26 August 2010

The PMD conundrum

Let's get this right out in the open: a PMD, on some level is essential to your indie film. Is he more essential than your cast and crew? No, but essential all the same.

It's a wonderful idea and a wonderful job description and I support it 100%.

But as a filmmaker working on a budget, here's my issues:

1. It's a little close to marketing. And with marketing comes sharks. And with sharks comes scams. We've all tried to look for jobs in the marketing venue and and quickly learned that almost all of it was bullshit. Or involved selling knives. It's just a breeding ground for opportunist assholes looking to make a quick buck. The scum of the earth.

2. That's not to say they're all scum. There's a litany of good people in the field, people like Sheri Candler and Tyler Weaver. There will be more as the idea gains ground.

3. But, since the role is so new, there's almost no way to know who is who yet. Look at it this way, when I hire a DP or an actor or a musician, I have reels and headshots and resumes to sort through. I can see almost everything they've ever done. I can talk to people they've worked with. I can do my research. And I don't have to find a wedding photographer who's pretty sure his skills can translate. I can find someone who has worked on a film somewhat similar to mine.

But PMDs are so new, that nothing like this exists. Everyone is new.

4. So there's no track record, yet the PMDs I've talked to so far seem to all require payment and seem unwilling to work for credit.

You can count on one the people in indie film who get paid without a track record. Why am I paying someone who's never successfully done this more than my experienced cast and crew? It's like if I had a football team and everyone got the league minimum then we brought in a kicker who's never played football before, but he's a world-class soccer player. Thing is, he wants $6M/year. I'd be an idiot to do that.

So I guess my message is this: fledgling PMDs, you're going to have to work for free and build up a resume, just like the rest of us. If that's a problem, maybe you should sell knives. I hear there's good money in that.


Miles Maker said...

I think we're missing the point here.

PMD's are not saviors-for-hire on a film. PMD's simply carry out the strategic vision for marketing, community management, promotion and distribution for the property, which starts with identifying the filmmaker's primary objectives for making it (for money, to build a name, to communicate a message, etc.). This strategy is thereafter conceived, developed and executed by the PMD--who is considered the point man. This role demands a dedicated individual on the team because the success of the production depends on a focused commitment to achieving the filmmaker's primary objectives.

As addressed at length by Jon Reiss in his book, "Think Outside the Box Office," we have a foundation from which to build upon. It's all right there in the book. Every film is a unique animal however but the core strategy is outlined by the Author who coined the phrase. If anyone is going to be 'ripped off' by an incompetent PMD they would just as likely be ripped off by anyone else along the way simply because there are skillsets and experience one would seek in hiring a PMD:

The demonstrated ability to communicate thoughts and ideas exceptionally well;
The demonstrated ability to market, promote and sell products and/or services;
The demonstrated ability to perform or initiate market research;
The demonstrated ability to grow social communities both online and off;
The demonstrated ability to utilize new media and social platforms;
The demonstrated ability to delegate tasks to a team of service providers;
The demonstrated ability to record, document and present performance data, campaign results and other analytics.

These skillsets and abilities can be demonstrated by a potential's PMD's prior work experience and job descriptions in or out of the entertainment industry so it's no shot in the dark when hiring a PMD.

Dennis said...

I understand the trepidation in hiring this new position and lots of details have to be worked out. However, marketing isn't evil... there are incompetent people in every field.

Miles I think you nail it here about qualifications.

The irony is that so many filmmakers have faced the same issue of "show me something you've done exactly like what we are doing now". Whether it's a DP, screenwriter or director we all have faced the client/producer/funder who wants to see his film on your reel before you get hired.

Marketing fundamentals aren't tied to specific verticals.