The basic premise is that now it's possible to make features
for less than the cost of a TV commercial, let's partner advertisers
with producers on finance and marketing. It was born from the
marketing strategy planned for the upcoming road-movie comedy
The Booze Cruise. We realised we were essentially bringing large
numbers of demographically targeted people - our audience - to
a single website, and that's spectacularly valuable to advertisers.
Print media and TV are struggling because audiences have flocked
online, but those audiences have scattered to the four corners
of the web. If we can bring a large number of people to one place
then there are targeted marketing opportunities which are valuable
enough to advertisers to justify financing a microbudget film.
will XTVN work exactly?
We're a cross between a feature film development company and
an ad agency. We're an online film distributor, but we're not
a portal. Portals spread all their advertising spending across
their whole catalogue and that's just not our business model.
We’ll develop films with proven filmmakers and our own
stable of experienced script consultants, and work with advertisers
to build mutually beneficial marketing campaigns tailored to
each film. These are not feature length commercials - these are
independent stories from experienced writers and filmmakers.
The partnership is one of finance and marketing collaboration
because the symbiosis is already there: we're both trying to
reach the same audiences. Filmmakers maintaining artistic integrity
is a key part of our ongoing strategy.
in it for advertisers who want to get involved?
Of course in return for finance we have to provide audiences.
While each film will have its own strategies for generating publicity
there will be some common threads such as intelligent use of
YouTube and social networking, engaging with the blogosphere
and traditional media. A lot of people think product placement
is the answer and while we think tastefully done brand cameos
can be part of the answer, another big selling point is the online-first
model itself. When you see a film in the cinema you don't rush
home to look up the brands featured. Online the sponsors links
are right there on the site while you watch or buy the film.
We're doing it in a way that doesn't distract people from the
viewing experience, and we’re offering tools that make
the brand-film connection much more immediate, and therefore
We'll put all our "DVD extras" online too to make the
site more 'sticky' and advertisers will have large areas of the
website to convey their message with interactivity and video
if they so desire. There are many areas advertisers can work
with us, from subsidising downloads (so they're free to the consumer)
to working with us on live events, promotional contests etc -
all of which will symbiotically bring in more viewers, more word
of mouth and so on. If you have your own marketing team we can
also work with them on cross-promotional ideas of their devising.
We build a reputation on quality film entertainment at a low
enough price that people can flock to see and tell their friends
about. The cross-promotional marketing gets the ball rolling
and brings viewers to the film's site. What the sponsor/advertiser
chooses to promote is then, within reason, pretty well up to
you and of course you can augment what we do with paid advertising,
promotions and so on of your own.
is in it for film-makers?
Well the obvious one is that their film's budget is covered.
Apart from XTVN there's no equity investor so, after a percentage
of marketing and XTVN's cut, the producer is in the black. It
doesn't mean they can reap a profit making just any old crap,
quite the opposite: it means a filmmaker has to work harder to
make something remarkable (in the Seth Godin sense) in the first
place. Advertising is traditionally the biggest cost in film
distribution. We believe if we design each film around a remarkable
premise we’ll be creating a better film into the bargain,
as well as winning the word of mouth marketing game.
are Microbudget films?
In Cannes in 2010 everyone was talking about microbudget. Dozens
of producers already have £50,000-£100,000 films
completed. Two of those - Christine Hartland (WMD) and Yvonne
Deutschman (The Power of Three) are helping produce XTVN's first
feature The Booze Cruise (c4ab.com) and are also peripherally
involved in XTVN.
Practically speaking it's just a matter of finding the right
material that works for a small cast & crew and a short shooting
schedule. That's where you make a lot of the savings. A smaller
crew helps you move faster, get more shots per day. Intelligent
forward planning means you're not wasting time deciding on lighting
set-ups or trying out lenses. Lightweight LED lights can be set
up in half the time and run off portable batteries. You keep
costume changes and location moves to a minimum, that sort of
thing. Writers have been working within some kind of practical
parameters for millennia. Modern playwrights and TV writers know
it well. Only novelists have been immune to practical considerations.
Film screenwriters can find creative ways to avoid scenes of
The RED ONE camera and affordable Mac-based editing make a huge
difference. To get images as good as the RED used to require
an army of technicians, shipping film to labs, telecine digital
rushes... just think of the cost of all that infrastructure.
Now you plug a hard drive into a Mac and you're editing images
of the same quality in seconds.
else we should know?
Microbudget feature films - if the story, script, marketing and
execution are right - have the potential to make it big and launch
careers. On the other hand it takes a long time to learn how
to create engaging, entertaining stories that keep audiences
engaged for two hours. That's why we're working with established
screenwriters and script doctors with produced credits to develop
material to the high standards international audiences expect.
The cinematography and sound equipment are there, the cast & crew
talent has always been there, what's been missing in the low-budget
sector is a quality threshold, and that's a key part of the XTVN
brand. Our audiences will require it and our sponsoring advertisers
will require it. With this boutique mentality XTVN and the movies
we make can go from strength to strength and leave a legacy of
quality movies which live in the minds of viewers forever.
can I find out more?
Simply call us up or send an email to Ryan
Godwin, our head of marketing and business affairs. He’ll
be more than happy to answer your questions and discuss how we
can work together and accomplish our mutual goals.