“The Onion” has a band of satire that is second to none. Usually they take on political figures or world events. But today they featured a video sarcastically making fun of the plight of thousands of content creators and aspiring filmmakers who don’t understand how to build an audience for their creations.
The video is titled “Web Series Reaches 100 Views”. It follows the “wild success” of two roommates who randomly start filming their daily exploits and post them on Youtube.
How to Attract Fans
So many aspiring filmmakers believe that if they just shoot something… be it a short film or web series, then just post it on Youtube, people will just start showing up and watching it.
It doesn’t work that way. You actually have to learn how to build an audience and promote your content.
Step #1: Create Engaging Content
The “web series” example in this video is pretty dead on. The biggest problem with short films and web series, and even indie features, is that the content simply isn’t engaging. I’ve sat through literally hours of youtube videos and student films, and it’s painful.
Simply put, you need to entertain. The problem with film schools is that they completely overlook this basic premise. If you want to make a film about your goldfish, they say go for it. If you want to make a movie with lots of weird random images, then you are an “artist”.
Perhaps, but you will never get any fans.
The key is to step outside yourself and ask what your viewer will think of what you are shooting. Why should they spend their time watching your video when there are literally thousands of others they could be watching.
Step #2: Target a Niche or Audience
We shot a couple of short videos for a Youtube Channel called “Skip College TV”. We did so with a specific message, intent, and audience in mind. In this case, we wanted to bring humor to the “higher education” conversation. And we knew that people have very strong opinions on this topic.
We didn’t do any promotion for the video, but the content was engaging enough that a popular blogger saw it and put it on his site, which got us 5,000 views in one day and a total of 14,000 views for the channel with only a couple of vids.
Before you shoot anything, ask yourself what the intention is and who you want to reach, and why a complete stranger would be interested in watching it.
That’s one reason why a web series called “Awkward Black Girl” is doing so well. It resonates with a very specific target audience.
Step #3: Stand Out From the Crowd
Awkward Black Girl” isn’t brilliantly written, but she does have an original voice. It’s definitely unlike anything else out there.
The biggest problem on the net is being derivative. “Gangham Style” is super original, and then millions of people make videos copying it.
The guys in the fake “Onion” video are like a lot of videos out there, which could be called “normal white guys imitating things they think are funny but have been done a million times.”
It’s true some videos get traffic from reposting or redoing things that are already popular, but it’s still rare. Your best bet is to research and know your market and ask yourself “what’s something that hasn’t been done?” Even if it isn’t great, people love originality and get really tired of people doing the same old thing.
This is one reason why my course Film School Solution trains students to create a Feature Film. Many web series run an hour and 30 minutes or more. But a web series just isn’t as compelling or marketable as a feature. And making a feature instantly sets you apart from the competition. And the incredible thing is that, thanks to digital technology, shooting one no longer has to cost as much as a house.
Step #4: Paid Promotion & Social Media
Did you know that, for a relatively small price, you can actually promote your videos the same way the Hollywood Studios do? It’s pretty amazing. Online marketing has leveled the playing field and allowed indie creators to reach a much wider audience than ever before.
We cover in depth online marketing techniques, free and paid, in Film School Solution. Most filmmakers spend way too much on their first feature and then blindly hope for a distribution deal that will never come. Our students learn how to build their own fan base and how to promote their own projects.
That way, you aren’t just uploading your trailer to Youtube, hoping people will come, and settling for a measly 100 views.
To learn how to write, produce, and promote your first feature and realistically launch your directing career, click here to learn more about Film School Solution.