IFH 166: Independent Film Distribution & Marketing Blueprint with This is Meg

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Over the past 6 months or so I’ve been getting an enormous amount of emails and messages asking me the same question:

What is your distribution and marketing plan for This is Meg?

I hear you IFH Tribe, so I decided to put this podcast together and layout the marketing and distribution blueprint I created to get This is Meg out into the world. You can’t be a Filmtrepreneur without one of those.

In this episode, I break down:

  • Why I didn’t go through a traditional distributor
  • Why I didn’t do a theatrical run through TUGG
  • How I will be self-distributing This is Meg
  • What platforms I’ll be selling on and why
  • What my marketing strategy is

This is Meg has been a giant experiment to see what happens and I wanted to share the ride with you, the IFH Tribe. Thank you for all the support. Take a listen and keep on hustlin’.

Alex Ferrari 1:55
So today guys, we are going to talk about a question I keep getting asked about I keep getting getting emails about it and Facebook messages and tweets about it. How are you going to distribute this as make what is your distribution strategy? And how are you going to break iTunes as you're trying to do and all this kind of stuff? Well, I'm going to talk a little bit about my my decision as to how I was going to distribute, this is why I'm going to distribute it this way and how I'm going to actually do it. And you guys are going to go on the ride with me to see how it all turns out. Now, first and foremost, why did I decide to self distribute as opposed to going through a normal distributor? If you guys have listened at all to this podcast, you know that depending on the kind of movie it is, distributors might make sense, good. There's a lot of good distributors out there gravitas ventures is a really great distributor, a 24. There's multiple good distribution houses out there that can do good stuff for you and are honest and are going to actually give you give you actually pay you some money, which is rare in the distribution game. So certain films make sense for that. This is Meg is not one of those films, it did not make sense for me to go to a traditional distributor because yes, I have some faces. And yes have some amazing, amazing cast that worked on this as Meg. But I lacked the marquee value that distributors are looking for. And that's fine, and it's also a dramedy, so it's not an easy sell, it's also probably not going to travel extremely well, either. So it's pretty much going to be a domestic or English speaking kind of film as far as distribution is concerned. Now a few people also ask me, why didn't I go through tug, or gather or one of these other companies that help help you go through a self distribution? platform theatrically, I said, I feel the same way. Again, this movie didn't call for that. It didn't have the kind of instill instilled market or community that would support something like that. And I didn't also want to go on a year or two year grind to get out there and try to go theatrical with it, it didn't make financial sense for me, or through for the time that I would be spending, trying to market it promoted in different territories and things like that. Also, what it would do is if I did go out through tug, it would suck away some of the money that I would be able to making through customers who are interested in seeing it would probably be interested or audience members would be interested in seeing it would probably be interested in renting it or buying it on on a on a streaming platform or in DVD or something like that. So you'd be kind of like siphoning off some cash by doing so. And it didn't make financial sense for me at this level of film for other films different for documentaries, absolutely different. It's a it's a great way to go but for me in this is Meg didn't make sense to do it. So I decided to go with the stripper. As all you guys know, I'm a big fan of history. I'm big fan of Nix OS who's the CEO who's been on the show before in Episode 128. And I knew of distributed through Jason boo Baker, a buddy of mine, who works there. And also has, you know, runs filmmaking stuff calm and so on. And they, I kind of just made kind of sense to go with them because they allow you to get access to all the digital platforms, you can imagine. Even some cable VOD as well, you could submit to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, all of those platforms at a very affordable price. No, they charge depending on the package you get. But all I do know is like one, I think it's like in between 1000 to $500, to submit to different platforms. And then you could buy a package of three or five or 10 different platforms for X amount of dollars. The great thing about what Nick and the team at distribute does, is that they, they will refund, if you let's say you want to submit to Netflix, and it costs $1,000 to submit to Netflix, you submit to Netflix, and if Netflix doesn't take you they refund everything up to $150 everything besides $150, they keep $150 for just processing and running their company and doing all this stuff. But they refund refund most of everything else back. So there really is 450 bucks, which is in many ways. A lot of film festivals, cost $150 ridiculously enough, or, or a couple of Film Festival submissions, you get a chance to submit to Netflix, which you can't cannot do by yourself. So that's why I decided to go with distributor. So you know what, I feel that I have an audience, I feel that the cast has an audience that we can sell this as Meg to, and it made sense to go through distributor. So the team a distributor, and I've been working feverishly for the last few months, putting everything together getting all of the deliverables distribution, you know, everything I need to submit to iTunes, which by the way, iTunes is one of the most strenuous strenuous QC processes, technical QC processes, there are in the digital platforms. So if you can pass iTunes, you can pretty much pass almost any of the other guys as well. And I've also submitted to Hulu in other places as well. Trust me, iTunes is tough, but very doable. As long as you have certain things in place, you can do it. Also quick tip. And if you guys are listening to this, this can save you hundreds, hundreds of dollars. I have not been paid by this company, nor do they know who I am. But I've used their service. I am a huge fan. And their test was if I can get it through iTunes, and it did the company I use for closed captioning, closed captioning and a big, big issue. If you want to submit to Amazon, you got to have closed captions. You want to submit to iTunes, Netflix, all of them you have to have closed caption is part of your digital deliverables list. It's usually anywhere between five to $8. Depending to close caption a minute to close caption a feature film, it gets really pricey. You can go to a company called rev.com rev.com. I will put it in the show notes. And there you can get your movie closed captioned for $1 a minute. A distributor friend of mine suggested I do it. I looked at like you're using it. He's Yeah, we use it all the time. rev.com It's $1 a minute. I I sent them the specs of iTunes. They gave me gave me back a closed caption file. It went through iTunes, iTunes accepted it. So if iTunes accepted it, it's good for everybody. So rev comm will save you tons go to them again, not been paid, not a sponsor. They don't even know who I am. I just love what they did. And it saved me a ton of cash, getting a closed caption for this as Meg. So now you have a file, you have all your deliverables ready to go. And you choose what platforms you want to go to. So we're submitting to Netflix, we're submitting to Hulu, and Amazon for s VOD. Now there's a difference between s VOD and T VOD. svod is subscription based video on demand. TV to you is transactional video on demand. So when you do a transactional video on demand, which is your iTunes, your Google Play, your Fandango, now your, your Amazon as well as you could do transactional as well, um, Playstation x box, all Roku all of these places. That's transactional video on demand. Now, the one big mistake that so many filmmakers make is that when they put out their movie on these on these platforms, let's say they go through distributor, they put it all they put them out on all the platforms on this at the same time. So what happens is you don't make an impact at any of those platforms. Now, eventually, this is Meg will be on all platforms, and eventually it will be available for svod. But there is going to be a window that it's Gonna be available for tvod only. And that window could last a long time, it will probably last at least six months to a year before you can see it for free on Amazon or something along those lines on amazon prime, or any of these kind of services. But why a lot of people are like Alex, why are you only submitting it to iTunes at first? Well, because I wanted to and this is by Nick. Nick's suggestion is to focus all of the buying power at iTunes, which is by far the largest of all the transactional transactional VOD even larger than, than Amazon, believe it or not for independent film, iTunes, if we can focus all of our audience, and people are interested in this as Meg to iTunes, the more sales and or rentals we get, the higher we get ranked in their ranking system, whether that be hopefully in the top 10, or top 25, of comedy, or drama it to possibly hope God, I mean, it would be amazing to crack the window for the top 10 or top 25 of all of iTunes. So let's just put it this way, a lot of people say oh, a lot of distributors will tell you a lot of people tell you, you know, yeah, you can go through someone like distributor, but they're not gonna help you market it. And it's true, they are not going to help you market the movie, that is not their job, their job is to open the door that is close to you. So you have access to a marketplace, what you do with that marketplace, is completely in total, totally your responsibility, how you market it, how you strategize, to get your film out through these platforms is up to you, it is not distributors job to market your product to market your film, it is your job. So a lot of people will tell you Oh, well, you know, you're not gonna be able to make any money with that, because you're just going to be thrown on their platform is going to be one of many. And that that comment is actually true. But if you're able to market it, push it, push it to your audience, push it to the actors, audiences in the movie, push it, if you're a documentary, push it to the audience that wants to hear about that information, it is your job to do that. So that's what I'm going to do with this is Meg, and I'm focusing all of my buying power on iTunes. So we can crack that five, that top 10, top 25 of either comedy, oh, God forbid, the top, because understand something, if you're thrown into the pool with all the other hundreds of 1000s of movies that are on iTunes, you'll be thrown in the same pool with everybody else. And you don't have the marketing power to move yourself up. So if you're able to kind of game the system, and this is a hack, this is the iTunes hack. And this is what I talked about breaking iTunes, if we can generate enough sales or rentals, they both count the same. Either you buy it for 1520 bucks, or whatever, or you rent it. For 399, it counts as a transaction, it counts towards your total transactions, which helps you get ranked, the more transactions you get, the more you get pushed up the totem pole on iTunes. And that goes for any platform you choose, I could have easily chose Amazon to do the exact same thing. But I wanted to try iTunes first and see what would happen. The distribution of this as mag is, is basically an experiment, this whole project has been an experiment to see what can be done, what can we do? How can we raise money to make the movie? Can we make the movie Can we make a quality product and we get a great cast? Can we distribute the movie and actually make a little bit of money with it. And I wanted to kind of go through this whole process with you so I could show you guys how it is done, and how it can be done. And we'll see if it works or not. So after it runs, maybe 30 days on iTunes, we will open it up to other platforms like Amazon and Google Play. And all the other ones we will try to be submitting it to Dish Network and cable VOD as well. And we are in talks with Netflix and Hulu and see if we can get into any those platforms. And as I do, you guys will know about it. But that is our distribution strategy. On what why and what we're doing with this is Meg now. How am I going to market this thing? How am I going to get it out there? Well, I've spent the last two years building an audience through indie film hustle. And you guys the tribe have been so supportive and so wonderful to me to indie film, hustle. And to this is Meg. I mean, we couldn't have made the movie without you guys. You guys helped finance the movie through crowdfunding. So thank you for that. And now I'm going to hopefully get my audience which is you guys to watch the movie. And I'm also going to be leveraging Jill's audience. Christa Allen's audience Joe Reitmans audience, Deborah Wilson's audience, Carla does Rocky's audience, our entire cast his audience, they're gonna pump it out through all of their channels, and all their social media channels and the audiences. They've been building up over the course of many years. So by leveraging those, we will hopefully get sales and people interested in what we're doing? People, filmmakers are going to be interesting to see what a film that is as low budget as ours is, looks like and how we went through the entire process. And what you're going to be seeing in the coming weeks is clips, I'm going to be using clips of the movie as a promotional content to be pushing out there. So people could see small funny clips from the movie, getting them excited about it, that's a really good technique. A lot of the big studios do that a lot of indies do that. Not as many as I would think, as many as I see as they should. But it really helps because people start getting interested people start seeing it. So if someone sees a really funny clip, I get three, four or 510 1000 views on something like that. Maybe there's a percentage of those will buy it or rent it. And those By the way, keep going on for forever, they just keep going. So they will be out there in the ether on YouTube on Facebook, pushing forever, as long as we just keep going on and there will always be a link to go back to either buy it or rent it. We will also be sending out stills of funny, funny stills from the movie with calls to action, a call to action is you're telling the audience, you're telling your customer what you want them to do, if you don't have a call to action. That is one of the biggest mistakes most filmmakers make. They'll put up a trailer, but they have no link, they put up a funny picture, but they have nowhere to go or what you want them to do. You have to actually tell your audience what you want, you have to ask that ask your audience what you want them to do when they see this funny meme, this funny photo, this funny video or clip or trailer, and you tell them look, here's the movie, you could preorder it now you guys have probably already seen this pumping through Facebook, and through Twitter and Instagram, and all the other social media outlets for indie film hustle. But you know if you notice, the front page of indie film, hustle has a buy it on iTunes button now for this is mag same thing goes for this is mag comm you go to this is mag comm calls to action everywhere. So you can tell people what's happening, what to do, and how to be involved, whichever that whatever that might be, if you want them to sign up for something, you want them to buy it or rent it, you gotta tell them where to go, and so on. That is what we're going to be doing that is the marketing strategy we're doing for this film, we've been planning it for a few months now. And again, because of the size of mag and the kind of movie it is, this is the business strategy I'm doing with this as mag, different movies that I'll be doing in the future will be marketed differently, completely differently. This is not the same way I'm marketed. And you've my shorts, or lipstick and bullets, the compilation of all my shorts, I'll put all links to all that stuff in the show notes. So you guys can take a look at if you haven't seen it yet. But it's marketed differently. So each movie has its own path. This is the path that I've chosen for this as mag, and all of us, including everybody listening here. Well, we'll find out if it works or if it doesn't. And I'm not planning to be super rich off this. I'm not planning to make hundreds of 1000s of dollars though that would be nice. off of this is Meg it's an experiment, an experiment that I did for myself. And an experiment I did for you the tribe I wanted to make a movie that is of quality. That is funny that it took us very little time to put together a little time to edit it and put it in post and get it out there. You know, we premiered at cinequest which was a huge festival for us and we're so grateful for we're going to be also at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival we got accepted to and and we're hoping to get into one or two other festivals this year sometime. So now it is my call to action for everybody listening to the podcast. If we're going to break iTunes, if we're going to try to make a dent in iTunes and make this as make a little movie that came out of nowhere into something that catches the eye of somebody catches the eye of Hollywood catches the can be a story that people can tell of like hey, this is a successful story. Look what Look what Alex at the indie film tribe did together. This is what it's this is what this is the blueprint that we can make. What I need you guys to do is go and preorder iTunes now if you preorder it you get it for 999 it will be 1299 once it gets released August 4, if you go now to this is mag comm forward slash iTunes. It'll take you directly to iTunes and is available in all English speaking territories that iTunes available in like Great Britain, Canada repair the Republic of Ireland, Israel, Taiwan, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, British Virgin Islands, Armenia, Belarus, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, sorry, Australia, your country a lot needs a a rating and it needs a rating of some sort and ours is unrated. Because we do not want to spend the $5,000, the MPAA will charge us to get a rating on this is Meg. So Australia will not be able to purchase it on iTunes, but we'll be able to get it on Amazon or Google Play or the other platforms when it gets released probably 30 days after August for sometime in September. And same thing goes for Canada, unfortunately. So again, guys go preorder it now. This is mag comm forward slash iTunes. If you guys can help us get this as Meg up to a certain amount of sales to get us just a crack the top 10 of even comedy or drama t that would be huge for this as Meg because then it would be finding audiences that have no no idea who I am, who any of our cast is, possibly, and just be interested in watching a good, funny drama. So and then again, I'm going to report back and let you guys know the honest truth of what happened and where we went with this. So I do need your help, guys. So thank you so so so much for the support. And please spread the word. If you're on it. If you're on Facebook or Twitter, you see any of our postings, funny clips, anything like that, please forward it, share it, tell everybody you know about it, it really helped out a lot. And we only have a few weeks left before August 4. So anything you could do to get us on August 4, it's all pre sales count as our first day sales number. So if we can get that number up high, that will hopefully help us crack that top 10 of comedy or drama T. And as always, if you want the show notes, head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash 166. Now, I also have this week, on Thursday, we're going to be releasing the another podcast and epic podcast. And I know a lot of you might be thinking, Alex, this whole method that you're talking about, of releasing it through self distribution and all this stuff. But I don't think it's going to work. You know, there are really no case studies to prove. Without a doubt that is going to work for a narrative film. Well, I've got an insane success story coming up on Thursday, I literally just got off interviewing Nick, and Nick from range 15. And I'm tell you a little bit about the story range 15. And you're going to hear the story on Thursday. And if you guys are interested in self distribution, and how to build an audience, how to make money, distributing your films on iTunes, Amazon, and so on. This is the podcast for you. Nick made a movie. His name is Nick. I don't want to embarrass myself by trying to pronounce his last name. But he owns a company called Ranger up. And he made a movie called range 15 range 15 has made to date over seven figures strictly from self distribution on iTunes. And Amazon alone, haven't even gone out to the other platforms strictly on Amazon and iTunes alone. He's made over seven figures, and not just barely over a million. We're probably talking about. He mentioned about three to three $4 million in a course of Well, the first month he made a million take home after after iTunes got there to cut. So it's substantial. And he tells you the story of how he did the entire process. He's an inspiration to me, and how he was able to do it. And I've been chasing them probably for almost a year to try to get him on the show. And I finally wrangled him, his schedule finally opened up to a point where I could sit down with him for an hour and really beat up how he did it. And his experiences through distribution. And just amazing story. These guys are amazing what they did and is a narrative zombie action be flick as he calls it. So it's not a highbrow movie. It is a silly and again his words, kind of silly zombie action movie with some people you recognize in it, William Shatner, Keith David, Sean Aston, and of course, Danny Trejo because Danny Triana is in every movie. But except maybe I couldn't get him for Meg. But in that story, and in that podcast, you will hear how he was able to raise $1.2 million, crowdfunding that campaign from his audience, and he was only asking for 300,000 or 350,000. And they got that within the first 30 hours. So definitely check out Thursday's episode. If you're interested at all in self distribution and marketing of your independent film. I hope you guys learned something. Please don't forget, this is mac.com for slash iTunes. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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