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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Yes, Marketing Is Part of the Job Description of Indie Producer

Independent Web Series and Film producers wear many hats.  We have to do it all.  So I was a little surprised as I was reading articles on distribution online today, and saw a whole chain of comments about how it was bulls*!t that independent film and web production have become big business. And producers/directors/creators shouldn't have to become marketers if they want to get distribution for their shows.   I am not talking about one or two people here, but a lot of probably very talented individuals who were ranting about how it wasn't right that they had to spend time and money promoting their show.  And I had one thought...

Get over yourself.

This is the business we are in.  There is no "If you build it, they will come."  It is a job and probably one of the hardest you will every undertake, because you put in hours, months, even years with absolutely no paycheck.  One comment stated that his strength was filmmaking, and with all of the avenues for distribution out there, people ought to be falling all over themselves looking for talent.  Let's look at the flip side of that coin.  With the technology that enables this myriad of distribution options also comes a huge influx in the amount of content available.   Just about everyone has the technology available to them right now to create a short, a web series or a film, but that doesn't mean they are all good ones. So the first cut that distributors can make is what I call the "How Much Do You Believe In Yourself?" rule.  If you don't believe in your project enough to spend time or money getting it out there, why should they take you seriously? They want to see that you are going to support your show all the way.  And I am not saying that you need to spend a ton of money on a PR firm.  What I am saying is you have to put yourself and your show out there.  Press releases, media kits, social media, festivals and conventions, whatever it takes to build your audience and give distributors a reason to want you.  You have put a lot of time and creativity into the writing and filming of your show.  Stretch those same muscles and promote it.

To put it in perspective, it has been 14 months since we launched Shotgun Mythos.  And from day one, we have spent hours each week promoting the show.  Are we where we want to be yet?  Of course not.  Have we made mistakes and mis-steps? Absolutely, and probably will make some more, but that certainly is not going to stop us. We are going to continue to research, to pitch and promote.  And while we may not be where we want to be yet, we are ahead of what I had realistically expected.  We have built a strong Facebook community through frequent posts and updates from filming, posting production stills, casting calls and of course episode releases.  We have been well received at the conventions we have attended and have even won some awards.  We also have picked up television distribution, so our show is available in nearly 4 million homes nationwide, with more in the works.  And this is on a virtually non-existent marketing budget...just on the basis of a whole lot of hard work.

So, to the producers out there that think marketing isn't part of the job description, I wish you the best of luck.  Because with thousands of shows out there vying for attention, it is going to take a lot of luck to make yourself stand out without you behind it, promoting it every step of the way.

This scene was shot last weekend, and Clint posted a production still to start getting interest and excitement going about Season 2.


  1. I was blind and now I see! We were spec screenplay writers that made that decision to stop waiting to get picked; thank you for the advise Joe WilsonTV! You are absolutely one-hundred percent correct, shotgun mythos!! We were enticed by the notion of putting our stories out for audience consumption on the web and it has been enlightening and a struggle! However, this path is a whole lot better. Even though in order to find your audience you have to rise above the chaotic noise of the internet, it still is a whole lot better than sitting silent in a file cabinet or locked on a USB stick, or sitting in yet another screenplay contest waiting to not get picked. Yes, I choose to work my ass off. Let's try that instead!

    1. Absolutely! The beauty of the modern technology is that our fate, to a degree, is in our own hands. We made enough indie projects in the pre-webseries days, that got a limited release, got sent to a few festivals, and then sent to that filing cabinet that you mentioned. And while we are competing not only with cute animal videos, funny kids and stupid human tricks, but also with some extremely talented filmmakers, the potential to find an audience is huge, if we are willing to put the work into it.

  2. I am not talking about one or two people here, but a lot of probably very talented individuals who were ranting about how it wasn't right that they had to spend time and money promoting their show.<---shows that they really do not understand the WWW. Maybe they are good film makers, but if they want to be on the Web, the first thing they should do is invest in understanding the medium.

  3. I've been saying this for over 5 years. I am in awe at how few people understand or respect this. Then again so many treat the web like the minor leagues for tv that it is a wonder that anyone in the space respects it as it's own medium at all.


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