The Best Way To Promote Your Film?

In the last post we talked about your film’s WEBSITE and AUDIENCE AGGREGATION… but let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of what I know you are are interested in – and that’s PROMOTING YOUR FILM ONLINE.

I know this because I recently did a survey and one thing that was abundantly clear throughout the survey results was:

Filmmakers want to know more about low and no cost ways of Promoting their films online!

What may surprise you is that this seems to be the case whether or not the filmmaker is pursuing DIY distribution, Traditional distribution, or BOTH. The reason is simple – with such low-cost ‘bang for your buck’ ways to promote your film online, you can jump in and become your film’s CEO and take control of the reigns. If you can effectively promote your film and grow your audience, it gives you a better chance of being able to bypass the middle man and make split-right distribution deals all on your own.

But let’s back up a bit and talk about you being your film’s CEO, in charge of your own marketing & promotions – because the first objection I usually hear to this is that filmmakers don’t want to do all the nitty gritty work that’s involved with promoting their film. They want to unload those duties onto someone else to just take care of it all (something like a magic bullet). While I understand this position completely, but hear me out for a second….. I’m not against outsourcing your film’s marketing and promotions to a PMD (producer of marketing & distribution) or other professional or even a company… BUT what I will say is this: before you do that I recommend you learn at least a little about ALL the different methods of marketing & promoting your film, so you at least know what you’re doing before outsourcing the task. Who knows, you might find that you actually ENJOY doing some of the work yourself, and then bring on team members whose talents complement your own. And remember the golden rule? No one will have more passion and enthusiasm for your film than YOU.

For example, as CEO of my own business I’ve invested a lot of time and resources to learn a little about a LOT of things having to do with marketing and promotions. And guess what? Now that I know how everything works and how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, I choose to outsource SOME of those tasks (specifically the ones that I’m not an expert at) and SOME of the tasks I actually like doing myself. But I feel much better at least knowing about the tasks that I’m outsourcing because then I can better direct people who are helping me, and I also know when they aren’t performing the tasks right – so in other words, they can’t take me for a ride! You see, you want to be in a position of confidence and have an idea of the BIG PICTURE of marketing and promotions before you start assembling the team that’s going to help you execute.

Make sense?

So with that in mind, I want to go over some of the recommended low and no cost ways to promote your film online. And then maybe you can tell me, which ones you’ve tried, which ones have worked or not worked for you, and which you want the most help with… here goes:

• Social Media (Facebook Fan Pages, Groups, & Twitter)

• Video Marketing

• Email Marketing

• Advertising (Google, Facebook)

• Integrated Partnerships

• Social Plugins

• Forum Marketing

…Is there anything else I’m forgetting?

So let me know what you think by commenting below…. to PROMOTE or not to PROMOTE your film online? You know the advantages and really you have nothing to lose right? Looking forward to your thoughts!

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Comments

  1. laurent says

    Hi
    I think that the term social plugin refers to all the social networks icons that you can find for instance next to an web newspaper article or such things as “embed this video to your website” option

    Keep going with this great blog.

  2. Brian G. says

    If you’re not hosting a fan page on Facebook well before the film is even finished, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s an immediate fanbase that you can bring along with you as the film takes shape. Same with Twitter.

  3. Prema Rose says

    I can get overwhelmed with all there is to learn and implement. Stacy is the name of my raft through these unknown waters. What a ride!

  4. Marc Lougee says

    Great article, Stacey. Nice to get your perspective on the topic! I’m plying these points (or many of them) for my last short film (now on DVD)- been an interesting ride. Got to have a plan in place before the trip starts. Ho boy.

  5. WilderHancock says

    Thanks Laurent, that makes sense.

    Brian G., you are absolutely right. On my first film we got the Facebook page up a little late, but before it’s official release. And I believe it made a difference. In fact I will be starting work on the fan page of my next project even as I am putting together the biz plan.

  6. Stacey Parks says

    Hi everyone,

    Great conversation – thanks for contributing! Yeah, it’s best to get started with all this at the very beginning so you have time to really get momentum going before your film is completed. One of the challenges though is promoting to your audience before you even have a film completed – what do you promote? How do you keep your audience interested?

    Any ideas of what you all have done that’s worked?

    Stacey*

  7. Adam Daniel Mezei says

    Hi Stacey,

    Good to have the chance to chime in on this discussion…as I’m a PMD myself, http://www.producerofmarketinganddistribution.com, I have a bit of daily experience with these things…

    Some items you haven’t yet mentioned:

    ** INTERIM/UNFINISHED “EXTRA-DIAGETIC” CONTENT: This is the stuff related to your film that’s not necessarily about the film, yet which serves to promote the main story in some way. For example, shooting a 10-part web series about the prior research going into your film’s subject matter before production officially begins. This could be anything ranging from raw video footage you’ve laced together during pre-production to your initial videographed location reccies that you can sell as a stand-alone product. If you’re shooting a documentary, editors normally have *tons* of this sort of stuff to sift through, so why not — like a sausage factory — sweep these various items up off the floor and stuff ‘em in a “casing.” There are content aggregators who pay large advances for this sort of material. One case I know of: a guy who’s doing an indie doc for Babelgum who landed a $60k advance. Not bad for “sausage,” hm?

    ** GET YOUR ACTORS INVOLVED AS WELL: Too few directors harness the massive potential of their actors’ promotional efforts to get their films greater traction. If an actor maintains any sort of well-trafficked blog, videoblog, or Facebook or Twitter presence, the more charismatic members of your cast can do wonders to boost the promo efforts of a film’s usual director-producer combo. For instance, Christina Rose (www.christina-rose.com) is helping her director Gary King (www.grking.com) generate buzz for their 2011 film HOW DO YOU WRITE A JOE SCHERMANN SONG, in which she co-stars.

    ** OFFER SOMETHING TO THE FILM COMMUNITY BESIDES *JUST* YOUR PICTURE: LA-based indie filmmaker David Branin is a very active promoter of his art. His film, NIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING, an ensemble piece, was warmly received by the LA indie community mainly because of his existing weekly local (streaming) radio show, FILM COURAGE (www.filmcourage.com). Because he and his co-host Karen Worden offer such value to the local indie scene by hosting *other* successful directors on his show, he’s able to gain a level of legitimacy for his various projects which other indies doing so in a standalone “look at me! look at me!” manner simply cannot.

    If anyone else needs some tips, swing by my site and have a poke around.

    I do this sort of stuff all day long, so we can throw some ideas against the wall and see what sticks.

    • Hasnorizal Mawardi says

      hi, im rizal from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Im a designer, doing graphics for a film named BRAVO5, a story about Malaysian Commandos on late 1990. A true story.

      The film is already 80 % ready, waiting for finishing works such as CGi and audio.

      This is the trial website that i,ve been built for promotional purposed. http://www.artasiana.wix.com/bravo5themovie, it linked with the social network such as Facebook, Twitterr and Youtube that has been created.

      I,m very interested to connect the actor to it as you mentioned, but need an idea to implement it. Please help me, leave your comment, tq

  8. Stacey Parks says

    Hey Adam,

    Thanks so much for tossing your hat in the ring over here and I very much appreciate your tips – these are all great ideas!

    I’m curious, which of the methods I listed in the blog post do you find are most effective for your films? Have you tried all of them?

    Stacey*

  9. J. Glenn Evans says

    I find the old fashion call a target on the phone and offer to send some information, give them a couple of weeks and call again works well with museum gift shops and stores.
    J. Glenn Evans

  10. Miles Maker says

    What I’m NOT seeing often enough on this subject is the technique of aggregating curators to proliferate content, theme and message. Filmmakers don’t have to work nearly as hard as they think they do as PMD’s if they would simply identify, engage and strategically collaborate with social web and film industry curators with audiences resembling the film/filmmaker’s target audience; i.e., syndication.

    Highly engaged community curators are trusted to perceive what’s relevant and what their listeners value to drive conversation and a call to action. However I seldom see filmmakers approach these curators with propositions. We’re all complaining we have to work harder when in truth we’re working as hard as we can. Working smarter and more efficiently is where productive solutions present themselves.

  11. Amanda Rogers says

    “One of the challenges though is promoting to your audience before you even have a film completed – what do you promote? How do you keep your audience interested?”

    I started promoting my project from its very inception, which was several years ago, and, amazingly, the majority of my readers are still with me even though I’m only in script development stage. I ran a fan website and was able to take that audience with me, so that gave me a bit of a start with audience building.

    So what do I talk about? It’s a mixed bag. I promote what the cast is currently doing. Talk about the project. And since I’m new to film production, I talk about what I’m learning. Occasionally, I’ll throw in an interview. I’m also working on a contest right now called Name the Movie Characters, which was inspired by my attendance at a recent Jon Reiss workshop.

    Will any of this be successful? It’s too early to tell, but I’ll keep working at it!

  12. cecil says

    hi all the way from the namib desert in africa. wonderfull blog. soon you will hear bout my bouts. i have three short films…do i promote them together or as individuals?

  13. Marian says

    @Miles

    “Community curators” is a new term to me. Who are they? Can you give some examples and teh kinds of things they do? Many thanks.

  14. Stacey C says

    I might add that attention to detail and conscientiousness when addressing someone are also important. Many of you spelled Stacey’s name incorrectly. She, gracefullly, did not mention it, so I’ll do it for her. S-T-A-C-E-Y. There’s an E in there, people!

    p.s.: Cool new site, Stacey!

    Signed,
    another StacEy. :)

  15. Short of the Week says

    Glad to see others discussing this topic. We’ve found that knowing the right connectors at certain media outlets is a critical part in getting your online film to hit a critical mass.

    We do a free program called Short of the Week Presents (http://www.shortoftheweek.com/submit/) where we offer to help filmmakers with strategy and promotion of their films online.

  16. Patrick Silverman says

    A good way to promote your film is having a website for your film. On filmbinder,com you get your own film website with your own subdomain. An integrated Pay Per View solution allows you to offer Video On Demand. You keep 100% of all revenues. filmbinder comes with additional tools for film promotion (trailer, pictures, credits, festivals, blog), film delivery (send access links or codes), and film financing.

  17. Carl Borsing says

    Working on my first indie film for a local film festival (Nashville). In the mean time I’m studying Entertainment laws, sales, distribution etc. It’s not enough that I have less than a year to produce my script, music and audio not to forget improve my skills in footage, narration, 3D modelling/rendering 3D props and characters, since I have 0 time to search for actors and direct them properly, not to mention actually shooting live, except for select scenes (if time permits ;). Do I deserve to call myself an indie film maker? Tough question, let’s see it is now over Two years since I actually made a penny, having studied film related stuff 24/7, so yes, I’m proud to say it. Indeed I am…

  18. Kim Lee says

    Behaind a lot of private film financing are scammers/con artists trying to make a fast few million bucks off of unsuspecting suckers. They have no plan to make a movie, they attach a couple of B rated Hollywood names to the film financing offer memorandum and if they manage to sucker in some poor souls for the financing they pay off the writer and their lawyer and take the rest of the money and run! Usually these scammers owe back taxes and all sorts of money to people. Bottom line, these kinds of film deals with no connections and poor film scripts with lousy plots are the reason why private films are not getting financed because they are crooks behind the project. Ever since Blair Witch Project raised 2M to shoot their film and got rich over night everyone and their uncle want in on the fast easy big cash. It’s all a scam and the investors never get a return on their money and they have signed off on their risk which is 100% their problem if the film is never made – and they never make the film.

  19. Jason Dale says

    That’s why we financed and completed our film “Fight the Panda Syndicate” entirely on our own. It may have taken four years to complete, but it employed the talents of over 450 artists, including the one and only wrestling legend King Kong Bundy, who took a chance on us and really delivered a tremendous performance. We needed that time to learn and grown as filmmakers too, and we were very happy with our product. Had we an advance budget larger than $50,000, we could have knocked this film out of the park in 6 months. Now, we are submiting to festivals, and we will see what happens. If the movie isn’t picked up, we are going to make another one. Why? Because we love the art of filmmaking and storytelling. The reason we have so many terrible movies out there today is because people aren’t in the industry for the right reasons. In response to Carl’s post… Carl, if you have ever seen The Producers, remember what Max says to Leo about the hat. ;) Once you’ve done it, no one can take it away from you, and you should be proud. To the author of this article, thanks for the venue to have this conversation. If anyone is interested in checking out our movie: http://www.crazyelkproductions.com. Take care for now!

    • Carl Borsing says

      Hmm, I don’t see, to remember that one, producers you say? ;) I do know that I’m working towards the completion of a film (probably a short film) for next years Nashville film festival, but I can honestly not say that why I’m persisting in doing so, I don’t have the faintest idea, except that lately I have discovered that I have always been a strong-minded creative person, a, well somewhat asocial artist ;). Because of this I was forced to brush up on scripting, camera techniques / video editing, 3D design/modeling and animation, narration/ singing. music / audio, and, and, I meant to say for two years now since (after I quickly discovered a new “Mickey-Mouse” allergy), escaped the local film co-op’s and other groups, swelling of wanna be producers and other, self appointed prima donna’s, since the only skill I’d ever learn there is self admiration (not something I need to be taught more of ;). Where was I, oh, seemed forced to tell my story in a pre-vizualisation format, which of cource means doing everything myself. I have uploaded some practice(!) animations with self produced music/vocals (hadn’t touched a keyboard in 20 years ;) on my YouTube account and would love to hear your comments
      http://www.youtube.com/user/wwwBorsingPhotoCom#p/a/u/2/bpJMMjr6IcI
      http://www.youtube.com/user/wwwBorsingPhotoCom#p/a/u/0/S_fAmRhwB2s
      Until then, happy producing everyone… :)

    • Som Vats says

      Once you’ve done it, no one can take it away from you, and you should be proud- Jason Dale

      Superb quote from you.Those woh love the art of making craft never dies.Salute you Jason.

  20. Eric Ambler says

    I haven’t tried any of these yet because I’m somewhat new to this field, just doing my research first. I’m hoping to create some pieces around social media ethics (I work with a nonprofit) and was inspired recently by a teaser I saw on youtube about this sort of thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcLE17a0v48 — very cool!
    Thank you Stacey for helping out…….Eric

  21. Rob Santana says

    Great site. Thanks. My film BOMBER JACKETS is an official entry to the 2012
    Golden Door FF in Jersey City, run by Bill and Paul Sorvino. But I’m not even sure where to begin
    to promote this film. My teaser/ trailer is up on Youtube, but that’s as far as its gone for now. I wonder
    if the local papers would be willing to do a write-up about the film. They’re very choosy.

  22. jeremiah whitten says

    As a founder of a nonprofit that works with victims of sexual slavery in California, I have a passion for changing minds by touching hearts through media. I am currently promoting our free, 8 minute, theatrical short entitled “Oblivion” and I will use these awesome strategies. If you want to help us end sex trafficking, and see a sweet film, check it out for free at:

    http://www.endtheoblivion.com
    or on youtube at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOB1ldkJ5Ys

    Thanks for your support

  23. Nigel says

    Hello Stacey,

    Your site is awesome, not sure about the pale blue though : )

    You are right, I think the magic bullet illusion can waste productive time and activities.

    The SA Film mob are not interested in my pitch or story which is a shame, because thats the natural and best production channel given the history and locations.

    I DO want to offload and sell my script because it represents a huge investment and two years work and I am NOT a film producer, I am a writer and researcher.

    Historic period is expensive and out of the rhealm of low budget but the story and script justifies a good investment so I agree and appreciate the advice of the steps listed.

    The other stumbling block is that this is a revised history and so pops into the rhealm perhaps of freaking out conservative and largely government funded agencies.

    My goal is to find an independent film maker fascinated by the secrets of South Australian history, to adapt the script without interrupting the core of the story being told, I actually love the Hollywood formulae as its efficient story telling method that suits feature film.

    Many people are fascinated by the story as much of it is untold and ask is there to be a book, but for me its all very dramatic, colourful and visual and lends itself most to the small or big screen.

    Cheers,

    Nigel

    I will now meander more of your site : )

  24. Nina says

    A suggestion though the approach may sound unconventional. Run surveys on social networking sites such as facebook, either with a first cut of the film or an image preview. Or, embed it with your blog on the relevant film. SoGoSUrvey is the best online survey tool I can think for, for you. It is affordable and has easy to create survey steps.

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