So what does a PMD do exactly?
Basically anything you need done related to the marketing, promotion and distribution of your independent film or documentary. And believe me, it’s a huge list!
- “PMDing 101:“ laying pipe for and managing all “social media” and web outposts for your movie or documentary: your film’s Facebook Fan Page, your film’s Twitter stream(s), keeping tabs on/updating all discussion and comment streams at both your film’s blog and Facebook page(s). Ensuring that the discussion is fresh and current at all times. Making use of auto-posting sites — like Posterous — for broader sweep and reaching out into the community for external link sharing and SEO optimization of your site and content, in particular for Google. When people type in your film’s keywords, you want your film or doc’s site to rank highly each and every time.
- DVD Bonus Features: capturing snippets of extra-diagetic material (material related to your film, though not necessarily your film itself) for later addition to your film’s “behind-the-scenes” material as part of your DVD’s Bonus Features/Special Features release.
- DVD Production & Release: coordinating your film’s DVD production/authoring once you complete post-production and begin weighing different distribution options.
- Film Distribution: investing potential distribution channels for either a pure DIY, classic distribution model, or something in between — or what we call a hybridized distribution approach.
- Sales Agent/Distributor Pitch Meetings: organizing all necessary paperwork and chain-of-title documents for your film’s key distributor or sales agent pitch meetings, either before, during, or after your film festival premiere.
- Film Festival Consulting and Publicity: coordinating all efforts related to your project’s film festival run: researching which festivals are best to apply for, submitting all needed forms, fees, DVD screener copies (in the right format and in triplicate), plus all supporting documentation to a festival selection committee in a timely manner. Handling all media requests — even running interference — during the festival itself while attending to all media inquiries and phone calls on behalf of the lead producer/director. Being the public face of the film during festivals.
- Media Representation: liaising with all on- and offline media channels as part of cast and crew interviews. Taking point on your film’s overall PR efforts so you and your crew can focus exclusively on your film’s creative aspects.
- Live Events and Cross-Partnerships: representing your film or documentary at all live (themed) theatrical events (egs. park screenings, screening horror films in graveyards). Attending your booth at comic book conventions and other fanboy events.
- Transmedia: Stretching the narrative reach of your film via other media channels. Extending your story’s plot into other media channels. Have a film? How about possibly breaking it down into smaller pieces and telling it in webisodic format as well? Ever consider designing a mobile or iPad app for your movie? How about a graphic novel? As you probe the possibilities of your film’s narrative, the possibilities will reveal themselves…this alone is an entire specialty field for which a special production credit — Transmedia Producer — is now awarded.
- Audience Engagement: PMDs are audience engagement specialists. What they do best is help cultivate your true audience today — a loyal audience which will follow you from picture to picture, which you can leverage as you grow your filmmaking career.
So does that, um..mean a PMD is, like…er, a full-on producer also?
Yes. Your PMD is a dedicated above-the-line member of your production squad for the entire duration of your film’s pre-, production, and post-production stages. PMDs are presently negotiating with the Producers Guild of America for official credit in due recognition of the vital role they play on production staffs.
While the “real” producer may handle budgeting, casting, and other key nuts-and-bolts on-set filmmaking responsibilities, the PMD handles all the vital other production areas (listed above) — and more — so the “above-the-line” talent doesn’t have to, and which they have zero time for, in any event. Given that the PMDing part of the job — the time-consuming and somewhat specialist part, moreover — is often a full-court press, hiring a PMD for your indie film or documentary has never been more imperative in today’s marketplace, where film budgets face constant downward pressure.
Yes, but if that’s the case, then how does a PMD’s role differ from that of a regular Production Coordinator or even a Unit Publicist?
Indeed, there’s going to be overlap between PMDing and standard Production Coordinating or publicist’s duties. But production coordinators nor publicists are rarely entrusted with the package of senior responsibilities which happen to be the primary purview of the PMD. I doubt there are many Production Coordinators who delve into distribution arrangements and sales activities, for instance, or who are even qualified to negotiate these issues on behalf of a production.
Furthermore, rather than lop the Producer of Marketing and Distribution’s responsibilities under some “production coordination” catchall, the PMD’s title is exactly what it says it is: the PMD is expressly tasked with the job of marketing and distributing your doc or movie in order to help make your budget back, not something typically lesser-experienced Production Coordinators engage in. The PMD does more than merely fetch coffee and bagels, even though they occasionally run out for these too. ;-)
Do you sit at our production office? Do we pay you and never hear from you again? How does all this work exactly?
Your PMD isn’t required to be in the same time zone — or country — as your film’s production. To wit, I run PMD-For-Hire out of Toronto (nothing to sneeze at, all you film lovers out there) and I’m closer to the pulse of indie film than some folks living in L.A.
You might want to have a PMD on location during shooting and of course as part of your festival run along with the rest of the production staff. That’s where some of your most saleable content will be produced.
But the best time to hire a PMD, however, is during pre-production. At a time when your delicate production has the potential to suddenly come crashing to a halt due to organizational chaos, your PMD safely streamlines your production through all its early marketing and distribution hurdles, far away from the bustle of the main unit. The PMD lays pipe and establishes good habits from the get-go, so that by the time you reach post-production panic is the last thing to hit the unit. Duties at this early stage are performed handily enough (I’ve discovered through experience) via Skype, email, along with the occasional “status check” old-fashioned phone call to make sure everything’s going along at an even keel.
Since your PMD’s deliverables and results are verifiable through performance metrics, there is no need for on-site oversight or ultra scrutiny in most cases.
Once you start shooting, though, the PMD emerges from their office cocoon. You’re going to need that PMD around. But that’s the answer to another question.
Can a PMD’s work be accurately measured? How do I know you’re doing what I pay you to do?
Yes it can! Since most of the PMD’s work is internet based, the production staff can monitor the PMD’s progress in a number of ways. If the PMD isn’t doing their job properly, you’ll know.
A PMD is trained, however, to collaborate closely with your production staff, sticking closely to the marketing and distribution plan (which the PMD drafts along with the production team long before pre-production), a document that has milestones and rigid timelines for completion of specific tasks. These can be checked off a list as the PMD performs their work, later to be verified by the senior producer.
But we can’t afford another full-time position! So how will you get paid as our PMD?!
Not to worry. Your PMD can be brought aboard for as little as a month to — budget-permitting — for as long as your film’s entire shoot.
So you’re basically on call then? Whenever we need you, you can work for us. Whenever we don’t, you sit tight. Is that about right?
Well, not exactly. I do maintain a compact list of both a la carte and dedicated clients. For current availabilities and whether I have the expertise to help out your specific film’s needs, please email me.
Who else have you worked with in case I want to make absolutely sure?
For several recommendations and testimonials, please check out my LinkedIn page.