The following is a guest post by Marie-France Côté.
At the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA) I was invited to take part in the World Documentary Exchange program, designed to build ties between people in the industry through panels and “blind dates.”
Today, I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Broderick, an independent and digital distribution guru. I saw one of his presentations three years ago in Toronto during Hot Docs and was truly inspired by it.
An independent distribution precursor, Broderick helps filmmakers (more than 800 over the past seven years!) find creative ideas for crafting the best distribution strategies for their documentaries. He encourages filmmakers to get involved in this crucial step for their films.
And all of this doesn’t have to cost a fortune. To be able to give people a real-life example during consultations, in response to the common objection “Yes, but we don’t have any money,” he created his own site for the modest amount of $35, in just three hours.
I will be posting pearls of wisdom inspired by Peter Broderick over the coming days, starting today with what I call his “Seven Website Principles” when it is time to distribute your film:
1- Content is Crucial – Not just promoting your film. If your site lacks content, people won’t come back.
2-Content Must be Dynamic – It has to grow, change and evolve.
3- Your Site has to be Customized – You want to connect with real people, and you have to make sure that users know who the site is aimed at.
4- Your Site Should Convey a Bigger Idea Than Just the Film — It should be related to a cause or a social project associated with the film. The RIP: A Remix Manifesto site is a good example because it taps into issues of open source advocacy and copyright activism.
5- Start by Creating a Quick, Inexpensive Site – You can always develop it in subsequent phases. Make sure you have a vision before hiring a designer. You also need to make sure that you can make changes yourself.
6- User-Generated Content – Give your community a chance to participate and add content.
7- Regardless of your vision, It is Important to Have Fun! – If not, your site will soon be buried in your “urgent things to do” pile.
I’ll be back soon with a few more words about the man who said that it should be illegal for a filmmaker to leave the house without DVDs for sale!
Marie-France Côté is a filmmaker and producer of the film, Earthkeepers, which is in competition at IDFA. Marie-France is also a line producer on the web documentary project about racism in the workplace, Work For All. Follow her on Twitter here.