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Ready for Distribution by Designing the Digital Storefront

Our team at Buffalo 8 Distribution has spoken at many film festivals, schools and
industry events – and one of the things that always stands out is that the simplest
truths about the success of a film tend to be the least discussed - when in fact they
need to be spoken and reinforced the most often in today’s environment.

In this case, if you are a filmmaker approaching the finish line and you want to sell
your film, see it hit the marketplace AND make money….you need to pretend you are
the consumer of your finished film in a fully objective manner. Position your film
like it’s something you would buy/rent/stream – and also something that
you’d actually discover in the world full of so much content and information

Let’s break that down using iTunes and Amazon VOD as our gold standard.

The scene: It’s Friday night and you have sat down on the couch and turned on your
television and you can’t stand watching reruns of Friends on Netflix anymore.

1. ARTWORK – You’ve turned on iTunes and are scrolling through the main
page of the movie store. What you see is the title of a movie and the poster
shrunk down to a one-or-two-inch thumbnail. You want a clean, bold image
that conveys what your film is about while also catching the viewer’s eye.
Posters with too many faces or collages of details will make it difficult to
discern in thumbnail-size. Relative to a storefront, you don’t want a customer
to lose focus by catching a glimpse of a more promising product next door;
remember that you have a split second to attract a consumer to your film and
the artwork needs to be the best possible mechanism to achieve that.
2. SYNOPSIS – Your poster is now gangbusters, and someone has clicked on it
to learn more. Now you have a synopsis – which is on average 250 characters
on the digital storefronts – to hold the viewer’s attention that you’ve been
fortunate enough to catch with your artwork. Not only do you need to clearly
convey what the film is about from a plot standpoint, but you want it to be
action-packed and exciting enough for the viewer to feel like they haven’t
seen “your film” a hundred times before. This can be a great place to instill a
sense of action, dread or suspense for a genre film. If your film is a pedigree-
drama or festival-winner, it can be opportunistic to highlight your film as a
selection of a top tier film festival or note one of its actors who’s better
known from a mainstream project. Just be careful, as 250 characters goes
quickly, and you can’t afford to waste a single space – as the average iTunes
Store viewer will spend between 7-12 seconds on the project page!
3. TRAILER – The viewer has read your synopsis and wants to know what
makes your zombie movie different than the next, or just how cute the lead is
in your romantic comedy. So… let’s watch the trailer and see for ourselves!
We’ve all seen a million trailers, many of them just before a feature at the
local AMC. Excellent trailers are able to depict what the film is about, while
also weaving in key selling points, such as explosions for action, darkness
and jump scares for horror, cute moments and wish fulfillment for romantic
comedies, and recognizable actors for talent. Even the smallest films can have
incredible trailers and if the we’ve learned anything from the film business
it’s that salesmanship with the trailer is absolutely critical at every budget
and genre level.

Unfortunately, that’s all the storefront wrote.

You’ve clicked through and watched all the information provided by the platform.
Now your choices are to rent, purchase or walk away.
It sounds a little scary to say that there are only three elements standing between
you and selling your film to the audience, but that’s what we all do when we go to
any platform and start scrolling for a movie.

Your best defense from losing that customer to take a strong offense: create strong,
captivating materials that will lure people into your product and keep them so
entertained and curious that they can’t possibly walk away. If you don’t believe me,
pay attention to your own behavior the next time you sit down for a movie night and
trace the steps from how you heard about the film (perhaps word of mouth, social
media marketing, or perhaps just stumbling upon it within the iTunes Store) to how
you decided to begin (and maybe / maybe not) finish screening it.

As the world of content continues to become increasingly digital with the options for
our attention seemingly multiplying every day, the presentation to capture potential
audience members because scarily just as important as the filmmaking process

This post was written by Sean Flanagan, Head of Buffalo 8 Distribution.

Buffalo 8 Distribution is a services arm of Buffalo 8 / BondIt Media Capital that
empowers filmmakers to take control of the release of their film and digital
content with direct access to platforms ranging from Netflix, Amazon, iTunes,
Hulu, Cinedigm, and more.

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