The film industry distrupted by crowdfunding, digital distribution and social media


By Ronnie Rocket

The movie industry is going through the same disruptive process as the music industry did a few years ago. The end result, or at least the new scenario, will likely reflect their audio counterpart. Fans will become producers through crowdfunding (they already are in large numbers), digital distribution will mean immediate access and more niche products and social media will change the marketing structure fundamentally.

Hopefully, the future will mean more people in the movie theaters as we have seen the live music scene boom as a side effect of digitalization. On one hand, we will have acccess to all movies all the time. On the other hand, going to the movies will be an extraordinary, social event that will be more valuable in our hectic lives.

“I learned from working closely with filmmakers like Banksy that core fans want a more direct connection to films and filmmakers. Filmmakers are now realizing, as musicians did years ago, that the key to their success lies in having a direct communication with their community year round rather than ‘film by film’.” – Marc Schiller, BOND/360

The New York based promotion agency BOND/360 just released a ‘dynamic whitepaper’ on Medium with some eyepopping findings based on big data. (My new best friend on Facebook, director/writer genius Paul Schrader, shared it on Facebook.)

Through their marketing works with movies like Senna, they have analyzed their experiences from working with independent films and published seven substantial trends:

1. Revenues from traditional marketplaces falling rapidly – self service platforms rising rapidly
2. Niche content is the new mainstream – high revenue for ‘speciality’ films
3. International sales agents in steep recline – self serving platforms released globally
4. Free marketing on Facebook is over – but Facebook is a good place to spend money
5. Social media is getting more visual – Instagram, Pinterest and and Vine on the rise
6. Crowdfunding is community building – Kickstarter and IndieGoGo more social than Facebook and Twitter
7. PR does not sell movies anymore – social sharing does

My personal notes to these findings are based on a similar attitude to not only the movie business, but to business in general.

Obviously, with digital distribution, the marketplace will be instantly global. But this will also make the local movie theater, especially art houses and state-of-the-art theaters even more valuable as social destinations. This is the storytelling that the stakeholders must use as their starting point. It is no longer the access to the specific product. It’s the social value of finding the movie, getting the tickets, watching the movie, eating the popcorn, discussing the movie afterwards. Kissing, if you’re lucky.

This is the big chance for independent films. Low cost production and low cost distrubution will trigger a punk rock effect in the movie industry. This trend began with cheap HD videocameras and will continue with cheap marketing and distribution. Awesome talent will be discovered. Not only people with access to money will make movies.

The sales process of selling anything is undergoing dramatic changes, too. The old days of doing sales at conferences and major festivals will continue but there will be a huge market and tons of deals made at new gatherings with a more technological approach. Culture and tech markets will merge with a hunger for content and platforms coming together.

The movie industry have relied too much on a free ride with promotion on Facebook, and, to a lesser extent, IMDb (the movie database owned by Amazon). They have overlooked people powered platforms like Wikipedia and Reddit. The smart marketeers will look to these services and also discover the hidden gem that is Facebook Groups (still free and uncensored).

The movie industry should know this. A picture says a thousand words. Imagine what a 20 second video clip or a gif animation can do. The curators and editors will have to take a more visual approach and the design part will be more and more important. Not only for aestethics and usability, but also for basic wow effect and marketing punch.

Along with Wikipedia and YouTube, Kickstarter is the most important thing that have happened to the Internet. Crowdfunding projects are not only changing the dynamics of the funding of ideas. They are also creating social communities that are powerful marketing orchestras.

The days are over when people will read a review in the newspaper and flock to the theater. Blog articles written by soulmates and tips shared by friends will be decisive when people choose what to do with their precious free time. There is not an industry that is not in disruption these days.

Soon, we will book our tickets on Twitter and pay with Bitcoin. But we will still hold hands after watching Love Story or Last Tango In Paris (yeah, I like 70’s movies). And the kiss will feel just as good as in the old days.

Photo: Babylon, an arthouse movie theater in Berlin-Mitte.

You can follow me on Google+ here and on Twitter here.

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