Much of what I read about filmmaking and writing focuses on how to sell your work. While I see the necessity of this, I don’t think I am good at it, and I certainly don’t enjoy it. I’ve always thought of selling your work in negative terms, which I think of as “self-promotion”. In the end, I go back to the belief that if my work is good enough, then it will sell itself.
The Art of Asking
Recently I watched a TED talk by Amanda Palmer: “The Art of Asking” that got me to re think how I promote my own work.
In some ways, her talk didn’t have anything new to me, but it did open my eyes a little to a different view of what was involved. Whereas I thought in terms of self-promoters, I’d describe her as a connector. Her approach is more like the way you make friends than selling yourself. She describes it as trusting people. I think her approach works very well with her type of personality.
Her approach doesn’t seem as crass or self-serving as what I’d heard before. It does seem to be a nicer approach to making your way as an artist. For myself though, I still can’t see that I can take this approach. I just don’t feel comfortable when I ask people to support me.
I can’t really change my personality in any major, or even minor, way. I supposed I could train myself to behave otherwise, but it would seem artificial and come off as phoney. That would be worse than if I’d not tried at all.
Let the Art Sell Itself
As I noted above, in the past I’ve tried to rely on the inherent interest of my work to gain an audience. That only works with special ideas, and not all of my ideas are special. It isn’t always possible to recognize if your own idea is special or not.
The success I had with some of my ideas made me a little spoiled. Both the Hundred Dollar Film Festival and “Line of Taxis” were projects that quickly found supporters. I didn’t really need to push them; they took on a life of their own. That is something I can’t always count on.
There is also a good argument that if your work can’t sell itself, then it just isn’t worth your while to make it. I have abandoned many ideas that didn’t catch other people’s interest. Some ideas are harder to give up than others are. Maybe those ideas would catch on if I developed them further.
Another approach I could use is to involve people in my projects that do have the desirable personality traits that I just don’t have. Most commercial films are like this. They usually leave the promotion to the actors and not the writer or director. The exceptions are notable for their rarity.
I haven’t really tried this approach and I’m not sure how well it would work. The closest I came was when Keith Humphrey attended the screening of “Line of Taxis” at a festival. That wasn’t really a case where I tried to promote the film though.
I am sure I haven’t exhausted all the ways that I could promote my work. However, I am not sure what other approaches might work for me.