Film Courage: What thoughts do you have on DIY release strategies?
Scott Kirkpatrick: Look…I guess the criticism I get a lot (or the things I hear from people all the time are) “I don’t understand that businessey-stuff. I don’t get the distribution stuff. I’m going to focus on making my movie and someone else will deal with all that.”
The truth is today, it’s never been easier to produce a movie or any type of media content in general. The technology is fantastic, the costs have dropped tremendously and anybody can do it. The problem is that anyone can do it, there’s tons of it. And so it’s more important now for filmmakers and writers to be cognizant of what is needed in the marketplace and how that whole process works. And the great thing is there has never been a better time in this industry to do it all on their own. Anybody can create a website, anybody can create a blog, anybody can create a fanbase using social media platforms. Anybody can spit out and leak information about their title and build up an audience and built up an interest. And when that magical moment, when that product is ready to be released, already have a great collection of people out there ready to buy it.
And do my view on it is there has never been as much power in the hands of individuals and individual content creators as there has now and I think it’s only going to increase. So I think the ability to take a project, an idea, from beginning to end, cheaply, effectively with very strong results has never been more in the hands of individual filmmakers. So for those people who want to do their project that is outside of the conventions of what I talk about in Writing For The Green Light [Scott’s book], they certainly can and they should pursue what they want. But if you still product within the genre conventions that I write about you’re going to see more traction on the professional side because that’s going to stand out that they were able to put a project like that together and make a bit of profit on it for a very cheap budget. That’s someone who can prove to themselves, we can bring them in and shoot films for us or write films for us, whatever.
Film Courage: What can filmmakers learn from the app world?
Scott Kirkpatrick: Metrics. The incredible amount of data and metrics that go into engineering an app and how targeted and focused it is for a very specific audience, I think that’s what filmmakers can take away from the app world. What that opens the door to is the genre conventions that I write about in Writing For The Green Light are good on a grand scale, but some people want to produce a documentary that’s focused on a touchy issue that’s only important to a very small minority of people, that’s fine. We can exploit as much of that small percentage of people as possible. If they focus it and target it and reach out to those people.
Same thing with faith-based content, there’s a great audience there. And the stuff that sometimes gets produced on a grand scale isn’t hitting the nail on the head the way that audience wants it, they can do it themselves.
I think what we can learn from the app world is how much data we have and how much of the answers we already have in our pockets or purses.
Film Courage: And just with the app world, beta testing something, can a filmmaker really do that with their movie?
Scott Kirkpatrick: It’s tough to beta test a movie. Beta testing I think it much better at platforms and audience response and because of that once you sort of make a movie, it’s sort of one-and-done. But it’s either going to resonate or it’s not, so you can take as many steps as possible for an audience to be receptive or not. But it’s the kind of thing where you’ve kind of got to know the audience in advance and that’s why the assembly line distribution works the way it does where it’s all reverse-engineering, it starts with the audience and builds backs to what should be produced versus producing a movie and then hoping for the best that it gets to the right audience.
Questions for the Viewers: What are your thoughts on DIY distribution?
About Scott Kirkpatrick:
Scott is the author of the book Writing for the Green Light: How to Make Your Script the One Hollywood Notices and is the Senior Vice President of North & South American business development, sales and global digital strategy for the London-based distributor DRG. Previously, Kirkpatrick served as Executive Director of Distribution for MarVista Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based production and distribution company that produces original TV movies and has managed international TV deals on major franchises including Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Before shifting to the distribution side of the industry, Kirkpatrick worked behind the scenes on major studio productions, including Talladega Nights: The Balled of Ricky Bobby. Kirkpatrick has also produced and directed TV series and feature films including Eye for an Eye, Muslims in America and Roadside Massacre.