As an indie filmmaker you have the excellent opportunity to engage directly with your fans so that they buy tickets and spread the word.
What is Film Marketing
Film Marketing is essential to create awareness of your project, build a fan base and the ultimate goal, sell tickets to your film.
With large budget productions, distributors spend up to 40% of the film total budget to promote a film (tv ads, billboards, corporate sponsorships), but with independent film distributors expect the filmmaker to do a major part of the film marketing.
You are responsible for making the film and selling it too
Film Marketing Goals
First you need to decide exactly what you want to achieve, why did you make your film.
- Film Festivals are for red carpet, fame, you need a technically outstanding film to win.
- To make big sales, you need a recognisable star that viewers know and want to see on screen.
- To change the world, you need to concentrate on the theme and a highly targeted audience
- If it's your first film and this is your showcase to make your next film, lots of self promotion.
The goal affects your marketing message
Film Hook or USP (Unique Selling Point)
Your film hook is what makes your film stand out above all others, what piques the interest of something new and valuable.
- Star Power: you have a A-list star or an Oscar winning Director, huge up.
- Niche Audience: a highly targeted audience like boxing, ballet, etc that you can market to online.
- Genre: audiences exist for slash horror, romantic comedy, action, etc
- Theme: some VOD platforms concentrate on spirituality, sports, Bollywood, etc
- Technical Innovation: the use of cgi, metaverse, something that excites tech enthusiasts
- Awards: won Cannes or Berlin Film Festival, people want to watch that excels
- Reviews: viewers often research up to 6 resources before watching a film, they count
How to Market a Film
Now that you have decided on your goal and what you USP (film hook is), you are going to come up with a film marketing timeline that tells a story and excites the potential viewer.
Over a period of time before release, drip feed images, videos and related content to get the audience feel involved and attached to the project.
Build a Brand
- Research your Film Title, super important
- Build a website: you can create your film page right here, with ease
- Social Identity: create social accounts that is uniform across your accounts
- Uniform: decide on font and colors so your content is easily recognisable
Who is your Film Audience
- Create a Persona, one unique person you know who will be a super fan
- Find Similar Films: watch what content they react to and what their needs are
- Calculate your Audience: if there are millions, your audience is too wide, you need to target a defined group
Create a Database
- Social Groups: join online groups where your audience hangs out
- Media: create a list of publications, blogs, tv talk shows, podcasts, etc for outreach
- Organisations: find organisations that are relate to your keywords, make a deal
- Newsletter: super important, no need to rely on algorithms, email your fans directly
- Video: you need a teaser, several trailers in different formats, ie YouTube and Instagram is different
- Assets: create visual and text assets that will resonate with your audience
- Images: images of key crew and cast, during production and on set
- Posters: several poster with text and without text
- Press Releases: prepare them in advance, example 'announcing production', 'star has signed up', etc
- Social Content: bring value to groups, become an expert in the field, only then you start film promotion
- Press Kit: your Press Kit is what you send to media, film festivals and distributors to get exposure
- IMDB Listing: the first thing media and distributors look at before they consider your film
Film Marketing Timeline
From the time you create the script to the time your film is watched by all of your intended viewers, marketing your film is the thread you must keep in mind.
On submitting your business plan to funders, grants or private equity, they going to ask you what is your marketing plan. You need to include your marketing plan, the intended audience and the strategy of how your going to reach your audience.
During Pre Production
- Analyze the script and decide which scenes will resonate with your audience.
- Decide on the branding of the film, theme, colors, and message.
- What are the tactics to reach your audience
- What percentage of your total production budget are you going to spend on marketing
Analyzing the Script
The genre and theme of the film is what is going to attract audiences, so which scenes are going to resonate with the viewer, where they feel an emotion. Decide on 3 to 5 scenes you going to concentrate on, for which you need images, video and text to use during your campaign.
Branding your Film
Now that you have chosen scenes, you need to be consistent with your brand. What colors are you going to use, the font on your poster and images, what words are triggers for your audience. Make a list of keywords that you can later embellish into social posts and press releases.
The list of keywords above is going to drive your film strategy and where you going to find them. Example if your film is a teen comedy, you most likely to use Tiktok or Instagram, but if your audience is a more mature audience, you likely to do your promo's on Facebook.
Huge blockbusters like James Bond films go into the millions of dollars, on average 50% of the total budget. On an independent film you should not go less than 30% as you need to do a lot of outreach to get a dedicated audience excited.
- Schedule the set photographer
- Schedule cast photography in costume for head shots
- Schedule interviews with cast and key crew
The Set Photographer
You need raw high resolution photography to use for your posters, marketing materials and backdrops for television interviews.
It is advisable to rent a portrait studio to take head shots of your key cast (in costume) so that your brand stays consistent.
Behind the Scenes
Get high resolution photography and video of behind the scenes, the making of, interviews with the cast and crew.
During Post Production
- Compile your marketing materials
- EPK Kit
You need to keep in mind your teasers, trailers and social marketing serve different purposes. Submitting a trailer to a film festival could look vastly different to a teaser on Twitter. Create as many 1, 5, 10, 30 and 90 second videos as you can.
Teaser vs Trailer
A Teaser is a short video that gives a taste of the feel of the film, a trailer is designed to tell a story without giving the end away.
Film Press Kit
Your Film EPK Kit is what you send to film festivals and the media to engage press.
You need to be specific in your marketing, how, why, when and where you going to reach your audience.
Tips to Promote your Film
- Keep an open mind, you might be targeting a certain audience, and find there is a new target
- Watch for other films in the same genre that might be releasing the same time as you
- Be realistic, your audience is as big as your budget and the time you spend on film marketing
How to Promote your Film
- Start the promotion of your film early, with a clear goal of what you want to achieve
- Find your Audience, engage and learn their language, what excites them
- Build relationships with the media, influencers and true fans
- Prepare your Film Press Kit and Media assets with your audience in mind