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Boo-Tips: Movie Promotion
By Peter John Ross
How many moviemakers out there have started a project and not finished? Okay, now how many of you out there have finished your movie? Of you, how many submitted to film festivals? Then what? What happened to your movie? It’s sitting on a shelf collecting dust, or languishing without any views on a website isn’t it? Okay, what can you do about it?
Promote your movies. Getting your movies seen is good. You might want to look into it. People seeing your work increases the likelihood that people will know about your movies and your moviemaking skills. 1+1=2.
So this article is for the people who have a completed movie but who don’t know what to do from there.
First off, there are a ton of festivals out in the world that cost $0.00 to submit to. There are even more that charge $5-10, and then there are the regular ones that charge $25-75. Articles upon articles and books upon books have been written on the subject, and I recommend The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide by Film Threat's Chris Gore as the best.
The next place where people can see your work is on the Internet. Short film sites like UNDERGROUNDFILM.COM, IFILM.COM, ATOMFILMS.COM, BROWNFISH.COM, and many more. You can also make your own website.
For me, the Internet is an opportunity. Admittedly, t's not the most optimal way to experience a movie (sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers - now THAT'S WHY you make a movie,) but you take what you can get. I think having something on your website content-wise is good. I've seen some filmmakers who promote their sites, but they don't even have a trailer for their movie on there. All that's there is a lame bio, behind the scenes stills of people I don't know, and pics from a movie I can't see. So I'm left wondering, “Why the hell would anyone care? Why are you trying to get people to your site?”
If you actually HAVE content, (ie: a finished movie) and this content is on your site, you can get people to your home on the web by promoting it. There are blogs, a newer, personalized version of message boards, traditional message boards, and Internet movie news sites. Ever since AIN’T IT COOL NEWS became legitimized by Hollywood insiders, several good Indie Film sites have made their way onto the scene. There’s FILM THREAT, INDIECLUB.COM, INDIETALK.COM, SHORTFILMINSIDER.COM, FILMWATCHER.COM, MICROCINEMASCENE, REWIND VIDEO MAGAZINE, and the INTERNET VIDEO MAGAZINE. Let them know via email that your movie exists. Then they mention it and people see it. 1+1=2.
Now, there’s also print media. You can submit a formal press release in the proper format via fax and/or email. Independent Filmmaker, Moviemaker, Computer Arts (uk), DV Magazine, Film & Video, Millimeter, Markee, InideSlate and several more print magazines accept press releases from indie filmmakers trying to get their work in print.
The value of print media is that it is very tangible and you can use it later on to show that someone other than your friends and family thought your movie was print-worthy. That’s worth more than gold when going to investors. It shows that you have a level of hype surrounding you and also that you are serious.
At this time, a new and exciting trend in cable television has been the increasing number of programs that feature short and indie feature films. In Canada they have MOVIOLA, a short film channel that could be considered an MTV for short films. And in the United States, there are cable short film shows in virtually every market. Few if any pay for the movies, but at least you can get your work seen on TV. And if you send your movie to these shows in other markets, you can get your movie seen by people in other states and cities, and all it costs you is postage.
As far as promoting your movies in a more unique fashion, you have to have a product people can see. The singular best promotion I saw in the last 5 years came from 7M Pictures. They had Kevin Carr, a director, go to the auditions of Are you Hot?, the failed ABC reality TV series. If you don't know Kevin, he described it best in the promo and the pilot for Are you Hot?. He said, "Most of these guys have a six pack, I've got the whole keg..." From that, he was singled out because he was large and has a good sense of humor. Kevin was then interviewed on two or three morning drive-time radio shows in Ohio, plugging his short movies and his website, and his appearances on national TV in the Are you Hot? pilot and also in promo spots for Access Hollywood certainly helped him spread the word about his work.
I have to admit this was TOTAL FREAKIN' GENIUS, and probably the best indie film promotion ever done as far as I'm concerned. Kudos to 7M Pictures. I can say honestly that I was envious of that idea.
Spike Lee's book Spike's Gotta Have It, about the making of his first feature (She’s Gotta Have It) has the words "BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY" written repeatedly throughout his journal. I live by that when finishing a movie and promoting it.
Dust off those old movies that are collecting dust and do something with them. Put them online, send them to more festivals, put them on TV, and let people know they’re out there. By any means necessary. I stand by my mantra – “If you want to be discovered, you have to be somewhere people can find you.” So get your movies seen. A lot.
Peter John Ross