14-08-05 Marketing

    I had another emotionally profound realization. Over the past almost 2 weeks, ALGORITHM has sold nearly 300 copies, and made almost $2k. If it hadn’t been for the crazy July 14 release viral thing, I’d probably be really happy with the way sales are going. That idea, and a bunch of rest, is slowly giving me the energy I need for our new marketing campaign.

    Here’s how the marketing works. I find specific journalists at specific websites/magazines/radio channels/TV stations, and I stalk them, online. I read their/watch/listen to their work and find how they feel about various subjects. Basically I learn their tastes. Then, I track down contact information: primary site, personal site, email, Twitter, a brief bio, including the style of pitch that will probably work for each of them.

    Of course, I immediately follow the journalist on Twitter and slowly wait for a time to begin interacting with them. If they do something extraordinary, I comment. If there’s an eccentricity in one of their articles that I notice, I comment. Anything to get noticed so as to begin a relationship, or at least an awareness, so that when I introduce myself in the future, it’s not totally coming from nowhere.

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    At first that tactic felt a little creepy, as in, I felt like I was being creepy. But, then I posted that feeling on Facebook and my lawyer told me that’s how it’s done. So, if my lawyer, who is a very ethical, very smart person, says what I’m doing isn’t stalking, then I know I’m good. I also realized it’s pretty much the kinds of things press agents do for a living.

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    While I’ve been writing this entry, some interesting things have happened. Last week, Joseph Matarrese was approached by a Producer’s Representative company (known here as PRX) neither of us have heard of, mentioning that they’d heard of ALGORITHM and that we should contact them. Joseph immediately forwarded it to me, since I’m the executive producer.

    I checked out their site, read the bio of the founder, and didn’t have a good feeling. But, I didn’t have a good feeling about Shoreline either, and that turned out to be wrong. PRX had no IMDB credit, and I hadn’t heard of any of the movies they mentioned in their press releases.

    Dubious as I was, I called them. They immediately said they don’t take unsolicited calls (unsolicited is industry-speak for (if we don’t call you, don’t call us). But, they had contacted me. I think that “unsolicited calls” bit was posturing to show me that their valid. They transferred me to someone who was doing his best to sell me on something without mentioning the price. 

    So, I asked him how they make their money. He told me they require a sliding-scale up-front fee. This is very bad. Everyone, let me repeat that, everyone, I talk to, every book I read, all agree that representatives must make their money on commissions. If they make money on creatives, what incentive do they have to reach out and sell. Charging up-front is a very bad sign. Don’t do it. Ever.

    Anyway, I brought that up, and he said that if I could refer them to someone then the upfront fee might be waved, as though movies were Ginsu knives or some other pyramid scheme (which have since been rebranded as Multi-level marketing because pyramid has been made illegal). It was offensive, but I wanted to give this guy as much of a chance as possible.

    He tried to defend the up-front fee by comparing himself to a realtor or a banker, and I told them neither of those take up-front fees. Eventually I could no longer ignore what was going on. I said, “Let’s assume that I’m not going to pay the upfront fee and that I don’t have anyone to refer to you.” 

    His primary argument was that he needed to vet me, which is understandable. I countered with the fact that I needed to vet him as well and so far he hadn’t checked out. He offered no practical defense. Finally, he said he had to go because he had back-to-back meetings for the whole day. I’m dubious of that, it’s probably more posturing.

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    I let Joseph and Phillip know how that conversation went. They agreed with me and that at least the conversation was good practice for dealing with sales agents. I thought that was hilarious.

    I then emailed Shoreline and let them know we had another distributor who was interested, and that if they wanted to have a conversation, then I needed to hear back from them by Friday August 8.

    Within an hour of that email to Shoreline, I heard back from my contact there and he said he was watching it right now. So, PRX served a purpose. I don’t know if talks with Shoreline will go anywhere, but at least I was able to clean up my previous mistake.

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    And then there’s another bit of good news. 44CON.

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    I’m going to pause there because my Dad’s in the hospital and I’ve got to go pick him up and return him to his home, with my mom. 

    About a week before ALGORITHM premiered on July 14, my mom had a horse-riding accident. She had a huge horse and she fell off and fractured her pelvis. She’s been on bed-rest since then. My dad is on gnarly medications and can’t take care of himself. Two days ago, one of the medications his quack doctor had him on was too high and poisoned him. He had to be rushed to the local-to-me hospital, 100 miles from his home. He’s spent the night there and now has to be returned to his home.

    I have no idea if that last bit will make it into the final version of this because it’s personal and people think getting sick is private because they think no one gets sick but them and its shameful, which of course is absurd. I put it in to let you know that amidst the other craziness of making movies, my life, with my wife and the rest of my family, continues. Sometimes there are very inconvenient crises.

    Hopefully I’ll have time tomorrow to tell you about 44CON. It’s really good news.