Wade Bradley
CEO, Media Society

In this day and age, consumer behavior is monitored and greatly influenced by organizations’ marketing materials. The rise of social networks makes it increasingly easier for organizations to reach their consumers and spread the word of a product or service. An individual in this day and age will not go to the concert of a new artist unless he or she first listens to and admires the artist. Same goes for film goers, who will not go to a movie theater to see a film without first knowing and finding interest in the film. It is very unfortunate that the majority of independent filmmakers fail to create a budget that goes beyond the creative process, with a tendency for all focus to be placed on the making of the film. It is easy to diminish the importance of setting money aside for the marketing of the film when an artist’s primary concern is with the quality and completion of their project. Setting significant money aside in your film financing budget for distributions Prints and Advertising costs is necessary to the success of a project. After all, what good is a beautiful film if no one knows about it?

Breakdown of Marketing Costs

Marketing costs are most-commonly referred to in the industry as Prints & Advertising (P&A) costs. Feature films will typically spend the same amount of money on P&A costs as the budget of the film. For example, if an independent film cost a low million to make, then an additional million should be allocated at pre-production for marketing costs, bringing the total cost of the film to two million.

What exactly are the costs of prints?

Contrary to what logic might suggest, print costs are not the cost of advertising via billboards, magazines or any other type of advertising done through printing on paper. Print costs are the cost of delivering the actual film to theatres. It is providing the digital masters required by projectionists to show a film on the big screen.

According to the National Association of Theatre owners, there were approximately 40,000 registered screens in the United States alone in 2014. With the cost per print ranging between 1.5 and 2 thousand, careful consideration of the factors discussed helps distributors determine how many prints should be made, and in which regions.

Advertising costs

Advertising costs are exactly as they sound; it is the portion of the budget spent on advertising, and can be spent on television, radio, magazines, news outlets, internet targeting and in-theater advertising, amongst other avenues. Major studio releases have a hefty average P&A budget of $34.5 million, according to the last reported MPAA report in 2006.

In order to find your audience, you must allocate money and time to finding them. Finding your audience is not an easy task. That is why you it is important to allocate time and funding on finding the right distributor for your film, seeing as their primary tasks will be to determine the best strategy for the project, taking into consideration: the studio in charge of the project, the target audience, the star power backing the film, the media buzz that can be generated as well as the season the film will be ready for release, among other factors.

When making a film it is vital to gather funding for not only the production and but the marketing of the film as well. When you invest in independent film with distribution in place, it is significantly more valuable that a film without.

— Wade Bradley is the Founder and CEO of Media Society, a provider of end-to-end managed-risk investment strategies for the entertainment industry, serving high-net-worth individuals, wealth managers and institutions.