For those who have recently asked by email, rest assured this isn’t a blog about screenwriting as much as it’s one about how to engage audiences for your independent film. I’m gearing today’s post about how it’s possible to already begin the process of engaging your niche audiences as part of your movie’s development process right from story development stage.
Tangible idea-generating tools – like those “analog” scene cards pictured above – are excellent ways to bring fans “into the know” from inception, possibly even as a means of crowdsourcing various elements of your story-generating process, if you’re brave enough. Once fans become aware that you’re deep in the throes of your story’s development, they might be even more willing to share and supply ideas to help nudge you along the path of getting your story locked.
When fans can witness what you’re up to…when they can be that fly on the wall, part of the process of getting your story into ship-shape…they’re more apt to identify with the filmmakers and go to bat for them and their team once the production begins to cascade and gain traction.
But why would you want to do this?
Certain filmmakers might be reticent to do what I suggest. They might not be confident enough to share their behind-the-scenes details of what goes into the making of their movie, believing that by showing chinks in their armor that their audiences will somehow respect them less or how it might possibly devalue their story. They believe that if you show where your tale has holes, it diminishes its ultimate value as a perfect piece of final cut cinema. If you show where you’re weak, critics can exploit you and audience will ridicule you.
I take completely opposite tack. By making fans part of the minutest details of your production, you’re actually telling them you honor them sufficiently enough to assist you in making your film something they can fully stand behind, share, and go to bat for. You’re reassuring them that what you’re trying to achieve isn’t merely to stuff your precious story down their throats. Instead, you’re making the entire filmmaking process immersive by having them contribute to its making, to directing its ultimate path in the marketplace, and to possibly even take an ownership stake in so doing. Think Iron Sky.
Yes, the stakes are truly that high…
What’s the best way to go about doing this?
Yes, I realize it’s one thing to say this and another to actually make this a reality. So I’ll take a couple of examples out from a project I’m presently a part of to show what I mean:
Exhibit A above (duration: 1m43s) is a sharp way to keep audiences informed about what you’re up to. The short clip showcases some behind-the-scenes images in the screenwriting process (yes, I’m doing the talking), aiming to get audiences for this particular story involved as early on in the process as possible. Or at least that’s the theory.
Just like a character in a good narrative, audiences can establish their relationship with the filmmaker(s) (or writers, producers, etc.) from the start. And just like in a good picture, audience admiration for the character increases because audiences feel more invested in their character relationships. This would be in contrast to the majority of other filmmakers who are johnny-come-latelys in this regard, seeking too late to get audiences excited about their development process when audiences will no longer care. By the time you’ve reached post-production, it’s way too late.
Some other techniques to employ:
Be relentless about sharing your social media outposts as part of this stage, because it’s how you gradually build up your audience. Tag all:
with your critical data like:
- your film’s URL.
- your Fan Page’s coordinates.
- your Twitter handle.
- a ClickToTweet.com link, and
- a direct place to reach you (email or even mobile phone).
…and observe how your fan and friend numbers begin to swell.
This is smart business because you’re giving your various sites and outposts the longest amount of time to seed and flourish. You’re not panicking at the 11th-hour without a clue and you’re doing damage control which only diminishes the overall value of your crew and reflects badly on the professionalism of your entire operation. Having your audience variables adequately addressed also makes you more attractive to potential distributors, which – if this is in line with your goals – might be just what the doctor ordered.
More brainstorming posts to come this week…
Adam Daniel Mezei, PMD | Producer of Marketing and Distribution
Indie Audience Engagement Services for Independent Feature Films and Documentaries
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