How do you build an audience for your backyard indie film?

How do you build an audience or community around your backyard indie film?

First, let’s step back a bit.

Why are we building an audience? Are you asking yourself “Is that my job? Isn’t that up to the distributors and marketers?”

Well, in a way it is their problem.

But ask yourself this question. Who loves your movie the most? Who can’t wait to get your flick to as many people as possible?

The answer is you. You are going to have to be the marketer and distributor.

If that scares you, then you have probably came to the wrong place. This site is all about how to maximize your rewards from all of your hard work.
You are the biggest fan of your film. No matter what, no one will treat it like you will. Film Production is no longer an obstacle. Where once you needed to shoot on film, which was expensive for regular joes like us, digital cameras and DSLR’s are dominating the film world now. For the price of a first used car, you could create an entire film studio!

That was not possible even 10 years ago.

But now, even more importantly, is that film distribution is not an obstacle as well. You can directly upload your film to many platforms in less then a hour and have it ‘distributed’ all over the world. Today’s smaller distributors are mostly just aggregators that can consolidate your film and package it to be released mainly on Video On Demand. Don’t fall victim to a lower rung distributor that will simply do what you can do on your own. With a couple clicks you are open to the world marketplace.

Then, once you have done that you will sell a million copies of your film!

Sorry. No. Not quite, just yet. I got ahead of myself.
This takes us to building an audience. Yes, film production and distribution is no longer an obstacle but you still need to find that audience for your movie.

It is still difficult. It always has been and that will never change.

Their are thousands of movies made every year, only a few actually earn a profit. Hollywood has to rely on huge advertising campaigns to flood televisions, internet and print just to make you aware of their huge ‘tent pole’ movie.
As a backyard indie filmmaker, we have to think a little different.

So yes, we are talking marketing and selling your film on your own.


First, you have to identify your Target Audience.

Who are they? What do they like? What similar or comparable movies are out there with established communities?

Let’s use a horror movie for an example.

Maybe this one? (Not intended for young ones)

[youtube video=]

So I have Massacre On The Lake Part 4.  A goofy little scene from a movie we don’t really plan to make. But let’s pretend that it’s a real movie. This is an opening scene to a feature movie. So who is the audience for this type of movie. Obviously, horror fans. People that love the Friday the 13th franchise, maybe newer franchises like Hatchet, stuff of that ilk.

It’s sounds painfully obvious, but all you have to do is find those people!

The great thing about the horror genre and how it works so well for backyard filmmakers with limited budgets, is that it’s almost undeniably known as the one genre that doesn’t need name stars. That’s a huge advantage over any other type of story. As long as it’s good, possibly scary and just plain delivers.

What if you don’t have a horror movie? Don’t fret. You can still find your community. You might have to dig deeper, but they are out there.

Find them on Twitter by searching for conversations that people are having about those types of movies. Start engaging with them. Maybe even ask them what they like and/or don’t like in the latest slasher flick. Talk to them as a fan yourself. Don’t pretend to love a type of movie, when you truly don’t. They will find out. It’s not hard to be genuine and trust worthy, but a lot of people think of that as a sort of weakness. It’s not. Embrace your passion for the genre of your movie.

Find your potential audience on Facebook by joining in on groups that are again talking about the type of movie your planning to make. I want to reinforce that you don’t want to just spam any of these groups with your trailer to your flick. Just start by talking as a fan. Organically people will find out that your making a movie, and they will ask you to see the trailer or know more about it.

Finding your community on YouTube can be slightly different. YouTube is watched for its content and it is obviously very visual. Connect with others who are commenting and engaging with videos that pertain to your film in some way.  The bonus with YouTube is you can have a bigger impact when it comes to building content from your movie. Take our movie example and assume again that their is a full feature movie ready to go or in the works. You could create short vignettes based on some characters in the movie, upload it, rinse and repeat. Over time you could build a decent subscriber base that is waiting for your feature film.


Search for #hashtags at HashTagify.Me

A great tool for finding conversations and actual people talking about certain subjects is

I have to credit Scott McMahon over at for the heads up to this cool tool.

You can search for relevant hashtags and get very important analytics on how much that term comes up in discussions and give you some great ideas for other terms to go after.

These are some tactics that we are using for our actual feature film we are currently working on called The Wrong People. The genre is not horror, so the challenge is to define our target audience and try and engage with them. We made it a little hard on ourselves with a non-specific genre, but what the heck. Worth a shot, eh?

Go out there and engage.

Be real.

One fan at a time.

Treat them like gold.

Good luck! I will be waiting with popcorn to watch your Backyard Indie.

Jamie Francis

The better looking half of the Francis Brothers filmmaking team.

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