Case Study Overview

  • Name: Una O.
  • Craft:  Filmmaking
  • Location: Glasgow, Scotland
  • Niche: As yet unknown! Probably people interested in climate activism and cinema, who appreciate a weird strand of absurd humour..?
  • 2021 Target: To learn how to distribute films in a financially and ethically sustainable way, by building relationships with people who will actually want to watch them! Numerically, we're looking for 100 email subscribers, 20 extra-keen subscribers.
  • Links: Here's my website, though it'll probably get revamped over the course of this year.

An introduction from Una

I'm an Irish filmmaker and editor based in Glasgow, Scotland. I make a mix of fiction, documentary, and music videos. I believe that much excellent cinema is found growing outside its profit-driven industry, but that the algorithmic streaming giants make it difficult for independent films to financially sustain their makers.

The industry hinders the reach of films with subversive political messaging, and I'm interested in finding ways to marry artistic activism with financial stability and audience engagement. I'm excited to explore a possible future where artists can make things directly for those who are actually interested.

It would be a far kinder and more sensitive approach to distributing films than the bludgeon-wielding commodity-foisting means by which most internet-marketing occurs today. And it would be far more encouraging than tossing films into the internet abyss where they may be met only by a few meagre likes.

This is a project to explore how filmmakers can hold the means of distribution and exhibition, as well as the means of production.

The Vision

Personally speaking, my ideal career would involve working exclusively on projects that are geared towards positive social and/or spiritual change, both for and with people who share a desire for an ecosocialist-type future of global sustainability and race, class and gender-equality.

It would be amazing to do this without having to recourse to commercial work for income, and it would be a dream to do this through building relationships with a community of people who share my values. I also envision this model being of help to any artist who wants to spend a higher proportion of time making their art.

The first step of the project is to figure out exactly who my audience might be, and then to begin building a relationship with that community, such that the industry gatekeepers play no part in the process of making films for them.

I anticipate that some obstacles may arise in the form of boredom with marketing research, fears of self-promotion, and an instinctive aversion to anything resembling business or marketing - but I'm quite hopeful that financial necessity and curiosity will prevail. An author who recently changed my paradigm of thinking about marketing was Derek Sivers, who wrote that 'marketing just means being considerate', that it's 'looking at things from the other person's point of view'. This makes me feel like marketing might have more of a soul than I ascribe to it.

First Steps

So the next thing I'm gonna do is work through Rob's Accelerator course, about how to find one's niche, and then look into how I can get to know these lovely people. And I'm guessing I'll know some of them already, because my friends share my tastes and values. So yes - look out for the next installment to see how this goes!

Introduction From Rob

I'm excited to work with Una for a handful of reasons. First off, she's super talented and creative. Second, she's got a deep, genuine passion for improving the world. And third, she's completely, totally new to the world of marketing. She's a blank slate! 😂

So many of the case-studies you'll find online are from people who've been in the marketing/business game for years. They've got the foundation already, so they can pull off impressive feats (like subverting their chosen industry gatekeepers). But the vast majority of creatives don't have that foundation yet, so these case studies, while inspiring, don't do us much good.

Truth is, we all start from zero, and starting from zero is hard, uncertain, and often lonely. By getting Una's case study out there, and showing what it takes to start from square one, my hope is that other filmmakers and creatives will be less alone, and more courageous, in their respective journeys.

So this year probably won't be filled with big, splashy financial or audience gains. And that's ok. Because we're building a strong foundation for the rest of her life and career. And that kind of foundation is rarely sexy on the outside, even if amazing things are about to sprout just beneath the surface.

There's one last reason I'm excited to work with Una. Many creatives are allergic to marketing, and for good reason. Most modern marketing, especially the online stuff, is outright obnoxious and predatory.

But my belief is that marketing doesn't have to feel sketchy, spammy, or manipulative. It can be just as creative, and just as generous, as our primary work. So my hope this year is to get Una to a place where she genuinely loves the act of marketing. Because I know once she gets to that place, she'll be able to use her creativity and compassion to build whatever kind of life she wants for herself.