Being Sold is an interesting case, this is a feature that was shot in two days (?!*@#$%) and for an indecent low amount of money, especially when you look at the end result. I went on the website hoping that I would discover it was an indie drama set in a bedroom, shot handheld on a 7D and about the neurosis of a self-centered writer-director-actor-editor-producer.
I was all wrong.
I don’t want to give away too much about the story and how it’s been made but this is what I would say:
a) Being Sold has a kick-ass website, that makes the product very attractive. For the first time in my life, I paid to watch a movie made by a group of totally unknown people -at least to me-, and I didn’t regret it because the packaging was sexy enough for me to get something out of it. Being Sold is a great exemple of how online buzz can boost a movie’s career. Of course, having an angle to sale your movie is vital to start the buzz, but not enough.
b) Their marketing campaign is brilliant. Not only do they have the best gimmick of the moment: ‘Hey, I shot a feature in 2 days!‘, but they also thought ahead and did a one hour documentary explaining how they did shoot a feature in two days. When on their website, you can chose to either watch the movie, watch the documentary, or both. My initial plan was to watch the documentary since it’s really what interested me in the first place. Then I realized there was no point in watching the documentary without watching the movie. And kaboom, before you knew it, I bought the package, watched the movie and then the documentary. This is a great way to sale your ‘product’. We’d all like to think people want to watch our movie because of its subject matter, or based on our talent, but to attract an audience over sollicitated, offering the little extra is what can make a difference.
c) Is Being Sold a life changing movie that gives you the recipe for eternal youth? Nope. But it is a nice little piece that I enjoyed watching and has a current social commentary, which doesn’t hurt. Since I was watching it having in mind ‘They shot this thing in two days!’, needless to say my interest was high. If it was just a regular low-budget movie shot in 20 days and that went to Sundance, chances are I would have waited for it to be on Watch Instantly.
d) The film already won awards at the London Independant Film Festival but after a deal for theatrical released droped out, Phil Hawkins and his team decided to go with Distrify, an Edimburgh based company, to release the movie digitally. Being Sold is the first feature that’s been released via Distrify and I think this was their greatest move. I would have never waited for Being Sold to be in a theater next to me and chances are, if it was in a theater next to me, the window to see it would have been so small that I would have missed it. Instead, I saw an article via Sheri Candler Marketing and Publicity Facebook page, and from one link to another, ended up on the movie’s website, and watched it couple of days after. Tempting. Simple. Efficient. And my guess is that they will recoup their money. The other nice point with Distrify is that it’s still a small company, which means that their service is tailored to your needs. I had a bit of trouble at first to watch the movie, shoot an email on Saturday night and got an answer on Sunday morning, which is pretty nice.
Distrify is definitely a serious option for independant filmmakers to release a movie and one to keep in mind.
Below I put the trailer which also offers a 5 minutes extract from the documentary. As you’ll see, this is no Blair Witch project.
Of course, the annoying part of all this is that it puts all of us in a difficult position. How do you top that? It’s no secret now that shooting a movie is no longer the hardest part in a process. Releasing it and making enough money to reimburse its costs and maybe do another one, here lays the hard part.
As much as Being Sold is an amazing step forward in what is possible to do today when you take a leap of faith -based on a good script-, it also means that unless we shoot a feature in one day and for less money, this marketing gimmick door is now close. And that’s not such a good news.