It’s a sad fact of filmmaking, but almost 75% of filmmakers I have encountered in my life have no idea how to treat their film when its finished. How to get it seen, how to build an audience. Distribution is another country, a topic I will discuss in a later post. The biggest issue with this is that as a result, that same 75% of filmmakers have also not budgeted for it. So here are my top tips to get your film noticed.
Yes, I mentioned it earlier, but a budget for a film should be divided three ways. 50% should be allocated to the film, 25% should be allocated to post-production and then a further 25% should be used for marketing, this includes festivals. So if you have $10,000 dollars you need to hold back $2,500 for what happens after your film is shot and edited. Whether your films destination is distribution, self-distribution or Youtube the same laws apply to all. Even How too guides on Youtube require a little budget.
To make what follows easier to comprehend we will scale everything that follows down to $2,500 the remainder from the $10,000 quoted budget, scale yours appropriately from this.
Growing your following will require you needing at the very least a Facebook Page, for which you will need artwork. You could make the artwork yourself, but to get the real traction you need it must look good, nobody is going to spend time looking at your page if it looks shoddy. Have a look at products such as Canva, this is a nice basic design program. Alternately check out designers on Fiverr, ideally hunting down those that have experience with film work, they may need some production stills to make their life easier. Although the pitfall of this is ideally you need your Facebook page in place before shooting as a much as a scene, so you could have to create a look pre and during filming. Budget $200 dollars for this which leaves you with $2,300.
This is really hard, because you need to do two things with a press release, one is tell a story, two is have a hook. Because if you do not have one or the other you are doomed to failure when you put your film out there. Your press releases should start the minute you’re going ahead with your project, and its best to start local. Local community websites, printed and online news portals are the best place to start, but here is the catch, you need to prepare different press releases for each avenue, the reason is that local press is lazy and if your press release works for them, they will most likely to post it as is. With local press its often first to the print or upload that runs the story, if the press release you sent is the same one of two things will happen, they won’t run it as a rival publication has already ran it, or worse still they run the same article and the impact and Google ranking play off each other lowering its impact and Google ranking. Its best to head on over to Fiverr again and pay two different bloggers specialists to write two different versions of your release, unless of course you feel you ca do it yourself. I mentioned the hook earlier, here are examples of a good hook – Age vs Filmmaking Experience, a casting decision (this could include casting someone who might not normally be cast), a totally new topic (harder to achieve), budget, film location of the area your filming has significant local interest, a known outcome (should you be fortunate enough to have an end game).
You should have a plan to make three different press releases, one at the point before you start shooting, one during shooting and one at completion as you prepare to release the film. Allow $300 for press releases for each stage. Leaving you with $2000.
An important aspect of your next stage is gaining a social media following, all your press releases should link to your Facebook Page, Website (if you have one) or other social media channels. You then need to build on that, encourage your friends and family to like your films page. You should then review a strategy to grow your page outside of your social circles and whatever the press has drawn to your page. So maybe you boost specific posts or maybe you promote your page. You are going to need to budget at least $300 to your social media activity, regardless of how good your social media skills are, because festivals and distributors will pay attention to your social media presence. This leaves you with $1700.
If your film is the sort of thing that could go to a festival, not just Youtube, you need to utilise this platform. But don’t focus your money on the big festivals, this will almost always end in tears. Look at what fellow filmmakers are doing at the same level in the industry as you, most of them will have found you by now via friend requests or followings. Look at what festivals they are submitting to and been accepted for, this is a good place to start. Never overestimate the value of your first-time film, hit low end and mid-range festivals only, ignore Cannes, London, Tribecca, Venice and the like; Filmmaking is a refined skill and these places will generally only accept your film if a end result by a distributor has already been decided. You should budget $1500 on this, because this is the best way to grow your films reputation. If you are in the same country as the festival, be prepared to travel to it, it’s incredibly bad practice not to show up to a film festival when it does not require you leaving the country. Festivals can allow you to network and create fans that will remember you forever. You should also be aware that most festivals require a DCP (Digital Cinema Package), which you can create yourself or get someone to make for you.
You now need to look at industry publications, or top film reviewers but again you’ll need a good catch to get their attention beyond just a link so they can view the film. Use your remaining $200 to get someone to write a killer hook for those publications again Fiverr is possibly a good place to check. Do your research and send away, media press often comes thick and fast, but remember this is where the bad news could start.
Once you have done all of these things its worth considering self-distribution, check out this article to see if Amazon Prime is a route for you.
About the Creator
I'm a fiftysomething guy with a passion for films, travel and gluten free food. I work in property management, have a history in television presentation and am a multi award wining filmmaker, even though my films are/were all trash.