There’s a popular saying, - “If you spend money on an activity, it’s a hobby. If you make money from an activity, it’s your profession.”
Making a film is that precarious line which often tends to dangle between a hobby and profession. Can you really say that you are a filmmaker by profession when your films haven’t made any money?
So how can you make your films and also earn a living through them? Here’s your guide:
Start planning from the beginning
When I say planning, I don’t just mean your story line and script. I mean something much more important. Your strategy for the film. Start by asking yourself the two basic questions:
1. Who will be my audience?
2. How will I show my film to them?
Once you have an answer to this question, you can make your film to fit these needs. For example, if you want to make a film on the subject of internet trolls, the best way to reach out to your audience would be either through a free online platform like YouTube or a VOD platform like Netflix, Amazon, etc. Once you have this in mind, you can gauge the amount of money you can spend and what your budget should be.
Define the purpose of making this film
Why did you want to make this film? Is it because you want to create a change, start a conversation, or share your story? Define your motivation and take steps to achieve it. Creating an awareness and screening your film for those who would benefit from it the most would be the right way to go.
Get professional help
If it is difficult for you to understand the subjects of budgets and planning, it would be prudent to get a partner or professional help. The key is to involve someone at the beginning so that they can help shape your dream into a reality while still making it profitable!
Media Konnect is one such organisation that can help you. By ensuring that you cut down on production costs, get the right platform for your film, and help you with marketing activities. Reach out on firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.
Now that you have the basics, start building your structure. Make your film while keeping all the above things in mind. Stick to your budget, keep trying to make connections, and networking wherever possible.
Congratulations! You have made your film. Now you are done with the 10% of the work, the remaining 90% will include all your efforts to market your film and making sure it reaches the right people.
Entering Film Festivals
Film festivals are a great way to go for an indie production. Akshay Singh is the director of Pinky Beauty Parlour which has made rounds of 25 film festivals so far and created a great buzz for itself.
“My film can be considered a small film because I didn’t have any big stars in it. I chose to enter film Festivals because I didn’t have a big name, my film is a strong and substance-driven story. So, I entered myself in two festivals and my film was well received. Thus, I was invited for others. I got a chance to network with a lot of important people. Apart from that, one truly great thing about film festivals is the fact that you get to interact with the audience right after they have seen your film. This is not possible on any other platform. My film also won a few awards so for marketing purposes, it was a huge boost because then you have laurels attached to your film which entices the audience more. Also, if your film manages to create the right waves then there’s a lot of free publicity that happens.”
For a small budget or an indie production, entering film festivals can actually be the best move.
If the film festival route is not for you, then you can go the old tried-and-tested method of Bollywood – undertaking promotional activities. If your budget permits or if you have big names attached to your film, creative promotions are another option for you.
For a smaller budget, leveraging social media will be a smarter and relatively cost-effective move. It is very important to create an online presence for your film. If someone googles your film, they shouldn’t have any difficulty in finding it. The following are basics that you need to have:
1. Correct and updated information on Wikipedia and/or IMDB
2. A handle on Twitter for your film (you may use your own handle as well)
3. A page on Facebook
It is very important to share all information about screenings, interactions, meet and greets etc. so that your audience knows how to find you and your film.
You may go a step ahead and choose the level of interaction on social media. This could include creating hashtags, quizzes, polls, sharing pictures, and trivia about the film, and communicating with your audience on a regular basis.
Non - Traditional Route
There are many different ways to make money through your film. Just ask Mr.Viveck Vaswani! He has produced around 40 films so far. His last film, Roughbook, never hit the theatres but was seen by eyeballs across India. How you ask?
“I knew who my audience was going to be, I had a clear idea in my mind on how I would reach them, so I made a plan accordingly. I showed my film across schools and colleges. For this, I collected a minimum fee from the audience.”
Another great example of creative thinking is Sandeep Mohan’s #Shreelancer. He tells us:
“Once the film was complete, I travelled and screened the film on my own under 'The Great Indian Travelling Cinema" experiment where, I visited cafes, art galleries, pubs, co-working spaces, and colleges etc. to test screen the film. Then we had a limited theatrical release in India and then the US. The key to making a profit is to keep the budget extremely tight, which I did. Once the film garnered sufficient buzz through the ‘Travelling Cinema’ screenings and the film festivals. My film was received positively by the reviewers, and then it was picked up for a small profit.”
Let’s dive into the flip side of marketing and know more about distribution and exhibition of your film. Primarily, there are two ways to go about this stage:
1. Traditional method: This method mainly consists of a distribution contract with a professional distributor. The distributor may buy your film and take care of marketing and exhibiting it. Depending on the basis of the contract, you may get paid for relinquishing your film completely for a set amount, or you may ask for a certain share of profit, or a combination of the two.
2. Self-distribution: As discussed before, self-distribution is another way to go which will allow you to have the most amount of freedom. Apart from getting money from special screenings and ticket sales, there are a few other ways to generate revenue. These include, product placement in your film, selling it to VOD (Video On Demand) platforms, selling it to educational institutions, selling it to airlines for in-flight entertainment purposes, and proceeds from merchandising.
I hope this guide helps you in making a ‘successful’ film. For any queries or feedback, drop a mail on the email ID given before or share your views in the comments.