Updated: Apr 10
"I take a step back to understand the business of film. The piece that people forget is the business side."
- David Perry, Producer
Indie filmmakers are artists first and businesspeople a distant second. This is something that David Perry knows all too well and, as a Producer, he makes it his business to understand the business of film. But David isn't any ordinary Producer. After all, most Producers focus all of their energy on film production while ignoring the basic tenets of the business side of film. Here, we'll explore two of the most significant business tenets (Branding and Marketing) and you can determine for yourself whether you too are paying attention to what matters.
The brand of a film is the story that you and others tell about it. It is the hook that creates a connection between the story and the target audience by invoking strong ethos, pathos, and logos.
Ethos is the spirit of the film as defined by the values, beliefs, or principles embedded in the story and evident in the filmmaking team. It espouses a connection to a unique community that shares that same spirit and it represents or speaks for the target audience.
Pathos is about compassion for some aspect of the community that the Ethos represents. It gives the audience a reason to care about the characters in the story and the filmmakers behind it.
Logos is what drives decision-making and is represented by the argument a filmmaker makes for someone to invest time or money into their work in a world filled with plenty of other options.
A film's brand is something that should be carefully developed, managed, and articulated throughout the lifecycle of a film as it is the basis for all marketing, sales, and distribution efforts. Without a brand, it is difficult (if not impossible) to identify, reach, and connect with a target audience.
Marketing is the fraternal twin of branding. It walks hand in hand with the brand story and defines the Product, Price, Place, and Promotion (the four P's) that attract audiences to your work. For the purposes of this discussion we'll define the Product as the film and the Price as the cost-to-view which is determined by the method of distribution. Let's focus on Place and Promotion:
Place is where you go to find your audience. Promotion is how you get them to see you.
In the early stages of story development, Place and Promotion should be high on the list of priorities to iron out. Like branding, planning for marketing should occur as early as possible so that the story can build a home with the right audience. You should identify all of the places your target audience goes so that the story of your film can live there. If you start early enough, your story can become synonymous with some aspect of your target audience's lives just by virtue of its presence. Proper placement ensures that you focus your efforts and resources on the right markets.
Promotion determines the strategies used to make you and your work available and attractive to your target audience. Stylistically, it is defined by colors, fonts, imagery, messaging, media, and other attributes that can be consumed by the senses. On the implementation side, promotion is determined by the methods used to distribute your media. This can include advertising, public relations, social media marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing, video marketing and more.
Marketing is both art and science and requires specific skills and experience to pull off effectively. If marketing isn't a consideration at the start of a project, it may be too late by the end.
As Advisory Producers, we continue to advocate for the indie filmmaking community to consider adding branding and marketing lines to every film budget. These efforts are critical to a project's success if the goal is to turn a profit. Without them, a filmmaker is merely relying on hope or luck, neither of which represents good business. So, if you're planning to make your next indie film, hire branding and marketing consultants to ensure that you have a consistent identity that can be used to reach your target audience wherever they may be.
Our thanks go out to David Perry for sharing his insights on the business of film and for keeping it at the forefront of the indie film conversation.
Be Better. Be Creative. Be Engaged.