One of the smartest things that an indie film-maker can do is run their own TV Station using our app, Martell TV. It will allow you to raise money for any type of film you want to make, ever.

Is that too bold of a statement? I’m not apologizing, because I’m speaking truth. Owning your own TV Station allows you to guarantee distribution which means guaranteed ROI for investors. That means you can raise money for anything you want to make, whenever you want to make it.

Look, I get it. You’re not looking to get rich quick. You got into this business because you want people to appreciate your work, right? You’re probably a writer-director-producer. I feel you. I am you.

I originally got into this business because I wanted to write stories.

I’m a creator like you. But I’ve done something not all creators have done; when I found it hard to break in, I stopped producing content to focus on learning the ropes of business. I did this because I want to be successful with my work; I’m tired of having to cut corners and my work not being as great as it could have been because I lacked the resources a proper film budget provides.

I have super talented friends who can shoot, write and edit much better than I can, but they still work at Whataburger because they don’t know jack about business. They can’t sell their pitches because they don’t speak the same language investors do.

A Whataburger employee about to lose his mind because he knows he should be a film director.
A Whataburger employee about to lose his mind because he knows he should be a film director instead of a fry cook.

I am here to help you speak the language of business and stop working for Whataburger, or whata-wherever you currently work at that isn’t a studio you own.

Return on Investment

There is only one thing any investor wants to know. They don’t really care about your amazing script, how beautiful your lead actress is, or if you’re a disabled veteran struggling to break in.

Investors care about one thing and one thing only; making money.

They will listen to your pitch with the sole intention of learning how they will put $100,000 into your film and get back $300,000. That is the ONLY thing they want to know!

For films, the info an investor is looking for is like this:

1. Who is the director and how much money did their last film generate?

2. Who is the lead actor and actress, and how much money did their last film generate?

Oh, you’re the director and this is your first real feature? And you cast your friends from Whataburger in the lead roles? Sorry but unless they are batshit crazy, no investor is going to give you any money.

This is because the *ENTIRE* movie industry revolves around the rising and fading stars of talent. Period. End of. Do not pass go and do not collect your $100,000 movie check.

This is because name talent have fanbases in the millions.

Film investment is one of the riskier businesses in the world. You’re not selling widgets, you’re selling entertainment. People cannot test drive entertainment; they have to pay to watch a movie before they can watch it. It might only be $15 to see a movie at a theatre but that is $15 that could be spent on a million and one other things.

Basically, even with a kick-ass trailer, audiences have no real idea how amazing your movie will be until they finally watch it themselves. The quality of a movie does not sell itself; the talent sells the movie.

Audiences need to recognize the people involved in a film in order to be willing to open their wallets and try it. This is why film investment revolves around famous directors like Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan and Michael Bay, and mega-star actors like Tom Cruise and Jessica Alba. People know who these people are and have loved other films they have been in.

You, as the indie film-makers and his rag-tag band of Whataburger crewmates, are not known to anyone outside your circle of family and friends. Millions of people are not motivated to see your movie.

Oh! I’ll just go to Kickstarter!” you retort! “I can use the power of my TRIBE! to generate movie money!

Yeah, whatever.

You probably do not have 50,000 people you can reach with your Kickstarter. So give up on that idea right now. I have found that around 1-5% of an audience will actually open their wallets on a new untested idea; which is why you need access to hundreds of thousands of eyeballs to raise budgets for films using crowdfunding.

You might think uploading teasers to YouTube will do the trick. Sorry but that boat has long since sailed. There are more hours of video uploaded to YouTube in an hour than the entire Library of Congress has in its film collection. Your videos will get lost in a sea of noise.

Oh sure, Rooster Teeth just generated $2 million for a new web show. But Rooster Teeth is a well-oiled machine holding major conventions like RTX and has been building a massive mailing list from their own website, and has cultivated strong relationships to all the major press outlets.

Unless you have an impressive off-YouTube strategy that involves major press blogs talking about your trailers, you will never get your videos seen by enough people to generate enough buzz to make a Kickstarter work.

In order to crowdfund successfully you need to reach a lot of eyeballs. And the fact of the matter is without any name talent you will not raise enough money to produce your film.

Besides, your goal is all wrong here if you’re just trying to make a film. 100% fail if that is your end all, be all.

Your goal should be to make $$ with your film so you can produce more films.

Unless you absolutely love your day job, you should be looking to work full-time in the film industry making the movies you want to produce. That should be your #1 motivation.

Sure, you might be able to convince some famous YouTubers to be involved in your project. I even have a guide on how to do that posted at ReelSEO titled ‘Six Awesome Rules for Successfully Funding Your Web Series‘. But even if you convince name talent to star in your project, when it comes time to do your next web series or film you will need to start from scratch all over again. Remember the audiences belong to the talent, not you.

So let’s go back to the very first thing I said;

“One of the smartest things that an indie film-maker can do is run their own TV Station using our app, Martell TV. It will allow you to raise money for any type of film you want to make, ever.”

The reason is simple: you’ll own distribution for your work and have direct access to a massive audience. 

The business model of television does not rely as heavily upon name talent. Instead it largely relies upon the branding of the TV station itself. This is why (usually) before someone can become a major movie star they need to first be a television star. You can be an absolute nobody and cast in a lead TV show role because the network does not need your audience for the time-slot. The TV network has its own audience who regularly watch shows at certain times of the day, and the TV Station need only keep slotting similar kinds of shows in those timeslots that appeal to those same demographics.

This means you can leverage the audience of your TV Station to crowdfund projects without needing name talent, and you can raise investor money, too. This is because the audience is loyal to your overall brand as a television network and NOT the individual brands of the director and the talent.

With the Martell TV app, you can embed your Station feed into your own website and focus all of your efforts on advertising the website. On your website you can build your mailing list so that you can run a monthly newsletter informing your audience about upcoming episodes, interviews, press, events and whatever Kickstarter projects you wanna raise money for.

Don’t have a mailing list? Here is why you should have one. 

You can also sell merchandising through an integrated store built into your website. T-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, action figures…you can do it all on your own website. TV merchandise licensing is a $51 Billion industry; you should carve out a slice of that pie for yourself.

Of course, having a Station with us also allows your Station to be listed in our smart-phone and tablet apps where users can discover your Station based on factors like geographical regions. Oh yes, regional-based discovery for the web!

Let’s say you live in….oh let’s say Texas because that is where I’m writing this article from. Texas is the 2nd largest State in the US at over 26 million people. If you have a TV Station in our app, our app will tell anyone who lives in Texas about your Station and encourage them to be subscribers.

How many people live in your State and probably would download an app that allows them to watch free TV? Because that is how Martell Broadcasting Systems, Inc is going to advertise this app:

Would you like to watch free TV on your phone? Here’s the download!

It’s not a hard sell guys. With our system getting new viewers is going to be the easiest piece of the puzzle because our message is clear and our app is super user friendly.

Plus with your Station you get all the analytical data your advertisers and investors need to write you a check. You’ll know your audiences’ genders, age, interests and what type of shows they like the most. You’ll know what time of day people primarily watch your Station. This is way better data than Nielsen ratings.

Plus you can control the price of your ad inventory and make real TV money promoting the 30 second commercials for major brands that they already have uploaded to their YouTube channels, and will pay you thousands of dollars to stick into your schedule to reach your viewers.

This means when investors ask you how much you’ve already made with your existing lineup, you can tell them not just how much your Station generates every month, but also how much money individual Shows generate based on specific demographics watching them.

You can say something like, “Our most popular show airs at 3 PM so we’re gonna schedule this new show at 3:30 PM to replace a different show that is ending its third season, so we can piggy-back on the audience who just watched the 3 PM show. Our afternoon block of programming generates $600,000 a month in ad revenue, and we’re gonna run this new show for 6 months, then after the season ends we’ll push it into a less valued timeslot at 12 PM that generates only $120,000 a month until we produce Season 2“.

That is the language that investors want to hear!

This cat speaks the language investors want to hear.
This cat speaks the language investors want to hear.

So yeah. To startup a Station as an indie-filmaker is not complex. I’ve written a crash course guide here but honestly this is all you need to do:

Step 1: Pledge $200 for a Premium Station. Remember this is an investment on future earnings, and it’s a life-time membership available only through our Indiegogo campaign.

Step 2: Get all your indie-filmaker friends together and upload your videos to YouTube if you haven’t already done so. You know, the ones you couldn’t sell to distributors because it didn’t have name talent in it? Yeah, those. Upload them to the web and stick the url to your website in the very first sentence of the video description so you can convert YouTube viewers into website visitors. Then schedule your videos into your Station’s program schedule and mix in content from other YouTube creators to fill in time gaps.

Don’t know how to make a YouTube channel? Here’s a guide for it. 

Step 3. Build a website and embed your Station feed into it. Don’t have a website? No problem, pledge $300 to our campaign and we’ll build you one.

Step 4. On launch day, my company is going to market the hell out of your website using our newsletters, which will reach over 15,000 people who watch web videos on YouTube. We’ll also give you personal consulting on how to market your site and basically be super successful. Because we need you to be successful; our business model depends on it.

Why am I so confident we can do this? Because I’m damn good at marketing.

I don’t know how to make my message any plainer than this. If you are serious about carving out your own destiny in the film industry, you need a Station and you need to get one today.

P.S. : I should point out, that at the $300 tier you also get a website. You just cannot get custom website design for that cheap of price anywhere else. For an idea of what kind of site can be created, look at which I’m currently working on as a gaming hub for Power Up TV. This site is optimized for multiple screen sizes and mobile devices, and supports auto-embedding of videos from a YouTube channel so it practically runs on auto-pilot (if you so choose to run it that way).

Subscribe to Carey’s mailing list to be alerted of new articles.

* indicates required

What type of articles do you like the most?


Carey Martell is the President of Martell Broadcasting Systems, Inc. He is also the founder of the Power Up TV multi-channel network (acquired by Thunder Digital Media in January 2015). Carey formerly served as the Vice President of Thunder TV, the internet television division of Thunder Digital Media. In the past he has also been the Director of Alumni Membership for Tech Ranch Austin as well as the event organizer for the Austin YouTube Partner monthly meetups. Prior to his role at MBS, Inc. and his career as a video game developer and journalist, Carey served in the US Army for 5 years, including one tour of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Carey is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Carey also moonlights as the host of The RPG Fanatic Show, an internet television show on YouTube which has accumulated over 3.7 million views.