I got a box of DVDs in the mail today. It’s one year after they were first released for sale.
I remember that day. My whole family piled into the car and drove down to the local store that was selling them. We rolled into the store and started looking for the shelf. I don’t remember who saw them first, but what great feeling to see something you worked so hard on available for people.
I didn’t know what to expect from the retail release of the DVD. I knew that we were a show filled with unknown actors, created by an unknown director. But I was hopeful. We had TV exposure and a few hundred fans on social media.
The weekend after the release we had the discs available at the church which helped so much with the production. Most of the cast and crew were from that congregation. And we sold a couple dozen that day. Through my distributor’s contract with Word, I knew we had several dozen in stores across the country. And I knew that friends and family were buying copies. I personally bought one just so I could say I did.
Fast forward 3 months. It’s the end of the first quarter. I get a small check. I had spent more on social media advertising. In the 2nd quarter my distributor loses a partnership, and has multiple copies returned. For the rest of the year the DVD is only available online, from a dozen or so different outlets.
I can’t tell you exactly how many were produced, or how many were sold. But it wasn’t very many. Despite my best efforts, we never landed a major retail placement. There are a lot of new video products coming out every month, and we were buried in the pile. After a year in relationship with our distributor, we decided to part company.
Thank God retail sales are not the only measurement of success or failure!
I actually wrote an ebook about this. I almost titled it “How to create a successful Christian TV series and still not make a living.”
So what makes me say the show was a success when it certainly didn’t do well in retail?
We made the show so people would be impacted by the content. Entertained by a biblically based comedy. The more people who see it the better. Yes, people who buy the DVD would be people who see it, but luckily that wasn’t the only way it could be watched.
All 10 episodes of Peculiar broadcast on multiple religious networks around the world. JCTV (now JUCE), NRB Network, CTN-Lifestyle, and The Walk TV broadcast the show in the US. Plus several individual stations. Internationally it’s on a satellite channel in Africa, and being translated for broadcast in Romania and India.
An episode was shown at the 2013 Gideon Film Festival, and the series won the 2014 NRB Media Award for best Creative TV Programming. And did I mention that we did the whole thing for under $9000, and no one went into debt to make it happen.
Retail has been a failure. But the show has been a success! I’m proud of what we accomplished, and I can’t wait until I can do more projects like it.