Saturday, December 19, 2009

Comment-Worthy Comment

Awesome comment from ZenFilms on our torrent-only release strategy. Thanks so much for taking the time to give us your suggestions. I have already put some of them into effect. When someone takes the time to put together such a well crafted response I feel that I should do the same. I copied some of your comments where it would help people to understand my answer. Much thanks for all the input and support, it is really great when other filmmakers show love. Check out the Zen crew on Twitter: @ZenFilms.

1. Torrent-only: You are correct that we would most likely make more money if we abandoned the torrent-only part of our release model. We are willing to take in less income in the long term if it means that more people will see Self Helpless in the short term. Our goal is to get the most people we possibly can to download Self Helpless during that one week window. We really believe that when those folks see the movie, they will love it and they will tell people about it. This is how I hear about a lot of music and movies. Then I usually head straight to iTunes or Netflix because I don’t want to bother with torrents. I get nervous about viruses, and I like to make sure I have the highest quality version of that song or movie. For people like me, the movie will be available from those familiar retail locations.

The Self Helpless torrent will be a tool in itself. The torrent will have links to all of our sites, as well as our store and trailer. The idea of including two short advertisements (10 seconds each) in the torrent release appeals to me. These ads would be designed so that they did not detract from viewing the movie. Most likely they would just be clips from one of Devin the Dude’s shows, or from a SOJA video. They would not appear until at least 20 minutes into the film (I agree, ads before the movie would suck).

This may end up being out greatest contribution to a viable torrent-based distribution model for the future. Downloaders are not opposed to filmmakers making money from their craft. They just want to watch the movie for free, right now. If we can make a torrent version of Self Helpless that people will enjoy watching, even with 2 short ads included, then this will be a big step in the right direction for infinite distribution. If people love the movie, they can get the ad free version on DVD.

2. Merchandise: I agree with everything you said here. We are trying to get our merch store together, but this takes a lot of time what with all of us working crappy full time jobs. We aren’t expecting to get rich selling merchandise. We are hoping to make enough money to keep paying our expenses, making more DVDs and possibly touring the film in the future.

Your PR spin seems to focus on the fact that the movie is free... but you could run into some problems: if your movie is full of fart gags and guns, the movie intelligencia are going to be snooty and unlikely to want to be associated with it. It's all very well being pioneering but it has to be "on message" to get the support of their cozy love-in”

Our PR spin is focused on the fact that we have made a great movie and we know that the torrent community is the future of media distribution. We are fully committed to offending the “movie intelligentsia”. If we get 100% on the tomato meter then the world has come crashing down.

The beauty of bringing our film directly to the fans through our torrent release is that we don’t have to spend 3 years groveling to film festivals and major film critics to get our movie to its audience. We can just bypass all of those old-school gatekeepers and give the movie to our target audience. If they like it, they will pass it on.

“read up on how to write a press release - it'll make the difference”

We wouldn’t do it any other way. Before we sent out our press release we researched the proper format and ran a draft past a few local journalists to make sure that were coming real professional like. We also heard this message from the dudes who made 10 MPH. Their blog is essential reading.

“I would advocate a donation button because I think you'll find you have people who want to support you but it's not their kind of movie. I could possibly be in this category... I like guns and Mexicans but not farts.”

We just don’t get down with the whole donation idea. That’s cool if it works for other people, it’s just not for us. We are going to offer some very cheap merchandise (like shot glasses and posters) in case someone wants to show us a little love, but not quite at the $15 DVD level. If someone downloads the movie for free and can’t find anything that they would like to buy from our store, then hopefully they will just tell a few people about Self Helpless and we will call it even.

“Screenings before release? Pre-orders? Kind of contradicts your earlier goals... just be mindful it doesn't mess up your direct to torrent concept.”

Wait, I thought you said not to do the torrent concept? ; ) Actually this stuff fits in pretty well with what we are trying to do. We did a handful of screenings to get the film seen and improve it based on audience response, and to make some cash and get laid.

Pre orders are great. Since they will obviously just be friends and family, they will at least help us fund the DVD replication order. Obviously the pre-order DVDs won’t get sent out until after the torrent-only run.