You’re passionate about filmmaking. You’ve made a film you’re proud of. How can you get the word out and actually get people to see it? You will need to market your film – and that means you have to do more than just post it once on Facebook or YouTube. Even if your film ends up at a festival or gets traditional distribution, you will need to get comfortable with self-promotion and marketing. Below are some tips to help you market your film effectively and use your networks without alienating people.
Establish an authentic social media presence first
Set up accounts on social media networks such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn BEFORE you begin marketing your film. Some people set up accounts for the film itself (as opposed to using their personal accounts), but you may reach fewer people this way. Think about what you think your followers want to see. What do YOU like to see from filmmakers you follow?
Share content you find interesting, informative or funny. Let people in on what the filmmaking process was like with specific anecdotes, photos, videos, etc. Followers can easily sniff out inauthenticity; they know when people are simply trying to sell them things, and they may tune you out if you ONLY post marketing content. We’ve all followed friends or filmmakers who use their social media platforms solely for promotion – think about how you responded to such content. Also, don’t forget to respond to others’ content – think of social media as a conversation, not a commercial or a one-way flow of information.
Don’t be afraid to market your film
While some filmmakers spam their networks with too much promotion, many writers and directors err on the side of promoting too little. If you’ve made something you’re proud of, you deserve to tell people about it! Don’t apologize or self-deprecate when you market your work. Also, keep in mind that not all of your followers will see all of your posts. Some of your Instagram followers may never go on Facebook, for example, and some of your Twitter followers probably don’t have Instagram.
Embrace tools such as Twitter Analytics to get a sense of how many people are actually seeing your Tweets. Even if you have 9,000 followers, a post might only early 3,000 impressions – meaning the majority of your followers did not see it. It’s ok to post similar marketing content again at a different time in a different way so that you reach other people.
Also, don’t be afraid to celebrate your victories – no matter how big or small. You don’t need to win an Oscar do be proud of what you’ve done. If you win a filmmaking grant, get accepted into a small festival or lab or receive a positive review from a blogger, let your followers know! Any news about your film is appropriate to use for marketing.
Be honest about what your film is
Don’t try to trick people into thinking your film is something it’s not in an effort to appeal to a broader audience. “You can’t bullsh*t,” says Dylan Marchetti, distributor of films such as King Jack and The Assassin. “There are two revelations: On social media, you can’t market a movie as anything other than what it is, because on Friday and on Saturday everyone’s like ‘guys, this movie’s terrible’… I’ve seen films drop 70% on second weekend because of Twitter.” Try to court audiences who will actually like what you’ve done and won’t feel duped.
Also, take time to create a clear logline and synopsis of your film. Have a short and long version you can send to people that clearly presents the film’s story, tone and genre (without spoilers).
Reach out to websites and influencers
See if you can get writers or influencers to post about your film. Offer to do interviews or write a guest post about your filmmaking experience. Engage with influencers in your specific filmmaking community – whether that is documentaries, shorts, feature films, sci fi, romance, etc. You can also write your own blog post or release your own YouTube video about the behind-the-scenes process of making your film. If people in the filmmaking community find your content helpful, they’ll be likely to spread the word.
Host an event
If you’re not getting much traction from behind your computer, consider hosting an in-person premiere or screening that you can invite friends and influencers to. Serve free food and drinks! While this might require a bit of a financial investment, it can give your marketing campaign a professional quality and make people excited about meeting you and seeing your film. Give your audience something they can post about to their own social networks. Plus, nothing compares to seeing a film on a big screen in a dark room!