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WYSIWYG Filmmaker's Toolkit

How Do I Sell My Film Part One - DEMOGRAPHICS

Netribution and film distributors WYSIWYG have joined forces to present on-line WYSIWYG's essential Guide to Film Distribution.

We're both interested in building a strong industry for independent filmmakers. This means creating films that people want to see and buy. It does not mean sacrificing creative integrity, but it means business. To do the business with independent film.... Read On


Selling a film means that someone wants to buy it. So you'll find it only logical to start by identifying who will want to buy it. This means examining demographics.

Ask yourself the question "who will want to watch my film?"

If you answer, "just me" then that tells you something, it means you do not intend to sell your film and you do not intend to get money from investors as you do not intend to pay them back. No problem at all, just as long as you know that you have made that decision.

Maybe you answer "me and my friends", well, now we're getting somewhere. How would you identify "you and your friends"? Do more people like you exist in large numbers? Maybe you're between the ages of 18-30, and you have an equal mix of male/female. You all come from low to middle income families, speak principally english and have mixed Indian and British background. Hmmm, that says something.

Let's make these assumptions and look at how that breaks down:


Age: 18 to 30. Most action films, broad comedies, romantic comedies and horror films aim at this age group. These ages have the most time to visit the cinemas, watch DVDs and adopt new technologies (like watching a movie on an ipod or a mobile phone). When looking at demographics (and particularly age group and income) always examine the final delivery format of your film (e.g. will you deliver it principally by internet or will you try to get it into theatres)

Gender: 50% male/ 50% female. In a more and more equalised world with metro-sexual men, homosexuals, bi-sexuals, transvestits, feminists (forgive me if I miss out some groups) a lot more films cater to a 50-50 mix. However some cater to a niche audience like gay/lesbian films, or films directed at the hard-core homophobic male right-wingers, or any other gender biased group. Romantic comedies tend to aim nowadays at couples, while pue romance aims more at women alone.

Income: Low to middle income. The income if your target audience will determine largely how they will view the film. Low to Middle income families go to the cinema more than any other group in any society as they tend to need the distraction from life more than anyone else. This group alos spends the most time watching TV and DVDs. The middle to upper income will constitute the early-adopters of new technologies, especially those geared at not leaving the home like video on demand through the internet and set-top-boxes. The middle income will tend to go for the less expensive but mass marketed new tech like ipod video and mobile phone with video capabilities. Looking at an overlap of your potential audience's age and income will tell you a lot about what you should spend to make your film and what format and workflow you should use.

Language: English. In a world where borders become less and less important and travel becomes cheaper and easier, demographics for film do not concern geography so much as language. You will have the largest audience if you make your film in Mandarin, then Hindi and the English, if you look only at language. If however you look at delivery formats you will notice that more English speaking people have a middle-income and so have access to set-top-boxes, internet connections and cable TV than any other language-group and so English movies have more penetration. But as India and China become the tech giants of the globe with an ever-expanding middle-class this may change... then again it may not. As always demographics remains a en ever-changing thing, a moving target.

Culture: British, Indian. An Indian-British film like Bend it Like Beckham has a lot of appeal. It talks to a large percentage of the population of both India and Britain. This film also appeals to women - specifically dealing with empowerment - and to football (soccer) -lovers as well. As cultures of the world merge and lose definition, defining a film by this particular category becomes more difficult. Also Hollywood's almost total domination of the industry from 1930s to 1990s has made American culture and moral values the heart of a lot of films no matter from which country they came. That has begin to change with the expansion of other strong cultures into the world mind-set.

Now that you have identified who will what to buy your film. Let's look at how you will get it to them...

Additional resources

One of the best ways to see how a film will do in the market is to identify a film of the type you want to make and see how it did at the box office and in DVD sales.








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