Wait, your project actually made some money? Consider yourself lucky, and then consider your options for protecting that payout.
Presumably when you’ve completed the project, your goal is to have someone beyond Mom, Dad and your friends see it – if they’re also the primary financiers, they feel the same way. Now is not the time to stop being honest with yourself. Have a realistic idea of what you’re looking for in distribution. Do you want the type of distribution that includes a series of flattering profiles followed by a glowing review in the New York Times? Or are you okay with people streaming it on a bunch of different devices while simultaneously playing Candy Crush and chatting with friends? Whatever the answer is, understand that no one is going to fight for this on your behalf…and it’s always better to fight smart.
It’s finally time to spend that marketing money you set aside in your budget. It’s still there, right? In general, the more resources your project has behind it the less work you’ll need to put into marketing; and at a certain level, you’ve probably got a studio or network telling you what to do, if they let you do anything. The trick is to find your audience, so hopefully you know who that is by now. A project with broad appeal might push itself along through word of mouth, but smaller works with more niche audiences take a little extra time and effort…and a good dose of authenticity.
Like financing, distribution is almost all business. Now that you’re this close, it’s not the time to forget about this side of the project. Thankfully, most of this work involves stuff you’ve already done, so basically you’re making sure there are no loose ends. Of course if there are, or you haven’t done this – well, hopefully you have a business-minded partner who can help.
Finding the right people to work on your project is extremely important. While your team won’t be as stylish, witty and devastatingly handsome as the guys in “Ocean’s Eleven,” you will spend a lot of time together planning a complicated operation with limited resources that may involve conning a few individuals here and there. Assembling this group requires a balancing act between competence and cooperation: each person needs to do his or her job, but also work well with others. So while first-time writers and directors may want an experienced producer on board to help, they probably don’t want the producer lording over the project. Likewise, a more experienced director of photography doesn’t like it when a know-it-all novice director constantly tinkers with the lighting and framing of each shot. On lower budget sets, there’s not a lot of room for egos. If everyone is working for less than the standard scale, a little respect will go a long way.