Ande Schurr reports back from a weekend of learning and inspiration at the recent Big Screen Symposium, with tips to promote yourself and your work.
The Big Screen Symposium is the most satisfying learning and networking experience in the annual New Zealand film and TV calendar.
The newbie filmmaker who thinks our creme de la creme of producers, directors and decision-makers live only within the end credits of their own TV shows or films, will find themselves on a level playing field for the weekend as the learning, inspiration and sense of community is accessible for all.
Where else can you learn how Avatar producer Jon Landau works with James Cameron to achieve his vision, the harmonious way in which score composer Graeme Revell integrates music within the sound FX track, or the social media marketing savvy of Anna Dean who helped mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows rise to considerable public awareness.
Read more about her brazen approach in promoting What We Do In The Shadows. At the Big Screen Symposium, she spoke on marketing and publicity - and painted an involved picture of the many factors filmmakers must consider. Her Masterclass provided the inspiration for this article.
Her company doubledenim.co.nz approaches marketing in this way:
"Marketing explores the relationship between your customers and your product, taking into account your competition and other factors (such as the economy) that affect how your audience makes purchasing choices. Marketing tells you what your customers like and dislike, want and need. Then you decide how to adjust your Produce, Price, Place, and Promotional Message"
Here are the seven key lessons any self-employed person might use to promote themselves or their products. The emphasis is 'use', or, as a wise man once said, let us try to do a little bit more than nothing.
- Don't ask anything of your audience. No collecting Facebook likes or glowing references. Everything has to be in the right proportion. Inspire them first. Be like Tesla. They can't exist if they give their electric cars away. Of course, they want mass production but the goal is inspiring and unselfish as described by CEO Elon Musk - "Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport". Now that they have built a solid business, they are sharing their patent technology with others car manufacturers willing to advance electric vehicle technology. Simon Kemp says, "If anything, we should be telling our audiences why we love them" (@eskimon). We love our audiences by benefiting, empowering and inspiring them. Hope is the most powerful of emotions and we have the potential to give our audience just that.
- Know who your audience is. Do you believe that your audience is everyone? Are you a Nike who can sponsor online content, billboards, TV commercials and cinematic trailer adverts? You'd like it to be everyone but be realistic. Start with the most likely audience for your services. This publication from Creative NZ will help define the New Zealand audience:Cultural Segments, New Zealand.
- Think Social Stream, not Project Stream. Don't just let your audience know when you have put out something new. Share anything that inspires you or is worthy of comment, that your audience will appreciate. Keep an email database. Build up a specific youtube channel for your production company or for yourself. Harden J Weal knows how to build and maintain his audience, he shares his life and projects in a well crafted website.
- Define your marker of success. Anna says don't overthink this one. It could be a box office number. Audience figures. Annual salary figure. Or, as a freelancer, it might be the number of days booked each month. This definite goal is something that must be met with exacting clarity. There must be no ambiguity. The greatest self-help philosophers of the last hundred years have made this point painstakingly clear. Set a goal. Set a date. Write down what you will do to achieve it. Make the number you want then get busy marketing. Check out this interactive chart from Google that shows you which communications channel plays an assist role or last role in helping get your audience to buy your product or service.
- Set action goals. Here are some practical ways Anna set clear goals and achieved them by going through the right platforms and channels. Look at Anna's Boosted page. She asked for a sensible $1800 to raise money for her opportunity to attend Pixel Lab in Scotland (which she did in record time). On the other hand, she was the unit publicist for Mahana (formerly known as the Patriarch) and ran the promotional campaign to raise a further $300,000 of investment. It was an NZ first and in the end they had raised almost $500,000.
- Have a digital strategy. Decide which websites you'll maintain a presence on. Study Facebook marketing. Take blueprint, their e-marketing course. It's where 1.3 billion people have accounts. How about creating some content on YouTube for the 1 billion active users each month? Add anything that you feel works for the kind of person you are. Think With Google is a website dedicated to helping brands align with content creators on YouTube - "The face of celebrity is changing. YouTube's cadre of creators is more famous for who they are in real life than for playing characters." It's this shift where we love just watching someone be themselves and enjoying their personality. Read why Universal had its best year ever thanks to its digital marketing.
- Turn everything to your advantage. Be bold and fun, embrace the limited resources at your disposal. Take the reviews - even the negative - and spin them into something marvelous. It's like what Jon Landau, producer of Avatar says about the people who succeed in life are those who can deal with everything with a certain joie de vivre; "a fearlessness that doesn't mean recklessness". Anna showed us how the marketing team of the movie Legend turned a two-star review from the heavy-weight Guardian newspaper into "marketing gold" - see the poster here.
- The Big Screen Symposium was held on October 10-11 in Auckland, presented by Script to Screen and J&A Productions.