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I am kicking off a series of excerpts from my Think Outside the Box Office Master Classes today on my new YouTube Channel: TheJonReiss. This week’s post concerns setting the goals for your release. I am a firm believer that it is essential for filmmakers to have a clear idea of what their goals are for their film’s release and to prioritize one or perhaps 2 specific goals, because a film team will use different release strategies to achieve different goals. I see 4 main goals that most filmmakers strive for in their releases:
1. Money (Fortune)
2. A career launch, helping get another film made. (Fame—for a traditional career based on the previous film career paradigm that only exists for a small percentage of filmmakers these days)
3. Audience (some people just want their film to be seen by an audience as wide as possible)
4. Change the World—especially for documentary
However I encourage most (if not all) filmmakers to consider a fifth goal:
5. A long-term relationship with a potentially sustainable audience/fan base.
This is an essential component of any modern media release—yet most filmmakers still do not consider this a primary goal. This goal is different in objective than the old school fame-based career launch (Number 2 above). It is not about press, “heat”, ego. It's about connection, engagement and bringing your fans with you from project to project. This goal is not achievable if you sell your film outright in an all-rights scenario. In that case, your distributor has access to your audience data—not you (although most don’t cultivate this data—yet).
Next week’s clip will talk about the importance of prioritizing your goals. In other words, you are better off pursuing one goal. If you don’t, you are at the risk of not achieving any of your goals. Upcoming posts will concern identifying and engaging audience, creating events, merchandise, digital rights, timing, as well as interviews with artists and filmmakers such as Timo Vuorensola, Molly Crabapple, Corey McAbee and many more.
I’m launching the channel today as part of my Spring Workshop Kickoff. Today I will be giving a “Strategic Distribution Workshop 202” at Hot Docs Toronto. I will be helping lead the IFP Filmmaker Labs in NYC in May and June. I will also be giving a mini-workshop at Sheffield Doc Fest on June 15 and then in London on June 23, 24 for a newly revamped, two-day TOTBO Distribution Master Class.
I’ve also created some Hot Docs Specials on my store where you can get a PDF of TOTBO for $4.95 and a hard copy for $9.95.
Photo Credit: Flickr