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“You are not going to sell this film, I have no idea on how you can sell it or make any money from it. Cut it to short film length and run the festivals”
That was said to me after two years of hard work spent on my first feature film by a film producer who has a few million dollar films under his belt. I was devastated, but what happened in the coming months blew my mind away.
How It Started
The day I decided to become a filmmaker and actually do something about it, not just dream was the moment I told myself—“Raise whatever amount of cash you can and make a feature film with it." Oh boy, did I have a few life knock out punches waiting for me on that life choice.
Before I get into the nitty gritty I want to let you know that I have a feature film on Amazon Prime. It’s called The Garden’s Keeper and it’s pretty much everywhere. It’s in about 120 countries. Not bad for an indie film made with less than $1000.
I don’t expect you to watch the film, because I have been told it’s unwatchable by more than a few people, but If you are into filmmaking then I do urge you to check it out just. You can use it as inspiration to start your filmmaking career.
I’m glad you asked! One of the reasons I wanted to film my first feature was that I wanted to show future filmmaker that budget should not be an obstacle in starting their career and I proved it.
If you want to go and watch it, then do so now and then continue reading. If you aren't going to watch it then that’s on you. (If you don't have access to Amazon Prime follow me on Instagram @adrianpedrinv and DM for a Link to a youtube copy of the film.)
Remember how I mentioned I spent less than $1000 on it? The actual sum was $750 and guess what?! I made the money back and then some in about a year.
“Jesus Christ, you made your money back and had a return on investment? With that movie?” Yes, yes I did and don't worry, I was more surprised than you are right now. I had no clue that I would actually make my money back, I was actually very pessimistic about it, but then something happened that changed the whole indie filmmaking game.
It was 2016 and I finished The Garden’s Keeper, now what? I wanted to make the money back so I decided to try everything (this was a time where I knew NOTHING about marketing).
Here's what I tried:
- Local conventions: Made around $150 in one year.
- Selling it online: Up to this day I have made $16 and everyone who bought it was someone I knew.
- Piratebay: Yes, I was in a state of experimentation so I decided to upload it before anyone else did. Sadly, I could not track how many people downloaded it but I did get a 2.5k-3k view hit on the trailer on Youtube in about 36 hours.
- Festivals: Entered about 20, got rejected on all of them.
At this point in time, I was crushed and defeated and had just been told I would not be able to make my money back, I mean $750! I had to be able to make it back. 75 DVD copies at $10 each! That's all it would take, but I spent about $100 on the blank DVD’s and the cases so that added up.
And then it happened.
A brilliant man decided to open up a then called Kinonation website that would let you upload your film with all the art, metadata and files needed to digitally distribute your film. It’s now called Filmhub.com and that brilliant man was Klaus Badelt (composer of The Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack).
China Mobile via Filmhub bought the rights to my movie! I got paid.
At the same time, Amazon Direct Video lets you upload your film to Amazon Prime and gives you royalties when people watch them. I got paid every month but it was ranging about $1 to $10 a month, not sustainable at all.
Enter Filmhub and their growth from 2016 to 2019, they have more than 75 distribution channels. I'm not saying you will make a ton of money with your film, but odds are you will make your money back going that route. This was not possible before 2016 and this is all new.
Filmhub is able to distribute your film on Amazon prime all over the world, around 160 countries if I'm not mistaken and you get paid for every minute watched.
Do it, shoot your first feature film with your own money, be creative and get out of your comfort zone.
Upload your film to filmhub.com and even if it is not perfect it will still make you money.