Tech Talk – Here comes a bunch of cliches: How not to market your film

I don’t like to write about negatives without a positive spin. Here’s a list of ways I see film makers doing their show an injustice through poor marketing practices with examples of shows that I think epitomise success in avoiding those pitfalls.

Making Ugly with a great marketing strategy!

  1. Start as you mean to finish – Have you observed what big shows do with their publicity? More often than not, they will start the buzz soon after if not before the show is green lit. Consider including on your crew a Producer of Marketing and Distribution (via Jon Reiss) to focus on developing and maintaining audience engagement from inception to release if not beyond. Kevin Smith did with Red State and he’s reaping the rewards at the box office.
  2. Ignore the obvious – Film marketing is about finding angles to get in front of your target audience. If you’re telling a story, you surely think it needs to be heard. Identify the unique aspects of your show and solicit press coverage that will garner the interest of people in your niches. Whether it’s the regional, cultural or social setting or even the cameras or film making style of your show there’s probably specific online and print resources, publications, and even experts or trendsetters who will take an interest in your work and tell their audiences about what you’re doing. Identifying and engaging with those resources will put bums on seats. I think the team at Making Ugly have done a great job at getting press coverage relevant to their show and the excitement for their film continues to grow because of it. Check out all their examples at Making Ugly Media Page.

    @shericandler Sheri Candler ( co author of Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul) @PSbyAY more emphasis on story angles for publicity. The fact that you made a film isn’t news, tho filmmakers think it is

    Robert McKillop and Richard Madden on Strays. Going somewhere.


  3. Fail to shine a light: You’ve cast the best and brightest actors, and crewed the greatest film makers you can attract. If you’re not using every opportunity to celebrate their achievements before, during and after your show has been completed you’re missing out on the opportunity to engage them in your marketing process and also access everyone with an interest in their work. When Stray‘s Director Robert McKillop and leading man Richard Madden were listed as Screen Daily: Stars of Tomorrow – the first person announcing it was Producer, Rob Watson. This was a great way of generating interest in this exceptional 16mm short film – just look at the talent behind it!
  4. Over cook it We know you’re excited about your show – your passion can be infectious, but it can be annoying sometimes too. There are many other ways of keeping your audience engaged without making the same announcements repeatedly and often. The same goes for continuously reaching out to your cast and crew and contacts to promote your show. We’re always happy to share the love with our friends, but many of us don’t like to treat our loved ones as a continous mailing (dare I say SPAM?) list for our pet projects. I think that the approach of Ladies and Gentlemen’s Robert S J Lucas was a very carefully balanced example of getting the mix right. We always knew where the show was at without having our mailboxes intruded upon with a stream of the same information over and over again.
  5. Write Marketing cheques your show can’t cash Film making is a challenging process particularly when you’re relying on favours or discounted rates from service providers. Post production is often a major sticking point and films can be on the cusp of a milestone for some time. I often see promises made then radio silence for months on end. When this happens too many times credibility can be lost. Find other ways of maintaining audience engagement with some of these tips rather than make promises you can’t keep.
  6. Take the kettle off the boil this is the flipside to my previous point. If you disappear off your audience’s radar we move on. Sometimes we even wonder whether the show will see the light of day. If you’ve kicked off your project with an eye to marketing (preferably by engaging a Producer of Marketing and Distribution) then you’ve got a stack of great ideas together for building the buzz for your show towards release with releases of stills, EPK and behind the scenes materials and interesting facts pertinent to the show.
  7. Tell the wrong thousand words with your pictures I often find myself cringing at the images released by some projects as part of their marketing strategy or just by over zealous crew members. On major motion pictures there is express stipulation that no personal photos are to be taken on set and a crew contract clauses that state that where this policy is breached the materials created belong to the production. The reason this is done is because personal photos can both compromise your marketing strategy and also make your show look unprofessional and unworthy of serious consideration. As a unit stills photographer, I’m passionate about the best representation of your show in still images. I’ll make your crew look great.