Kentucker Audley is a filmmaker, film programmer, actor and Movies hat salesman. His latest film, Strawberry Mansion (co-directed with Albert Birney), premiered at Sundance 2021. His previous directorial effort, Sylvio (also co-directed with Albert Birney), debuted at SXSW and was named one of the Best 10 Movies of The Year by The New Yorker. As an actor, he’s starred in indie films such as Christmas, Again and Sun Don’t Shine. He also founded NoBudge and Movies Brand.
Everyone knows it’s a tough time for independent filmmakers. If we’re gonna survive, we need to start using all the new resources available via web applications. To rise above the competition, we must be proactive in reaching new fans and tapping new demographics. Good news is we have the tools; we just need to start sharing the knowledge. Since many of you aren’t experts on the ways of the Internet, here are some tips to help you stand out from the crowd and become the next big indie sensation.
1) Start accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest at least 1 year before production. Don’t worry if you haven’t written the script yet. You need to start early! Even if you have no real updates, find something to post every week. It’s no big deal what you post; just post something. Speaking of the script….
2) Use Reddit to crowdsource the script…so that you know the movie is something people actually wanna see! Reddit has a fervent community of moderators known as “redditors” who make sure only the best ideas and quality content reach the masses. Once you’ve vetted all your ideas through this exciting community, you’re ready to start thinking about your Kickstarter campaign.
3) Make your Kickstarter campaign a viral sensation. The best way to do this is to tweet at as many famous people as you can, asking them to watch your Kickstarter video. Don’t worry about customizing your tweet with any personal content. Just copy and paste the same tweet over and over. And don’t worry about targeting people who may have a specific interest in your project, just blast impersonal messages to as many accounts as possible with over 10,000 followers. This is also a great time to start racking up your own followers.
4) Acquire at least 20,000 Twitter followers. The best way to get Twitter followers is to follow thousands of people, many of whom will follow you back. After a couple days, unfollow them all, and follow a thousand more. The key is to quickly unfollow so it appears like you don’t follow that many people. You want to be followed by tons more than you follow, or you’ll look unsuccessful. Don’t worry about the unfollows. No one notices. Everybody is convinced you have organic followers…. Now that you have your 20K, let’s start thinking about those Kickstarter rewards.
5) The Kickstarter rewards don’t have to be that great. It usually takes too long to think of really good rewards (time you could be spending doing the above tasks) so just copy what you see other Kickstarters do. One easy thing to do is let people who donate $200 say something in the movie. You may even consider letting someone who donates over $5,000 play one of the lead roles. On the topic of your actors, the next tip is incredibly important.
6) Cast a current Vine celebrity — any cute teenager with over 3 million followers — in the lead role. Vine celebrities are getting so big that sometimes they go to malls and kids scream at the top of their lungs, causing a huge scene. This is the kind of buzz that your film desperately needs. When you finish your film, the Vine celebrity will probably do all the promotion, and once they tweet about it, and do some Vines, the film will attract the attention of major newspapers and magazines, and your job is done! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, first you need to actually make the movie, and for that, you’re gonna need to use the latest technology.
7) Use Go-Pro cameras for at least 50% of the footage. Stationary tripod shots might have been sufficient for the indie films of the past, but modern audiences demand high-action footage from cameras mounted on cars, boats and helicopters…. Great. Now that you’ve made your movie, let’s start thinking about post-production. Hopefully, by now you have all your social media accounts brimming with followers and fans. Now’s the time to start asking for more.
8) Make sure you ask fans to Retweet and Share all your updates. At this point, it’s really not enough to just share updates, you’re gonna need to make sure everyone else is doing their part. So with every tweet, add the message in all caps: “PLEASE RETWEET!” Same goes for the other platforms. No one knows they have that option unless you explicitly ask them…. We’re getting down to the wire now. Since it’s almost time for the film’s release, quickly make sure the film is fun to watch and makes sense.
9) Ask a couple people if they liked the movie. This is a step that’s easy to forget, but it’s very important, once you’re done editing, to make sure it’s not a complete waste of 90 minutes. So, ask a couple friends and if they say it’s good, you’re finally ready for the finish line!
10) Go to Sundance and premiere your film! This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to show off your latest masterpiece in Park City, Colorado! For the premiere, make sure the Vine celebrity is there, but don’t worry about any of the other production team or non-famous actors attending. That’s not your job. The audience can’t wait to see the film, so during the introduction you won’t have time to thank any of the Kickstarter donors. That’s OK. It’ll be better to do that on Twitter and Facebook, where you can tag every single person, and they’ll probably retweet it since they are tagged.
Fantastic! You’ve put in the hard work and now you’re an indie hit. It’s actually not that hard if you just follow my 10 tips. The reason for making indie films is to demonstrate to Hollywood that you’re ready for the big leagues, and now you’ve nailed it! Next stop: making a real movie like the regular directors.