Wednesday, September 30, 2009
HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR FILM AT HIFF (AND OTHER FILM FESTIVALS)
I'm covering The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) for QPORIT, and I've also covered the Tribeca Film Festival, The New York Film Festival, The Stony Brook Film Festival, New Films / New Directors and others. Here's what I've learned from good examples, and bad examples, of how you -- the film producer, director, actor, or other involved filmer -- can help your film (and you, yourself, too) get noticed.
The following stuff is pretty basic, yet I see many films that have done none of these things, and few -- except big studio films -- that have done very many of these things. Most of these suggestions are neither very hard nor very expensive, and they can pay off big.
1 -- Hire a good publicist. They should be able to spend a lot of time for you, and come to HIFF with you. And they should know their way around. They should be able to help with all the following:
2 -- Have a good press kit, including bios, info describing the film, and lots of great pix. I prefer essays (by the Producer, Director, Actors etc --PDAetc) -- that can be quoted to copies of interviews, because someone else's interview is of little use to anyone writing an original story.
3 -- The press kit should be available online (see below for online suggestions), and in print form at the festival HQ and at the screenings.
4 -- Send a note to all the accredited press (and industry pros!) before the festival alerting them to your film -- including some info about the film, and possibly a picture-- offering screeners, and alerting them to possible interviews.
5 -- Take as many people to the festival as possible (including the publicist, director, producers, actors, etc...). Make sure you co-ordinate with the PR Group handling the festival! Go to all the parties with everyone from the film. Having identified the look of a press badge, split up and have everybody zero in to schmooze with anybody from the press... and anyone else, too. Make yourselves available for every possible photo and video opportunity.
5A -- Of course, be at all the screenings of the film with people from the film. Be available for photos, video and interviews before and after. Introduce the film before it screens, and hold a Q & A after. Hang around with people after the Q & A.
6 -- All the PDAetc should send a note to everyone they know inviting them to the screenings at the festival.
7 -- Follow up after the festival with anyone you met (or should have met).
HERE'S WHAT SHOULD BE ONLINE
YOU SHOULD CREATE OR PROVIDE INFORMATION FOR THE FOLLOW TYPES OF ONLINE PRESENCE:
- Official film website
- The websites of the Producer, Distributor, PR company, Cast & Crew members.
- IMDB & IMDBPro
- Channel on YouTube & other video sites
- An e-mail newsletter as your film moves toward release is also valuable.
These sites should contain (as appropriate for the type of site)
- Full credits for cast crew & producer/distributor/PR (IMDB & IMDBPro type complete)
- Awards, any other special honors
- Director's essay
- Evolving gossip & trivia & "reports from the front" esp on Twitter, Blog, etc
- Production stills & other pix people can use
- Videos (previews & trivia) on YouTube etc that are embeddable.
- Links from each site to all the others.
- Links to articles about the film
- Release info
- Contact info: for consumers, for the industry, for press
To sum it up, everyone involved with the film should let as many people as possible know about the film, and then make it as easy as possible for journalists to write great stories (and for buyers to buy, & viewers to come see your film)!
NOTES OCT 10 -- Here are some additional thoughts I've had after several days here in the Hamptons.
1 -- At the Opening Night Party, photographers and journalists with cameras are hungry to take pictures, and editors are most likely to use some great picture from Opening Night. Moreover, not many of the big stars seem to show up at this party, and they don't stay long. SO... Come to the Opening Night Party looking fantastic, and step in front of the Picture Background. Make sure the photographers and cameras all find you. Be sure to carry around business cards and postcards for the film. The postcard should have a compelling picture on one side, and lots of info on the other side (Name --yes, people have forgotten to put the name on the postcard -- Tagline, Short Synopsis, Director and Star credits, SCREENING TIMES AT THE FESTIVAL!, PR contact, etc.)
2a -- Always carry around a business card and postcards (as described above).
2b -- Put postcards anywhere people will be.
3 -- If you schedule an interview, especially on weekends, make sure the press has a phone number to contact in case some problem arises at the last minute. (OK, I couldn't find the place an interview was to take place, and it took frantic work to chase down and hook up with the subjects.)
4 -- People make schedules in advance. Send advisories to the press early, and keep following up. If you wait till the festival starts, people will have already planned something else. If you don't remind them, they'll forget about you and impulsively change their plans.
5 -- When you meet a journalist be sure to give them a business card and postcard. Be sure to get one from them. Don't forget to send them a note after the festival. Find out when their article is published. Make sure they keep in touch as your film moves toward release, and as you move to other projects.