Recently, we took you through a handy timeline for publicity and social media of your film at the various stages of production. We then broke it down even further to talk about the pivotal preparation needed from pre-production through to filming in order to put your best foot forward further down the track. Now, it’s time to give you some ideas about how to make the most of publicity and social media from post-production through to release.
In the post-production period, many films opt to crowdfund for post-production funds to finish the film, and this in itself can prove to be another opportunity to grow your social media audience and media exposure whilst securing your funds. If you’ve prepped thoroughly during pre-production through filming, chances are you have a wealth of materials available that you can use to let people know about the film, both on your crowdfunding page and via social media and regular media. People don’t like being bombarded with constant links to crowdfunding campaigns on social media, so if you can keep the consistent tone you have developed on your social media platforms from day one, you don’t run the risk of having people ‘switch off’ or unfollow. Yes, you can direct people to your crowdfunding campaign, but it doesn’t have to be done in a ‘salesy’ way.
When it comes to blogs, thankfully there are independent film blogs out there that often have sections dedicated to crowdfunding projects, and it’s a good idea to seek them out during the campaign. We’ve mentioned before that IndieWire has a special section called Project of the Day which is great exposure for your film.
If you’re not crowdfunding for post-production funds in post-production, it’s a good time to keep your social media audience updated, especially if you have chosen to submit to festivals prior to releasing your film to a general audience. Make sure you schedule in any film festivals your film has been accepted to, and keep people up to date on social media and via your website. You can have a page on your website which links to your festival appearances to make it even easier for people to know when and where they can see your film and book tickets. If you have the budget and ability to travel to festivals, it’s worth asking the festival co-ordinators if you can distribute a one-sheet of the film to people who are seeing your film. That way they have something tangible they can take with them and hopefully talk about on social media.
During the pre-release phase, it’s a good time to reach out to reviewers. That way if they love your film it can provide you with quotes that can be put on future marketing materials and your website. I suggest asking permission to use quotes from the review prior to doing so- this is usually not a problem, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and shows that you value their writing. Let’s face it- there are some absolutely incredible reviewers out there and they do an incredible job so you want to make sure they’re happy.
Pre-release is also a good time to start pitching to media outlets for interviews and/or features. Why pre-release as opposed to release with an indie film? Editorial calendars are very tightly packed and booked far in advance, with things like blockbuster films taking prominence. Be aware of when large film festivals are taking place during the year as well, as this will also dictate the media calendar. I suggest approaching large media outlets three months from your film’s release, that way if a journalist’s interest is piqued by your film there is plenty of wiggle room to organise an interview/feature. When it comes to TV and newspaper newsrooms, it’s worth noting times when staffing is affected by holidays, as they may be working on a skeleton staffing schedule (especially over the Christmas period, more so if it’s in the Southern Hemisphere where it’s summer in December) . It’s definitely worth getting involved with regional news outlets and community newspapers, especially if you’ve filmed in a particular region. Quite often here in NZ it hits the news when foreign film crews are in the country (for instance, the latest instalment in the Mission: Impossible franchise were on location in NZ recently), but even if you’re from the same country/state/region, having a film crew filming in the area can be of great interest.
When it comes to your film’s release, it’s all systems go! By this stage you hopefully have reviews that you can share with your social media followers, interviews or features, and hopefully some festival laurels as well. You can still continue pitching for reviews and features at this stage, but this is best reserved for film blogs and podcasts as they can be more flexible than large media outlets when it comes to being able to fit a review or feature into their editorial schedule.
Don’t forget local groups and organisations, especially if you have a film that is suitable for a particular group, interest or demographic. Got a film with an astronomy theme? See if you can have information about the film posted in the newsletters of local and national astronomical societies. If you haven’t secured a distributor and you are self-distributing, think about having small exclusive screenings in places that are relevant to your film. Let’s go with the astronomy theme again for a moment: you arrange with the local astronomical society to have an exclusive screening and Q&A with the director at the local planetarium or society headquarters (make sure you have someone on standby to post on social media, e.g. live tweet the Q&A, post pictures on Instagram etc!). Have one-sheets on hand for the viewers to take with them, and if you have physical DVD/Blu-ray copies of the film you could get your director and/or cast to sign the covers and then have a giveaway during the event. Or perhaps your film is a documentary about an aspect of the fair trade coffee industry. Contact a local fair trade coffee company and ask if they will sponsor a screening and Q&A with free samples of their coffee, or a coffee tasting event. With these sorts of events it’s definitely worthwhile sending out a number of invitations to local media, reviewers and social media influencers so they can not only talk about the film but talk about the event as well.
And don’t forget- people love freebies! It’s worth making up special PR packages for social media influencers or to be given away as prizes via film websites and blogs. A copy of the film, a unique postcard, a t-shirt with a catchy phrase that displays the release date of your film- the options are as endless as your imagination.
Publicity and social media for your film doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be creative, energizing and a lot of fun, but you do need to put in the groundwork to maximise your success. Good luck!