I love to share my films for free and all that, but sometimes I get a bit tired of this poor artist thing and try to come up with clever things to change the situation. I’m definitely not a businessman at heart but sometimes I try the murky waters of marketing and selling. Here’s some of the things I’ve done and experienced.
After I had finished my first documentary, A Life in Japan, I tried to do it the “right” way, and only uploaded trailers to different sites where viewers could pay for a download or DVD. Absolutely nothing happened. After a few months I had maybe close to a hundred views and no sales. Great. So, I uploaded the whole thing to Youtube and posted links to all free documentary sites that I could find, and now things started to happen. I got over a hundred thousand views a month, some people paid for downloads and gave donations (thank you!), hundreds of pages and bloggers linked to it and I got messages from TV-stations that wanted to broadcast it (non-profit, but anyway). It turned out pretty good, to share for free!
And then I finished my next project, The Last Generation?. A film about a Sami reindeer herder in Swedish Lapland who I had followed for a year. It was invited to a couple of festivals in Sweden, a university and other public screenings, and I got very positive comments. One guy that had worked at the Swedish national TV for 30 years thought it was the best documentary of that kind that he had ever seen. So I expected the film would be received well on the Internet too. Wrong. A Life in Japan was accepted to a number of documentary sites but this time I wasn’t welcome anywhere! No response from any of the sites that had accepted the Japanese documentary. Finally I got it on another site but unfortunately that hasn’t brought very much traffic.
With A Life in Japan on many different documentary sites, I can see that the amount of traffic I get from each site varies a lot.
OK, so I was out of luck with The Last Generation?. But I had two fishing movies coming up, one from the big game fishing competition in Azores, and another one about fly fishing in the Swedish mountains. Fishing films should be readily accepted to any documentary site, right? But no. Same procedure as with the reindeer herder film. No reactions from any of the documentary sites except one.
All of these films are just as good as A Life in Japan, I think, so I’m a bit surprised when all these sites are suddenly ignoring everything I make. Maybe it’s something with Firefox and Java-script or something? That they actually never got my messages? I have submitted both through their home and FB-pages though, but to no avail. Maybe all these English based sites don’t like foreign languages and subtitles? Go figure.
When Internet turned cold to my efforts, I turned to local TV stations in Sweden, and they were more than happy to broadcast everything I had. I didn’t get paid of course, but at least I got a little…exposure. That won’t pay any bills but maybe something good comes out of it in the future. I really want to believe it.
And then I came up with this great idea to make a site where all independent filmmakers in Sweden could display their work and advertize themselves without having to become members or pay anything. Exactly the kind of place that I had been missing all the time. And I assumed, so were everybody else. But, like somebody said in a Steven Segall movie; “to assume is the mother of all fuck-ups”. I made a post on a forum for filmmakers where I have been a member for years and expected something positive to come out of it. Nothing. Nobody wanted to join, nobody commented the post, and close to no one even bothered to have a look at the site. The post has now more than 700 views and maybe 10 of them has had a look at the site. Swedish independent filmmakers must be very happy with the exposure they get already. I don’t know. Or maybe it was just an extremely badly crafted post. The site is done with the simplest HTML and has a “retro” feeling, and maybe that what’s offending people? But at least the navigation is very easy to understand and it has fast loading pages.
I have registered myself as a distributor and got recently a first film accepted to an “official” big site, used by Swedish cinemas to choose movies to screen. Naturally, as a truly independent filmmaker, I make my own DCP-copies. Digital cinema files.
Of course I’ve tried to post links on Facebook and Twitter too, but that hasn’t returned anything except a few likes. Today I tried to advertise on FB for the first time. Paid about US$60. So far, after half a day and 7377 ads displayed, I’ve got 17 visits and 1 like. I have a feeling I won’t be one of Facebook’s success stories. I sure wish I had the same CPC on my Youtube ads 🙂
Damn, it’s hard to reach out! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you don’t advertize nobody knows about your work, but if you advertize, you’re just a spammer or scammer. Probably both.
I thought it would be a good idea to have some kind of base for my filming activities. I have my FB and Twitter accounts, my home page and so on, but I wanted something to “rule them all”. An address that I could add anywhere knowing that I have everything linked from that place. So I started this blog. The Chinese SPAM-bots like to comment on my posts and once in a blue moon the statistics show some real visitors too. It’s a start.
I think I do have a lot of things in place, I just need to start working with all the pieces to make something out of it. If you have any great ideas, let me know.
Cheers, and don’t forget to share my videos with all your friends 🙂