Coronavirus and Cancelled Film Festivals: Where to Now?

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Last year was my first experience with SXSW, albeit in a remote capacity. Film Sprites PR was providing social media marketing for independent film Alice in the run-up to and duration of the Festival. The micro-budget first feature from Josephine Mackerras would win Best Narrative Feature and the inaugural CherryPicks Female First Award. It was a true honour to assist a filmmaker in an arena like SXSW; a Festival I had long admired.

News of the cancellation of SXSW 2020 hit me harder than I’d expected. I didn’t have any films in the Festival (either as a publicist or producer), but my heart immediately went out to every filmmaker whose film had been selected for the Festival this year. In particular, reading filmmaker Cooper Raiff’s comments in the IndieWire article about the cancellation put a huge lump in my throat. I think my heart broke further for filmmakers in that moment.

In addition to SXSW, there has also been the cancellation of the Cleveland International Film Festival, also due to Coronavirus. This, and the cancellation of SXSW 2020 is a wise decision from a disease control point-of-view, but let’s face it: it sucks. It’s a terrible situation to be in if you’re a filmmaker whose film was selected; especially if it’s your first film or your first time being selected for a Festival (or both).

EDIT: at the time of posting, the Beverly Hills Film Festival, the Full Frame Festival and the New York Children’s Film Festival had also cancelled their events due to COVID-19 fears. Denmark’s Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival has cancelled their physical event and is now planning a virtual stand-in.

So what can we do as a community to assist these filmmakers?

Thankfully the response has been overwhelming. Here’s a few alternatives that have arisen as a response to the SXSW cancellation (note: I will be adding to these regularly as new initiatives arise):

– On Twitter, the #SXSW2020 hashtag has yielded an incredible amount of reviewers who have offered to review and promote films which were going to be screened at the Festival. If you had a film that was playing at the Festival, search the hashtag and you’ll find some really thoughtful reviewers who want to help boost the signal. As I stated above, there are several other Festivals which have also been cancelled, so I encourage people who had films in these Festivals to also do a Twitter search based on posts about these Festivals to see if there are reviewers wanting to also boost the signal.

Stage 32 is offering a place to showcase SXSW 2020 projects. Stage 32 has “a global community of over 600,000 members, which includes distributors, buyers and sales agents, as well as hundreds of executives and educators who work with Stage 32 including managers, agents, financiers, development execs, and producers.” There is no fee for this service.

– If you run a film review site and haven’t offered to showcase selected films from cancelled Festivals, please think about doing so. Many Festival selections receive a boost from not only their selection at a Festival, but the reviews they receive. It’s also a great opportunity to forge a relationship with up-and-coming filmmakers and support their work going forward.

– If you have a film which was scheduled to play at any of the cancelled festivals mentioned above, contact us with your film’s trailer, your social media handles and a press kit and we will boost the signal through our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram  (please note: will will only be doing this for films that were selected to be shown at the Festivals above at this stage). If you have an initiative to assist these filmmakers, please also feel free to get in touch and we’ll update this post with the details.

Women and Hollywood wants to help filmmakers affected by the cancellation of SXSW or other Festivals; helping to amplifying crowdfunding campaigns to help recoup any losses due to cancellations. They will be publishing weekly crowdfunding features highlighting projects by and/or about women that have been impacted by a coronavirus-related cancellation.

And whether you’re a filmmaker or not: please take care of yourself. Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. And let’s not stockpile toilet paper!

FAQs About Working With A Film Publicist

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The indie film landscape has changed in the past 20 years in new and exciting ways. Filmmakers can cut out the middle man and self-distribute, there are avenues for distribution open now (including the streaming services) that weren’t open at the start of the 21st century, and filmmakers can grow their audience right in the comfort of their own homes thanks to social media.

Film publicity is changing, too. Long gone are the days when it was just a matter of sending out a press release and phoning up a journalist to secure an article in a newspaper or a piece on the nightly news. Publicity now regularly involves going beyond the traditional media and connecting with social media influencers, as well as websites, blogs, and podcasts. Social media marketing is usually intertwined with publicity to give great results (and extend the reach of the filmmaker as well).

Of course, this also means the possibilities for filmmakers to self-promote are also boundless.

Does that mean the film publicist is becoming obsolete, especially for independent films?

Not quite. There are advantages to having a film publicist on board (check them out HERE). Once your film has secured distribution, chances are you will have a publicist attached thanks to the distribution company…but there are also some instances pre-distribution when a publicist can come in handy:

  • If your film has been selected by a top-tier film festival
  • If you have cinematic screenings or VOD and want to secure reviews, interviews and features
  • If you want to grow your media presence to help your work to be noticed

Those three instances are primarily the reasons independent filmmakers have come to me for assistance over the years.

And during my time as a publicist, social media marketer and crowdfunding consultant, I’ve had questions about publicity for film that pop up frequently. With that in mind, I’m answering these frequently asked questions so you know just what a publicist can be expected to do…and what they can’t (or won’t) do!

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Q: Can You Make Me Go Viral?

A: The short-and-sweet answer is ‘no’. The longer answer is that no publicist can guarantee virality. It’s not possible. If someone tries to convince you to put up your hard-earned dollars in exchange for guaranteed virality of your content, it’s a scam. The lifespan of virality is shortening, thanks to the sheer amount of content in front of us every single day.

In a previous post, I said this about virality, but I think it’s worth echoing here:

If you use virality as a sole benchmark for the success of your work, you’re going to end up feeling pretty bad about things- not because your work isn’t great, but because virality is so unpredictable and on the decline. There’s also this myth that going viral means you become an overnight success and everything is peachy keen. That can happen for some, but the experience is different in every case.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting your work to go viral, but it’s not up to anyone else, whether it’s a publicist or a social media marketer, to make that happen. Instead, I suggest securing reviews, interviews and features. Reviews in particular are useful, because they can provide quotes for your posters and promotional artwork.

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Q: Do all publicists also do social media marketing?

A: it depends on the individual publicist these days. Some publicity companies will also do social media marketing, whereas I know some freelance publicists who might only do publicity and won’t handle social media marketing. I do both, because one complements the other. By having publicity and social media marketing, you’re reaching your audience right where they’re ‘at’, whether that’s scrolling their Facebook feed or reading a local community newspaper. It’s a win-win.

Q: Can I get a friend or crew member to do my publicity?

A: if they have a background in publicity and/or have had experience writing things like press releases or your press kit, I say go for it. The one thing I caution against is using fans to do your publicity or social media, because those relationships can sour, and sour badly. I’ve seen it happen, it’s always ugly and potentially impacts on the reputation of the filmmaker. Avoid at all costs.

Q: Do I have to pay a publicist?

A: if you’re getting an outside agency or a marketing freelancer to do your publicity and/or social media marketing, then the answer is a resounding YES. I once had a filmmaker whom I’d never even spoken to in my life trolling me for about a year on social media because he objected to the fact that I charged for my services.

Here’s the thing: I trained up to be a publicist, and it took hours of study and implementation, coupled with the five years of publicity and social media marketing experience I now possess. This is a job for me, and I also have bills to pay like everyone else. That’s the same for every freelancer, regardless of their expertise. Freelance does NOT mean free.

It’s worth noting that when you pay a publicist, you’re paying them to do publicity work like reaching out to media outlets/influencers/websites. Their work should not be dependent on the result of that outreach. Nor is it dependent on the amount of digital sales generated for your VOD, or ticket sales for your screening. Think of it this way: a shoe-maker is paid for their work creating shoes, not on their ability to turn the wearer of the shoes into a marathon winner.

Q: Can you get me into Variety/Empire Magazine?

A: The ability to secure something in a big publication like Variety or Empire really depends on a few factors: how far along in your career are you? Does your film have well-known actors? What are the newsworthy elements of your film?

Every filmmaker wants to appear in the well-known film publications and in the mainstream news (which is an awesome goal), but depending on the factors I mentioned above it might not be possible. When a first-time director comes to me with a no-budget short film which has no well-known actors attached, it’s going to be more difficult to secure press in ‘big’ media outlets. One of the reasons for this is that these days with traditional media (newspapers, television, magazines, radio), newsrooms are being downsized, articles are being syndicated (which means less room for unique local content), and more people are turning to the Internet for their news. It means that stories about films and filmmakers have to compete for space, and so that space is quite often taken up by the big blockbusters with huge budgets and an A-list cast.

It also depends on your timeframe for requiring features and interviews in mainstream media: bear in mind that the traditional news sources (especially magazines) will tend to have their editorial calendars booked well in advance. If you come to a publicist in November wanting a feature on your Christmas story in the next edition of a magazine, your chances are slimmer than if your publicist has time to pitch at least three months in advance.

In other words, there are possibilities to appear in larger publications or mainstream news, but timing is everything. You can, however, secure quite a number of reviews, features and interviews with local newspapers, podcasts, community access radio, websites dedicated to film (especially ones dedicated to genre films if you have a horror or sci-fi film), etc. Don’t discredit these sources- podcasts are still massive in terms of reaching audiences, you’ll find hardcore fans for your film on the genre film websites, and community newspapers are often keen to pick up a story if you’ve done location shoots in their circulation area. Every positive piece of media exposure helps!

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Q: How often should I check in with my publicist?

A: It depends on the nature of your project, and how long you’re working with a publicist for. It’s completely fine to get in touch with them with regards to any queries you have (e.g. someone at a Festival coming up to you and wanting to know if you have a press kit available, etc) as that’s part of the process. The one thing I would caution against is checking in on a daily basis to see how much media exposure you’ve received. Your publicist will let you know of any interviews, reviews or features that have been posted or published, and will liaise with you to schedule interviews with journalists. They cannot push a journalist or publication to post or publish content any faster- journalists and editors work on their own timeframe (and in the case of podcasters and bloggers they’re often having to fit their film work in around other commitments unless they’re able to podcast/blog full-time).

So there you have it! Whether you hire a publicist or not, at the very least you know what to expect if you get to the point where a publicist might be handy.

While I have your attention….

Film Sprites PR has now provided 5 prizes of $1000 worth of film marketing as part of this year’s AFIN International Film Festival prize pool! The winners of Best Feature Film, Best Australian Film, Best Short Film, Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Short will receive:

• 1 hour Skype consultation with director and/or producer to answer your burning questions and discuss your needs and goals

• A bespoke publicity and social media marketing plan tailored to their needs and goals (at the time of winning the award)
• 1 month’s publicity and social media marketing advice on-call (e.g. will answer any emails related to marketing plan and give advice)
• 1 month’s social media marketing cross-promotion on Film Sprites PR’s social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

Sounds like the kind of prize you’d find useful? Make sure you submit your work to the AFIN International Film Festival 2020 HERE.

 

Forget “Overnight Success” And Embrace the Long Game

Forget _Overnight Success_And Embrace the Long Game

We live in a media and technology-saturated world now, so it’s impossible to get away from posts, blogs, and news proclaiming the latest “overnight success”. Sometimes it’s tied with something going viral, but more often than not it’s a musician, filmmaker, or actor suddenly receiving praise and accolades. For creatives in any field it can seem like an enticing career trajectory that’s available to them. You mean I put something out there and become an overnight sensation? Not quite. Even with the promise of going viral as a tasty carrot, the reality is very different.

Everyone’s trajectory is unique, based on their skills, experience, personality and goals. You can’t look at one artist and emulate their formula for success exactly, because you are you and not them. I can’t examine Beyoncé’s career trajectory in minute detail, try to copy it and hope that it sticks (also, I can’t sing, so there’s that).

What people don’t tell you about creatives that we see as “overnight successes” is that before that award or praise is the countless years (sometimes decades) that have gone into honing their craft. The rejection letters, the detours, the blood, sweat, tears and ambition that have carried them forth in their darkest hours. It’s something that many creatives with identify with right now. It’s the times you were ignored by your peers, made to feel ‘not good enough’, had to work multiple jobs on top of your creative endeavours just to stay afloat. So that success is well won and very, very hard earned.

Then there’s the naysayers and unhelpful comments from friends and family who don’t understand your goals. You probably know them (or a variation of them) well: “so, where’s your Academy Award?” “Have you made your film yet?” “You should get a real job…” What’s a creative to do?

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It really is true that slow and steady wins the race. Any endeavour is a marathon, not a sprint. At times, it may seem pointless and you may even want to give in. Don’t.

I’m only seven years into my journey through the film industry, and it’s been tough. At one point, I was working a full-time administration job whilst also juggling Film Sprites PR clients, and I also worked as the Christchurch publicity assistant for NZIFF 2014 at the same time. I didn’t have a holiday or a weekend for the first three years. Recently, I relocated temporarily for a position and could afford to eat one meal a day. I’ve had people who have asked for my help and I have enthusiastically obliged, only for them to completely ghost me with no acknowledgement of my help whatsoever. I’m not where I see myself being in the future, but in order to get there I have to bridge the gap by doing exceptional work, being of excellent service to the film industry, and keeping the faith (and yes, I still require a ‘day job’ to get by, and that’s okay!).

My advice is to embrace the “long game”. Roll up your sleeves and be prepared to do the work. Be present and enthusiastic. When times get tough, remind yourself WHY you’re doing this. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to attend a session at the Big Screen Symposium where one of my favourite directors, David Michôd (who most recently directed The King) was discussing the development of his feature film Animal Kingdom. The script development was a ten-year process, and the film was nominated for and won a slew of awards, including eight awards at the 2010 Australian Film Institute awards. Many of the world’s most beloved filmmakers have worked on shorts, music videos and/or television before progressing to features.

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You know why wine, cheese and whisky are so good? They require ageing and maturing. In fact, here in New Zealand we had a great ad campaign for Mainland Cheese whose slogan was: “Good Things Take Time.”

So, as this is a blog attached to a publicity and social media marketing consultancy service, what can you do during the “long game” to assist your career? Here’s a few tips:

  • Establish social media profiles for your creative career: If you’re a filmmaker, set up profiles that will assist you with all of your projects, as opposed to setting up pages solely for one short film or feature. The reason? If you set up a page solely for one project, you will most probably use this for the duration of your promoting of the project (e.g. screenings, Festival appearances, etc) but then you will move onto your next project and the page might sit dead with little to no posts being generated. If you have pages which encompass all of your projects it means that you can build up a large audience who will hopefully follow your work from one project to the next. It’s also great for helping to build support for any crowdfunding campaigns you might run in the future.
  • Don’t pin your hopes on going viral: there’s nothing wrong with wanting to go viral, but the efficacy of virality is on the decline. You can find out more about this, and better alternatives, on this post.
  • Consider doing guest blogs about your areas of expertise: you don’t have to wait for your project to be released to start generating content that will help with publicity of your creative career! Find some handy blogging ideas here.

Lastly, check out this great keynoteat SXSW 2015 by Mark Duplass for some timely inspiration.

Great Reasons to Support Your Local Independent Cinema

Support Local Independent Cinema

We have such a wealth of choices when it comes to how, when and where we watch films now, but there’s still nothing that beats the cinema-going experience. In every large city there’s generally several options to indulge in that cinema-going experience (including cinema chains), but how often do you see a film at your local independent cinema?

There’s a scene (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) in Craig Brewer’s fantastic film Dolemite is My Name that I find truly inspiring: after the blood, sweat, and tears of making Dolemite, Rudy Ray Moore fails to secure a distributor. Things come to a head when a radio DJ wants to know when people can see the film. Off air, Moore confesses that they don’t have a distributor, which prompts the DJ to suggest a small cinema that might host the film. Moore would have to pay for a screening, but could keep the profits. And after some enthusiastic hustling to promote the film it not only sells out, but has a genuinely appreciative audience. Thank you, independent cinema owner!

I can honestly say that this year I saw only one film at a cinema chain. The rest of my viewings were at independent cinemas in Wellington (during NZIFF 2019) and Christchurch. This wasn’t a strategic decision…it just turned out that the independent cinemas were screening the films I wanted to see over the blockbuster fare that was available at the cinema chains. As a result, I fell back in love with independent cinemas, and I hope after reading this you will too. Below are some reasons to support your local independent cinemas; both as an audience member and a filmmaker:

They screen great independent, foreign language, and genre films: Parasite, High Life, Amazing Grace, Maiden…chances are, if you were a New Zealander and saw any of these films this year in cinema, it was probably at one of the independent cinemas dotted around the country. Sometimes you don’t want to wait for something to come out on VOD or a streaming platform, and independent cinemas are great at bringing those films to you. They can’t bring everything to the big screen, sadly, but they bring their audiences a very fine selection each year.

They’re a great destination for film festival fare and small festivals: in my home town, Christchurch, we are fortunate enough to have Lumière Cinemas as one of the screening destinations for the New Zealand International Film Festival (along with the Isaac Theatre Royal), but this year they have also hosted the inaugural Christchurch leg of the Terror-Fi Film Festival and are soon to host Madman Reel Anime 2019 as well!

The Hollywood Avondale in Auckland is known for their legendary 24 Hour Movie Marathon, which is in its 20th year in 2019. Check out your local independent cinema, as they can often host great festivals which bring you unique fare (and sometimes before general release).

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They host special and limited screenings: whether it’s a Rocky Horror Picture Show sing-a-long screening, a big screen showing of The Room or a movie marathon, independent cinemas bring you the good stuff. Scrolling through the event listings of an independent cinema on their website can feel like their offerings were tailored for you, and you alone. After seeing Midsommar at NZIFF 2019, I absolutely jumped at the chance to see the director’s cut on the big screen (and traumatise my partner, who didn’t see the theatrical cut beforehand).

There are independent cinemas that are opting to screen some of the Netflix films which were available for theatrical release as well (The Guardian has a great explanation of why some theatre chains are opting not to offer these screenings). I went to see The King on the big screen before it hit Netflix, partly because I wanted to be a sort of ‘guinea pig’ for the small theatrical release window, but mostly because I’m a massive fan of David Michôd’s filmmaking, as well as the Shakespeare Henriad that the film is based on. It was definitely well worth seeing on the big screen due to the battle scenes, but it’s also a bit of a treat to see it before it hits Netflix. It will be interesting to see how this format of screening windows develops in the future, but for now there’s independent cinemas that are embracing it wholeheartedly.

In 2016, Academy Cinemas very graciously hosted the advanced screening and Q&A session of Life Off Grid (a film Film Sprites PR was doing the NZ publicity and social media marketing for). Despite the fact that Quentin Tarantino was in town for the Hateful Eight premiere, ardent fans of independent documentaries and sustainability turned up to welcome the film wholeheartedly.

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They’re designed with cinephiles in mind: the one thing I’ve noticed about independent cinemas over cinema chains is that the independent cinemas are a haven for cinephiles. Plush seating, opulent surroundings, and quite often there’s wine and cheese platters on offer for those who really want to revel in their cinematic experience (also great for date night!).

Enjoy a signature cocktail at an indie cinema bar, or catch up with a friend post-screening for coffee. And trust me, I’ve never met a coffee at an independent cinema I didn’t like.

They often support local content: here’s a tip for independent filmmakers if you are self-distributing (or want to host an event or cast screening of your film): get in touch with your local independent cinema. Often they have reasonable rates for screening films or fundraising nights, so it’s worth checking out what they may be able to do for you. And, hey, you might end up doing a Dolemite….

 

Contacting People About Your Film Via E-Mail? Avoid These Mistakes!

Email Mistakes

When it comes to connecting your audience to your film or webseries, social media is fantastic. But combine that with pitching to media and doing outreach to interest groups and influencers via e-mail, and you’ve got a winning combination. There are, however, some things to avoid when pitching; common mistakes I see happening every day, especially when they land in my inbox!

Have I made these mistakes before? Oh yes, absolutely. When I first started out I made many of these mistakes. I’ve always vowed to be honest on the blog!

Here are some mistakes to avoid so your e-mail isn’t instantly relegated to the trash folder, as well as some handy tips to get the most out of your e-mail exchanges:

Not Doing Your Research

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I cannot tell you how many times my inbox is full of people who haven’t done their research about Sprites, and what we do. Their emails contain references to the possibility of me writing a review and ‘sharing with [my] readers’. I’ve seen frustrated journalists on Twitter talking about people who e-mail them with an inappropriate request, like asking them to write about a beauty product when they’re a tech journalist, and so on. I cannot stress how important it is to do your research before contacting someone.

Whether it’s pitching your film for a potential story in a newspaper or contacting a reviewer, check out whether your film is a good ‘fit’ for that particular avenue. For instance, if you’re looking to receive coverage in a regional newspaper, what connections does your film have to that area? What’s ‘newsworthy’ for that particular newspaper that would encourage them to do a feature or interview?

Research also avoids embarrassing faux pas, like contacting someone who is a vegan and animal rights advocate when your film has hunting in it, or reaching out to an organisation without vetting them first and then finding out that they have ideals that don’t align with the message of your film. The advantage of doing thorough research instead of just firing out e-mails haphazardly is that you get to know who is interested in covering what, and who you may potentially be able to contact again for a future project if it aligns with their interests and the interests of their audiences.

Copy and Pasting Messages

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I can always tell when someone has copied and pasted their information, because it will contain things that raise red flags. Sometimes, they’ll mention that they love something I’ve done…but I haven’t done it. Or it’s so generic that there’s not even a greeting at the start!

Personalising your emails takes time- and that doesn’t mean just changing the name of the person you’re sending it to, and the name of their blog/publication/website, etcetera- but it’s worth doing. Make sure you tailor your e-mails to each person, including the tone of your message. If you’re corresponding with a hip influencer, you can afford to be a bit more informal. If you’re reaching out to a journalist, your tone might be a bit more formal. The personal touch really means a lot, but also people can definitely tell if you’re sending out generic copy and paste e-mails. That often says to people that you actually don’t care about their specific publication or organisation, you’re just flinging e-mails out there and hoping something sticks. And speaking of copy and paste, this next no-no is the one that is the most infuriating of all…

Sending Unsolicited Links Without Explanation

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I’ve previously written about the one thing we have to stop doing on social media, and it ties in with this. There are countless times I have opened an email to see a copy and pasted synopsis of a film, with a link. No salutation, not even an ‘ask’ to share or for any other assistance. This habit ties in with the two above to make for an infuriating e-mail experience! People can’t tell from this interaction what you’re looking for. Are you wanting them to share the information via social media? If so, that’s not the right way to go about it. Again, it’s better to personalise your e-mail, and ask for what you want to happen with regards to that link. It doesn’t guarantee that person will comply, but it makes for a much nicer experience (and your e-mail won’t end up in the trash folder).

E-mail is a tool that has been a part of our existence for so long now that I think people have forgotten the art of conversation. E-mail is a conversation, so make sure it’s a good one. And I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here: you might be thinking; “I don’t have time to do that.” It may mean that you spend a bit longer with your e-mail communications, or, if you can’t hire a publicist, allocate the task to someone on your team. The benefits of being mindful about your e-mail communications are numerous, including forging positive ongoing relationships with journalists, having the support of influencers and organisations you can potentially call on again in future, and having your creative endeavours viewed in a tremendously positive light.

Your “Creative Brains Trust”: People Who Are Invaluable in Your Career, and How to Find Them

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Remember the story of the Little Red Hen? TL;DR for you: this little lady sets out to make bread and asks the other members of the farmyard if they want to help her with the various tasks, including grinding the wheat for the flour and churning the butter to spread on the finished loaf. Every one of them declines…but when they smell the smell of the freshly baked loaf, they come running. Nobody wants to help make the bread, but they sure want to eat it.

Sometimes I feel like creative endeavors are just like the Little Red Hen story. You hear stories of people who are heralded as ‘overnight successes’, which doesn’t take into account the YEARS and sometimes decades of hard work that they have put in without praise or assistance to get to the point where people applaud their efforts. Sometimes the grind can be exhausting and a little deflating. There’s far too many people who don’t acknowledge the grind when someone is coming up in their career but will be the first to say they knew that person way back when!

That’s why it’s vitally important to surround yourself with people who are the polar opposite of those people. Every creative, entrepreneur and dreamer needs a ‘Brains Trust’: people who support you and your efforts and can assist you in various ways. I’ve found the majority of these people seem to pop up almost magically. Sometimes they will be friends, sometimes employers or ex-employers, sometimes people you least expect. I like to think of them as being like the people who give water to marathon runners; refreshing and replenishing them on their route so they can continue to success.

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Here’s the kinds of people you need in your own “Brains Trust”, regardless of whether you’re a filmmaker, entrepreneur, creative, or all three:

The Sounding Board

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The Sounding Board is the type of person who will stoically listen to you when you need to get something off your chest or test out a theory. The key to having a great person as your Sounding Board is to BE a great Sounding Board yourself. This is not a one-way relationship, nor should it be. It’s give-and-take. These are the people you can be 100% candid with, because a lot of the time you will find your Sounding Boards in your friendship circle.

The Professional Mentor

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A while back, I wrote a post about how to find mentors (and how to be a great mentoree) which outlined how to seek out a mentor, but I particularly wanted to make mention of having a professional mentor as part of your “Brains Trust”.

Footnote: When I set out to write this post, I stumbled across an interesting LinkedIn article about Little Red Hen Syndrome and dysfunctional team members. This post, thankfully, is not going to be about those types of people but it’s definitely worth a read nonetheless. These are people who are usually completely removed from your circle of friends (or who may be acquaintances) who are leaders in your field. While you can actively seek out a mentor yourself, I’ve found that along the way I have been very fortunate to have had mentors appear out of the blue. In my case, my mentors have all been incredible women in the film industry who not only believe in my work and my potential to go further, but who have also, at times, provided opportunities and connections which have been invaluable. Professional mentors are truly magical people, because they see the ability in you even when you (or other people) can’t. Chances are, they’ve had similar experiences. If you are fortunate enough to have a professional mentor or two, don’t forget to become a mentor on your journey and help others along the way.

The Connector

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Connectors are some of my favourite people. They’re the ones who have absolutely no qualms with introducing you to people they think you need to know, or suggesting that you reach out to a certain person. The Connectors in my circle have been the first to send me a link to a project or short-term gig they think I’d be a great fit for. If they don’t know something, you can be sure they know somebody who does, and they’ll very happily introduce you to that person. If they were magicians, they wouldn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat…they’d pull out a unicorn. They can also identify useful resources you should check out: books, podcasts, articles…you name it, they have a magical index of resources!

The Muses

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Every great artist had their muse. Creatives and entrepreneurs often cite people, books, speeches and other resources that have helped spur them to greatness. Tap into your muses and inspirations, both real and fictional. Chances are, you might not meet Michelle Obama, but you can read her autobiography. You can tap into the character strengths of a person you admire to help you summon courage in a moment. I’ve been known to draw on the words and music of Patti Smith and Amanda Palmer, the courage and creativity of Frida Kahlo, the genius and detail of Stanley Kubrick, and the joie de vivre of Rita Hayworth, just to name a few!

You will probably find that some people you know will have multiple attributes. I have a few friends who are Sounding Boards who are also amazing Connectors. If you find that you identify in one of these categories, why not think about helping your fellow creatives in your Brains Trust capacity? Believe me, it really is appreciated and it goes a long way.

I want to make mention of a fantastic article about dysfunctional teams and Little Red Hen Syndrome that I discovered while I was writing this post. It identifies some really toxic team members and behaviours that exist in a teamwork capacity, and is well worth a read to find out who you really DON’T want on your brains trust.

More No-Cost and Low-Cost Film Publicity and Social Media Ideas

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There was an overwhelmingly positive response to our post about getting more bang for your publicity buck with no-cost and low-cost ideas for film publicity and social media that we’re sharing even MORE ideas to help you stretch your publicity budget further (even if it’s non-existent!):

Sanity-saving apps

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We now live in a world where almost everything is right at our fingertips (literally!). Thankfully, apps can make social media marketing of your film so much easier. It means you’re not having to be tied to a desk in order to reach your audience immediately- how cool is that?

Whether using a smart phone or tablet, there’s a few apps that can make social media posts painless, fun and engaging. One of my favourite apps is Canva, a graphic design app that is also available via the website. Canva gives you a multitude of free options for designing anything you can think of: from a flier to social media graphics for various social platforms, there’s even free templates, photos and text available if you’re completely unsure of where to start. There are also paid plans, which give you more options for templates and far more photos as well as other features, but the free option is pretty comprehensive.

Another great design app I love is Promo Republic. Create, share and schedule your social media posts all in one place, PLUS they have a handy calendar which shows you a comprehensive list of public holidays, awards ceremonies and popular events, celebrity birthdays and more; all of which can be handy to use on social media to get your audience engaged and sharing your content.

Event Listings

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Got screenings but no budget for advertising? Listing your screenings on platforms like Eventbrite is a great option. In New Zealand? Arts website The Big Idea has an event listing page, and as well as the free event listing you have paid promotional options that won’t break the bank.

Competitions

Got leftover perk merch from your film’s crowdfunding campaign, like signed posters, t-shirts, etc? Or perhaps you have additional Blu-ray or DVD copies of your film from a pressing run? Think about using them for social media competitions. There’s various ways to run a competition via your social media, and the options are endless. Whether it’s entering fan art to be in the draw, or simply liking and sharing the post, it’s a great way to get your fans engaged.

Pick our brains!

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Don’t have the budget to hire Film Sprites PR to handle your publicity and social media for you? We’ve got you covered! Our blog gives you hints and tips for all aspects of publicity and social media marketing of films. My belief has always been that independent filmmakers deserve just as much publicity and social media marketing assistance as mainstream films, and the hints and ideas you’ll find on the blog are tried and tested and come from being “in the trenches” with indie film as opposed to someone who comes from a purely marketing or commerce background. I know the pressures, constraints, and frustrations of indie filmmaking, so you’ll find that the blog posts are no-bull and speak directly to indie filmmakers. And I try to make them as cheeky and enjoyable as possible.

Achieving your goals for your film and connecting with your audience doesn’t have to involve a gargantuan publicity budget. With some creativity and clever solutions you can build a community of fans around your film and most importantly have it being seen and loved.