Marketing on zero-budget

zero-budget - can't even afford to end this sen...

One of the problems with being a zero-budget film group is that your films may hardly ever get watched. Failing some of the tried-and-true methods of getting noticed (entering your film into film festivals – the bigger the better), which put you in stiff competition. Basically the way to get into the film industry is risky, oversubscribed and almost mythical.

That said, I have made an analysis of some of the marketing strategies involved for big studios and have decided that it would be interesting to try to replicate them – with no budget. By no budget, I mean no external money involved, the only input I can have is either creative or on my already limited budget (my own relatively empty pocket). So I’ll outline some of the strategies involved.

Studio marketing is designed to get a lot of people to watch their films at the theatre. They saturate the market so no man, woman or child in the country would not have heard of their film. The idea is to get most of the money back in the first few weeks of release. This is entirely possible for some films. However, with a starting budget of zero – it can only go up from here – and it’ll be free to watch to boot!

Now, in terms of marketing materials, the usual is trailers, film posters, slideshows and cut-outs. Trailers, I’ve explained in-depth before. Film posters, on a limited budget, it’s not practical (even just the raw materials – ink and paper, it’s going to cost a bit), so we’d have to go the digital route – online exclusivity with this. Perhaps adding a pdf file that is big enough for you to take to the printers and print out an A3 or A2 poster yourself. No money needed from Habitual, but then also the distribution suffers slightly (it’s easier to hock over £3.50 and get the poster than it is to download, load onto a USB stick, take to the printers and then get the poster printed). Cutouts are not viable for the same reasons as the posters.

A movie poster - not cheap to produce in print, but easy as pie online

A lot of the time studios throw money at the TV (metaphorically) in order to garner some interest, 30 second ads and what not. We don’t have that kind of money to throw around, but perhaps we can do something about that…

Leading back to avenues that we CAN go – interviews. Obviously the more you do, the more coverage you get. Some would go on chat shows, but the only way we can do that is to literally create our own chat-show – or at least a parody of one. We are filmmakers after all. Then there’s the regular type of interviews that you see on TV premieres. Very possible, even on zero-budget (providing your actors can do that for free!).

There’s stand alone websites for individual films – possible only when you have money to pay for things like hosting space and such. And there’s also viral marketing. If you can spread out an idea from a film that will creep into peoples minds, then you could potentially have a lot of attention for very little effort. If you can pull it off that is. And controversy surround pictures does that.

There’s cross promotion – novelisations and comics that either depict the contents of the film, or spin-offs and extensions of it. Very doable digitally.

There’s merchandising, which is something that you really need money to do, either that or some sort of deal with a company. And promotional givaways, but since most of that relies on manufacturing something physical (for the most part), it’s going to come with an inherent cost. Competitions also pose a similar problem.

Then there’s making your product the best it can be. This involves test groups, test screenings and surveys.

As you can see there’s a lot in the traditional model of marketing. But with the teaser trailer of Boytoy Beta put up, I’m thinking of making this an ongoing project – see how many views the final film can get – set a specific date for launch, and have a marketing campaign before. This will be interesting…


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