By Hipolito Munoz, Managing Editor/Publisher
Several of the major sponsors at Sundance Film Festival 2018 are, again, distribution platforms such as You Tube and Amazon, other non-sponsor new intriguing experiments we encountered included SingularDTV, but the question is always the same, how does a content creator make her money back and some profit so that she can produce the next project? That is the billion-dollar question.
There is something to say about having the opportunity to upload content into a platform that allows to share your work with the world, but again, that becomes more an opportunity for marketing and publicity, not exactly for sales. If that is the case, to recover their invesment, then the focus must be on the product you are trying to sell and its audience. If the goal is to showcase the work for a particular audience, casting directors, producers, financiers, then the question becomes more about having them view the content with the intention of consideration for work in the future, more of a show case. This is not exactly a money maker, but if you goal is for people to see what you can do as a sample of your work as a storyteller, that may be the right fit for you, but then, how do you pay your collaborators?
If the content creator is able to develop a marketing and sales plan and executes it as a distributor would, and may be only use the free platform to promote a trailer while the full product is protected or saved on a proprietary platform, then she is acting as her own distribution company, partially. In essence, a content creator still needs what those large platforms have; marketing, publicity, sales and legal team. There is still a strong need for a professional marketing personnel and sales team and a legal team for the contracts expected to be signed. Viewers are not the same as customers, and a commercial enterprise requires customers. Unless the project was done through a gift or a grant, or a labor of love for a story the investor is willing to lose money for, film making is still commercial.
So for those content creators that want to create and produce their film, make sure you have a clear plan about what you are trying to accomplish with your film and that you have the right paper trail so that when distribution, even self distribution, is a choice, you can legally do it. As Amazon opens up its platform, and does pay you around a 15 cents per every hour watched, wait for the 3 hour films to be uploaded, what is your marketing and promotion plan?
Some of the many questions you must consider in order to tackle self distribution include; how am I going to promote it in order to sell it? Who is my target audience and which outlets reach them? Do I have the funds to reach at least the hardcore audience in order to sell enough to make the production money back? If you can answer those questions and execute a plan successfully, then you are ready to create a business plan to present to a studio or an independent distributor. It is important to understand that creating for commercial purposes needs to take into account the tastes of those that your product is being created for, or take a look at the product that you want to create (the script) and make sure you prepare the audience to buy it, not just to watch it.