The traditional filmmaking model required that each film employ an entire team of people to ensure that a film was seen, including production, distribution, and financing teams. Now, when media has been democratized, more channels exist for filmmakers to get their films seen outside of the traditional model. Even though it’s possible, it’s prohibitively difficult to move from pre-production to distribution on your own, so it’s still important to build a good team to ensure that you accomplish your goal while still maintaining your sanity.
While some of the filmmaking duties can be handled on your own if you want to cut costs, this strategy results in a massive workload. A better approach is to hire skilled people who can take on multiple roles, allowing you to enlist help while also remaining budget-conscious. Before you begin hiring, though, you may want a refresher for what you’re really looking for in some of these crucial support roles.
Obviously an essential role, your assistant can take on a lot of supplemental duties depending on his or her skillset. Your assistant likely won`t have the contacts that some of your distribution folks will have, but s/he can help with social networking and market research. If you`re lucky enough to find an assistant who is skilled in Photoshop, s/he can also help fine tune some of the promotional material and do touch-ups as needed.
This role is becoming increasingly important to the success of films, since the face of film distribution is changing due to the availability of online content. If you don`t have any experience releasing a film, Distribution Consultants are an essential investment. With so many angles to be considered during the distribution process, you want and need the contacts and experience of a distribution consultant. In fact, you may even choose to have this consultant take the place of your sales team.
As a filmmaker, you`re likely not an expert on rights management or distribution contracts, so a legal representative is an absolutely essential investment. Your lawyer may end up working with your Distribution Consultant when deals are brokered, but the focus of his or her efforts should be the fine print of the contracts. Your Distribution Consultant should be the face of most negotiations.
The more you’d like to do on your own, or without a lot of expenses involved, the more you’ll need to do online. Webmasters are affordable and generally flexible, as long as you give clear directions about your vision for the website. Ask them to show you or your assistant how to do basic page manipulations to cut down on future costs.
If anyone else on your crew is skilled with Photoshop or other image manipulation, you won’t need this individual for very long. Some initial themes and designs should be worked out, but little things can be tweaked/adapted by a capable member of your team. Most of the graphic material you need won’t require the abilities of a true expert.
In an era of internet distribution, the role of the sales team is changing dramatically. No standard definition of what this team does is possible now. Different filmmakers use these agents in different ways, and their individual talents/methods are unique. Typically, the sales team coordinates with distribution companies, using existing relationships to develop deals. When you first start planning distribution, in conjunction with your Distribution Consultant, you may decide that a formal sales team isn’t needed. This would require a consultant of considerable influence, so only proceed in this manner if you have a great network in the team that you’ve assembled.
You can hire freelancers to book your movies for you, if you’re not looking to develop a relationship with a distributor directly. Just like some of the other positions listed here, the most important factor will be the network available to you for the price. Depending on talent you’ve recruited to your team, and the subject matter of your movie, you may or may not wish to go down this road.
While your budget is going to be a concern no matter what, some filmmakers believe that they can handling the film’s marketing on their own. You do know the project better than anyone else, but a special type of talent goes into this type of work to tread carefully! Social creativity is an entirely different beast from artistic creativity, so it is never a bad idea to consider hiring some marketing experts. After all, their influence could define the success of your movie.
If no one on your team is proficient in internet marketing, there is no debate about whether or not you’ll need to hire a Marketing Team, at least temporarily. There is much more to your web presence than social marketing, and specialists can be a very reasonable investment considering the audience that they may bring in.
Notes on Hiring
As you fill some of these roles on your team, you can get caught up in the excitement and begin to settle just to finish the process and move on to finishing your project. Resist this urge. Don’t skimp on the research as you seek out the professionals you need for your team, especially asking your industry peers for recommendations for hard-working and reliable workers. Talented individuals are working everywhere in this business, but one bad choice can have a major impact on your eventual distribution. You need to be sure about these decisions, as you’ll only get one shot at releasing this film.
When you are beginning the interview process, consider the following:
- Conduct interviews yourself. Consider the interviews as experience pitching your movie, and work to win over these professionals to your vision of the film.
- Remember that, while you are hiring, these professionals also have other projects on their radar. You need to convince them to sign on as much as they need to convince you that they have the skills you need for your team.
- Ask for their ideas about promotion and their first impressions of the project. It’s an easy way to see if the candidate shares your vision; if s/he doesn’t, it’s a waste of everyone’s time to hire him or her. On the plus side, people work better and harder when they believe in something, and may even work for a discounted rate if they truly believe in your film.
The entire process of assembling your team should be an enjoyable one; after all you’ll be working closely with these people for months. Trust your instincts, surround yourself with talented individuals, and watch your vision become reality.