With the rise of the internet, the media and entertainment landscapes have been irrevocably changed. Gone are the days when getting people to see your film meant cajoling your friends down to the local cinema where your short was being screened. Today, thanks to the internet, you can throw something up on YouTube and get a million hits within an hour (if you’re really lucky, in which case, you should play the Lotto as well).
Such a scenario is great for a lot of people, certainly the viewers, but if you were to listen to the likes of the MPAA, the sky was falling down. “We’re losing money” they cry, as they trip over themselves trying to figure out ways to make money off the internet.
When it comes to animation, making money has always been a little bit trickier than live-action. For one, you can’t have your actors show up at a party and have them start gushing to everyone they meet about what a great film you made and why everyone should go and see it. Nope, you can’t do that with animated characters.
So let’s assume that your film is on the internet and people can watch it for free on YouTube. How can you earn money from it? The answer is surprisingly simple.
Know the difference between what is scare and what is not. People will pay for scarce things, but not for something (or a substitute product) they can get for free relatively easily.
Having your film online is not making it scarce, in fact, it’s making it about as plentiful as you can get. Even if you took it down, it would continue to live on for years, decades even in cyberspace.
There’s a good chance that you’ll have to figure out what it is about your film that is ‘scarce’. Is it the physical drawings used in the film? It might well be. Bill Plympton draws everything on paper and if you were at MoCCA this past weekend, you could have bought one from his latest short, The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger.
Physical objects relating to a film will always be scarce as they are harder to duplicate and there is often a limited supply out there. That’s why you see cels from the likes of The Little Mermaid selling for $1,200 or more. There’s only one of that particular cel out there and that’s how much people are willing to pay for it.
If selling the original art doesn’t appeal to you, you can always create some more! If you decide to sell, say, a DVD, why not throw in a quick sketch, like Tomm Moore did with The Secret of Kells. If you go the T-Shirt route, why not sign your name on it or something like that. Consumers love something that appears to be unique, that they have the only one or one of the few of in the world.
I know I keep coming back to the idea of scarcity, but that really is the secret to making money from your film. If you figure out what is in limited, supply about it, then you are in a position to start making money from it.