IFH 044: How to Create Multiple Revenue Streams for Your Indie Film

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The one thing more difficult than actually making an indie film is marketing and selling that film. I get asked all the time the same question:

How can I make CASH, MONEY, DINERO with my film?”

So I decided to put together this very dense podcast with suggestions on multiple revenue streams for independent films. This podcast is probably one of the most info-packed episodes I’ve ever done.

So get your iPad ready to take some detail notes cause this episode is worth MUCHO DINERO for the filmmaker who wants to put in the work.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So today, guys, we have a really dense episode, I wanted to put all of these different kind of revenue stream models in one episode. So everyone can kind of get a taste of different options that they can do to help sell their movie and to help get their movie out there. At the end of the day, make some money help you guys make some actual money. So you can continue making films and continue doing what you'd love to do. So first thing I'm going to talk about is audience building. Now audience building is going to be an entire course one day on how you actually build an audience and how you, you know, engage with an audience, and so on and so forth. So I'm going to assume that you're already at the point where you've engaged your audience, I'm going to give you options of revenue streams that you don't even have to have audience, built in audience but unbuilt an audience always, always and again, always helps in anything you're doing. So obviously, focusing on audience building is one big thing. I talk about it a lot throughout throughout the podcast over the course of the over the course of the last six months that we've been doing this podcast, as well as on the blog at indie film hustle.com. There's a ton of information about audience building. And I just want to make a disclaimer here guys, all these services and people that I'm going to be talking about I am not making a dime off of any of them. This is my honest true opinion and recommendation with no money changing hands. Okay, so first and foremost, the first place I would start if you have a brand new movie idea and you haven't even raised money to make that movies you got to go to seed and spark calm, seed and spark calm is the Kickstarter and Indiegogo for filmmakers. It's run by an amazing entrepreneur by her name is Emily best. I had the opportunity to interview Emily on episode 23. And we basically sat down and talked an hour on basically a masterclass on how to crowdfund and how to start doing your audience building. So definitely check out that episode, that would be Episode 23. And I'm going to put all of the links of the people we're talking about in the show notes, as well. So don't forget that in the show notes. As always, indie film, hustle comm forward slash zero 44. So again, seed and spark is a great place to start, because you're not only audience building, when you're starting to create excitement about your product, but you're actually starting to raise money for this product. And this is a this is a crowd that you can not only raise money for your project, but move forward on marketing on other aspects of your project that might not be specifically production based. And you can start working with engaging with this audience and start really working on and eventually possibly sell them merch, merchandise or other things, ancillary products. But once you build up this audience, it's so so powerful to do. And I'm going to talk about what a couple of other filmmakers have been doing that I've saw that are just amazing in regards to how they're tapping their audience and what they're selling and how they're making their money. It's remarkable. So first place to start is seeing a spark calm, or any kind if you don't like seeing a spark for whatever reason, I don't know why you wouldn't. They're amazing. But there's always obviously, Kickstarter or Indiegogo, as well. But see, the spark is specifically designed for filmmakers. So I would definitely go there. Now. The next step is let's say you get your movie made, you're done. Now it's in the it's in the can What are you going to do next? Well, after you go through a festival circuit, or some that maybe some people might not want to go through a festival circuit and festivals are a whole other conversation for another time. But let's say you have a final product and you want to get it out there into the world. So the next thing you want to figure out is how you're going to get it on VOD video on demand, digital services like Hulu, Amazon, Amazon Prime, Google Play iTunes, ruku, all of those kinds of places. So how are you going to get it on there? Well, there's a thing called aggregators. These are people who either they kind of like have the dirt So basically to get into all these places, there's only, let's say 30 or 40. companies that have signed deals with Hulu, Amazon Prime, Google Plus iTunes, and all those kind of places, and Netflix and those places. So they've only signed about 40 deals with these with these companies. So if you can't get through one of those 40 companies to get in, and there are and I'm going to give you a name of one that you can do, but if you can't get through with one of those, you might have to go through an aggregator, an aggregator, someone who has a deal with that other company to get into Amazon, Hulu, and so on. One company that I interviewed a few while ago is Linda Nelson's company, indie writes, and she was an episode 17. And she basically her deal is, you're allowed, she basically gets your projects in to Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, possibly depending on if you want to go to Netflix or not. I'll talk about Netflix in a second, Google Play and all that stuff. And she has a direct relationship with all these companies. So she is one of those companies that has direct relationship with most of those companies. If not, she can get into those companies as well. And she has an amazing deal for filmmakers of obviously, if it works for them, and she is something that she thinks that could work. But it's a great company, they are filmmakers first and foremost. And it's a way for you to get your movies out there quickly and fairly easily. And I like them a lot. I like what they're doing a lot. They're they're really good, good folks over there. So definitely check them out. There's also a couple other companies like distributor, where our guy Jason Brubaker works. I interviewed him a little bit ago in regards to self distribution, they have another model in regards to how they distribute it. But there's also another way to get into a lot of these VOD companies that look them up as well. And that's, that's one way to get into all of these, these companies, you trying to go in individually to these companies, you won't make it you just won't get in? It's no possibility. You have to kind of work with these other companies. Because imagine if Netflix opened their door to every filmmaker to kind of just submit, are you kidding me? It would be absolutely crazy. Now, with Netflix in mind, one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a filmmaker is what you film on Netflix. And I know you're Alex, you're saying Alex, that's crazy. Netflix is awesome, why wouldn't you want to put your movie on Netflix, because Netflix doesn't pay crap. Netflix, unless you're a huge, huge deal, you know, if you're an independent film, they're gonna pay you once, if you're lucky, a little bit of money. And that's it. And then all of a sudden, your movie is available for everybody to watch for free. So all those other revenue streams get cut off, the only time you go to Netflix is maybe three or four or five years down the line, we've you exhausted all the other revenue streams. And you want to just put one more, you know, one last revenue stream and pop it out. That's from my experience. And from my, my research that I've done, Netflix is not the place you want to start with unless there's a huge upfront cost. The reason why is because Netflix does not pay per view. They pay once and that's it. But But formats like or platforms like Hulu and Amazon Prime, they actually pay per view. So that is so much more powerful than just being paid once up front. And that's it. So it's a real that's Netflix is definitely not a place you want to go. But Hulu and Amazon Prime, those are two really great prime places to put your stuff in. Definitely check out that Episode Episode 17. With with Linda, it's, it's eye opening on all the crazy stuff that you can do with VOD. Now, another amazing place that you can submit yourself. And this is something you have complete control of is Vimeo Pro. Vimeo pro allows you to submit your movies and charge for them. Now the wonderful thing about Vimeo Pro, and it's vimeo.com, obviously, but if you get a pro account, which you have to pay $199 a year for. So this is a little bit more seriously, you're expecting to make some money. If you invest $200, you'll be able to charge for your movie 399 599, and so on. And the great thing about Vimeo Pro is that they have a built in audience. So just by putting it up on Vimeo, Vimeo Pro, you're going to start making revenue very, very quickly. You know, obviously, depending on the movie, and so on, but there is an audience already they're hungry for content hungry for good stuff. That's what Vimeo is based on. They're not just a company that has our platform that just is, you know, an aggregator, not an aggregator, but a technical format to be able to put your movie up and host it. These guys actually have an audience and they sell they sell your movie for you just by putting it up on there so that tonight $199 It's a pretty decent investment. I know of a bunch of Sundance winners that have done exactly that. They'll put their movie up on one platform that doesn't have an audience really and they make barely anything on it, but they just stick up, stick their movie up on on Vimeo pro and they say I get a check every month and it just keeps coming and coming even if it's a little bit. It always keeps comments. So Vimeo pro really, really good. Really, really good option for for you to submit yourself. Now another really great form or another great platform is indieflix now, I had the pleasure of interviewing the CEO of indieflix, Sheila r andreen, if I'm not mistaken, and that's going to be coming up in Episode 51. That's going to be released February 8, definitely listen to what she's got going on. She's been around for a while the company indieflix has been around for a while and has gone through multiple different changes as far as formats and kind of structure. And now they're built on a membership platform. So they're basically kind of like a Netflix for independent films and short films, by the way. And by the way, everything I'm talking about here, short films are not out of the question, you can get short films, definitely in Vimeo pro definitely indie flicks. And those other formats for short films are an option too. So definitely take a look at that, if not one short film, a compilation of short films, definitely in some of the bigger platforms like iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Google Play, and so on. But indie flicks is really interesting, what they're doing is because as as since they're a membership based program, what they do is they actually pay the filmmaker per minute watched. And I know that sounds crazy. So if you have a movie, let's say one, you let's say you have a decent movie, and you and somebody watches only five minutes of it. But you got 10,000 people watching the first five minutes and then they they log off, well, you still get paid. So because there's this big, huge pot in the middle, the more subscribers there are, the more per view port, you get paid per minute. So right now I think it's 25 cents a minute or something like that, per don't quote me on that, you'll have to look at their their specifics on their site, indie Flix calm. But when I heard that, I was like, Oh my god, this is amazing. Now obviously, this is a more curated, curated a platform. So indieflix will curate the stuff that comes in. So not everything is going to come in, not everything is going to be accepted, they're really picky about what they get in. But if you can get in there, it's a wonderful revenue stream for your film. So that's another great revenue stream. And definitely check out Episode 51. With Sheila, and it's eye opening of what they're doing. And also her experience in the indie film world is hilarious and eye opening as well. Now, another thing you can do is go to a great company called VH x.tv. Now vH x.tv is probably the sexiest platform for self distribution I've ever seen. I love what these guys are doing. It's it's really, really amazing. What they do is the infrastructure is so seamless, it's wonderful. So you can upload your, your your project your film up there, and host it for them. They give you all sorts of different codes. Like if you want to have a little pop up code on your on your own sites, you can literally sell digital streaming right on your website without dealing with the infrastructure, they have dealt with all the infrastructure for you. And they take a very modest cut, they take 10%, so you get 90%, they get 10% Plus, I think 50 cents, every transaction, which is insane. So basically you can right out the gate, start selling your movie, again, this is with if you have an audience, if you expect to just throw it up on VHS and start selling, it doesn't work that way. With VHS, you've got to have an audience that you can point to this area. So they're more of an infrastructure kind of company. And it's amazing infrastructure really, really good. So you have to pay, I think the first hour is free after the first hour, you got to pay a little bit of money once one time fee just for hosting. But after that, it's it's free sailing, and it's not a lot they give you like, you know, per five hours, hour, two hours, extra hours, and they sell you blocks. And it's really really, really great, guys. I mean, amazing. So I know of a few film filmmakers that I know of what they're doing is let's say they get into a big film festival. And all that hype and energy is going towards that Film Festival. During that screening, well what they'll do is they'll promote right after the festival, they'll promote us available VOD window for that movie for a week. So they'll they'll, they'll aim everybody towards to the site and go guys, if you want to watch it, it'll be available for the first for a week. And here's the code, and it's gonna cost you, you know, 399 599 to watch the movie, but they've got all this excitement about it. And then after that, they pull it off, and it's gone. Then they go on to the next movie or the next festival. And they do the same thing. And they they kind of so that way you can kind of leverage all the hype and energy you get from a festival and do some sales off of it. So you're stalling starting to sell your movie a little by little. This doesn't affect your, your distribution issues. Like if someone wants to pick up your movie, anything like that. It's short little windows. So it's just another way for filmmakers to make a little bit of money as they're going through this process of vH x.tv. Definitely, definitely check them out. They're a wonderful, wonderful company and really helping out filmmakers all the way so and then lastly, I'm going to give you another tip. How about if you want to go theatrical? I know that sounds insanely crazy. Like Alex, I don't get the money for theatrical. There's no way I can go theatrical. Well, you know what, there's this insane company called tug tug allows you to basically go into, I think 90% of all theaters, you have access to 90% of all the movie theaters in the country. And they help you set up screenings. Now when the way it works is this and by the way, the episode that I had the lovely pleasure of interviewing the head of independent film acquisition, Felicia, is Episode 25. So definitely check out that episode. And we'll go we go into a lot of detail about what tugs doing, what self distribution theatrically means, and what you can do there. But I'll give you the kind of the the cliff notes version of what that is, basically, what you can do is set up a screening in any, any city in any any venue you like, as long as it has access to it, you set up, let's say you set up a screening, and then you've got to fill the seats. So if you fill, you know, let's say you set a threshold, so as long as you can get 30 people out of the 50 in there, the screening is on you pay nothing, absolutely nothing until that screening is a go, then you can actually send the elements to tug tug takes care of all of the, the elements or deliverables that needs to be done or created for, for the theatres, like the dcps, or whatever needs to be created for that screening. They handle all of that they handle the security of it, they handle all of that aspect of it. So it's turnkey. And I know I know one film that they did made millions, I think a handful of millions and was a documentary, because they'd only just set up screenings in movie theaters, but they sell them up in public place in public places, and event halls and you know, churches, wherever they can, they set these things up, it's places where you can start making revenue, as long as you are willing to put the legwork into create the hype, and get people get, as they say, asses in seats, then you can have a theatrical run of your movie. With no money up front, it's absolutely insane before you would have to spend 1000s of dollars in front of for Wallet for wallet, meaning you'd literally literally just renting out the theater. Nowadays, you don't have to do that. It's all on the internet. And then if you have a fan base in New York, let's say, and you have a fan as you go, there's a crazy fan about your movie or someone that really loves what you're doing. And you can go look, you can sponsor a screening. So then they go out there and they fill the seats for you. And boom, you all of a sudden you have another screening. So all of this is another revenue stream. And you can make some serious money doing this because not only do you sell tickets, but you can sell you can make it an event, you can charge a little bit higher ticket price instead of 10 or $15, you can charge $40 because there's going to be a q&a afterwards, there's going to be autograph sessions with the actors or whatever you want to build up like this kind of event. And you can sell merch, you can sell t shirts, hats, posters, DVDs, whatever you want to sell at the theater. Now, obviously, it depends on the theater and the venue, but on the ones that are that allow that you can make more revenue off of the screening than you could selling it, you know, to a distributor. So again, this is all this wonderful world of self distribution, and getting different revenue streams to come in to your movie is there's so many options nowadays, when there was none before, or really, really difficult to get their stuff out there. Now there are multiple revenue streams for your movie, and there's no excuse, the only thing you have to do is work. There's a lot of work involved. It's hard work, I'm not gonna lie to you. But the once you start building that audience up, once you start building this all up, you can start building your company or building up more movies and more movies and more movies. And get it to that next place where you want to be where you can just keep doing this for a living, and keep doing what you love to do instead of having to go to that nine to five job, or doing those jobs that you don't want to do. Now as a promise, I wanted to talk to you guys about specifically one film that has taken self distribution and just monetizing their brand in a way that I've never seen before. And it's a short film on top of it. It's a short film. I saw this movie called Kung Fury. Definitely Google Kung Fury, and you'll see what I'm talking about. These guys are insane. They created this a wonderful short, which they crowdfunded, by the way. So they already started creating their audience. They crowdfunded and they got almost 140 $150,000 to make this short film, and it's basically an homage to the 80s. So it's like the most ridiculous out there crazy 80s movie. Every cliche you can imagine is in it, but it's so much fun. It is just a hoot, man, I couldn't stop laughing. It's a great, great action movie. They take themselves so seriously, and that's what makes it funny. And they know what they're doing. It's It was great. But what they do now is like I saw it on El Rey network. So they sold it out the El Rey network. They have they sold a bunch of it, they sold a bunch of of their own, you can buy screening copies of it, but now from what I understand they're giving the movie away for free and using it basically as an advertising for other stuff that they're selling. They're making more money on their merch. than they are ever selling the movie. And that's where you've got to be. That's where that's the Disney model. That's the Star Wars model. Yeah, they're making a lot of money. Obviously theatrically when Star Wars Force Awakens, but that's not where the money is, you know, frozen made a billion dollars in the theater and the theater, but you know how much frozen made off of their dresses alone, just the dresses of Elsa dresses, they made a billion dollars off of the Elsa dress alone, not to mention the hundreds of other products they licensed for frozen. That's where the money is that if you can get to that level, so these guys have done it at a much smaller scale, and a more accessible skill. But they've done it very, very well. They're selling jackets. They've built like this rabid fan base around Kung Fury that people are buying the jackets to buy and hats, they're buying t shirts, they're buying all sorts of crazy mirch they got David Hasselhoff to do a music video for them. It was absolutely remarkable what these guys have were able to do. And I tip my hat to them. Because if you definitely look at them and study them, because they did a really good job. And another movie that did a really great job doing this similar thing is turbo kid. Look for a movie called turbo kid on Google. And you'll see what I'm talking about. They have their film up obviously on prime and on Hulu and all these kind of places as well. But they sell merch they found the same rabbit base fan base of fans that love what they're doing. It's an 80s, another 80s action movie, but it's a it's actually a feature. And stars Michael Ironside is the main villain if you guys don't know who Michael Ironside, Google him, he's amazing. But the movie is done really, really well. And it's amazing what these guys were able to do. So those are two great examples of what filmmakers who really want to turn their movies into businesses, and understand what can be done with a movie and take it to that next level. So I've just laid out a lot of information for you guys definitely go to the show notes, there's going to be links to everything I'm talking about, it's going to be a really jam packed show notes, a lot of links, a lot of things for you to take a look at. But I've laid out a lot of information for you guys of different revenue streams that you can start implementing as soon as your movie is out with an audience and without an audience. But always if you want to make it in this business and make a career out of doing this by yourself, self distributions building up, you're building up your world building up your, your brand, and all that an audience built. You have to have that audience guys, you've got to build that audience of I might even be doing a course about this one day because so many people ask me about how to build an audience. And I'm doing that right now with indie film, hustle and a lot of things that I'm learning on indie film hustle can easily be turned into things that you can apply to your film into your brand, which is one of the reasons why I created Twitter hacks and I'm creating a bunch of other courses because you guys keep asking me to do so. So that's what I'm going to do for you guys so I can help you guys out more and more so thanks so much guys. I hope this episode was helpful to you as always if you found this episode great. And if you love the show, head over to filmmaking podcast.com and leave us a an honest review of the show. It really helps us out a lot helps us get the word out on indie film hustle so more people who need it more filmmakers who need this information can get it. Please don't forget to share this. On Facebook. If you see an article or a post of ours, please share it with all your friends as often as possible so we can get the word out and get this tribe bigger and bigger and bigger and more powerful so we can help each other. Get to the next level guys. All right. Keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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