The Film Festival Marketing Approach

sundance_film_festival_egyptian_theater_03Film festivals are definitely one approach to market and showcase your film and one I would encourage any filmmaker to consider.  But using that as your sole approach can backfire.  Let’s say one of your primary goals is to show your film at film festivals, particularly at the top festivals.  Fine, the film festival route is certainly a viable one when it comes to promoting and marketing your film, but keep in mind that’s not the only route.  Plenty of independent films land a distributor or self distribute and find an audience going different routes altogether.  Regardless of whether you go the film festival route or have another strategy, you should start thinking about your film’s marketing and release strategy as soon as possible.  If you’re smart, you’ll start before the screenplay is finished, certainly before the first frame has been shot.

Remember, the PR & marketing can be the engine that drives the project.  It can open doors to distribution, financing and build your audience base.  Keep your options open every step of the way.  As I mentioned earlier festivals are one approach, but not the only one.  Let’s say  you’re working on a documentary; you have a number of distribution and showing possibilities from the festivals, to theatrical to outside the box screenings at schools, museums, organizations and churches.  Often these types of screenings can run even during a festival showing.

One way festivals can help, is they are great places for forming relationships with others involved in various aspects of the film process.  This can be particularly helpful for producers and filmmakers who are going to self distribute their film.  Filmmakers now need to take a more active role in the marketing, public relations, and distribution of their films and festivals can definitely help forge important relationships.

But there can also be a downside to festivals.  It’s possible to get locked in the film festival loop and not look at alternative, creative ways to market, show and showcase your film.  Even if your film is accepted to one or more, that in itself does not guarantee your film will succeed. Too many film producers base their entire marketing strategy on being accepted by a festival.  If it turns out no festival bites, which happens a fair amount of time, these filmmakers are left with no alternate strategy.  They are more or less stranded and left with no alternate approach.  You don’t want to find yourself in that position.

My advice is to begin on day one with a PR and marketing strategy that goes forward whether or not your film finds its way to a festival.  Regardless of the direction you choose to take, get your PR and marketing gameplan in place, start your PR outreach and launch your filmmaking journey.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2013

Cresswell, Jackson. “Sundance London Film Festival is Launching in April 2012.” Collider. 15, Mar 2011. 19 Apr 2013. <>

Producing A Film? Create Your PR Plan First

Film PRMaking a film can be a magical experience, but  many filmmakers get so excited about and engrossed in the making of their film that they forget producing their film is only step one.  Actually the production of your film should be pretty far down the line in your film to-do list.  Particularly when it comes to new filmmakers, the excitement of making a film, and all that is involved in scripting, pre-producing, casting, production and post production, has a tendency to become all consuming.  Creating the film becomes everything.  But here’s the question, what are you going to do once your film (filled with joy, enthusiasm and dreams as well as blood sweat and tears) is completed.  How are you going to get your film, promoted, marketed, distributed?  How are you going to build that bridge between your finished product and your audience?

If this article were actually a script, we’d be having a flashback sequence here.  We flash back to the incarnation of your project.  We would fade back to before you edited, shot, cast, or wrote your film and add a new focus to the process.  In this sequence your new flash back approach in the past would change your future.  You’d figure out a game plan outlining how to PR, promote and market your film.  Your new public relations plan would act as a guide, as a roadmap as you moved forward in your filmmaking process.  It would be a bridge-building process between you, your audience, distributors, potential investors and influences.  It would be the focus that helped insure your film would have a strong shot at succeeding.

So many filmmakers come to me after they’ve finished their film.  They’ve been so wrapped in the process and the project has inevitably gone over budget.  They didn’t consider a marketing campaign before they started production and now have very little money left for marketing.   There’s often little I can do for them at that point.  Those I have most success with either start with me during pre-production, or from the start realized that marketing was an essential part of the game plan and kept that in mind during the production process.

Ideally you want to start promoting your film and creating a buzz online and in the media before you finish shooting or editing your project.  A well thought out media relations and social media campaign can serve you in a number of ways.  Keep in mind, depending on your needs; you are going to be addressing different audiences with your media relations campaign.   One outreach could be directed to the general public, another to a more targeted grout of viewers, another to distributors and still another to possible investors.  You can also start creating a buzz for upcoming projects while promoting your current film.

So dive into your film project.  Make the very best film you can.  But be smart about it.  Make a PR and marketing campaign an essential part of your film’s game plan.  You don’t want to end up with a film that a few of your friends see, or gathers dust in your home, or gets submitted to a few film festivals and then fades away.  You’ve put your heart, soul, time and money into your film project.  You now owe it to the film and to yourself to give it a chance to succeed.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012

How to PR Blitz Your Indie Film

Film festivals can be seductive; there are now more avenues to get your feature film viewed.  In reality, that has its upside and its downside.  Hundreds of films are now shown at film festivals and nowhere else.  Whereas it’s great that filmmakers are able to have their projects shown at festivals, those showings can also give a false sense of security.  As a producer, you may feel that something is moving forward where it may not be.  And chances are it won’t be if you simply show at a festival and leave it at that. Let’s say you do get your film into a festival, are showing it online, have clips up on YouTube, or have a dynamite website up describing your film.  That’s simply step one, now you need to work it!  Don’t simply wait for the public, or distributors or producers to find you.  Chances are they won’t. Now that it’s produced, you’re job is to shepherd your project, get it viewed, get it noticed, create a buzz.

Let’s say you do get your film into a festival, are showing it online, have clips up on YouTube, or have a dynamite website up describing your film.  That’s simply step one, now you need to work it!  Don’t simply wait for the public, or distributors or producers to find you.  Chances are they won’t. Now that it’s produced, you’re job is to shepherd your project, get it viewed, get it noticed, create a buzz.

The best method I’ve found to successfully market and promote a film, is a combination of social media, blogging and traditional and online PR.  Producing, directing or acting in your film is only step one.  Once you’ve actually produced it your real work starts.  The creative labor of love is over and the marketing labor of love needs to take over.  The following is a check list of PR and marketing moves to consider in order to maximize your chances of having your film succeed.

1) If you’re accepted to a film festival, market it; pass out fliers, postcards, etc.  Do some basic initial guerilla marketing.

2) Brainstorm and come up with ideas and angles that you can pitch to the media.  If there is an event, or photo shoot, or stunt that you can direct them to, give it a shot. Come up with a number of story and pitch angles about the film, the journey and the making of the film, the actors, director, producer, etc.

3) Look for tie-ins with current media stories.  The bottom line is– be creative!  Don’t just focus on the entertainment angle, try to come up with some topical or human interest pitches as well.

4) Come up with a compelling one-page press release on your film and send it out to the local media, entertainment media, blogs, online publications, freelance writers.  Send it out to anyone you feel could help get the word out.

5) Create a media list of the media you’re most interested in seeing the film.  Send them the release, but also make sure and make follow up phone calls to verbally pitch them.  To be honest, releases are important, but you never know if they’re actually read.  You need to contact the media to make sure they received the release, understand the pitch and realize why this could be such a great story for them to cover.

Chances are this film has been a labor of love; it’s cost you blood, sweat, tears and cash.  Now you owe it to yourself and to your film to give it a real shot to succeed.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011


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