Marketing Your Movie, Marketing Yourself
By Nic Baisley
You’ve made your film and now it’s time to go out and press the flesh while your movie makes its way around the world and finds its audience. Filmmakers attend festivals, web shows, industry conferences, panels, seminars, and parties constantly as they tour around with their latest creation. But is your appearance at these various events helping or hurting your current and future film career? Here are a few tips to help you nail these possible publicity opps.
Be Passionate! No one wants to watch someone look uncomfortable and uninterested during an interview. If you want others to be excited about your work, you need to show them the same passion off-screen that you put on-screen.
Be Prepared! Have a few prepared statements for common questions memorized, and even an anecdote or two from the set. This will not only make you comfortable (because you’ll know what you’re talking about), but it might help to ease the tension of the interview or conversation as a whole. You also need to be prepared in other ways. Always have business cards, post cards, or some other way to identify you or your film on you at all times. Some people will also recommend that you have screeners on you when speaking to possible media outlets, but that can get cumbersome and heavy if you’ve got a long day ahead of you. A better choice would be to have a password-protected website that you can give press access to that will also contain additional information they might need for future interviews or reviews of you and your work.
Be Yourself! Don’t try to schmooze your way into the industry. People can sniff that out fairly easily and will avoid you like the plague. Be pleasant, courteous, and engaging. If your audience is appreciative of your work, then they will want to get to know you as well.
Be Social! Being a wallflower didn’t work well for you in high school, and it certainly isn’t going to help you in your career as an independent filmmaker. You need to be aggressive when promoting your movie. If you are at a festival, you need to be at the parties, panels, and workshops to network and socialize with patrons and fellow filmmakers. This is where you’ll learn valuable information, create strong relationships, and make industry contacts who may be able to help you in the future. Don’t be afraid to approach people with “Industry” or “Press” badges at events. They are there because they are LOOKING to talk to people like you!
In a Twitter/Facebook connected world it is easy to hide behind your 140 characters and create the façade of the filmmaker you hope people want to see. But at the end of the day, it is the physical connections that get deals done. Not many people will just hand over contracts, or money, to people they at least haven’t spoken to on the phone. Creating rapport with people in the industry, and your audience, will help to create those fans that will follow your work from movie to movie.
Be Involved! Volunteer to speak at panels, industry events, or workshops. Especially do this if you or your film has a unique characteristic that you feel an audience may want to learn about. This will help solidify your place as an expert in that particular field. This can lead to more speaking opportunities, and thus more promotion for yourself and your movie.
Making your film is only half the battle. The other half is getting people to know and like YOU as a filmmaker and as an artist. It certainly isn’t easy, but you’ll find that the more people who like, respect, and want to work with you, then the more people who will be ready and willing to see and support your next endeavor. Building an audience isn’t just about putting butts in seats, but how many of them stand to applaud you once the movie’s over.