It Pays To Have Fans: Brian Newman/Ryan Koo Conversation at VimeoFest


For those who couldn’t make it to the Vimeo Festival and Awards held last month, you can still watch the “The Art of Getting Paid” discussion with film/new media strategist Brian Newman and filmmaker/NoFilmSchool.com founder Ryan Koo for free on the event’s official Tumblr page. Not only can you view the entire video HERE, Brian posted the featured slideshow on his website HERE. Win-win! It’s an hour-long talk so I wanted to give some of my favorite highlights.

There were two key messages I took away from the panel:

  1. It’s 2012. The web is an indie’s best friend. Stop being afraid and embrace it already.
  2. Say it with me: Engage. Early. Repeatedly. This the equation for sustaining an audience in today’s Youtube and Kickstarter saturated market.
What I learned:
  • Brian opened the talk with the ever-popular Kickstarter phenomenon. Simply put, people who donate to your campaign are pre-buying your film. The smartest thing any filmmaker can do is to identify and involve their audience from the very minute you come up with the idea for the project.
  • Fun fact: Remember that “Charlie Bit My Finger” video that went viral? Yeah, it’s the most watched video that’s not a music video on the internet. 458 million views. Brian shared that the family of Charlie made enough money off that 1 minute video to buy a new home. Kinda makes you want to dust off your copy of “Monetizing Your Videos on Youtube”, right?
  • Engage your audience (blog, website, Kickstarter campaign) with a email list. But where to start? Think of it as a barter system. Ryan Koo offers a free DSLR film guide, while other filmmakers have given soundtrack downloads and production artwork.
  • Film festivals are great, but as Brian says, “you don’t need the gatekeepers, you can build the audience yourself.” You can cultivate Facebook fans, offer a Demand It button (for theatrical release) and even raise funds on multiple platforms. As Captain Planet said, the power really is yours. Cheesy, but true.
  • Ryan mentions that breaking down that huge passion project (like a feature film) into a smaller format (webseries) is a great way to cultivate an audience. This route can be helpful because once you’ve got someone’s attention with a tangible AND successfully executed project, then you can present the original game plan on a solid reputation and with a preexisting fanbase.
  • The first time Ryan tried to make money from his site, he earned $0.57. Now he’s paying rent for an apartment in Brooklyn thanks to affiliations with B&H and other companies on his site NoFilmSchool.com.
  • Both Brian and Ryan repeatedly mention the filmmaker financial “pie”. One must keep an open mind to the unexpected ways your talents can positively influence your finances on a consistent basis. Creating your own day job may mean managing a blog, freelancing, Kickstarter consulting and penning a script for your own webseries instead of getting one fat check for your dream feature film from mega-producer.

One habit that I’ve been trying to rid is the fear of making my content available on the internet and at one point I really felt that Brian was speaking directly to me. He radically presents the idea there just isn’t room for that old school mentality anymore. Afraid of putting your short film online because it will repel distributors? Myth. Tell me you haven’t heard the countless stories of short films posted on Vimeo or Youtube garnering thousands of hits which led to those reckless filmmakers getting attention from…you know it…distributors, producers, people with money. Festivals want to pick unknown directors of shorts without a strong fan base so they can have premiere status? Myth. If you come with a following, you’ve just made the festival’s press people very happy because half the work is done. Can’t kickstart your feature until you meet someone influential in the industry? Myth. You have to go to the people in their niche communities and market towards their hunger for new content. Those are the most influential people out there right now, not the suits. Go get ’em!

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One thought on “It Pays To Have Fans: Brian Newman/Ryan Koo Conversation at VimeoFest

  1. […] I learned in the Ryan Koo/Brian Newman talk from VimeoFest, the most vital thing an indie can do is engage with their audience. It’s frustrating as a […]

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