Increase film sales with Behind the Scenes extras

MacBreak WeeklyI was listening to one of my favorite podcast called MacBreak Weekly.

For those not familiar with the program, it’s part of the TWIT network and is hosted by Leo Laporte and features a number of journalists and noted techies. The show covers a wide range of Mac related news, reviews and opinions. In episode #169, Alex Lindsey, founder of the Pixel Corps and one of the regular guests, stated “One of the problems with downloading a movie (is that), I can download the movie, but I don’t get any of the extras, I don’t get any of the behind the scenes.” he went on to say “The only reason why I buy DVDs, Blu-rays or regular DVDs, is so that I can get the extras. If it doesn’t have the extras, I might as well just rent it.”

My advice to any filmmaker has always been that Behind the Scenes should be included in the beginning stages of budgeting the film.  Major motion pictures hire a team of experts to produce, shoot and edit the EPK. It should be no different for a low-budget independent film. Although there may not be money in the budget for a team, there should be an experienced group of 2 or 3 people in charge of the Behind the Scenes. The job of producing the EPK should not be assigned to an enthusiastic PA or actor with a minor role. Shooting and editing the “making of” a film is a documentary. And like a documentary, it has to have a story and explore character relationships. To hold the audience’s interest it should also contain some dramatic conflict as well as some light hearten humor. It takes an experienced producer to capture the footage and ask the questions needed to tell the story. On more than one occasion Lindsey has said that “how the movies get made is often times better than the actual movies themselves.”

For small independent films, including a behind the scenes can help sell the film to a distributor. It not only aids in promoting the film, but being able to include the Behind the Scenes in the EPK package can also increase sales of the DVD.

The key is to start working on the Behind the Scenes before principle photography begins. Because as with most documentaries, it’s difficult to try to recapture an emotion or an incident that happened during the filming. Although some interviews with the cast and crew are shot after the film has wrapped, the on-set interviews with the actors, while they’re still in costume with the set in the background are the most intriguing.

Some films are making their behind the scenes doc available online and as shorts on cable, like HBO’s First Look. But they are also including extra content that’s not available anywhere else on the DVD and Blu-Ray. The movie trailer is designed to get people interested in going to see the movie, while the Behind the Scenes can help sell in a slightly different way, by getting audiences to connect with the cast and crew both before and after they have seen the film.

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