VOD Case Studies – Andy Made A Friend
Online distribution, or VOD for the lack of a better word, is still in its infancy as a form of content delivery to an audience, and even the big players in the market, such as Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes, have yet to perfect the model. Their models tend to benefit only the users of the sites, as well as the host companies themselves, as the studios, which are the content providers, struggle to make a decent return on it unless they get large upfront acquisition payments.
This is why Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, and other such VOD platforms, are now creating their own content, as the studios wise up and realize they need to be in control of their own content, and online destiny, so as to make it a viable side of their business model. So when it comes to independent cinema, it’s even more of an unknown dimension in the life cycle of an indie film.
Because of this, there need to be VOD Case Studies for small independent films releasing on independent VOD platforms. Not to prove that the independent platforms ways are better, but to showcase that there are many factors why a film succeeds online, be it a major studio film, or a small low budget indie gem.
In this series of VOD Case Studies from IndieReign, we will be talking about some of our great success stories, where independent films, and their makers, have sold large numbers, and all using varying strategies. So though these may not all prove successful for every film, they at least show what can be done in the online world when it comes to VOD releases of independent films.
Short Films, as a rule, are not income generators, and are more used to showcase a filmmaker, a studio, or make an artistic expression, be it part of a funding body, or a personal bit of cinema. So though there is a lot of importance around short films, the monetary value isn’t one of them.
Online distribution though is an interesting area to experiment with short films, as though most filmmakers and studios upload their films directly to sites like YouTube and Vimeo, so audiences can see them for free, others are seeing if finally it’s a way for short films to actually get monetized, or at least utilized in a different way.
In this series of VOD Case Studies, we’ll be broaching various types of films, and strategies, and this particular study will be focusing on a 12 minute short film, Andy Made A Friend, that works as a great example of not only how to make and market an independent film, but that short films can in fact make money, and how IndieReign helped facilitate its success.
Andy Made A Friend
Even as an indie filmmaker, you need to be aware of why other films succeed or don’t. Often an amazing film will go unnoticed, while others that don’t deserve attention, will get lots of success. One of the ways to help your film stand out from the bunch, be it good or bad, is to have a known face on screen, and I’m not talking a super star.
Yes, this is easier said than done, but for this case study, Andy Made A Friend is a great example of how having a known face, even if it’s a niche audience, can mean the difference between making or breaking an independent project.
Heather Morris, a supporting character on the TV show Glee, is cast as one of the two leads in Andy Made A Friend, and with Glee being a show with an audience of 8-10 million per episode in the US market, means Morris has received a lot of exposure during the shows 4 seasons. With this exposure, she crafted an online fan base with over 75,000 Twitter fans, which as any marketer will tell you, is the perfect foundation for a campaign.
The other star of the film, and also the writer, Ashley Lendzion, had crafted out her own fan base over years of working within the entertainment industry, with over 5,000 Twitter fans, and with nearly 900 Facebook fans on the films official page. Add into the mix IndieReign’s own marketing power and user base, with over 50,000 users worldwide, made the marketing push around Andy Made A Friend a perfect independent film promotion storm.
When the film was fully set up on IndieReign, and every I had been dotted, and every T crossed, and the team behind Andy Made A Friend having hyped up the anticipation of the film for their fans over the previous months, meant the film had pressure building behind it and was waiting to be released. Then, with the help of the team at IndieReign, launched the campaign with promotions through Twitter, Facebook, E-mail Newsletters, Blog Posts, and various other posts on Forums, and within the day, this 12 minute short film had sold hundreds of copies, and by the end of the campaign, it had sold many hundreds more.
It wasn’t just left there though, as it was continually pushed over the weeks and months that followed, and even though the main bulk of sales happened in the first week, it did continue to consistently sell. This was done by more social media pushes, and just more interaction with the fan base, and getting them to promote the film out to their friends and families, as servicing your fans is also key to the success of indie films.
Lessons To Learn
1 - Short films ‘can’ make money.
2 - If possible, try and get a recognizable actor or actress in your film, as any niche market you can target is worth its weight in gold.
3 - Build your social media reach and fan base all the time, so that with every new project, you’ll have a bigger and better launching pad for your next film.
4 - Service this fan base to keep them as fans, and if you always deal with them honestly and in a personal way, you’ll have a strong group of fans that wont only buy your films, but promote them to their connections as well.