence more and more films will end up not being represented by a sales rep or will not have a sales rep for each right. So don’t despair if you don’t have one. If a sales rep is helping you obtain and negotiate split rights deals, they are helpful, but you can function without them. If a sales rep requests a large up front fee to represent your film, I strongly recommend doing your research before paying large up front fees to a representative. You must talk to filmmakers the rep has worked with to make sure that it was worth it.

Join me in Cannes on May 15th at the Producer’s Network Breakfast at 9am and on May 16th where Liz Rosenthal and I will be doing a presentation at the Short Film Corner from 4pm to 5pm. Check out my blog, for more information. Follow me @Jon_Reiss on twitter, or on the TOTBO Facebook page. Check out the book and workshops here. I look forward to hearing from you.

TOTBO Tip of the Day 11 Developing Organizational Relationships

Posted on by Jon Reiss

Jon Reiss’ TOTBO Tip of the Day 11 Developing Organizational Relationships

Last week I spoke about connecting with audience, creating a dynamic website and bloggin. Today’s tip is how to create relationships between your film organizations that should be interested in your film. This is an especially useful strategy for documentaries that naturally have a wide range of potential issue-oriented sites to connect to. But with a little outside-the-box thinking you can probably find relevant sites for your narrative film as well.

Ways to create a relationship with other sites/organizations:
1. Blog about their sites and link to them.
2. Request that they link back to you.
3. Send them your film and ask them to blog about the film and/or review it. (This also helps your search engine rankings — search engines will improve the rankings of sites that other sites not only link to but also write about.)
4. Go one step further: Create an affiliate relationship with those sites or organizations.
5. Use this relationship to generate community screenings.

My workshops start this week in London on May 8th-9th and Amsterdam on May 12th-13th. Hope to see you there!

I want to know what you think! Comment here or on my blog, or @Jon_Reiss on twitter, or on the TOTBO Facebook page. Check out the book Think Outside the Box Office. I look forward to hearing from you.

TOTBO Tip of the Day 7 Differentiating Core and Niche Audiences

Posted on by Emy

The terms Core and Niche are often used interchangeably and this is a mistake. The niche audience for your film is that slice of the population that has a particular interest in your film or an aspect of your film. The core audience for your film is those people within each niche that are your most ardent supporters. Those people who will spread the word about your film to not only their networks, but to the rest of that niche. You can have multiple niches that are interested in your film, and within each niche there is a core who combined adds up to the core of your film.

My live workshops are coming to London on May 8th-9th and Amsterdam on May 12th-13th. Hope to see you there!

I want to know what you think! Comment here or on my blog, or @Jon_Reiss on twitter, or on the TOTBO Facebook page. Check out the book Think Outside the Box Office. I look forward to hearing from you.

Developing Audience During Prep, Production and Post

What you do to help your distribution and marketing started out being one chapter in the book. Now it takes up 1/3 of the book! I feel that it is hyper important that filmmakers work towards their distribution and marketing during prep, production and post. Part of that work is audience development which was the topic today on @Jon_Reiss and on the book’s FB page. A couple of points came up – in no particular order (especially since I am trying to make these blogs as close to “automatic writing as possible”

1. The Attic Door have been documenting their process and posting on Vimeo

They put forth 3 suggestions: 1 Webseries – see link. 2. Social Networks and Video Profiles and 3 Blogged every step of the journey

2. Sean Jourdan has been crowdsourcing his script The Beekeeper out for feedback and developing an audience that way. He’s pretty happy about it.

3. I brought up crowdfunding as a form of crowdsourcing applied to film finance. A number of folks indicated that Indiegogo is having a lot of success for filmmakers – Go Slava! But also Indywood has raised $20,000 so far for their Zombie film – and its definately worth checking out how they are doing it on their site!

4. On the facebook page another filmmaker told about building their own facebook page by passing out cards while shooting their film. I think that’s great – but they should actively collect email addresses as well and start putting them into a email management system as early as possible.

Going to sign off – This is just a tip of the iceberg. Thanks for the feedback and keep it coming!

Jon
@Jon_Reiss
facebook.com/thinkoutsidetheboxoffice