How to Get Eyeballs on Your Indie Film
So you’ve made your indie film and you want to move on to the next step – getting your film seen. Two words, film marketing. There are two ways in which you can do this, though you can do both of them if you wish to do so.
Youtube & Vimeo
Some of the best film marketing you can get is free. Youtube and Vimeo are the top two choices when it comes to sharing your videos online. There are others, but how many people do you know that use any of them? This explains why it is best to stick with these two – it is where they are most likely to be seen.
Youtube is great because it has the numbers, but there is the problem of other videos being advertised once yours is finished. Go with a Vimeo Plus account and you get to control what is shown at the end of your video, with the best option being a link to your website, though you could also list other videos you have online if you prefer.
The biggest drawback you will have when it comes to placing your film online for all to see, is that some film festivals will not be willing to show your film if it is already available. Many film festivals work due to their exclusivity, marketing themselves as the place to go if you want to see these films.
So, if you are going to be looking at the next option, you should think carefully before placing your film online. I know, you’re excited that your baby is finally complete and you want to share that excitement with others. One way you can get around this is to create a trailer that can be shared. In fact, this is something that you should do anyway, whether you are looking at film festival submissions or not.
Film festivals are a good option when it comes to film marketing if you want to be seen as a serious filmmaker. Just being able to say that your film is an official selection at a festival can cause you to be taken more seriously and, if you win any awards, then that can open up a variety of doors for you.
There is a big problem with film festivals though and that is the amount of money that it will cost you to submit to them, even just a handful of festivals could cost you in excess of $500. If you want to make a real splash in the world of the film though this can run into thousands of dollars and all without any guarantees that your film will even be shown at a single festival.
One option is to make sure that you always submit your film during the opening period of a festival’s submission process. Doing this can save you an amazing amount of money. No matter how good you feel a festival is, there are more out there that you could submit to, and depending on the savings, you could easily submit to five of them at the early bird price, rather than one at a later stage.
There is another option though and you could find that this allows you to submit to more than you could ever afford to otherwise unless you are extremely well funded. You can simply request a waiver from the fees.
Get Free Entry To Film Festivals
You may think that film festivals receive so many waiver requests, that you could not possibly receive free entry to them. You would be wrong by making that assumption. As the director of several smaller film festivals, I will often offer waivers to films I like the sound off and, sometimes, to films that I may be unsure of but who contacted us in a way that showed a professional approach.
This is the important thing to remember – a professional approach.
We receive many waiver requests on our own festivals and I’m writing this next section solely on my experience with these requests, sharing what worked and what didn’t work. I understand how difficult it can be, I’m also a filmmaker myself.
These are the steps that I suggest you take when it comes to requesting a waiver from a film festival:
- Decide exactly what it is that you want to say
- Write to the decision-maker at the festival
- Name the festival in your email
- Include the following:
- Film details
- Link to a trailer
- Number of festivals who have selected your film
- Any awards won
- REAL Testimonials
You want to keep the email as short as you possibly can whilst, at the same time, ensuring that you include as much pertinent information as possible. You want the festival to offer you a free waiver and this is your one shot, so make the most of it.
You would be surprised by some of the waiver requests we receive. Strangely, we receive at least 50% of these from Iran, but they always seem to say the same thing, so there is nothing new. Rarely do these emails ever include any information about the film, they are just an attempt to appeal for a waiver due to restrictions in the country.
Another example and the worst we receive is not as common but it does happen at least once a month. We receive an email where everything is written in the subject line – the entire message. Then the only thing written in the message itself is a link to the film. This is a terrible idea, as it means that there is no way to read the entire message, not that we try too hard, and the email at first appears to be just a link. There is no message of gratitude at all – just a link.
So the message here is to make sure the festival wants to read your email and understands it.
You may not always have the name of the person you need to contact at a film festival, but if you can find it, then this can make an instant reaction in the reader, as it shows that you have taken the time to research the festival. This can be easily done if you use Film Freeway, as you will find the name on the left side of the festival screen.
The same goes for mentioning the festival name in your email and, if you have the time, you can also explain why you feel your film will fit in well with the festival. Don’t worry, if you are just mentioning the name and the festival, you can do this by using mail merge, so you don’t have to send each email separately.
Final Thoughts on Film Marketing
You want to explain what your film is about in a succinct way. They do not need to know the full summary, but enough to know if it is a good fit for the festival. As well as writing this, a link to a trailer is always a good idea. If you do not have a trailer, then you should create one, even if your film is very short. A festival is far more likely to look at a trailer than view a full film.
You can include a link to the film itself, but you may want to say that you can send this to them. This would work well for you, as it then starts some form of relationship between you and the festival.
If your film has already been selected to be screened at other film festivals, then this information should be included. The fact that others are showing your film is a sign that it is screen-worthy. In the end, this is the first priority with a festival.
If your film has already been screened and you have won any awards, or have received nominations, then make sure that this is included in your email. This takes the previous point and grows on it.
Testimonials are always a good thing, but they must be real and not something said by your friends and family. If you say something that, once the film is viewed, is blatantly false, then this will likely cause your film to be dropped from the running.
Finally, you should include information on the cast and crew if any of them have been involved in previously successful films or TV shows. This shows that if selected, your film has some marketing value. If you are able to go to the festival and are happy to take part in Q&A sessions, then let the festival know, especially if it is a smaller film festival.
There is a simple rule, always keep it professional when film marketing but, once you are speaking with the festival then follow their lead. With our festivals, we tend to speak in friendly terms with filmmakers, even joking with them and it is good when the filmmakers do the same, but other festivals keep it all very serious at all times, so a filmmaker acting in that way could be bad. All film festivals are different, so always keep that in mind.
I’m always happy to answer any questions on film festivals or film marketing, so please ask away in the comments section and I will answer when I can.
About the Author: Joe Jenkins (aka The Mystic Mongoose at karaoke) is the director of the Indieola Film Festivals and runs Moonworks Media, which is a new production company. He is currently working on a new series of paranormal short films called ‘The Paranormal’
Filmtrepreneur Library: Required Reading
- Independent Ed: What I Learned from My Career of Big Dreams, Little Movies, and the Twelve Best Days of My Life
- The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking: An Insider’s Guide to Making Movies Outside of Hollywood
- Like Brothers: The Rise of the Duplass Brothers
- Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story)
- Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player
- The Cheerful Subversive’s Guide to Independent Filmmaking: From Preproduction to Festivals and Distribution
- Produce Your Own Damn Movie!
- Get Your Free Filmmaking Audiobook
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Stuff You Need in Your Life:
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Book: Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story)