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Indie Marketing Returns to Word of Mouth

by Marian Koltai-Levine
April 9, 2010 9:34 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood

Ex-Fine Line and Picturehouse marketing executive Marian Koltai-Levine founded Zipline Entertainment "to fill the much needed void between content creators and content providers," she says. After attending the recent SXSW Film Festival, Koltai-Levine sent me this essay about the new state of the indies:

I am no longer a South By virgin. A couple of weeks later, I’m still jazzed by what I experienced in Austin. I was amazed at the infinite possibilities and the cross-section of media-- technology, music, film and television--being distributed on platforms today.

Although I’ve attended well over a hundred varied film festivals, watched countless independent films and participated on panels, one common denominator strikes me.

In the world of entertainment – specifically independent film – marketing once again is the cornerstone. We no longer have the luxury to “buy a gross.” The days are over where we could spend our way into convincing people of the desirability of our films. Quite simply, the game has changed. We have evolved into a time when marketing has returned to its most organic form – word of mouth. But now, it's immediate…global…scary…and exciting.

Good old-fashioned showmanship will never go out of style. Not long ago, people actually travelled across the country from town to town with films, talent and “a show.” Now, with more efficient and advanced delivery systems available to us, the “show” is far more efficient, targeted and fiscally responsible.

People are looking for unique opportunities to both distribute and market their films. There is no longer alternative distribution, but rather, distribution opportunities. And social networking seems to be the most efficient way to target your audience and create positive word of mouth.

We are in the middle of a true renaissance: a time to experiment and see what models will work and succeed financially. The creative voices I heard and the visionaries I met truly seem to be setting the stage for the future of entertainment.

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