Judith Dancoff NewFilmMarketing is a breakthrough consulting service for do-it-yourself film distribution to universities, K-12, libraries, and specialty markets.

We are impassioned to establish the right distribution platform to meet your film's needs and to shape the right strategy. In addition, we offer hourly consultation, coaching, workshops, and an informative blog. Contact us for a free consultation and dates of upcoming workshops. Our focus is on educational and specialty distribution but will share whatever useful information comes our way.

We believe the strongest market and viewership for most documentary filmmakers lies in academic and specialty markets. Let us help you transform that promise into a reality.


Ring ‘Em Off the Hook!

March 21st, 2014

A filmmaker and distribution consultant I know in NYC, swears by the telephone. Whenever he wants to stir up some business and make a few bucks, he gets on the old horn, and spends an hour or two talking to academics he thinks might be interested in his film. For his trouble, which is not much trouble at all, he’ll usually walk away with a sale or two, and sometimes even bigger bucks, for a large screening. That’s because while email lists allow us to contact hundreds or thousands of potential buyers in seconds, at heart they’re basically spam…so so easy to ignore if you’re in the mood. A telephone contact to an academic buyer gives you a personal connection to someone who truly might have an interest.

When I first began this distribution odyssey, that was my sole method. With no knowledge that mailing lists existed, but aware of people called “subject librarians” in universities, I would search for email addresses to send my cover letters, then do a follow-up phone call a week or so later. (Here’s an example subject librarian list from Stanford University. These are the people tasked with building the collections in your area: http://library.stanford.edu/people/subject-librarians. How did I find it? By googling Stanford + subject librarians! Professors can be found in the same way).

Often the librarians would say, “Oh yes, I remember seeing your email. Tell me about it again…”. And sometimes it led to a sale. In fact, my buy rate with phone calls was sometimes as high as 30%, compared to the standard 1-2% for the email lists.

It seems to me the lesson is clear: take the to make a few calls. Who knows what you’ll turn up?

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

April 4th, 2013


Credit: John Grigsby / Bullhead Entertainment

Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave“, from his Republic, speaks to the difficulty of grasping reality, the process of moving beyond shadows on the wall to fully apprehending the truth. And it also speaks to the task of the teacher.

I have watched this youtube claymation of the Allegory scores of times, but always with a tinge of guilt. The filmmaker does an extraordinary job and has over 350,000 hits on youtube but doesn’t charge a cent. Surely his effort cost him in both time and money. Why is he not compensating himself? Who told him there was no money to be made or that he, alone, couldn’t make it? 350,000 hits at even $1 a view would pay for a hell of a lot more claymations.

Of course I don’t know this filmmaker’s goals–he may be independently wealthy and want to give his film away for free–but when I look at his statistics, I am reminded of the rest of us out there, struggling to see beyond the shadows on our wall to an effective distribution plan.

We proceed in the ways we have been conditioned, and cannot think outside-the-box to all the new possibilities that await us.

Slowly, though, I see that as changing. Filmmakers I have met in Washington as well as New York City seem open to exploring new paths and directions. It is gratifying indeed.

Newsflash! Upcoming Workshops in DC and the Big Apple!!

March 22nd, 2013

Newsflash! Want to sell your film to academic institutions but don’t quite know where to begin? On March 28th I’ll be giving a workshop at Dos in Progress in Silver Spring, Md, and on April 3rd, in New York City. See below for details. At both events, we’ll have a chance to discuss the ins and outs of Academic DIY, and you’ll be invited to share their own experiences, questions, and concerns.

Naturally, there’ll be lots of time for schmoozing and networking, and as an added bonus, producer and successful DIY distributor Mitch Teplitsky will be joining me onstage in New York. Mitch has successfully distributed his own doc Soy Andina, and has had particular success in setting up lucrative campus screenings, usually where the big money is. Can’t wait to hear what he has to say.

Silver Spring, MD
March 28th – 6:30-8:30pm
See http://docsinprogress.org/events/98/eddistro/

New York City
April 3rd – 6:30-8:30pm
See http://marketing_to_educators.eventbrite.com/

At both workshops, we’ll explore such topics as:

  • DIY vs handing off to a distributor: pros and cons
  • Crafting your strategy, distribution plan, and goals
  • Identifying the market: Who’s going to buy your film? K-12, higher ed, public libraries, etc.
  • Websites, marketing and sales messages you need for educational buyers
  • Pricing strategies
  • Screenings with filmmaker visits and stipends
  • New VOD options for academics
  • Hybrid marketing
  • Case studies

We’re Coming to the Capitol!!

February 23rd, 2013

We are so pleased to announce that on Thursday, March 28th, NewFilmMarketing will be giving a class in academic distribution at Docs In Progress in the DC area.

Learn the basics of academic distribution, including how to locate your most likely academic markets (from K-12 to university) and effective campaigns to reach those market(s) in terms of pricing, licensing, cover letters, and websites. I¹ll be answering your questions and offering individual website critiques as time allows.

Date and time:
Thursday Mar 28, 2013 at 6:30 PM
to Thursday Mar 28 at 8:30 PM

Where:
Docs In Progress
8700 First Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910

See Docs In Progress for more information and to register click here.

Postcards?

February 15th, 2013

Postcards, really?  Yes, really.  As part of an email campaign, they will reinforce your message as well as give your potential buyer something to pin above his/her desk.

With a mailing list service like yourmailinglistprovider.com or mailchimp, you can easily find the names of those who clicked on your website during your campaign.  These are your hot leads, certainly worth a follow-up postcard.  If your mailing list supplier has provided them, the addresses will be right there too.  If not, a quick google search of the individual email will bring it up.

Add to that list the membership lists of academic organizations most closely allied with the topic of your film.    Find the organizations, then search under advertising.  The great majority of them rent their membership lists for a reasonable fee.

Be sure your card is not over 4×6″ to qualify for the least expensive stamp, and search on-line or in your area for good printing and mailing rates.  The card should include your url, enough about your film to get people to click, a good quote, and an image.

If the internet has made instantaneous email blasts possible, it’s also created spam filters, as well as haystacks of incoming mail.  Not a problem, though.  Many academic librarians still believe that a hard-copy postcard is the best way to make a sale.

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Films That Sell/Films That Don’t

February 8th, 2013

When I began as a DIY consultant, I thought, naively, that most good films would have an equal chance of selling if given the right academic platform and marketing push.  After all, a decent saleswoman can sell the Brooklyn Bridge, right?  Empowered by my know-how, I believed that with the right positioning and academic  platform, nearly all filmmakers would be able to reach their “academic sales potential”, whatever that was.  At the very least, they would sell more than a catalogue distributor, since they would be making an individual effort.

The latter still holds true–what catalogue distributor will launch individual marketing campaigns for you?–but I now realize that the academic sales potential of equally good films can vary.   What I’m about to say is just my opinion and of course full of exceptions at every turn, but I hope it sheds some light in our on-going journey to understand how to self-distribute.   Please add your own comments and experiences.

What can hurt a film’s sales potential:

-  Science buyers can be harder sells than art and humanities buyers, and hard science the most difficult.  I know, I know, a huge over-generealization, but when the field is quantitative as opposed to qualitative, the buyer can be more suspect.  They also tend to use films less often in their classes.  (Not that they never do).

- It seems counter-intuitive, but well-made, “festival-like” documentaries can sometimes work against themselves in an academic setting. Granted there are numerous exceptions, but a film as concerned with its dramatic appeal as its documentary subject, runs the risk of appearing too theatrical.  Teachers want to teach, not entertain.  Don’t give up before you start, though.  An inexpensive library campaign will show your film’s potential.

    What will help:

    - If the film is on a subject already being taught, and particularly if it has not been explored before, you are several steps ahead.  There’s nothing harder than convincing a buyer she needs something when she knows she doesn’t, but buyers can be equally motivated to find films in their field, especially when none yet exist.  This point alone may negate everything said above.

    - Length, length, length.  In real estate it’s location, in academic film sales, it’s length.    A film that’s under 60 minutes, or chapterized if over, will show the buyer you’re aware of the importance of length, and want to fit into their classroom hour.  This is another reason why more theatrical documentaries, expanded to 90 minutes, are less appealing in an academic setting.

      That said, disregard everything you’ve just read.  The only sure thing in the film business is that no one really knows what will sell and what won’t.  Believe in your film, do test campaigns, and get feedback from professors.  Also be aware that trends change.  When I first did my film on Judy Chicago, I couldn’t give it away.  Now institutions can’t get enough.  The moral: if not now, maybe later.  You may just be ahead of your time.

      Prince Charming and Other Fairytales

      June 21st, 2012

      Fairytales can hold a powerful sway over us.  As a child whose father had just died, I cried for years.  Not knowing what to do, my mother told me that when I grew up, I would meet Prince Charming, who would sweep me off my feet and make-up for everything I’d missed.  I stopped crying and turned my head toward the future.  You can bet that letting go of that fairytale took a toll.

      Here’s another fairytale I think is equally destructive.  A filmmaker that I recently overheard on a discussion list said he was planning on offering streams of his movie for free and getting 600 million people to view it.

      600 million.  That’s nearly twice the population of the entire United States or about 25% of all internet users on earth.

      His question on the list was what platform to use.  No queries about how to attract 600 million viewers which he evidently saw as realistic, only whether to use Vimeo or YouTube.  Another post responded that if he expected to reach over 600 million people, he should post information about his film on a few websites!

      Read the rest of this entry »

      Ready To Go Back to School? NewFilmMarketing Announces Distribution Seminars!

      June 1st, 2012

      I’ve been thinking.  Filmmakers certainly deserve to sell their films to universities and libraries, but too many lack the funds at the end of the day to hire me, or anyone, to help them.

      Since the skill of distribution is not rocket science, some can succeed on their own, but many need help.

      So, I’ve come up with a plan.  Beginning Monday, July 2nd, I will be offering small, affordable, 4-week seminars to get you ready for a fall campaign, with plenty of individual feedback.  In addition, the purchase of any month of seminars will entitle you to a 30% discount on one hour of my consulting time, useable whenever you like.  Also, seminars will be available via a web hosting service, to make it possible for you to attend long-distance, even if you live just a mile away from my home in Los Angeles.

      For details, times, and prices on these seminars, see the Workshop link on the menu bar.  A 4-week introductory seminar is required for all students, even if you’ve had some background in distribution.  It will give an overview of my process, fill in any gaps, and establish a general vocabulary that we can share.  In addition, during this first month, you will create a general distribution plan.

      After the introductory month,  future 4-week seminars will focus on giving each person specific feedback and response as they work on their distribution plan and prepare a campaign.  You may dip in and out of these 4-week classes, or work month-by-month to be ready for fall.

      Ready to go back to school? Your film certainly is!  I hope to see you there.

      When Results Are Less Than You’d Hoped For

      February 3rd, 2012

      Your DIY platform is well-positioned, the endorsements for your film just right, and plenty in academia have said that your movie would be great for teaching their classes.  So where are your sales?  You have a few, sure, but nothing like what you hear others get.

      The process of selling anything yourself can be daunting, especially at the beginning.  The internet affords an easy, and sometimes very affordable, way to contact buyers, but because of that, it’s becoming increasingly crowded.  How do you rise above the scores of other emails that might arrive in a librarian’s inbox?

      Give Your Film A Pedigree

      Film festival laurels are great in the movie business, but count for almost nothing in academia.  For science and social science especially, buyers want to know that your film has the backing of their important institutions and journals.  So get your film reviewed in a few and post the comments on your website.  To find them, google your film topic plus the word “journal”.  Some will not review films,  others will.  You can also check an academic publisher like Sage (www.sagepublications.com) for numerous journal titles and links.

      Spread The Word!

      While the internet makes marketing new and modern, nothing replaces old-fashioned pr.  As you search for academic journals, note conferences you might attend, presentations to give, and so forth.   Academics gossip as much as anyone.   Get your film known.  If you can arrange it, do academic screenings for a small fee.  Don’t expect much more than a few hundred dollars, but each new contact counts.   Think of it as a way to fund your next trip to New York City, Hawaii, wherever.    Search the universities in the area, scan the bios of faculty whom you think would be most interested, and contact them.  Lead time here is important, though, as they will need to fit you in their calendar.  Another good way to spread the word is to join the academic listservs of your discipline and post there.

      Follow-Up On Leads

      If you are using librarian lists from someone like Richard Dill, your email service (I use www.yourmailinglistprovider.com) should show you a long list of the people who clicked on your site.  These are hot leads.  Follow-up on them!  Send them a personal email, a postcard, even call them.  If they clicked on your site, you’re halfway to a sale!

      It can take time and work to find your film’s “sweet spot”, but is worth it in the end.

      Tip 4 2-Day: Build Your Own Worldwide Database!

      November 22nd, 2011

      Feel like spending a bit of time for unlimited free access to university email addresses around the world?

      Check out this website: www.webometrics.info.  You can search by the top universities for each continent, or by the country itself, and many sites have English versions.  BTW–Webometrics also links to worldwide hospitals, business schools, and more!

      Limit your email choices to your primary target market.  If your film is about psychology, for example, choose the department chair in psychology along with the most likely library name–either the top librarian, or if offered, the social science librarian.

      Begin an Excel sheet for the names and email addresses and add to it over time; no need to do it all at once.  When you’re ready, upload the addresses to your mailing list server.  I use www.yourmailinglistprovider.com which provides great statistical feedback and allows hundreds of mailings per month for a low fee.

      It’s time to spread your wings and see who else besides American universities will be interested in your film!


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