About an hour ago I started writing this blog. The topic was insecurity. I had done an email campaign this week on my own film with less than stellar results. Since Tuesday, I had only 4 sales, for a net of just under $1000 after paypal costs and dvd duplication. My gut told me not to mail-out till July, but I needed the cash and didn’t want to wait. I consoled myself that since January, I had more sales (60) in a six month period than I’ve ever had. Still, the old questions instantly cropped-up: Had buyers suddenly lost interest in my film? Have my sales peaked? Was my price too high?
Who would want to buy my film in the first place, even though plenty have?
Then my writing was interrupted by a phone call from a librarian at an Atlanta University who wanted to make sure that if she purchased the film today, she could receive it before the end of the fiscal year next Friday.
The end of the fiscal year? Didn’t schools end the year in April? Well, yes, some, she answered, but many are on a July to June schedule, not wanting to deal with the chaos of finances until all the students had gone.
So, my gut had been right all along and I had a reason for the slow sales.
While schools can be anxious to spend the remainder of their money before the year ends, many are simply out of money, and have to wait.
She seemed talkative, so after we arranged additional fees for a rush mailing, I asked her about price. “What did she think of my price of $250 for my 30 minute doc?”
“Well, I shouldn’t say this,” she answered, “but many people–both independents and distributors–are charging as much as $400 or even $450 for documentaries as short as 15 minutes and schools are paying!”
A serendipitous call, that vanquished my insecurity as I hope it will vanquish yours.
The key to surviving as an independent is to keep repeating your successful campaigns. If they stop working, there will be a reason. We just have to find it, and not assume we are the ones at fault.