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.