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noticed.MARKETING INDEPENDENT FILMS - Philly Ad Club

noticed.MARKETING INDEPENDENT FILMS - Philly Ad Club

noticed.MARKETING INDEPENDENT FILMS - Philly Ad

COVER STORY Getting noticed.MARKETING INDEPENDENT FILMS E Everyone knows the names MGM, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures as distributors of motion pictures. Their logos are iconic and the fanfare that introduces their films on movie screens across the country is extraordinary. The roar of Leo the MGM lion, the imposing 20th Century Fox name atop a monument bathed by klieg lights, and the image of a globe with the bold name UNIVERSAL are just some of the images ingrained into the brains of moviegoers. But how many people know the names Kino Lorber Films or Art House Films? Each of these companies distributed films that received Academy Award nominations this past Oscar season. Moviegoers are watching independent films. But how does an indie attract an audience without the roar of the big marketing budget? To be successful, projects with limited resources require a more creative approach to marketing than big-house studio productions. Truthfully, there is an industry within the film industry. While it is necessary that any project, whether a studio blockbuster or an indie film have marketing and advertising budgets, there is something that sets independent and specialty film farther apart from its big brother. To succeed, an independent film project requires marketing that goes beyond the media budget. A great deal of research and specifics on target audiences, along with regional theater availability, only begin a project's special handling needs. In short, for the distributor and the art house to make money, someone has to care. An agency niche One agency found they could yield success for independent film advertisers by simply following the adage “know your market.” In 2003 Mike Gillespie Sr., president and CEO of the Gillespie Group, was introduced to Gregg Smith by an executive from CBS. “Gregg had the idea that it takes someone with a love of film, and an Mike Gillespie Sr. understanding of the unique needs an independent has to make a film succeed,” Mike said. “Gregg felt Indies were not getting the attention they needed and deserved.” By hiring Gregg as their director of entertainment advertising, Gillespie believed they could capitalize on Gregg's expertise and insider knowledge of a relatively elusive market base. As an expert marketer, Gregg had the ingredient necessary for developing a business model that would have a positive impact for Independent film by cultivating key audiences groups. Since he was hired, the collaboration has yielded Gillespie Group's clients five Academy Award nominations, illustrating that although independent and limited distribution films need a little more attention they can certainly garner critical and financial success. Vigilance and urgency Regular patrons of independent films understand that specialty topics, documentaries, foreign titles, or projects from a young director who won at a film festival, will not have the marketing budgets of the Majors. So it requires them to be more watchful for titles of interest that will reach their market and will therefore be ready to schedule their attendance during the first week. Otherwise, the film may disappear. Moviegoers who seek the studio films from major distributors don't face this same challenge or sense of urgency to rush to their local multiplex. Every one of the large multi-screen theaters is playing the same list of movie titles. You can be sure that these films will remain on screen for at least four weeks. Major studio investors are interested in safe bets such as Marvel Comics' action films, making sequels, or developing that next franchise. Not so with indie films. The discerning film patron has to be reached by someone whose hand is on the pulse of the film's release. Here's where the expert marketer's job becomes essential. Tim Chambers, the producer/director of the independent film “The Mighty Macs” says, “In general, ‘traditional’ methods of theatrical film distribution continue to be dominated by the major studios. As film marketing costs continue to skyrocket, it becomes more and more difficult for independent films to create awareness and compete for Exhibitor shelf space. The studio formula is quite simple — huge marketing dollars plus thousands of screens equals 10 phillyadclub.com - JULY/AUGUST 2011

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