This article is a collection of notes along with my own thoughts and insights thrown in from a book called, “The Complete Independent Movie Marketing Handbook” by Steven Bosko. If you find this article helpful, I highly recommend grabbing the book since this article only scratches the surface on independent film marketing and distribution.
What you will learn
- How to do film marketing
- Defining your movie in one power sentence
- Understanding who your target audience is
- The types of distribution outlets
The goal of this article is to go over marketing techniques that any filmmaker at any level of experience can apply.
Let me start off by saying that, you’ll need to develop a thick skin when trying to do movie marketing. You are going to hear a lot of people saying the magical word, ‘NO’ many times. And it’s important not to be offended by it or get mad. Your movie simply may not be what a potential distributor was looking for, simple as that.
As a filmmaker, you may have spent countless hours, if not years developing your movie. So maybe you’ve built up an emotional attachment to your movie. But when it comes to business, especially film marketing, you have to put those emotions aside and think more logically.
You have to understand that your movie is not this fancy art piece, but a product. This is how the people who will distribute your movie will think about your movie. Not as this amazing creative achievement that will change the world or blow everyone’s mind away! But as a potential money-making product. At the end of the day, you’re a business person, you just created an amazing product and now it’s time to share it with the world.
With that, let’s dive into the world of marketing and what to expect and what you should be doing.
Start promoting your movie as soon as possible. Even if you haven’t written the first draft yet, you should already be creating buzz. But, let’s say you already have a completed movie, it’s a good idea to find the marketable areas about your movie before you create a massive promotional campaign.
As a creative filmmaker, you may believe that the beautiful cinematography, awe-inspiring performances or the incredible script is what will sell the movie. But the reality is, you can promote your movie successfully even without those elements.
There is most likely some element of your movie that that will generate a positive response from potential consumers, distributors or even the media. Once you’ve discovered what that is about your movie, promote the crap out of it! Sometimes, it’s not the most obvious thing you thought would attract people to your movie, but whatever it is, milk it for all it’s worth.
What did you create?
Being able to describe your movie in one complete concise sentence is incredibly powerful. Here’s an example,
King Kong is the exciting story of a giant prehistoric ape, stolen from a tropical refuge, struggling to survive in modern-day New York City.
Bam! That’s it. That simple sentence would tell anyone within a few seconds what your movie is about. It’s easy to share and captures your attention. That’s what movie marketing is all about, capturing people’s attention or better yet, their imagination!
Creating a concise sentence like the one above allows you to focus on the heart and soul of your movie. It might take you some time to create one, but that’s okay because once you got that perfect line, that’s what will become the basis of your promotional campaign.
Some exercises to help write your power sentence.
- What is the basic structure? (Feature-length, short film, documentary, etc.)
- What is the main genre?
- What is the emotional purpose of your movie? (Entertain, laugh, cry, educate, etc.)
- Describe the principal characters of your story. (Fictional, historical, human, animal, etc.)
- What is the main plot of the story?
- Does the project deal with current events, fad, pop culture or a specific audience group?
- Does the film have expensive visual effects, settings, costumes?
- What is the time frame of the movie? (Past, present or future)
- Why should the audience care?
- Who is your ideal audience member?
The worst mistake any filmmaker can make is to believe your movie is for everyone. That your film includes every genre, every possible plot, attracts every possible audience. Please…avoid this urge. Be realistic. You can still achieve massive success by narrowing down who your movie is designed for. In fact, you’ll probably achieve significantly more success by narrowing down your movies core audience than assuming your movie is meant for all life forms.