This past week I had the opportunity to attend several days of the IFP Film conference at the Lincoln Center in NYC. Some of the panels held unique perspectives of the independent film industry, and I’ve pulled together some of what I thought were the best takeaways from the conference.
1) Filmmakers need to think of their films like an entrepreneur thinks of a startup. Entrepreneurs focus intensely on market research, market data, target audiences, and the like. They do everything they can to discover who is going to use their product or service before they do anything to actually launch their business. They know specific price points about how much a certain target market is going to value their product or service. They find out as much data as possible from comparable businesses and competitors. If a previous business or startup in their industry failed, they know why, how, and they learn how to avoid those mistakes.
In the same way, independent filmmakers MUSt start to think of films in this way – Filmmakers should know their target market, they should study their audience. They should know who is going to want to see their film, and who is not part of that market.
2) Filmmakers need to think of their viewers as their customers – And value viewer relationships in the same way a business values customer relationships.
A company is able to exist and thrive because it can build a connection with it’s customers. If a customer isn’t satisfied with a product or service, they’ll go somewhere else to find it. In the same way, if a viewer isn’t satisfied with a film, they’ll find another film that they will be satisfied with. For this reason, one of a filmmakers most valuable resources is it’s viewer relationships.
One final interesting takeaway from IFP…
3) Data is changing everything
The film industry has been behind in terms of data collection in recent years. Many studios and film companies have not taken advantage of the opportunity of collecting data about their customers (viewers). They know how many people went to the movies, how much money they made, but the details of who, when, where – their viewers ages, what they shop for online, what other movies they’ve watched, music that they listened to, and more remain unknown.
Netflix changes that. It is no coincidence that Netflix’s original series ‘House of Cards’ was so successful. Netflix collects data on viewers habits the way that Facebook collects data for advertisers. Targeted and specific.
As data collection becomes a larger part of the film industry, and with the rise of new technology and distribution platforms, their will be more and more opportunities for creative ways of reaching targeted and specific audiences.