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.

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!

Pity the Poor Librarian

November 8th, 2011

DIY is great for everyone, right?  We buy our email lists from list providers, prepare our cover letters, and send out flurries of instant messages, fingers-crossed that we will make high-revenue sales for a ridiculously low out-put of effort and funds.

Who looses in this calculus?  If you guess no one, you’re wrong. As DIY has caught on, the noise that pervades other forms of self-promotion has seeped into academic institutions, making it increasingly overwhelming to the poor librarians who receive our missives, and thus harder for our wonderful films to rise above the fray.

What can you do?

As has always been the case, successful diy requires strong marketing materials (your diy platform of a correctly “positioned” website and cover letter targeted at the right audience), but now more than ever, it also requires simply spreading word-of-mouth about your film to the academic world.  In other words, some good old-fashioned pr. Read the rest of this entry »

An Experiment in Streaming

August 23rd, 2011

Well, it’s time.  After answering a few questions from my clients and from various discussion groups for a formula to set streaming prices, I’ve decided to follow my own good advice.  In my fall sales campaign, I will make a licensed stream on a school’s internal streamer available for purchase, and I will also be contacting those who own my DVD with the news that the stream is now available.

My formula for pricing is based on the fact that a DVD with moderate to heavy use will last about 3 years.  Thus 3 years of streaming rights on the school’s internal server should equal one’s price for an academic DVD that includes public performance rights–for the purposes of this explanation, say $300.  Note, however, that this is for only one school.  If the institution belongs to a library consortium, multiply by 2, 3, or 4, etc. depending on the number of libraries in the consortium.

5 years of streaming rights can equal $500 or 5 times the one year price.

Rights in perpetuity can equal $1000, or ten times the one year price.

Sounds pretty incredible, doesn’t it?  I’m already getting ready to buy my tickets for Bermuda.  What sounds logical on paper, however, may not work in real life–thus my use of the word “Experiment” in the title.  Will even a few of the owners of my DVD swing for a $1000 purchase?  I’ll find out soon enough.  Worldcat gives me a long list of some of the  schools who have purchased my film.  I will start with those, and given the potential profits, personal phone calls should yield some interesting feedback.

Read the rest of this entry »

Windows of Opportunity

August 5th, 2011

Succeeding at Academic DIY has a lot to do with knowing your windows of opportunity.  When are professors and librarians more likely to read your email and make a purchase?  When is your email more likely to languish in an inbox, unread, until it is entirely forgotten?

The first question is whether you are sending to a librarian or professor.  The summer-, though not too early (wait until after June) is an excellent time to email university librarians.  They have a fresh budget to spend and the quiet to focus on the materials they want to buy, at least until school starts gearing up at the end of August.  Conversely, most professors are usually gone in the summer and as school begins, are even less easy to interest in some unsolicited email about a $200-300 DVD that happens to arrive in their inbox.  Catch them toward the end of September or beginning of October, though, and they just may click on that unsolicited email, if the subject header catches their attention and seems to pertain to their subject.  (Never use simple titles in subject headers–they won’t have a clue what you’re talking about!).  Similarly, 3-4 weeks after the start of spring semester will also yield good results.

Considering that if you contact these folks more than 2-3 times a year, they will definitely put you on their pest list, you need to plan the dates of your campaigns carefully.

Why I am telling you all this today, August 5, 2011?  Because September/October is just around the corner and it’s time to get your campaign  ready, if you haven’t already.

Here’s another window of opportunity: every field of study will hold an important conference at least once a year, and some more often.  Isolate your most important primary and secondary markets (see “It’s On the Syllabus“), then google to find the major upcoming conferences in these fields.  If the conference is far enough out, you may be able to  arrange a presentation of your film, and even if you can’t, selling your film at the conference could be a good plan if you can get a table for the right price or split one with other filmmakers.

Let me know of other Windows of Opportunity you know of.  The more we share our information, the better!

Insecurity Blues

June 24th, 2011

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.

Tip 4-2Day: D.I.Y. On A Shoestring

April 8th, 2011

Concerned you haven’t the money to fund your campaign?  Here’s a targeted way to reach librarians who have a proven interest in your subject matter, FOR FREE!!

ACRL (here’s the link), the Association of College and Research Libraries of the American Library Association, divides itself into seventeen sections, from the arts, to science, to gender studies.  Each section has a discussion list, with easy instructions on how to join and post a message.

When you’re on, keep your note brief and casual and as non-industry as possible.  The last thing librarians like is to feel like they’re being pitched.  Simply suggest a resource you think they’d like with the website; don’t go on and on.  Also, “listen in” on their discussions to get a sense of how they talk.

With the end of this fiscal year coming up and a new one beginning, librarians will be eager to find out about new resources, especially as the school year winds down and they have the library to themselves.

It goes without saying that the internet offers literally ENDLESS ways to connect to buyers.  Feel like going a little nuts?  Check out the LibraryLand resource site.  It is no longer monitored, but many of the links are still active and will lead you down some fascinating garden paths!

What if you don’t go with D.I.Y.?

April 1st, 2011

Questions to ask before you say yes


I have written before that the essential difference between academic distributors and D.I.Y. is that distributors sell their catalogue, while the D.I.Y. method sells your film alone.  Think of it like the difference between a grocery store and a door-to-door salesman (though D.I.Y. is a lot less work).  If a grocery store gets good traffic, and gives you good shelf space, and works to build their brand among grocery shoppers, you could do fairly well. This is especially true if they let you write your own text on your packaging that pitches the strongest points to the buyer most likely to buy your bag of potato chips.

How long, however, will they keep you in that shelf space, bring in buyers, and the rest?  Also, what is their track record, not with their one or two big sellers, but with the average products in their store?

Read the rest of this entry »

My Ode to Documentary Film

March 25th, 2011

From “Nanook of the North”, dir. by Robert Flaherty.

A few days ago, Jim Feeley on Doculink posted the article “Why Documentaries Matter”  from Sunday’s Guardian:


“It would be more accurate to say”, writes the author Nick Fraser, “that documentaries are among the most valuable, neglected cultural forms of our time. They aren’t all good, to be sure, but the best are unusual, persuasive, seductive. And their success has something to do with the way they are taken for granted, casually watched. Few old things have flourished in the cultural chaos of this century, but docs have steadily consolidated their hold on a small portion of the contemporary consciousness. Film stars want to make or sponsor them. Sometimes, if you squint hard enough, they really do seem like the new rock’n’roll.”

I think that in all realms, our shared need to understand and bear witness to the “real” has informed our cultural vision, as serious documentaries play at first-run film houses, literary memoirs rise on best-seller lists, and reality shows hold sway on tv.

I like particularly Fraser’s line, that the success of the documentary has “something to do with the way they are taken for granted.”

Read the rest of this entry »

My Artist’s Life

March 18th, 2011

Today is the day for self-disclosure.  While some of you may think of me as the fulltime owner/consultant behind NewFilmMarketing, my head to the grindstone constantly trying to publicize D.I.Y., the truth of the matter is that my fulltime love and obsession is writing.  Come the middle of April, two days after I give my April 9th class on Academic D.I.Y. at Mt. St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles, I will be off to Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound at a wonderful writer’s colony, working on a collection of short stories.

Will I still be selling my movie?  You bet your bootie.  I have a great assistant who is tasked with fulfillment and can easily mail them out for me.  When I return at the end of April, I will pick-up with both current clients and more film sales.

What I want you to understand is that D.I.Y. can be your doorway to living more of the life you want, the life of the artist/filmmaker/writer, or whatever life you want to live.  Of course I hope you hire me to help you with your D.I.Y. effort, but what I want most of all is for you to simply do it.  Stop turning over your potential revenue to catalogue distributors who can only promise to put your film in their holding tank and then take a hefty percentage if and when they manage a sale.

Let’s get out of that mindset, people!  Go with the distributor next year after you fail at D.I.Y. this year.  At least give it a try!

Spring Class in Academic DIY!

March 11th, 2011

Newsflash!  If you live in the LA area or are planning a trip, make sure to attend my April 9th class in E-Marketing for Documentary and Independent Filmmakers.  Check out this website for registration, directions, and a list of other wonderful courses and panels you’ll want to attend.    It’s all on the gorgeous Brentwood campus of Mt. Saint Mary’s College, in the hills near the Getty Museum.

Best of all it’s for a good cause–a wonderful writer’s retreat called Hedgebrook– and while the suggested donation is $40, you may pay what you can afford.

Hope to see you there!

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