My latest post for MovieMaker Magazine covers social media basics for the top 5 social channels. I have written posts regarding social media basics before, but this piece will include Pinterest and Instagram which I did not cover last time. As you may know, I do not view social media as a campaign oriented endeavor. Campaigns are only conducted for a set amount of time (usually for a sales promotion), but I think it is important to understand that social channels are an every day effort; they should be integrated into your creative life indefinitely. The sooner you start using them professionally, the easier it will be to gain benefit from them, especially if you are thinking of self distributing or crowdfunding.

I am not going to republish my article here in its entirety and only the first installment has been published on the MovieMaker site, but here are some highlights:

#1 Facebook 750 million unique visits per month

What do you do with it? Use it to start and maintain an ongoing relationship with your audience. Ask for feedback, start a discussion, or post your views on a current event.  Try to remember, if you only talk about yourself and your work, it’s a boring conversation for everyone else unless you are a celebrity that they are truly interested in. Champion your followers and other artists.  As opposed to the fleeting nature of Twitter, Facebook pages are meant for deeper discussions and closer relationships with your supporters.

social media page on Facebook

The indie documentary DMT: The Spirit Molecule is a good Facebook example to follow


#2 Youtube 450 million unique visits per month

What do you do with it? Build a video subscriber base.  View counts on videos are great and definitely have a use in securing optimal placement in Youtube search and publicity attention (though it will take many millions of views for it to have an impact on press coverage), but your subscribers are the ones who will see your new videos in their homepage newsfeed and receive an email when you post something new.  Also, encourage Likes, comments and shares of your videos as that impacts how Youtube ranks your channel in its search results. If you aren’t prepared to fill this channel with regular content that is HIGHLY compelling, don’t use this social tool.


social media page on Youtube

FreddieW’s Youtube Channel has over 6.5 million subscribers.


#3 Twitter 250 million unique visits per month

What do you do with it? Use it to post short (less than 140 character) messages that are funny, informative, or reflect your outlook on life.  Not only will you be connecting with the audience of your work, you will also find Twitter a great industry networking tool (for jobs!) and a place to connect with journalists (for media coverage). Make sure that your Twitter handle is posted on all of your communication including email signature and newsletters, website, other social channels, business cards and any About You section where your name is included.

#4 Pinterest 85 million unique visits per month

What do you do with it? Use it to post photos and videos found or created online. Pinterest runs on  well made and captivating images. People who use this social channel are looking for visual masterpieces or images that speak to their lives and emotions. Filmmakers may use Pinterest to tell a visual story about how they became the artists they are; influences, professional tools, and the tastes, style and personality behind the work. For individual projects, Pinterest can be used to tell a backstory on characters (individual boards set up to further explain a character), information on the setting of the story, and mood boards that give the audience a sense of what the film is, apart from just a trailer or poster.


social media page on Pinterest

Indie film producer Ted Hope uses Pinterest to show the world who he is and what he cares about professionally.


#5 Instagram 50 million unique visits per month

What do you do with it? Use it to post photos and videos taken with a mobile device as your visual representation of every day life rather than a place to post high quality images. Instagram is being used to post on-the-fly photos and short videos taken on the set and making 15 second short trailers and character teaser clips specifically for mobile viewing. Feedback is instantaneous so you will know very quickly if your project is capturing attention and gaining followers.


The full article details how to set up accounts on each social channel and some examples of independent filmmakers to emulate because they excel at building an audience on these channels. The first part (covering Facebook and Youtube) is now live. The second part will be live on November 25.


Sheri Candler


Digital distribution with The Orchard

October 22, 2013
posted by sheric

Quick note of thanks to those who attended my independent film distribution webinar with Atlanta Film Festival. The feedback so far has been positive and we are working on scheduling a marketing plan webinar in the future. As much as I know filmmakers are curious about distribution outlets, the place they encounter the most difficulty is in marketing their work. Hopefully we can sort that out together.

Speaking of digital distribution, last week on the MovieMaker site  I profiled digital distributor The Orchard. It was an enlightening interview and here are a few highlights:


digital distributor


-Content platforms like cable VOD and Netflix are becoming much more selective about the films they choose and the deals they offer, and certain factors weigh heavily into these decisions. “It helps to have played at major festivals, have a small theatrical, great reviews, notable names, a broadcast deal, anything that shows your film has merit and exposure. For documentaries, even if the film hasn’t played the major festivals, playing at some of the major niche festivals shows there’s an audience for the film. If the film has a good outreach campaign and partners with organizations or has a big email list, those can be attractive,” said Danielle DiGiacomo, manager of film distribution at The Orchard

-A  film that isn’t attractive for a big buy in foreign countries, but serves niche audiences amassed outside of the U.S., has a range of options. “iTunes is our most comprehensive multi-language, global support platform because we can service about 50 countries, wherever there are iTunes stores. To access iTunes, your film must meet quality standards and have subtitles for those languages and that cost is on you. When we can go worldwide with other platforms, we do.”

-One advantage of using a digital distributor rather than an aggregator is the ability to influence placement on the digital platforms. “This is a new release-driven market, getting on the ‘New and Noteworthy’ or ‘Now in Cinemas’ sections is a big deal. Giving sites like iTunes exclusivity for two weeks before anywhere else also helps with placement. While our team pitches the platforms where we would like the film to be, the sites also determine the placement based on how much they believe in the film and what else is coming out that week. If there are a lot of high-profile titles being released, it will be harder to get good placement. Sometimes they suggest release dates because they know what is coming out when. They also look at artwork, so that is important.”

-The Orchard also operates a multichannel network (MCN) on YouTube, currently ranked fifth in unique visits. As a YouTube-certified company, they have a team dedicated to helping creators optimize their videos for viewer search, monetize their content through advertising and grow channel subscriptions on YouTube. Recently, they formed a relationship with online horror film publisher Shock Till You Drop to jointly promote and distribute horror films worldwide.

We also talked about release strategies and why waiting too long between release windows is a bad idea. Check out the whole interview HERE.

Sheri Candler

This month, I interviewed music supervisor Liz Gallacher of Velvet Ears for my latest column on MovieMaker Magazine‘s site. Actually, they are only posting an abbreviated version of the interview online. The full article will be in the print edition on newsstands in November.

mixing boardI wanted to cover this topic because I was hearing from indie filmmakers who had overlooked the important aspect of music clearance during post production and thought they could get distribution deals that would pay for it later. It is exceedingly rare in today’s marketplace that a film distributor will pay to clear the music licenses on your film because that process can be so costly.  Distributors are not trying to take on more debt than they have to when they acquire a title. There is debt just to release the film, plus repay the advance if one was paid (and for a hot title, an advance WILL be paid) and make money for themselves (filmmakers aren’t really part of the equation). If you are putting up financial barriers to acquisition, your chances are close to zero in garnering a deal, especially over something as fundamental as music clearance. You are also putting up barriers to getting the film out yourself unless you like being the target of a lawsuit.

Also, some filmmakers are using music tracks in their trailers or online video materials that were only cleared for in context usage. Liz explains in the article why this is an issue and how to rectify it. As she says in the abbreviated piece, “It isn’t a cheap prospect to license music. I think people are misinformed on that because music is affordable to buy and it is plentiful for personal use, so they think they can do what they want with it. They can’t if they are planning to use it commercially.”

Catch the abbreviated version on the MovieMaker site and try to pick up a printed copy of the magazine when it is published.

Sheri Candler


Do Film Festival Awards Matter?

September 3, 2013
posted by sheric

award cupMy second article for MovieMaker Magazine dealt with whether film festival awards make any difference. For the filmmakers, any kind of recognition is a boost to the ego and a confidence builder because it suggests that the work had value. But do festival awards make much difference to the industry or the market? I talked to several people in various capacities within the industry to give me their take. Here are the short answers:

Jeffrey Winter, Co Executive Director, The Film Collaborative

“There are three major ways that festival awards matter. First of all, an award distinguishes a film from the glut of available titles at any given festival. Meaning, if you are the kind of person (industry buyer, press, or consumer) who is paying attention to a particular festival, then of course one easy way to determine what to see is by starting with the winners. I think this is particularly true for other film festival programmers, who face the daunting task of pouring through thousands of available titles and submissions to their festival.

Secondly, discerning film consumers looking to discover new films to watch pay attention to the films that are winning the awards. I think the right festival awards have tremendous marketing value…but only for the discerning consumer.

Finally, let’s not downplay the fact that a lot of festival awards come with MONEY! There are some staggeringly large Festival awards out there…Dubai, Heartland etc. When a film starts to rack up a few awards, it can certainly get into the five figures of revenue.”

Ira Deutchman, Managing Partner, Emerging Pictures

“The most reliable audience for any film that doesn’t have a major studio marketing budget is the art film audience, which is entirely dependent on reviews and word of mouth to get their attention. Film festivals offer a way to gather awards and quotes that elevate the profile and perceived quality of a film for that audience and therefore do make a difference.

While the most prestigious festivals, such as Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, etc offer the biggest potential bang because they are covered by larger press outlets, a film can build up a head of steam coming out of a number of smaller festivals as well. A collection of laurels can look impressive even if they don’t include the big ones. Also, don’t overlook the niche festival like Gay fests or Jewish fests, as they have their own cachet with their intended audiences.”

Arianna Bocco, SVP Acquisitions and Production, IFC Films

“I think it’s very specific to the film whether or not awards from regional or low profile festivals make a difference.  For instance, if the film is an indie comedy and it wins the Aspen Comedy Festival, then that’s very helpful to use in marketing materials. At IFC, we try to use the awards judiciously in marketing our films. It’s the film that has to work and none of those awards are ultimately going to make or break it.”

For the full article, visit MovieMaker Magazine.



What is a marketing hook?

August 7, 2013
posted by sheric

Last month I started writing a new monthly column for MovieMaker Magazine.  For those who may have missed the debut, here’s a short excerpt. In my opinion, most low budget independent films lack a good hook. Often they suffer from storylines that are so mundane or do not take the viewer on an exciting journey that few people are compelled to seek them out. Also, they have no cast that is recognizable to an audience to draw in their attention. While many moviemakers believe all they should have is a story well told, that is not enough to make a film stand out in a sea of entertainment choices.

Here is the excerpt:


“Hooks are the elements of your film that will be used during promotion to attract its core audience. Often hooks are comprised of things such as notable names, specific and recognizable locations, a title that can be visualized, gripping or familiar subject matter and something that solicits an emotional response. Hooks allow an audience to immediately recognize what is interesting about your story and decide whether they want to investigate further.

While the hook may make someone buy on the spot (at a pitch meeting, while flipping through the Netflix database or standing in front of a cinema marquee), usually the goal is to have the audience open up their minds to the idea that they are interested in potentially supporting/buying your project. A good hook may not pull the wallet out right away, but hearing about it over and over from different places eventually will make the target audience’s hands move closer to their credit cards.

A marketing hook can come in the form of subject matter that is compelling to a certain audience segment, like environmental causes, women’s rights, human rights – as long as it is being covered from an angle that hasn’t been seen before, or it offers new or normally inaccessible material. Food Inc on the surface is a documentary about where our food comes from, but the marketing hook was how the story lifted the veil on the surprising degradation of food quality and the millions in marketing money that goes into supplying food at an affordable cost to the consumer. It is not just a film about farming.

A hook can also come in the form of a recognizable property, like a book, or the talent attached to the project, like A-list actors or a well known director. Often the first words out of a person’s mouth when hearing about a film is “Who’s in it?” They are looking for the reason to hear more about the film or dismiss it as uninteresting. This is also the case when a publicist pitches journalists for media coverage. Notable names definitely turn a writer’s head in your direction and make media coverage a lot easier to obtain.”

Read the full story here including valuable input from Stephanie Palmer of Good in a Room and Joke and Biagio, producers of unscripted TV and documentaries.

Sheri Candler