Updated: Sep 17
Whether you plan on distributing your movie through theatrical outlets, film festivals, streaming platforms, or just uploading a short film on YouTube or Vimeo, in all of these instances, you will need a movie campaign strategy to get an audience to view your picture.
But before we jump into identifying your audience, it is vital to learn the core principles of marketing and how it intertwines with the filmmaking process.
What is film marketing?
According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
Filmmaking is a business. This means every stage of the filmmaking process is a step towards promoting your picture for a return on investment. Don't get me wrong, some auteurs can afford to create a movie for the love of the art, but most people who invest millions of dollars do it for the possibility of profiting from the artform.
"I went into the business for money, and the art grew out of it. If people are disillusioned by that remark, I can't help it. It's the truth." ~ Charles Chaplin.
PS: Some of these are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I may get a commission for recommending the product to you.
The filmmaking process doesn't begin when the director yells, "Action," or when the producer declares, "That's a wrap." Long before and long after principal photography wraps, the marketing plan is being developed and prepped for what eventually shifts to the marketing, promotion, and distribution stage.
The marketing strategy is one of the six stages of the filmmaking process:
Stage #1: Development starts with the process of transforming an idea into a screenplay, the attachment of major players (director & cast), and the budget creation.
Stage #2: Pre-production involves finalizing the shooting script, securing locations, establishing the shooting schedule, determining equipment and gear needs, as well as hiring key crew members.
Stage #3: The production stage, also known as principal photography, is when shooting begins.
Stage #4: The post-production stage is when the audio and visual footage are edited together to create a movie.
Stage #5: DISTRIBUTION & MARKETING is the process of having the film available for purchase on as many media platforms available while generating awareness of your film's availability. ⠀
Stage #6: Exhibition is the outlet where the consumer can purchase and view your movie, such as theaters, airplanes, hotels, streaming platforms, cable, television, etc.
Although most of the execution of the film marketing plan doesn't go into effect until Stage #5 of the filmmaking process, it is crucial to start preparing your marketing strategy and promotional material very early in the development phase.
Film promotion may not be as exhilarating as creating stories, being on set, working with actors, editing footage, adding visual effects, or producing musical scores; nonetheless, it is the most critical stage of the filmmaking process. Without a robust marketing campaign, your film will be invisible to the world.
As an independent filmmaker, you won't have all the resources and financial aid like some of the big studio films have for their promotional campaign. You'll have to create your own buzz.
But first and foremost, you need to identify who's the audience for your film. You can create all the best promotional materials in the world, but if you're promoting your movie to the wrong audience, your marketing campaign will fall flat.
For some filmmakers, marketing is just another extension of their creative efforts. They get a massive dopamine rush of excitement to create more visuals and content for the project. For others, it can be the most mundane and exhausting task of the filmmaking process.
No matter how you feel about it, it is another phase within the filmmaking process that must be done.
Film marketing has evolved over time. The emphasis and methodology of creating a smooth campaign strategy focus on these crucial fundamentals – business, culture, technology, and creativity. Each of those elements is finely tuned to define, address, understand, and engage targeted audiences.
So, let's take a look at how you can identify and reach your targeted audience.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines demographics as: the statistical characteristics of human populations (such as age or income) used especially to identify markets.
Demographics break down further into subgroups, which allows you as a filmmaker to focus your advertising efforts on a specific audience group who's likely to respond to your story, genre, stars, or visual content. The audience demographics specifically breakdown into these groups:
Target audience -This is the core audience who most likely wants to view your movie.
Secondary audience – This is the group that may be interested in some aspects of the movie or is a companion to someone in the target audience.
Tertiary audience – This is the larger uncommitted audience who eventually may watch if the movie becomes a commercial hit.
Psychographics speaks to the audience's lifestyle, income, political inclination, shopping interest, and a host of other factors. A psychographic analysis objective is to find people with similar interests regardless of age, ethnicity, or geography.
For instance, you may consider the audience's political inclination or position on social issues regarding sexual harassment when promoting a film like "Bombshell."
"The Basic Principles of Film Marketing: Identifying your Audience" is a three-part blog series.
Be on the lookout for:
Part Two: Engaging and Understanding Your Audience
Part Three: Marketing's Function During Production
In this blog, I've shown you how independent filmmakers can utilize a specific set of guidelines when identifying an audience for their film.
You've learned that the implementation of marketing begins in the development stage of production.
You've learned that marketing and promotion serve as a tool to get more viewers to watch your movie.
You've learned how to segment your audience by demographics.
And, you've learned the criteria to target a particular set of subgroups for your film.
An excellent exercise for you would be to pick a movie that came out recently and create a breakdown of who's the audience based on demographics and psychographics.
Once you complete that exercise, do the same for your own project. Remember, this is not a pointless exercise. Strategizing for your film begins in the development stage. This would be your first step in figuring out your marketing strategy.
Oh, and let me know how this exercise works out for your project.
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Want to learn more about the role of Film Marketing? I invite you to accompany me on YouTube and immerse yourself in the world of The Little Mermaid. I dive deep into the enchanting world of Disney's latest remake and explore its target audience.
Of course, Diversity in Cinema Academy has many other resources that I love to share with you, but I wanted to keep this blog strictly about identifying your audience.
If I had to pick two resources I couldn't live without for my marketing campaigns, it would be these two tools.
Tool #1 - Squarespace
Tool #2 - Canva
Aside from the tools above, I also use many other resources to help me prep for a movie production. Some of them are FREE and some are paid.
You can check out some of the other resources that I love using on Diversity in Cinema Academy's resources page. You can view all of the resources for Filmmakers, Content Creators and Screenwriters from the links provided.
From filmmaking tools, to content creation tools, to screenwriting tools... they all can be found in the tools section of Diversity in Cinema Academy's website. I highly recommend that you check out our tools store! :)
If you like it, please help me to share the resources link with a friend. I would really appreciate it!
Okay, that's all for now. I hope that you have found the information I provided helpful!
Enough information, start strategizing!
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