Outline of Distribution plan: My whole distribution plan is built around the idea of finding and building a relationship with a permanent audience to follow and support my filmmaking career. In the changing nature of direct to consumer distribution, a filmmaker must build relationships with audience members in order to be successful in the long run, even if their films are being picked up and distributed by independent distributors. One-time distribution does not assume sales or continued audience support if the filmmaker is not cultivating relationships with audience. Fans need to like the content, but also like the artist behind it.
As a younger, very indie filmmaker that will likely continue to make my own no-budget productions for a long time, I need to capture a permanent audience to move with me from project to project. My first major film, Broken On All Sides, was a political documentary that had a built-in audience of those impacted by the criminal justice system or advocates working on related issues. The success of that film has been tremendous within the movement against mass incarceration. But with narrative films I intend to make, much of the audience will not crossover-- except those that know me personally and support me as a person and an artist. The idea is to grow these types of people into a fan base, which will financially support future projects.
For all the reasons above, I've decided against distributing A Dark Souvenir through pay-per-view online platforms for $3 per person or for $20 for a DVD. With a marketing budget of a couple hundred dollar here and there, this would mean PRAYING that people will find MY indie horror film through all the noise and trust enough in someone they don't know to give it a purchase. This is a failing strategy that's seen over and over again for indie films. Instead, I will be meeting people out in the real world and online, and GIVING the film away in exchange for their email signup. I also intend to send films to people who signup online through the website, but do not imagine this to be a huge crowd at first. Giving away the movie is showing that I value a direct relationship with them enough to provide my blood, sweat, and tears for free, and is an invitation to start learning more about me.
My marketing and distribution campaign includes an openness in blogging on the movie's website that will hopefully let people into my process, who I am, what I'm trying to do, the fun and struggles I have along the way: http://www.adarksouvenir.com/directors-blog
I plan to print a first run of 1,000-2,000 DVDs, estimated to be about $1,500-2,500. I also plan to budget in $4 shipping and packaging per DVD for 300 that I will send for free to the first 300 signups online (for total cost to me of $1,200). The remaining DVDs will be given out at horror conventions, horror film festivals, Jewish art festivals, and other events in exchange for an email signup. People who signup online after the first 300 DVDs are distributed will receive a link to a secure vimeo upload instead of DVD.
I also plan to put a "donate" paypal button on the site, along with a PO Box address to accept donations for the free work we've done. This may be enough money to begin making the next project. And the next project will feature heavy in email newsletters and blog posts going out-- so that the audience can have input on and feel a part of pre-production for the next horror/drama feature that is already in the works.