By Scott Gordon, Word Wizards Inc.
Thanks so much to Docs In Progress for organizing the Crowdsourcing Theatrical Distribution talk. They do amazing work helping people from all walks of life to fulfill their desire of creating documentary productions. Since video transcription is often an essential part of making a documentary, it is only natural that WW is a proud corporate sponsor of DIP. We were delighted to have the opportunity to cover their lecture in our Blog.
Introducing, Crowd Marketing
The crowd marketing discussion featured Jan Selby, founder of Quiet Island Films. After twenty five years as a successful marketing and advertising executive, she decided to follow her dream of becoming a documentary producer. She has produced several docs including Beyond the Divide a film about the origins of the Peace Sign. She applied the same organized business principles to film making, and decided to do marketing through crowd sourcing.
While Kickstarter or Indiegogo can help filmmakers get the money to film and produce their movie, Tugg and Gathr focus more on connecting the resulting films to the fans. A filmmaker works with Tugg or Gathr to make their movie available to screen, at which point fans will work to promote a local screening on a particular date, essentially marketing the film themselves. Gathr and Tugg set a specific threshold for each screening, meaning a minimum number of tickets which must be reserved in order to cover costs such as the filmmaker’s fee. If that threshold is reached before the screening request expires, the event will proceed, and filmmakers will receive a percentage of all profits above the threshold.
Each filmmaker may choose a different crowd marketing resource based on their own preferences. Jan chose Tugg to market her movie Beyond the Divide based in part on the fact that the Tugg page for her movie included a link to the official movie website. Tugg also offers detailed information about earnings and percentages on their website. Although Gathr may require direct contact to find out percentages, they do offer filmmakers a chance to receive funding by purchasing the theatrical rights only.
The global possibilities of this type of crowd marketing is staggering. Jan reported that one documentary, “Awake – The Life of Yogananda” has gone viral through crowd marketing on Gathr. It’s about the life of Paramhansa Yogananda, born Mukunda Lal Ghosh, who was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced millions of westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi. To date 35,000 tickets have been reserved in 68 screenings in the US for the “Awake” doc. Many more have been purchased worldwide. The popularity of yoga and the Gathr platform rewarded the two filmmakers by allowing yoga enthusiasts worldwide to do the marketing for them. So if you have a topic for a documentary with wide popular appeal, this might be the way forward to distribute your film to the world.