7 Ways For Filmmakers To Create More Sustainably

money
marketing

(Bri Castellini) #1

By the time they’ve entered pre-production, most filmmakers are completely burnt out. Filmmaking is a lot of work, and every stage feels more exhausting than the last. I feel you, I do. This business can be punishing, but it doesn’t have to be fruitless. By increasing your runway of content to entice new audiences, superfans, and industry, you will have set yourself up for the most amount of success and have a reason to get people to support your series on a platform like, and I’m just spitballing here, Stareable Enrich. Below I’ve captured 7 ways you can create primary and supplemental content more sustainably, no matter how burnt out you are.

Figure out what you like doing most, and do more of it

The largest likelihood for burnout occurs when a creator is forcing themselves to make content they don’t want to be making at an unsustainable rate. A big way to reprogram your time to be better spent is simply to identify the types of content you legitimately enjoy making and, at least until your burnout subsides, only make that.

For me, I love writing. Months during which I couldn’t make a single YouTube video would still be filled to the brim with Twitter threads on current events and entertainment industry news as well as long-form blog posts on my own website and on Stareable’s blog. I find writing something new to take far less emotional energy than vlogging or posting polls on Facebook or going live on Instagram. But that’s just me- maybe you love Instagram Stories or IGTV but hate blogging or writing prose accompaniments to your scripted series. Whatever you actually enjoy doing, or whatever you enjoy doing more than anything else- give yourself a break and just do that for a while. As long as you’re doing something, that’s sustainable, and that’s valuable enough to charge in exchange for a small monthly tier. People are more likely to enjoy engaging with something you enjoyed making.

Repurpose old content

Another mistake burnt out creators tend to make is creating too much, too often. Counterintuitive as that may seem, hear me out: you can get plenty of use out of the same bit of content if you’re creative enough. To use Stareable as an example, for every Forget The Box podcast episode we produced, we also made:

  • a promo image with the guest’s image formatted for Twitter AND Instagram

  • a video teaser (later with closed captioning) of a favorite moment or quote from the episode

  • at least one, if not two or three, images of favorite quotes from the episode formatted for Twitter and Instagram each

That’s upwards of 7 unique pieces of content for a single podcast episode. Just think of how you could apply that to, say, a web series episode. Just a handful of ideas could include:

  • favorite behind the scenes photos/videos from the shoot

  • favorite screengrabs

  • favorite closed captioning moments as screengrabs (example below)

  • favorite quotes from different characters on simple graphic templates

  • favorite quotes from different characters overlaid on a screengrab from the episode

  • GIFs of good reaction shots or action moments

  • trivia from production- what was happening behind the scenes during this shot, scene, moment, etc?

  • easter egg game- show a screenshot to your audience and have them find all the hidden easter eggs in your production design

  • cast/crew interviews- literally interview cast and crew in video, text, or audio form about their experiences/challenges/successes on that particular episode

  • production diary retelling of the shooting process

  • regular #TBT or #FBF utilizing screenshots/behind the scenes photos and videos with no further commentary- just literally reshare the stuff with a link to the episode attached

Make a template

I know I say this in basically every article about making marketing easier, but seriously: MAKE A TEMPLATE FOR YOURSELF. Whether it’s for newsletters or #tbt tweets or quote images, if you’re making repeating content with similar or identical structure, have a document or file that you can easily adapt and repurpose. You should never need to hunt down or write a new version of an intro, a list of standard links, a logline, a summary, or anything else that doesn’t change (or doesn’t change substantially) on a regular basis.

Delegate in any amount

No man is an island, and no web series is a solo project, at least not usually. If there’s a way for you to delegate even a tiny piece of content a month or a quarter, do it. A one-woman content farm is impressive but a recipe for disaster, so ask for help. See if your actor who loves doodling will donate a doodle a month on theme with your project, or if your DP will share some screenshots from their other or new work. Can a producer take over Twitter for a little while, can your director take a few shots for Instagram?

Switch up content types

Burnout has a lot of causes, some more tangible than others, but I definitely find that when I’m doing too much of the same thing, it rears its head. Switching up the type of content you’re making or offering in exchange for a monthly tier might be what you need to get your groove back. If you’ve been slogging away making GIFs for a few months, or doing a podcast, or vlogging, try something new. Reset your creativity and your productivity and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Set a repeating reminder

Occasionally you aren’t able to automate or queue a piece of content or an update for fans, and trying to keep track of how long it’s been since you last posted can send you spiraling. I like to set repeating calendar reminders for myself on as regular a basis as is relevant saying things like “post Stareable Enrich update for $5/month supporters” or “send out newsletter” and even “check in on production team about marketing ideas.” This way, until I actually have to do something, I don’t have to agonize and second guess myself. It’s like setting your alarm to wake up in the morning- you COULD depend on yourself to always get up at the right time, staying vigilantly half awake so as not to be late to work, but it’s much less stressful to enjoy your time snoozing and only act when a blaring jingle rings out.

Start basic, then get complicated

You have to walk before you can run, but almost more importantly, you have to stand up before you can walk. If you’re new to marketing, or you’re getting back into it after a hiatus, keep it simple for a while. A few pre-scheduled tweets with high-quality screenshots attached, maybe a short monthly Stareable Update on your page; you don’t need to enter the scene with a podcast, a spin-off series, a catalog of cast and crew video interviews, and a schedule of weekly live streams planned. In order to truly maintain and build your audience, you need to have something for them often enough that they remember you exist and remain excited about your content, regardless of your next official release date. Don’t psych yourself out thinking that it’s 6 Seasons And A Movie Or Bust- just be authentic, be consistent, and be posting something.

Also, just because what you have available to you because of time or resources is basic doesn’t mean it’s not valuable and worth putting in part behind a paywall. Ultimately, the reason people support things financially has much more to do with the creator and the main creation (ie- the web series) than it does with the particular tier reward.

What are strategies you’ve used to keep yourself on track posting sustainably? Share with fellow filmmakers in the comments!


6 Ways To Make Money With Stareable Enrich Even If Your Show is Over
(Herman Wang) #2

I use Google Alerts to find show-related posting material. The alert emails come regularly, so are like repeating reminders.


(Bri Castellini) #3

Depending on your thing, that’s a super good idea! I remember I set up a Google Alert about zombies back in the early days of Brains but it was very inconsistent. Following the tag “zombies” on Tumblr actually got me a lot more play, and still accomplished the same thing, so that’s another option!


(Herman Wang) #4

We created a bunch of GIFs for our show here, and they seemed pretty popular with people: The Spell Tutor | Gifs


(Herman Wang) #5

Another effective way of repurposing old content is with memes, which can seem less like “advertising” if done right.


(Bri Castellini) #6

:joy: :joy: :joy: :joy: :joy: I love this


(Emma Drewry) #7

we did a bunch of gifs too! we’re just now starting making the memes though-- one of my actresses is coming on board as a producer for season two (she goes to USC with me, she’s majoring in film production) and she loves memes and has been making a ton of them for us.

Sometimes my brain just decides we’re not working until it gets a nap.  (made by your fave Joy Jones)