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FT 005: Filmtrepreneur Origins: How to Make $90,000+ Selling a Short Film

Filmtrepreneur Origins: How to Make $90,000+ Selling a Short Film

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Making a Short film can be tough but selling a short film can be impossible.  Here’s my story on how I did both. I directed a small action short film a few years back called BROKEN I shot the short film on MiniDV Tape (yes I’m old) on the Panasonic DVX 100a, the indie film workhorse of its day.

My team and I filmed it in West Palm Beach Florida (not exactly the Mecca of the film industry) and it starred only local, unknown actors. Now once the filming was over I marketed the living hell out of that short film. It went on to screen at over 250 international film festivals, won countless awards and was covered by over 300 news outlets.

That little short film had a life of its own. I even got a review from legendary film critic Roger Ebert.

BROKEN is essentially a demonstration of the mastery of horror imagery and techniques. Effective and professional.” – Roger Ebert

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Roger Ebert at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Now you must be asking,

But Alex how the heck did you make money with it?

This is where the Filmtrepreneur Method was born, at least in my world. I knew that no one would pay “real money” for a 20-minute short film, shot on MiniDV, with unknown actors, and from a first-time director to boot. So I planned to create a guerilla indie film school with over 3 hours of footagetutorials, commentaries and more. 

By creating all the supplemental material and packaging with the short film on DVD I created a viable product for the marketplace. I filled a hole in the marketplace. VOD (Video on Demand) and digital download technology was just getting off the ground and it was still extremely expensive if it worked at all. Youtube was not “Youtube” yet, it had just launched. So DVDs was the only way to go.

I went after every message board and film news outlet I could get my hands on. I’d had created so much hype around the release that on day one I sold over 250 DVDs for $20.00 a pop. That’s $5000! 

The orders kept coming and I went on to sell over 5000 copies worldwide(and counting), shipping them out of my bedroom in Fort Lauderdale, FL. 

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Speaking on a panel at the Director’s Guild of America opening night at Hollyshorts! Film Festival.

First Filmmaker on Youtube

I have said it many times in the past, I was the first filmmaker to post filmmaking tutorials on Youtube. If I would’ve just kept going down that path things might have been very different for my filmmaking career but don’t cry for me, I’m extremely happy how things have turned out. Here are a few of the video tutorials I posted on Youtube via 2006.

You Can Do It

14 years later the revenue from this little short film is still coming in. I’ve probably have generated well over $90,000 selling that little short film over the years. All because I understood my marketplace and what it needed. I still make money on BROKEN and my other short films every week. I go into a deep dive on how I did this and discuss the Filmtrepreneur concepts and ideas that you can use today to make money with your films. Enjoy.

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