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The NYU Cinema Research Institute brings together innovators in film and media finance, production, marketing, and distribution to imagine and realize a new future for artist-entrepreneurs. 

#TBT - Grassroots Distribution: Offline Organizing Leads to Online Metrics

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#TBT - Grassroots Distribution: Offline Organizing Leads to Online Metrics

Miranda Sherman

Last #TBT, we looked at growing campaigns, and identified three models, based on social action campaigns, that filmmakers might follow to boost their audience awareness and get their film out into the world in the most effective way possible. This Thursday, we dig into the digital elements of a campaign as outlined by Harvard professor Nicco Mele and, next week, we'll revisit Josh and Michael's suggestions for adapting Professor Mele's digital political campaign model to film. 

Why? Because Josh and Michael learned that offline organizing leads to online metrics. Offline organizing is already accessible to filmmakers who are taking their films on the road as they screen at festivals and alternative exhibition venues. Online metrics can help filmmakers know where to go next, where to return with the next project, which audience (or audiences) to engage as advocates and supporters, and - not least - online metrics can help filmmakers make the case for their next film to financiers, sales agents, and distributors (see our video with Stewart Thorndike and Alex Scharfman on Distribution as Marketing).

Plus, it's notoriously hard to get data once you give your film to someone else to market or distribute. Treasure the data you can produce for yourself. 

Now: Mele's Three Pillars of a Digital Campaign 

  1. Build a substantially-sized email list. "People live overwhelmingly in their inbox."
  2. Foster online community. "The care and feeding of evangelists is necessary for online success."
  3. Complement online with offline. "Politics is really a face-to-face business and you really have to be able to use the internet to drive people to meet face to face."

Here's an example of these Pillars in practice, from the white paper: 

"Tom Quinn [...] made a film that is set during the Mummers' Day Parade in Philadelphia. Quinn recalls that to distribute his film he 'went around to a good chunk of the Mummers clubs, and talked one-on-one with them about we were going to donate a part of the proceeds back to the parade, and the Mummers organization got behind the film doing press as well, which was huge. I think our Facebook fans went from 200 people to 2300 people in one week."

Offline organizing can lead to a rise in online metrics. 

Online metrics can help you sell your film, or fundraise for your next one. 

Engage the communities that exist around your film, and make them your advocate audience!