Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Immediate Marketing Opportunities for Indie Producers

Right now indie, and all film producers for that matter, have the immediate opportunity to strengthen their competitive advantages for the coming year by taking these next few weeks to create or update their film's marketing program: to expand the audience, and to reach out to potential distributors, future co-production partners, sponsors, and anyone else who can help you.

The record Thanksgiving weekend grosses are good news for everyone, so the marketplace promises to be very active after the new year.  The audience will be looking for upcoming films (and media outlets will want to inform them) distributors will be looking for new films, industry executives will be interested in finding new, creative, productive people to work with, and sponsors will be making deals with producers.

For over ten years I've been helping talent and producers successsfully promote their films, and I want to help you too.

Working together, here's what we can accomplish between now and the end of the year:

Creation of a professional and up to date press message and media list

Creation of target list of industry contacts (possible distributors, co-production partners, potential commercial sponsors, and other industry people who can help you)

Creation of professional promotional materials to be considered by people at our target list of companies, which will not be returned as unsolicited submissions

Producers and talent who have their messages and materials completed by the beginning of the new year will enjoy a substantial competitive advantage, in a highly competitive environment.

If you understand the value of having a professional marketing program created and implemented on your behalf, get back to me, tell me what you would like to accomplish next year, and we'll work out a plan that makes sense for you.

It's going to be a great new year, I hope you join our family of clients and friends.

Thanks for your consideration.

Best Regards,
  Steve Thompson

Thompson Communications

s t e v e @ c i n e m a n e w s w i r e . c o m

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Understanding, Respecting, then Overcoming the Unsolicited Submissions Barrier

Everyone who starts out promoting a script or finished film learns very quickly, and abruptly, about the unsolicited submissions barrier.

The letter generally reads "your submission is being returned to you unread, we only accept submissions from recognized agents and attorneys."

Here is an article that explains a great deal why those policies are necessary:

Although I am not an attorney, I do understand a few more principles pertaining to unsolicited submissions:

At the development level, if a producer chooses to acquire and develop your script, the company will need to obtain an Errors and Omissions insurance policy in order to obtain production financing.  That policy will cover many subjects, but derivative characters and possible descriptions of real people are two important considerations.  Your script will need to be reviewed by a qualified attorney to assure that there are no intellectual property infringements, and that there are no direct or inadvertent references to real people.
You'll need to understand that within reason there is a probability that something you consider to be your original concept may end up in a produced film, but in fact it may not actually be a unique concept.  For example, you may feel that your idea of a party on a cruise ship that is disrupted by a (meteor, aliens, pirates, tidal wave, earthquake, etc.) is unique, but it isn't.  A qualified attorney can help you understand and differenciate which of your script elements may be protected, and which can't.

Some distributors and production companies may accept unsolicited submissions, particularly completed films, provided you accompany your submission with a Submission Waiver, which they will provide to you.

Unfortunately, as you might imagine, a company who provides you with a Submission Waiver, will give you a version that favors them, not you.

Our attorney has developed a Submission Waiver form that favors our clients, so we can be proactive when we contact companies on behalf of our clients.  Our initial contact briefly describes the project and the commercial potential, then we mention that we can provide a Submission Waiver with the work if they would like. 

Our practices make two important points to the people we contact: we understand and respect their Unsolicited Materials policies, and we, and our clients are professionals.

Understanding and respecting unsolicited submission policies and providing a Submission Waiver for our clients that favors them are just two of the many ways we strengthen our clients' competitive advantages.

When you are ready to begin marketing your finished film to potential distributors, we can help you do so in a totally professional manner.  For far less than the fees charged by larger New York and Los Angeles agencies.

Contact me, tell me about your project and what you want to accomplish, and I'll tell you exactly how we can help you.

Steve Thompson

Thompson Communications
580 Haddon Avenue; Collingswood, NJ 08108

s t e v e @ c i n e m a n e w s w i r e . c o m

Thompson Communications

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It Has Been Done: From Concept to YouTube to Network (ABC) Syndication

For some time now people have been talking about developing a tv show concept, putting an episode on YouTube, then jumping from web to broadcast tv.  Well it's been done, and it has generated four revenue streams for the producers.

The process is described  the 9-25-12 Hollywood Reporter article entitled:  YouTube-Funded Show 'Recipe Rehab' to Be Syndicated on ABC TV Stations.

The healthy cooking show, which is part of the online video giant's push into professional content, is YouTube's first series to move to broadcast television.

Analysis From Next TV Today:  

While YouTube video creators previously have made shows for cable-TV networks, this marks the first time a new show designed for Google-owned YouTube has been re-versioned for broadcast TV. Set to be cross-promoted via broadcast and online, it’s part of YouTube’s $150-million original content initiative to engage more viewers, and to attract bigger advertisers and persuade them to shift their traditional TV and cable media spends. 

Co-Producer Everyday Health CEO Ben Wolin predicted his firm will get more revenue from product placements and integrations within Recipe Rehab than from advertising sales by ABC. And he estimated that the ABC deal would add "multiple millions of dollars of revenue" for his company.

The four revenue streams generated for the producers are: 

Google Placed Ad Running before Show, and Google Ad Sense ad on the YouTube video page
Product Placements
Earnings from ABC TV advertising (license) fees.

No doubt this accomplishment was due to the efforts of everyone on the team: Producers, director, writers, talent, contact with people at YouTube on participation in their original content initiative.  And notice that the accomplishment was covered by two traditional media outlets: The Wall Street Journal and The Hollywood Reporter.

Read the original Hollywood Reporter article.

Read the original Wall Street Journal article.

Would you like to move your project to the next level?  Contact me to discuss what you've done, and what you would like to accomplish.  We'll develop a plan that may take you where you want to go and beyond!

Steve Thompson

s t e v e @ c i n e m a n e w s w i r e . c o m 

Thompson Communications
Cinema News Wire

Fast Track Promotional Program for Producers

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Where has Steve been?

You may notice that most of the posts and promotional activity on my sites date back to last year. That's because two major things happened to me over last two years.

First, my brother asked my wife and I if we would help him restore a farm property he owns out in Dalmatia, Pennsylvania.  The property consists of a barn, one building that has three apartments, and a single house.

We began work on the farm property back in April, 2010, and have now renovated three apartments, and a single house.  We're using the single house.  The renovation work is now complete, so that demand on my time is greatly reduced.

Second, last year in October I became responsible for the care of my mother, who suffers with dementia.  For the first six months, this created a great deal of difficulty for us, because she would not sleep overnight, she wandered around our home 24/7, let herself out onto busy Haddon Avenue in Collingswood, and would often bang on our bedroom door overnight several times before being escorted back to her bed in her room.  During the day she would require constant attention and care, so since October of last year I have had very little time for business work.

Through trial and error, and the treatment of several doctors, she is now on a medication regimen that keeps her calm during the day, and allows her (and us) to sleep through the night.

So in summary, the entire farm property is now renovated, and the third apartment is now rented.  My mother is now calm enough for me to get several hours a day of productive time at my desk, although travel is still a problem for me.  If I need to get away for more than an hour or so I need to arrange onsite or respite care for her.

Consequently I'm going to focus on providing advisory / consulting services for now which I can effectively provide under my current situation.

In all, it's been a challenging two years, but we've made it through, and now I'm back to work.

So, how can I help you?

Steve Thompson

Thompson Communications

Update January 23, 2013: My Mom passed away on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Five Major Immediate Marketing Considerations for Indy Producers that Can Make This a Great Year

September, October, and November are generally great months for promoting an independent film.  Here are five major marketing considerations for indy producers to address immediately that can help make this a great year:

Social Media

Do your postings help to expand your audience?  Do they develop anticipation for screenings and DVD / download sales, rather than simply informing of developments that are important to you?

Traditional Broadcast and Web Media

Are you doing regularly scheduled outreaches to traditional entertainment media, as well as media outlets who cover the theme of your film, giving them information that will inform their audiences, and dramatically expand your audience?

Mobile Pages

Is your site mobile friendly?  Your most important website pages must be displayed for viewing on smartphones.  Mobile pages are essential in reaching, building, and informing your audience.

Distribution / AFM 2012

Has your film been submitted for consideration to every possible distributor?  

Are you planning on attending AFM 2012 this year?  In my opinion, every indy producer should attend AFM at least once.  At very minimum, get a one day pass and see what it's like inside, not just downstairs in the lobbies.  I can help you arrive with appointments set.

Or, if you are self-distributing, is your plan in writing, and are your desired results measurable?

Paid Advertising

Do you have an active paid advertising plan in place? Major studios still allocate millions for paid advertising for one simple reason: it gets their unfiltered message out directly to their films' desired demographics -- the audience.

There's no formula for creating a hit film, if there were, everyone would use it, and I'd be living up in the hills of Laguna Beach, CA.  But there are standard professional practices for contacting potential distributors so that you don't register as "unsolicited submission" on their radar.  And there are certainly many ways to help improve the probability that your film will be a hit.

Every film requires its own special, custom marketing plan.  A careful consideration of each of these five elements will give you a better idea of where your marketing is strong, and where you might need some assistance.  You have an opportunity right now to affect the results you will be enjoying at the end of this year, but it's up to you to take the necessary steps to make it happen.  

Over the last eleven years I've helped producers market around thirty films, so if you'd like some ideas on how I can help you make this a great year, contact me and we can talk about what we can accomplish by working together through this year and beyond.

Best of luck to you for the remainder of this year and your future!

Steve Thompson

s t e v e @ c i n e m a n e w s w i r e . c o m

Thompson Communications
Cinema News Wire

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Next Really Big Thing, That’s Already Here 

This week you need to pick up a copy of the current issue of Time magazine: The Wireless Issue, and read 10 Ways Your Phone is Changing the World. 

Here’s a quick preview: Smart phones are changing the political landscape, how non-profits promote themselves and accept donations, how we spend, how law enforcement is speeding up investigations, how emotionally involved smart phone users are with their devices, how some people want cell coverage in remote areas (and others don’t), how photographers are using smart phones to produce better photos, how smart phones are beginning to be used in education, and how they are also improving the health systems in some countries. 

The issue will inspire you on how wireless technology can be used in your business. 

The use of mobile devices has exploded faster than anyone could have imagined. You probably have a smart phone, so conduct this simple test: Take a look at your website with your phone, and what do you see? A miniature version of your site, or a mobile version custom tailored to the exponentially expanding world of mobile phone users? 

You can check out my Thompson Communications entertainment marketing services site on your desktop computer,  then check it out on your mobile phone, and you’ll see what I mean. 

Maybe you hired someone to create and manage your website, but the good news with mobile sites is that your present site can be used as a basis to quickly and efficiently create a mobile version, and once the mobile version is created, it is configured so that you or anyone else you choose can easily and quickly change and update it. 

So here’s my offer: If you want to begin presenting your website information directly to mobile phone users in a format that they expect, and you don’t want to waste a lot of time and money in the process, just get back to me. I’ll use your Home Page, and four other pages that you select,* as the basis for a new mobile site that will be up and running in just a few days. 

Once your mobile site is up and running, I’ll show you how to edit it yourself, and you’ll never need to work with me again. The cost of my program is $450, less than $100 per new mobile page. 

(*We can use more pages if you’d like.) 

There are a few more details that you’ll need to know, so if you are interested, get in touch with me and I’ll answer all of your questions.

Steve Thompson
Thompson Communications

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How Does the Film Industry Actually Make Money?

Wednesday June 27, 2012

The New York Times today published a great article on the film business: How Does the Film Industry Actually Make Money?

As a summary, this is one of the best articles I've ever read about the reality of generating a return on investment in the film industry.

Professionally created and managed marketing is absolutely essential.  One excerpt from the article reads: " (Men in Black 3's) production costs were close to $250 million; worldwide marketing most likely added at least that much . . . "

Independent producers' marketing expenditures rarely match their production expenditures, yet they want their films to produce profits in scale with major studio releases.  For independent producers in a hurry to promote their films, but don't have funds equal to their production expenditures for promotion, we offer a Fast Track marketing program.  Of course we also offer competitive traditional film marketing programs aimed at both building audiences, and attracting distributors.

The article's writer Adam Davidson asks "Why is anyone in the film industry?"  Well any of us who have been fortunate enough to attend a cast and crew preview, or premiere, understand that there is no thrill that's anything like seeing your work on the big screen.

The reality is producing a film isn't any easier for the major studios as it is for an independent producer, so I congratulate anyone who has overcome all of the problems and completed a film.

If you're looking for an opinion on how to professionally promote your independent film, contact me and we can bounce some ideas around.

Steve Thompson / Thompson Communications
s t e v e @ c i n e m a n e w s w i r e . c o m

Cinema News
Thompson Communications 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stacey Parks and How to Market Your Film for Under $45 Million

When I decided to learn more about film distribution, I turned to Stacey Parks' Film Specific site.  Her books covered a great deal of ground, and I was able to read and absorb them in a very short time.

If you have decided to learn film distribution, her site is still a great place to start.

Here is an except from a recent promo e-mail from Stacey:

" . . . a marketing campaign for your film takes a whole lotta time. Take The Hunger Games for instance - Lionsgate spent an entire year stoking the fires, building up the buzz, and carefully and strategically planning for the launch of the film this weekend. They also had a budget of $45 million and a staff of 25 dedicated just to marketing this movie!  Money aside, you can't expect to achieve big number results without a staff...a team of dedicated individuals....and lots and lots of time.

Moral to the story: If you're planning to do your own release of your film, start stoking and planning a year in advance. Don't get lazy and cheap - hire a point person like a PMD (Producer Of Marketing & Distribution) or a marketing team. And take it seriously lest you be left out in the cold with a release that falls flat. (I see this happen with more clients than I care to mention! And all because there was no advance planning...)"

Let me add one more important detail.  Assuming that you have approached potential distributors, and some have shown interest in your film, who do you want negotiating on your behalf?  It is highly likely that you will be involving your attorney before you actually agree to any form of distribution deal.

That's why I set up my services the way I have:

Publicity builds awareness, and raises the financial value of your film.

I promote your film directly to selected distributors, but turn the inquiries over to you so you and your lawyer can decide how to proceed.

So if you don't have $45 million and a staff of twenty-five to promote your film, don't worry, neither do I.  But I can save you a great deal of time and money for now, and who knows where we'll be in the future?

Every producer's situation is different.  Maybe my methods suit you, maybe they don't.  But when they do, everybody wins.  You make progress in a very short length of time, at a relatively low cost, with no downstream percentages to pay.

Check out my Producer Marketing Services, and my new Fast Track Marketing Program and if you have any questions, you know where I am!

-- Steve Thompson / Thompson Communications