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Independent filmmaking is my creative passion. The rush I get writing scripts and shooting movies is addictive. Borrowing from drug slang I view myself as a filmmaking junkie. When one movie is done I’m looking for that next creative high. I hit the street hungry looking for a money tree to shake to make my next movie. With times tight as they are money to make a indie movie is like a rare coin ending up in your pocket change.
Thousands of indie filmmakers out there can relate to the story I’m sharing. In my case a few deals fell through on film financing leaving me without the means to get my movie making fix. Life is funny when it comes full circle. Before signing a distribution deal with Maverick Entertainment Group for the urban movie Consignment co-producer Tim Beachum had a crazy idea. At least it was crazy in my mind. We streamed the opening 10 minutes free online. It worked with great success, but it still took me a couple of years of listening to Tim go on about search engine optimization (SEO) marketing until I learned a valuable lesson I want to share with you.
SEO marketing is a huge part of independent filmmaking success. My hang up when I started making movies was I never wanted to view the movies I wrote, produced, and directed as a product like a Snuggie™ (nothing against Snuggies. I own one and dig it) But now my thinking has changed. To me after a movie is done it is a product. In no way am I taking away from the creative part of movie making. I put everything I have into my scripts and films.
But I now realize movies have to be marketed to viewers or they might as well not exist. The major brick walls facing indie filmmakers is they do not have a large marketing budget, the distributor they signed with is only going to do so much or they do not know enough about SEO marketing to promote their movie on their own. I know I sure as hell didn’t know about SEO marketing after finishing my first film. I foolishly thought Maverick Entertainment Group as the distributor would handle all areas of marketing, so I sat back in limbo waiting on them to get the word out Consignment was a hot urban drama.
I quickly learned a movie distribution company representing hundreds of movies has limited resources it can put into marketing each movie it releases. They have a staff to pay and overhead to meet. They have to earn a profit, so they put as much of their marketing budget into promoting movies that have name actors attached. That makes sense and is good business. Maverick Entertainment Group for example has a platinum label for it’s showcase releases. Doug Schwab is well respected in the indie film community and has shared great insight about the business side of movie distribution with me. I think of him like a cool older brother that happens to distribute indie movies.
I needed to pay attention to SEO marketing tools. Consignment Co-producer Tim Beachum has been a Internet marketer for over 10 years. I never gave SEO much thought because I was consumed with writing, producing, and directing movies. Not marketing them. Being a friend Tim hipped me to another SEO marketer named Frank Kern. Then things started to make even more sense. Indie filmmakers need to know how to market their movies online. With so many people searching for so many different things online your movie could get lost. Knowing what keywords and phrases will lead viewers to find your movie is crucial. On my YouTube channel the trailer for Consignment has over 15,000 views. People were not looking for this urban indie movie with no big name actors, but the keywords and phrases used lit up search engines.
I started to apply the SEO knowledge I learned from Tim Beachum and Frank Kern (hoisting my beer mug to these guys). It’s important when uploading videos to promote your movie to use keywords and phrases. Sounds simple enough, but when I first started posting videos I would only put the title of the movie as a keyword. Not too bright considering how common the word consignment is in a search engine.
Indie filmmakers that embrace the core idea of SEO marketing will enjoy more success. The point of making movies is to have them seen by people. SEO marketing helps you achieve that goal. Cutting different trailers and using specific keywords and phrases will widen your viewing audience. Think about the storyline of your movie and come up with a few keywords and phrases that find viewers. Don’t expect viewers to find your movie, but your movie has to find viewers.
write by jeff gaither