The traditional film production/distribution model is dramatically shifting, yet with change comes opportunity. As in the fields of music and publishing, the Internet has opened up new avenues to promote market and create a buzz for your film. Whereas traditional public relations is still a critically important aspect of any film marketing campaign, it’s one tool in your overall marketing and promotion kit. PR includes reviews, interviews, and feature stories in print radio or TV. Now add to the mix online marketing, including blog postings, article marketing and creating a presence in the social media world.
Being covered in the media is important because it offers you and your film the credibility and validation of being featured in the news. It helps create a buzz and builds a reputation for you and your film. Media coverage also separates your film from the competition, which is incredibly important.
My one caveat here is to think long and hard before submitting your film to be reviewed by the major entertainment trade publications. Those reviewers are used to being courted by the major studios and reviewing multi-million dollar films. Not that some of them can’t see beyond the budget constraints of a true independent and judge a film on its own merits, but it is a risk. As a small indie film without a name cast your chances of being reviewed without a distribution deal are slim, and not always that much better with distribution. Beyond that getting reviewed and possibly torn to shreds in one of the major trades can do you more harm than good. Distributors are seldom going to jump at the chance to carry a film that has been publicly humiliated. Shoot for features or stories about your film, or the filmmaking process. Once you do get some media coverage, now go online and amplify it.
But don’t wait for media coverage to start promoting your film. Create a cool, preferably interactive, website. Develop a presence on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and other social media sites. Don’t just talk about your project. Post information that film enthusiasts will be interested in. Comment on other indie films. Start conversations. Focus on film sites, but also look at other possible markets that have to do with your film’s topic. If your film is sci-fi oriented, search for blogs that cover that world. If your project is a western, target some sites that focus on the old west. You get the picture.
Search for blogs like Giant Robot, Ain’t it Cool News, and Rotten Tomatoes. Find blogs that cover the type of film you’ve made, make a list of any and all film and entertainment sites and contact them. Don’t try to cover all of the social media sites. You won’t have the time, money, or energy to cover all of the blogs, forums or social media sites. Make a list of those sites and blogs that you feel are most in-line with your project and work those. You’re better off concentrating on a few sites and building connections, than posting one or two items on hundreds and creating no relationships.
Think of the different ways you can create interest: humor, sex, controversy, fright – stuff that blows up – all of that sells. Use it. Don’t focus on selling, but on creating interesting content. Since you’re working in the film world, you have visuals, video clips that you can post. Use that to your advantage. When it comes to marketing your film work like the independent filmmaker you are, but think like a savvy marketer.