Filmmaking / Directing : The Top 6 Things I learned at AFM this year (2014) by Erik Linthorst

Erik Linthorst

The Top 6 Things I learned at AFM this year (2014)

I just finished Day 5 of the AFM Conference head is spinning with information about financing, pitching, marketing and distributing independent films...I thought I would share the wealth of the past week by droppin' some knowledge in the lounge. If I could boil down what I've learned to a few bullet points, they would be: -build a team (you can't do it all yourself). -Answer the tough marketing questions for yourself during preproduction (i.e. who is your audience? how do they consume content? how can you engage them in the creation of your content? how do we give them what they want in the way they want it at a price they want to pay?) -Budget your film based on your worst case performance. If you can't make your film for that budget, then you need to find cast with a value matching your minimum budget. -Be thinking of Marketing DURING production (i.e., have a Unit Photographer, and a BTS videographer, and a publicist on retainer to consult) so that you have good assets for marketing down the road. -Distributors will judge you - not just on the film you've made - but on how much you've thought about and pre-engaged your core audience...if you haven't thought about this, it will hurt you in their eyes. -Know your platform options (Vimeo now has an On Demand, Yekra, Tugg, and the like are changing distribution) and do your research so you can be involved with your distributor about key decisions. Hope that's helpful...lmk if you have questions about the above...

Amanda Toney

This is AMAZING Erik. So insightful and helpful to both people who attended and people who could not. I hope everyone reads this and takes note!!

Amanda Toney

Btw- I've now posted this all over our social media. Too good not to share.

Laurie Ashbourne

Great summary, Erik. Demystifies the enormity of AFM and is quite useful for anyone trying to raise funds either by a crowdfunding campaign or other means. So many go to AFM having no clue what they're in for. Curious, were trying to sell something or just soaking it in? Thanks for posting!

Stage 32 Staff - Julie

Great summary. I especially see crowdsourcing - knowing and building your audience to be extremely valuable in this shift of the industry right now. You broke that down very concise. Thanks for posting Erik.

Erik Linthorst

Hey Laurie - I attended the Conference Series (5 days of conferences, each day on a different topic). I'm a writer who's realizing that being mono-hyphenate in a multi-hyphenate world makes me beholden to too many I'm trying to figure out how to make a film on my own terms, hence the conferences on production, financing, marketing, producing, distributing... not that one person can do it all, but at least I'm learning the various skills so I can better build a team. Brandi -- No, that's exactly right. It's about marketing earlier. I also think they were saying: Old way of doing it: I like this script..I make the movie then I hand it off to the marketing people and they ask themselves "Who can I market this to?" The New way of thinking is: I like this script, but WHO IS IT FOR? Once identified, how do I engage them now? (crowd funding?) How do I include them in the process? (blog, vlog, BTS?), etc, then when I approach distributors, I can say, this is my movie, here's who it's for, here's how I've already engaged them, here's the level of feed them this movie.

Jack Ritter

That's so cool. Involving the audience from the earliest stages of making the movie builds a fanbase because they feel invested. That's something I think I needed to hear. Its really intuitive that distribution comes later in the process.

Laurie Ashbourne

Erik, so great to hear when a screenwriter is proactive in other stages of the process. Any time spent on set or learning the industry really does pay off and helps to inform your writing too. Best of luck!

Shannon Arrant

Thank you so much for posting this! It really reinforces what I'm already trying to do with a web series I'm doing and lets me know I'm on the right track. I too started as a screenwriter mainly but have since branched into forming my own production company, complete with my own equipment, so I can film mine and other people's projects.

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