Why Your Values as a Filmmaker Matter Even More in the Age of YouTube
What's Your "Big Idea" "Theme" or "Central Organizing Principle?"
Increasingly, philosophy and values matter.
I realize that there are many filmmakers who refuse to think of themselves as "brands."
This post - and most of my advice about marketing your films in the New World - may not be for you.
But if you admire (envy? want to emulate?) what YouTube sensation Freddie Wong has been able to accomplish, using social media and a loyal core audience to support himself as a filmmaker, then stop comparing yourself to filmmakers whose fame exclusively relies on the big budgets and marketing strategies of the Old World and start thinking about what you care about (i.e., what your brand stands for).
As Freddie Wong says in the video above at the 2:53 mark: "It's really audience building that gets you opportunities."
And in the flood of new online video, creating an engagement with an audience that returns is key: As Freddie Wong explains (see 4:00 to 4:35 above), you want the user that commits to "keep watching things that these guy create."
Notice that Freddie Wong isn't the only filmmaker with this insight. Yes, Kevin Smith started his career in - and his initial fame came from - the Old World. He wouldn't have been who he is without the marketing of Miramax, using Disney's money to make him a celebrity. And even Freddie Wong has benefited from mainstream media attention. But both Smith and Wong are pioneers in using a Big Idea to build brands for themselves using online tools. By "Big Idea" I mean figuring out what they stand for - and then consistently offering that message in all their online interactions.
As Chris Butler explains in a February 26th, 2013 post to Fast Company, in the New World, when a user is choosing between two similar products, that decision is often guided by "the idea behind the product and the philosophy of the brand that created it." (Isn't that insight - about the importance of a unified message that identifies the brand, leading to marketing that sells an idea instead of the features of any one product - a large part of the secret to Apple's success?)
In the New World, your ability to sustain a career as an artist increasingly depends on what you - and your work - have consistently stood for: "If two competitors spend equal amounts on production, the one whose ideals resonate with the target market is the more valuable."
As Freddie Wong and Kevin Smith have proved: "Knowing what you stand for and conveying that to the world is no longer an intellectual exercise for the touchy-feely fringes. It’s a necessity."