Yesterday, Jon Reiss explained why indie films need a “PMD” — and if words don’t work for you — just look at Tuesday’s list of all the new tools and services available that we can’t afford to miss. Today, Jon takes it further, and tries to lay out the job description for both experienced and aspiring marketing & distribution collaborators.
The responsibilities of a PMD are wide and varied. Not all films will utilize all of these elements (since every film is different and will have a unique approach to marketing and distribution), but each should be considered when strategizing and planning for the film’s release.
1. Identify, research and engage with the audience for the film.
2. Develop a distribution and marketing strategy and plan for the film in conjunction with the key principles of the filmmaking team. Integrate this plan into the business plan for the film. This should also be done as early as possible and should be incorporated into your business plan. This helps your investors, donors, potential grant committees know that you have a clear idea of what your goals are and how you will achieve those goals.
3. Create a budget for the M&D plan.
4. As needed and appropriate, strategize and implement fundraising from the audience of the film in conjunction with or in place of traditional financing which would include: crowdfunding, organizational partnerships, sponsorships and even modified versions of traditional fundraising.
5. Assemble and supervise the necessary team/crew elements to carry out the plan which can include social media, publicity, M&D production crew for extra diagetic material, key artists, web developers, trailer editors, bookers etc.
6. Audience research, outreach and relationship building through organizations, blogs, social media (including email collection), influencers, online and traditional publications.
7. Supervise the creation of promotional content and work with the development of trans media elements in either coordination with a Transmedia Producer, or in the case where the production is small – their might be one person who fills both roles, PMD and Transmedia Producer. Other elements to be created: the films website and social media sites, production stills, video assets – both behind the scenes and trans media, promotional copy and art/key art. Plus the PMD devises an organized content calendar to plan out what elements are released when and how they will disseminate online.
Just FYI – nearly all of the above and much of 8 & 9 happen before the film is finished.
8. Outreach to potential distribution and marketing partners including film festivals, theatrical service companies, community theatrical bookers, DVD distributors, Digital and VOD aggregators, TV sales agents, foreign sales agents as well as sponsors and promotional partners. The advantage of having the PMD on board is that it gives the filmmaking team many more options for distribution and marketing. No longer do filmmakers have to give up all rights just to get help in releasing their films. Filmmaking teams can create split rights scenarios that can be much more favorable to achieving their goals than many typical distribution deals. It puts the artistic team in the drivers seat instead of being dependent on taking any deal offered.
9. Coordinate, organize and supervise the creation of traditional deliverables in addition to creation of all media needed for the execution of the release as needed including:
• Live event/theatrical: Prints either 35 or Disk or Drive. Any other physical prep for event screenings.
• Merchandise: All hard good physical products including DVDs and any special packaging (authoring and replication) and all other forms of merchandise: books, apparel, toys, reproductions of props etc, and hard versions of games.
• Digital products: encoding of digital products, iPhone/Android apps etc.
10. Modify and adjust the marketing and distribution plan as new opportunities present themselves during the film’s life span regarding information about audience, market, and partnerships arise.
11. When appropriate, engage the distribution process, which includes the release of:
• Live Event Theatrical – Booking, delivery, of all forms of public exhibition of the film including all elements that make the screenings special events (appearances, live performance, discussion panels etc.)
• Merchandise – Distribution of all hard good physical products created for the film.
• Digitally – oversee all sales of the film in the form of 0s and 1s: TV/Cable/VOD/Mobile/Broadband/Video games etc.
• This not just in the home territory – but also internationally.
• Some of these activities may be handled in conjunction with a distribution partner in which case the PMD would be supervising the execution in conjunction with that partner.
12. Ramp up the marketing of the film to coincide with the release, which includes:
• Content rollout
• Additional Social Media activities such as contests, soliciting screening demands, posting press mentions .
• Publicity including feature stories, interviews, reviews
• Organizational Relationships
• Sponsorship Relationships
• Affiliate and Email Marketing
• Media Buys (as warranted)
• Seeding trailers and other video content.
• Any specific marketing especially tailored to the film.
This list should indicate how it would be difficult, if not impossible, to expect existing traditional crew categories to accomplish or even coordinate the work outlined above. In addition, while some of the work above is “quantifiable”, much of it is not – just like much of what a producer or even director does is not “quantifiable”. All efforts working in tandem produces the ROI.
Jon Reiss is a filmmaker and author of Think Outside the Box Office. His new book, Selling Film Without Selling Your Soul, cowritten with The Film Collaborative’s Orly Ravid and Jeffrey Winter with social media marketer Sheri Candler, is sponsored by Prescreen, Area23a Movie Events and Dynamo Player available September 13, 2011 via Apple iBooks, followed by Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, a printed edition and free ePub version.