The Film Business

Elements of a Proper Film Press Kit


Photo by Heather Burks


As a reviewer, I often get movies in the mail. They come in all sorts of packages. Some of them are small and contain just a disc with a handwritten title on it. Some of them are large bundles that include a stack of paperwork haphazardly put together and stapled in the corner in a way that says “Here’s all the crap about my movie, you sort it out”. Still others just send a supplemental DVD filled with still images that I might use for promotional purposes in my review. It might come as a shock to some of you that I actually DO read all of the “press kits” that come my way, or what passes for them anyway. Believe it or not there is a relative standard for creating a press kit…And guess what folks, I’m here to show you how it’s done. I’m going to give you a couple examples from good press kits that I’ve gotten recently to give you a head start on the road to a good first impression.

Press Kit Example #1 – From Elisabeth Fies’ THE COMMUNE

When I first got the large manila envelope in the mail and felt the heft of it I thought to myself…”Great, homework”. But upon opening it I noticed a variety of goodies that awaited me. First out came the movie. It was in a standard DVD case with full printed artwork on the back and front. Just like you’d see in a retail store! (And folks, if you create something you want to be taken seriously alongside other professional movie makers, then presentation in this case is the best first impression you can make. It allows me to add it easily to my current DVD collection without having to buy a case for it or stick it in some DVD album sleeves where it will never be watched again after my initial review.

Press Kit Example #2 – From Jeff Warrick’s PROGRAMMING THE NATION

The first thing I saw when I opened the folder was a list of one-liners and blurbs from other critics about her movie. “Well played sir”, I thought. He might be trying to influence my opinion by planting suggestions in my head that his movie was popular, well-liked, and worth my time to watch. Not really a bad move! Another thing this tells me is that the filmmaker is out there hustling and getting the word out on his film.

Press Kit Example #3 – From James Repici’s SUBPRIME

Mr. Repici’s film is a narrative based in the world of mortgage finance, which is something a topic that is still hot these days due to the current economic climate. But just because it’s a hot button issue doesn’t mean that James rests on his festival laurels when he is promoting his film. He included a little swag from his film in with his press kit. I received a shiny name plate with his main character’s name inscribed on it. Movie props and other cool stuff is always a nice treat to get in the mail. When I interviewed filmmaker Evan Glodell for his film BELLFLOWER, his press kit included a small butane lighter with “Pocket-Sized Flamethrower” on the side of it. Cool stuff always makes me do a double-take. I understand that not all filmmakers can afford swag with their film, but for those who can, make it cool and original, and make it put me in the world of your movie.

After reviewing all of these press kits I have a mind full of information that I can refer to when I talk about these movies, both in my reviews and to other people. It leaves a lasting impression that can carry over to conversations with film festivals, distributors, and other industry people.


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