In this video, the filmmakers behind “Four Eyed Monsters” reveal how they used YouTube, community and the web to erase their credit card debt and get their labor of love into theaters. If you don’t have time to watch the whole video (it’s 29 minutes long), here are some of the key takeaways:
1. Start simple. Arin Crumley and Susan Buice shot their film from a one-page outline, a crude storyboard, and with small cameras and a small crew.
2. Tell the story behind your story. When they couldn’t find a distributor for their film, they decided to do daily video blogs to reinforce their creative talents and build an audience. A result was that people started to feel like they knew the filmmakers firsthand; that, in turn, fueled curiosity about them and their work, and eventually put people in theaters.
3. Involve your audience, part A. The filmmakers actively sought out feedback from their fans via platforms like YouTube and MySpace, and took the advice seriously. It impacted new episodes of the podcasts and the film itself, which they were still editing. In other words, the audience actually shaped the final product.
4. Involve your audience, part B. When determining where to distribute their film, the couple went to regions where they knew they already had fans, thanks to emails and zip codes they had collected from their podcast and other marketing activities. They also created a “heart map” so that people could see the requests for the film to play in their town grow and who was going — a social network of sorts.
5. Network in the real world, too. Film festivals used to be about getting a film acquired by a distributor or a short into the hands of a talent agent. But Crumley and Buice went to hundreds of festivals around the world and thought strategically about whom they encountered. When they met the guys at Spout, they realized that Spout needed publicity and users. 4EM had those two things, but needed money. It turned out to be a fruitful (and fateful) match.