Why Does Anyone NEED To Watch Your Film? DynamoPlayer After One Week… Thoughts, opinions and feedback…

Stats So Gone Fishing has been available for one week on DynamoPlayer (click on stats image to the right for a bigger view).

I thought I would share some of the comments that I have received via blog, email and other sites.

On my blog and after the first post on Dynamoplayer last Monday, Mike Barnes kicked off with…

‘a couple of years ago my feature film was totally ripped off and exploited by a sales agent in LA leaving me exhausted and heartbroken.’

I really understand how you feel Mike, and this why both you and I see the potential in DynamoPlayer. The ability to sell a film without interference from anyone else is why I feel Dynamo IS a Gamechanger.

Leigh Hammond chimed in…

‘now I can see the whole process from start to finish which is really exciting!’

Anton Russell commented…

‘the taster is a fantastic idea as the risk of 'will I waste my money on this?' is dramatically reduced by getting a feel for the piece.’

I agree and believe that IF you can get people to watch the first ten minutes of your film, and IF they are hooked, when those ten minutes are up, they have four options…

1.    Abandon (unlikely if they are hooked)
2.    Try and download it illegally
3.    Buy it elsewhere
4.    Buy it from you.

IF you are offering a solution that is both cheap and immediate, you should be able to close at least some deals. But it ALL begins with a NEED to watch your film.

In particular regard to feature length narrative and documentary films, once you get your customer to your site, it’s no longer about your trailer, your poster, your cast etc… Now it’s all about the first ten minutes of your film being SO good that, if a visitor watches it, they are compelled to buy or rent right there and then.

So If your film IS great, you are in good shape.

Onwards… so Nic from Netribution also highlighted some alternative services to DynamoPlayer…

‘there’s www.videolla.com, who seem the cheapest – they charge 10% plus 10 cents per sale plus $5 a month. There's a couple of British ones – www.invideous.com – they charge 10% as well, but you need to host the video yourself and install their plugin around the video player.  www.distrify.com launched at Berlin and like Dynamo,  they also charge 30% and host the video.’

Where I believe we are headed is integration across all platforms and integration into the living room.

dd_opco added…

‘I'd be intrigued to see something like the Dynamoplayer get a shopfront on PS3 / Internet Ready TV’

Nathan Wrann added…

‘the real game changer will be when a high quality, user friendly product (Dynamo player maybe) is available on a ubiquitous set-top box. Make the movie available where people want to watch them. It's why the iTunes market took off (songs available RIGHT on the player) and why the e-book market is flying (books available RIGHT on the reader). Make a dedicated Dynamo player Market app for every connected Blu-ray player, Roku, TV, iPad out there and let my indie film compete at $.99 in the VOD market against studio films that are priced at $3.99 or higher. That would be a game changer. At this point it's just another good tool in an overcrowded, unorganized on-line video market.’

Great points Nathan.

Scottish Film Maker David Baker also blogged about this with his usual passion. You can read his full post here, but here are some highlights…

‘What do a lot of DIY micro budget filmmakers do? We make a small movie, don't spend much on marketing, and then we expect to monetise right away! Completely ignoring the fact that we are in the same arena as $200m movies!

If we try to monetise in a big way from our student like films, if we scream about piracy on the micro budget level, we are f****d! We should be EMBRACING it. You should be ecstatic that somebody will spend 90 mins of their time to watch a movie they have never heard of, made by a filmmaker they have never heard of. That might create a FAN.’

Through all these comments and reading between the lines, what I am seeing is this.

With all that there is on offer in the world (not just the internet) why would ANYONE choose to watch your film? And if they chose to watch, why would they then choose to PAY to watch your film?

The question then becomes, how can you create such a powerful NEED to watch your film and then SERVE that need in a way in which the customer feels happy?

In deciding IF you should bank on a successful online sales campaign for your film, consider these steps…

1. Do you know who your audience is?
2. Can you get that audience to your site somehow?
3. Can you get them interested with your artwork, concept, cast, social proof etc? (and don’t underestimate how long they will give you, I suggest between 2 and 5 seconds on your site before they decide to stay or hit the back button).
4. Can you get them to press the play button to watch the preview?
5. Is what they see SO COMPELLING they MUST pay for it and watch it now?

If you fail at any of these steps, you are going to be fighting hard to make any meaningful sales / rentals. In that instance, releasing your film free and building a fanbase makes a lot of sense.

I am reminded that there is a whole mountain of stuff out there and my customers (film renters / buyers) have very limited time and budget. I need to resepct that. The world does NOT owe me an audience, I need to
earn it.

Perhaps the most considered view I received was from a close and very smart producer friend of mine Stephen Follows of Catsnake

The internet has been built on ‘free’ – I’m not advocating that model but I think it’s too far along in one direction. If you talk to the generation who grew up always online they can’t even conceive of paying for things like content.

Add to this the fundamentally uncommercial nature of shorts that has always existed and I can’t see how anything will change.  

The more I speak with the generation below mine the more I think the world is going through a silent cultural revolution on an epic scale. It’s not the first time this has happened – look at the changes between the generation of parents and of kids in the late 1950’s. The parents had fought in the wars, known hard times and were just grateful for a boring life. The younger generation wanted fun and felt very out of step with the parents before them. I think the internet is a similar device whereby if you’ve always grown up with it you see the world and life in a fundamentally different way.  It’s beyond whether you pay for something but more about what your values are and what you proscribe ‘worth’ to.'

Sobbering thoughts.

While I can still only see potential with DynamoPlayer as part of my online sales arsenal I do need to ask tough questions.

If I am to use DynamoPlayer for a new film, a new venture, I will need to keep asking myself, why does anyone care about my film enough to pay? I must be able to answer this with honesty and integrity in order to make the choice between giving the film away free (maybe ad supported) or attempting a business that is built on revenue from a DIY ‘rental’ or ‘buy now’ model.

Please add to the debate with your thougths below…

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

www.livingspiritgroup.com 
www.ProductionOffice.org
e: mail@livingspirit.com

PS – ‘Gone Fishing’ is also available to rent on Facebook now, BIG thanks to MikeyB who helped get it all working. He has a tutorial here.

Filmmaker (LivingSpiritGroup.com), screenwriter, author of the Guerilla Filmmakers Handbooks (GuerillaFilm.com), founder of Create50.com, CEO of The London Screenwriters’ Festival (LondonSWF.com) and certified firewalk instructor.

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Comments

  1. I don’t beleive in giving your work for free in the sense that you just give it up to the torrents. Theres no direct connection back to you that way. And I don’t beleive all films should be given for free, but mine cost much less than lots of shorts.

    I only give my film for free in exchange for an email. At least 50% of those people connect with me in a strong way, want to know what is next, want to get access to exclusive content.

    Many were plesantly surprised by my film and admitted they only checked it out because it was free. I know for a fact at this early stage of my career, only having the paid stream option would lead to a lot less people seeing my work.

    In my personal experience, giving for free, getting that direct connection, has led to more pledges for higher levels of cash for the next projects. And that is so important to me. This free film lets them see what I can do. So its worth the free model to me.

    It has also led directly to special edition dvd sales, flash drive bullets, via FREE. This biz is about “eyeballs”. Getting as many eyeballs as possible on your work, and that direct connection. My Free plug helps that a lot.

    So I can honestly say free is working for me, but its not an overnight thing, but anybody who expects overnight should give up now.

    Also, the people that I know who have huge communities, pump out regular content away from the movie. Which I am gearing up to do with a weekly video flip doc soon.

    A movie every two years is not enough. People also buy into following the journey of a person that is going for it, if their work sounds good and they have passion. If they sound like a real person, and not a fake who just wants all the bull.

    Will I use Dynamo too? Definately, but when my audience, REAL fans are made because of a BODY of work I create. They get the first screenings online, and because they will then be real fans, then they will probably pay more than the average $1.99 stream.

    When you have that direct fan connection, they WANT your work, WANT to support you, rather than people doing an indie filmmaker a favour by watching their small flick.

    On a whole, I think we are all beginning to realise its all about direct community building for our work, whether a mixture of free content and paid for. My next movie is not for free, but other content will be.

    I will juggle both. Free content as the marketing bait, paid exclusive for the fans that are already cultivated over time.

    Its doable to earn from our creativity with great work, passion, patience, drive, and as long as we constantly evolve. Thats my humble opinion.

    Great post

  2. >> I will need to keep asking myself, why does anyone care about my film enough to pay?

    Totally agree. But shouldn’t film makers be asking this whether they use web platforms or not – what makes my film so compelling that people will go to the cinema, rent the DVD, by a streamed copy?

    With regards online platforms, this is all starting to sound very much like good old fashioned internet marketing…

    Get/build prospects, drive prospects to your sales page, build a compelling reason for them to buy your product, let them buy your product.

    This stuff’s not easy.

    Getting traffic has always been tricky for online marketers but is probably even tougher for film makers, where you can’t easily track down prospects by using Google AdWords to bid on search terms, for example.

    But there are options… Post a trailer or preview on YouTube with a link back to your sales page, and get people to watch and comment on that YT video to help boost it’s exposure within YT rankings and so draw more views. Maybe find similar trailers, shorts and othe videos similar to yours on YouTube and advertise your film there (would need to track ROI). Find genre or theme related websites and strike up a deal with the owner to get banners on their pages and maybe get them to send a notice out to their email lists. Use retargeting, whereby anyone who’s hit your website gets tracked then stalked by ads all over the internet for you film, till they buy (creepy but effective). Build lists before your film is even produced and then create a launch to the list when released. See if other film makers have email lists, websites. Giving pre-release to the many, many film review websites out there, so they can post a review with a link back to your film’s web page etc. etc.

    There’s a whole bunch of stuff you can do.

    The previous poster, David, has made a great suggestion. What a great idea, fantastic way of building a responsive list who you could sell to in the future. Building a fan base certainly seems like a solid step forwards.

    Then once you’ve got your prospects on your sales page you need to sell them of course, this is the other half of the battle.

    Like you say, a preview with the first ten minutes may be a smart move, especially if your first ten minutes is rockin. But also how about cutting a really compelling trailer, just 2 or 3 minutes long instead, especially if your film is slower paced?

    Also making sure your film has a intriguing concept or unique angle would only help too, something that hooks people in.

    And of course good old fashioned marketing and positioning, remember… Dare you see Saw? That tagline certainly piqued much curiosity. Sales copy that pushes people’s buttons into wanting to buy.

    Be interesting to see how this all pans out over the coming years.

    Cheers,
    Chris

  3. Interesting point: what do we mean by “interesting” or “compelling”?

    One thing I see a lot is that filmmakers don’t know exactly what they’re offering their audience. What’s the experience they’re expecting their viewers to have that will make them trade cash for it?

    It’s a very hard question – my personal answer is that we’re selling emotional experiences.

  4. Hey Hugh, I entirely agree, for me at least, emotional experiences are what films are primarily about too. I’m not sure how easy it would be to sell the emotional experience?

    For genre movies fairly easy, I guess? For action you sell them the adrenaline rush, for horror you sell them fear, for thrillers, er, thrills etc. But maybe not all films easily lend themselves like this? Dunno.

    But there are plenty of other ways to hook them in using nothing more than marketing. The packaging (advertising) may be enough to entice people in even if the product isn’t quite delivering…

    A unique concept may draw people in – it did for me, with The Matrix. As did Surrogates, which was distinctly average, not emotional experience there, other than zzzzzzz.

    A quirky angle – Blair Witch / Cloverfield point of view twist.

    Create curiosity – “Dare you see Saw?” (not only creates curiosity but suggests it’s pretty damn scary)

    Cash in on something topical – like Facebook; Social Network, Catfish.

    Create questions/buzz – “is Catfish based on a true story?”

    Controversy – A film that creates conntroversy will create interest, like Irreversible did with it’s extreme violence.

    etc.

    Plenty of different ways of approaching hooking people in.

    Time and time again I’ve seen amazing non film based marketing that makes millions selling crappy products. Clever marketing can achieve an awful lot, even if the actual product isn’t up to much. Obviously, if the product and marketing are great all the better. And beginning creation of films with marketing in mind makes most sense to me.

    Cheers, Chris

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