Answering Questions About Blogging For Filmmakers

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This month we’ve been looking at how blogging can be another tool to assist you in growing your audience for your filmmaking, and gave you some ideas to help get you started. We end our focus on blogging this month by answering common questions about blogging for filmmakers. Hopefully our spotlight on blogging this month has, at the very least, given you another tool to consider when building your audience and promoting your films. Time to answer some common questions about blogging so you can be inspired to give it a try if you haven’t already!

Q: How often should I post? It depends on whether or not blogging is a big part of your marketing strategy for your filmmaking or a particular film you’re working on. You also need to take into account how busy you are at any given time- for instance, if you’re currently in principal photography chances are unless you have a team member dedicated to blogging on your behalf you’re not going to have a lot of time or energy to devote to such a rigorous posting schedule. Experts say you should post once or twice per week, but you don’t have to adhere to that particular rule, especially if you are posting regularly via social media.

You also don’t want to feel constrained by an obligation to post once or twice a week- you’re a creative person, and blogging shouldn’t feel like a chore. Post as often or as little as you like, but make sure you don’t have your blog going completely dead. Want to blog infrequently but still have a desire to create blog content about filmmaking or your film? See if there are indie film blogs and websites that would be interested in having you as a guest blogger.

Q: Where should I host my blog? The beauty of blogging is that there are hosting options a plenty! Depending on your website platform you may have the option to integrate a blog into that website (as we have). You may choose to operate a stand-alone blog in conjunction with your website. Alternatively, you may choose to have an account on a stand-alone publishing platform like Medium. It’s a good idea to weigh up your options before committing to something you may not end up using in the long-term.

The benefit of having your blog on your website is that it will help to drive more people to your website- they’ll come for the blog post and hopefully stay to look at your website.

Q: Should I share my blog posts on my social media channels? Absolutely! Blogging provides even more rich, shareable content to promote via social media. Some blogging platforms will have an integrated setting which allows you to share immediately to your social media channels when you publish, which takes the stress out of remembering to share your blog link.

Q: Help! I’m really stuck for content ideas! Have you tried turning it off and on again? Kidding!!! Check out our blog post about content ideas HERE. Currently filming or in post-production? You might want to see if one of your cast or crew would like to contribute a blog post, talking about the process. Perhaps your DoP wants to share some hints and tips, or one of your makeup SFX artists wants to share their career insights and give a sneak peek into their process. Blogging doesn’t have to be a solo effort.

Hopefully our spotlight on blogging in February has been food for thought. If you have a filmmaking blog (or you start one after reading our features on blogging), we’d love to know! Happy blogging and happy filmmaking!

 

Blogging For Filmmakers: Swipe These Ideas For Blog Content!

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This month, we’re focusing on blogging for filmmakers and how you can grow your audience and awareness for your filmmaking with a blog. The first post in the series covered some of the advantages of blogging, and now we’re diving deeper and looking at the type of content you can generate.

When it comes to blog content as a filmmaker, the sky is the limit! Here’s a few broad ideas to get you started if you’re completely new to blogging but want to start:

Updates on your film: one of the easiest ways to generate blog content is by providing filmmaking updates. Got a mailing list? You can cross-purpose your updates on both. Talk about your successes, let people in on great on-set anecdotes and happenings, and think about embedding some behind the scenes video or images.

Your filmmaking process: some filmmakers truly enjoy talking about the filmmaking process (both technical and creative), and some don’t. If you’re in the former category you might want to approach this with great gusto. Who and what inspires you and informs your creative process? If you chose to film on film instead of digitally, what was the reason? What challenges have you faced in your career? There are endless variations on this theme and so many more subjects that are great for blog posts.

Hot topics in filmmaking: there’s so many things happening in the film industry at any given day, whether it’s a studio merger, changes in the streaming and VOD landscape or other industry buzz there’s always something to write about. This is a great option if you’re particularly passionate about a hot topic. A word of caution from a publicity point-of-view: it’s best not to go off on a rant!

Guest blogging: want to write occasionally, but don’t have the time to commit to regular blogging? Guest blogging might be the idea for you. Providing blog content on another blog is also a great way to bring further awareness to your film and filmmaking. For instance, I recently guest blogged on We Make Movies on Weekends, talking about how movie PR works.

Sharing your filmmaking knowledge: this is another popular topic. Share filmmaking hints and tips, things you’ve learned in your filmmaking career, and offer advice. Share the wealth of knowledge you’ve gained through your filmmaking. This is something I do often on the Sprites blog, partly as another way of showing that I don’t just talk the talk when it comes to publicity of indie films, I also walk the walk and can show you ways of growing your audience and securing media (just like with this post).

In the next post on blogging for filmmakers, we’ll look at what to do when you want to blog…but you’re really stuck! I’ve got a few techniques to help the ideas flow.

How Blogging Can Assist With Promoting Your Indie Film or Webseries

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In the 21st century we tend to take things like blogging and social media for granted. It’s part of our everyday landscape. It’s easy enough to check your social media feeds and read a blog you love about a topic you’re passionate about. Back in the late 1990s when the Internet was starting to become mainstream blogging and social media were twinkles in the eye of their creators.

Blogging as we know it today didn’t exist, but there were websites which served as proto-blogging/ social media platforms, like Open Diary (which is now a subscription-only service) and Live Journal. You could share your thoughts and feelings with people around the globe, build up an audience…well, you get the picture. We now do this with social media and via blogs. These days, for every interest or topic there is a blog to match, including film.

Now, as you may already know, we’ve talked at length about how social media can assist with promotion of your film, but what about blogs? What benefits are to be gained by blogging regularly, and how can they translate into growing your audience for your films and filmmaking? This month we’ll be answering these questions and giving you some suggestions to help you create great content that people will not only enjoy but will share with their networks.

So, how can blogging be beneficial for promoting your indie film or webseries?

1. You can provide your fans with filmmaking updates: the beauty of blogging is that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to the content you create, and updating your fans and audience is one way of producing great content. It can often be used instead of, or in tandem with, an email mailing list (but we’ll talk more about that in later posts).

2. It provides another way to reach and connect with your target audience: blogging can provide another piece of the audience building and publicity puzzle in conjunction with social media and earned and/or paid traditional media coverage. Not everyone likes or uses social media, so this is another way to reach hearts and minds online.

3. It can be beneficial when it comes to SEO of your website: if you choose to have a blog on your website as opposed to solely having a stand-alone blog, your posts can assist with site views and engagement through the tags, categories, blog titles and excerpts you choose to use for each post. Prior to having a blog on the Film Sprites PR website it was just a website, and once I began blogging regularly the site saw a huge upswing in visits which also culminated in more queries about PR and digital marketing services and more clients!

4. You can let people in on your filmmaking process: one thing I’ve seen filmmakers do very successfully with blogging is they let their audience in on their process. Just as behind-the-scenes photos and videos give audiences a tangible taste of your filmmaking, blogging can be a longer form of this. There are endless subjects to write about, and if you’re a keen writer and love sharing your process, inspiration and ideas then blogging is a very valuable tool for you to consider.

Stay tuned for our next post as we focus on blogging for filmmakers in February!

Making The Most of Press Coverage of Your Indie Film

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Your film has been securing interviews, features and reviews- congratulations! Getting media exposure for your film can assist in growing your audience, connect you to even more media outlets (we’ll talk about that soon), and can also provide a level of social proof that can build a great foundation for future projects going forward.

While securing media alone is a great way to increase awareness and visibility, did you know that you can increase the longevity of your press mentions? It’s true! Here’s some ways you can make the most of press coverage of your indie film:

Pull quotes from reviews: This is one idea that the majority of indie filmmakers know about and use exceptionally well. However, in case you hadn’t thought about it, pulling great quotes from reviews is an excellent way to give your film the critics’ seal of approval in the eyes of your audience. You can use quotes for your film poster, in social media marketing and for your DVD/Blu-Ray cover. Reviewers are brilliant at being able to review films in a compelling way, and you will always find a deliciously eloquent quote or two to use. Better yet, get in touch with the reviewer- let them know you loved their review and would like to use a quote (or two) from the review for your marketing materials. That way they know to look out for their quote in the marketing materials and may end up sharing your poster/cover artwork/social media post as well, spreading the signal even further.

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As you can see from the Emotional Motor Unit poster above, director Adam Nelson chose to make the most of the reviews of the film by doing exactly what I’ve mentioned- pulling quotes and putting them on the poster. The Apple Park team also chose to have 2 other versions of the poster available; one which only had the above image, title and credits and a version which included film festival laurels instead of the reviewer quotes.

Make it visual: links to your features, reviews and interviews are one thing, but another thing that can have a great impact is sharing screengrabs of the press you have received, especially if you’ve had an overwhelming amount of publicity. It’s a great way to spread the good news via social media, and provides an excellent degree of social proof for your film.

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A selection of press for H2Ow Productions’ Ao-Terror-Oa horror anthology

For instance, with the New Zealand horror anthology Ao-Terror-Oa I was able to collate the press we were receiving and use it to visually demonstrate the breadth of outlets picking up the story. What was particularly notable was that we were able to secure media placements not only in NZ, but also in the US and UK. To reflect that, I chose to  include screen grabs of press from NZ outlets (Stuff, Screenz and NewsWire) and contrast that with the international press (FilmDebate, Daily Dead, Hellnotes, Movie-Blogger, Horror Society). In a glance, whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter people can see that good things are happening for the series, not just in their native New Zealand, but also overseas.

Acknowledge all of your press coverage: one thing I see people doing time and again is only mentioning their press coverage if they secure coverage with a ‘big’ media outlet. Of course, it’s fine to let the world know about this, but don’t forget the other outlets who have taken the time to review or feature your film. Yes, it’s exciting to be featured on Buzzfeed or Variety, but there are so many film websites, podcasts and blogs out there who have contributors who work tirelessly to provide interesting content for their audiences that also deserve acknowledgement. And if they have taken the time to review your film or write a feature, they definitely need to be acknowledged! I like Gary Vaynerchuk’s take on it (emphasis my own):

“I’ve been on Conan. Ellen. The Today Show. But I also did a thousand interviews that got one or nineteen or 137 views on YouTube. Max. Why did I do blog posts for so long that only had six readers? Why do I guest on shows with a smaller audience base than my own? Because I’m all about depth over width. I want to go deeper with my community. I want to give back to people who support me.

You can watch Gary’s video HERE.

Have an ‘In The Media’ section on your website: another way to make the most of your press coverage is by including links to features, news and reviews on your website. This also has an administrative benefit for you: by putting your press coverage on the website, you see at a glance which media outlets were responsive to your press requests, so you can make them first priority when you do media outreach for your next project. While I absolutely suggest keeping a media database for each project (which is what we do here), this gives you a quick scan of media outlets to contact first.

Post your coverage on social media: this is a no-brainer, but it needs to be mentioned because sometimes in the hubbub of post-production through to release it can be something that is an afterthought. When you post a review or feature, chances are that contributor or media outlet will also repost your content, thus amplifying the signal. It’s also a great way to say thank you to the people who have given your film coverage and show your gratitude for their feature or review. Gratitude is a powerful thing, and by showing gratitude and acknowledging your press mentions you are building a relationship with that media outlet that is mutually beneficial.

These small steps can have a powerful impact when it comes to audience building, so why not implement them the next time you have press coverage for your film?

 

I Felt Like An Idiot On The Internet…Here’s What Put It Into Perspective

I Felt Like An Idiot On The Internet

As a publicist and digital marketer, I spend a significant amount of time on the Internet. Whether it’s sending off a press release to a media outlet, pitching a potential story, generating social media content or crunching social media numbers, I’m either hooked to my laptop, tablet, or phone. And while that comes with the territory, because digital technology is so ubiquitous in everyday life, I found myself in a bit of a predicament.

The lines between work and life began to blur. I found myself looking at the number of ‘likes’ on my personal Facebook page, the follows on my personal Instagram…and feeling dejected. Why weren’t people engaging? Why did the feeds of people I knew look SO damn interesting compared to mine? WHY was I feeling like such a d*ck on social media?

Talk about a First World problem!

My self-indulgent moping was cut short by a wake-up call yesterday. During my morning shower, I discovered a lump in my breast. Upon finding the lump, I felt a sense of dread that I’ve only ever felt once before. My stomach felt like it had dropped through the floor. We lost my sister in law to breast cancer in 2013, so immediately my mind is jumping to the worst conclusion.

I booked an appointment to see my doctor that afternoon and after a thorough inspection he said that he had no reason whatsoever to believe that there was anything sinister about the lump. I was exceptionally relieved.

Here’s the thing: that one little scare put everything else into perspective. No ‘likes’ are going to help you if you have an illness. No amount of follows on Twitter or Instagram would take something like breast cancer away. Perspective is a very valuable thing.

I’m great at what I do when it comes to social media for work. But when it comes to my personal life, a lot of it is not share-worthy…and that’s OK. You won’t see me dolled up to go out right now, but that’s because there’s a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes every single day. It doesn’t make me more or less worthy than anyone else.

So yes, while engagement levels, shares and other data are important on the business side of what I do, it shouldn’t make a lick of difference on my personal side. I think we sometimes forget (I know I’m guilty of it!) that what we see on social media is what people choose to share with us. It’s carefully curated, even if we’re not intending it to be that way. And how many ‘friends’ do we have on social media that we catch up with in ‘real life’? If a picture I share of my pizza on Instagram gets more ‘likes’ than a picture I took of a beautiful sunset on my DSLR…does it really matter? Am I enjoying sharing content? Yes.

You know, it’s okay to feel like an idiot on the Internet. I think we’ve all had those moments…just don’t stay there. And while I have your attention, check out Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s breast changes to watch out for. Knowledge is power!

 

We’re Having a Spook-tacular Month!

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It’s been a spook-tacular month at Film Sprites PR in more ways than one! There’s lots going on in the office, so I thought I’d share some of the things we’re working on, as well as some client updates!

It’s been a pleasure to work with horror writer/director Oliver Park for the past few years, and his first horror short, Vicious, has received over 1.1M views on YouTube! He’s currently in LA, talking with studios about the possibility of making Vicious a feature film, as well as talking about other projects. His latest horror short, Still, is being released later this year. You can check out the teaser HERE.

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Just some of the press Oliver Park has received- including being in a Buzzfeed article!

And in a similarly spooky vein, Film Sprites PR is assisting H2Ow Productions with PR and digital marketing of Ao-Terror-Oa. The brainchild of producer Hweiling Ow, Ao-Terror-Oa is a horror anthology linked by one unique element- New Zealand culture. Ao-Terror-Oa was funded by NZ On Air and Google, with the shorts being shown on YouTube. In addition to the 6 shorts, there are 2 mini-series being shown on the H2Ow Productions YouTube channel: Hweiling Watches, where producer Hweiling Ow (who doesn’t like watching horror movies) watches horror while being hooked up to a heart monitor, and Body FX Basement of Horror, where the team from Body FX share their techniques. All of these combine to create 6 Weeks of Horror, starting October 27 (Oct 26 Northern Hemisphere time)! For more information, click HERE. Ao-Terror-Oa has already started to receive press attention from outlets like Stuff, Horror Society, Screenz and FilmDebate.

Another Film Sprites PR client, Apple Park Films, recently made their critically acclaimed feature film Little Pieces available to rent/buy via Amazon Video, where it achieved over 800 minutes of viewing time in the first week of release!

Little Pieces Film Poster

Apple Park Films’ latest short film, Emotional Motor Unit, is also coming to Amazon Video very soon. Emotional Motor Unit is a tale set in a dystopian world where emotions are secondary to output. In order to achieve a writing task, Writer (played by Little Pieces‘ Graham Cawte) will find out what it means to be human by interacting with an Emotional Motor Unit robot (played magnificently by Francesca Burgoyne).

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And as we head closer towards the end of 2017, if you’re releasing your film in 2018 it’s a good time to chat with us about publicity and digital marketing. Our services include:

  • Copywriting (IMDb biographies, website copy)
  • Social media marketing (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook)
  • Press kit and press release creation
  • Pitching to media (both traditional and new media)
  • Crowdfunding campaign publicity, promotion and support

Spots fill fast, so get in touch! Don’t forget, you can also find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

And if you’re planning to celebrate Halloween this year- make sure you have a safe and happy time! It’s a good time to enjoy some of those classic horror films, as well as some of the newest releases!

 

Looking After Yourself As a Creative or Entrepreneur: A Self-care Guide

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A few years ago, just as Film Sprites PR was starting to bear fruit, I got sick. As in, really sick.

Initially, I picked up the worst flu I’d experienced in my entire life. On top of that, I also ended up with a chest infection, and as an asthmatic a chest infection is not something to take lightly. Unfortunately, it coincided with a visit from my brother-in-law and my niece. They came down from Wellington to stay with us and do some sight-seeing. But my illness was so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed most of the time. I think I saw my niece and my brother-in-law a total of 4 times in the space of a week. At one point, my niece (who was 8 at the time) was showing me the photos they took at the Antarctic Centre. She turned to me and said, “I hope you can come with us next time.”

That was a moment that broke my heart. I actually still tear up when I think about it. I had been working every hour under the sun, skipping weekends, skipping meals, and my immunity was so low that when I was working at my then day job at the local hospital I managed to pick up the flu. My doctor was pretty stern about the situation when I next saw her. Being a big supporter of my career goals, she told me in no uncertain terms that looking after myself had to be a priority, because all of the efforts I was putting into building a business would come to nothing if something more serious happened with my health.

Since then, I’ve taken her advice very seriously, and as a result looking after myself during contracts has been a priority that is built into my daily schedule.

I know what it’s like as a creative or entrepreneur. You’re so passionately driven to achieve your goals and make your mark on the world that sometimes you make incredible sacrifices which could end up impacting your physical and mental well-being in the long-run. Certainly, if you’re on a film set and doing a night shoot, or working a 12 hour stretch on something urgent it can be hard to slot self-care into your schedule, but it can be done. None of the advice below is new, or complicated- it’s straight-forward, no-nonsense, and you will be aware of these strategies anyway. Now’s the time to take notice of them and make them a priority!

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Yes, you DO need to eat

It’s so easy to skip meals, ignore when you’re hungry and go through the day with an empty stomach, but your bod pays the price big-time. In order for your body (and especially your brain!) to function efficiently, you need to keep your energy levels up. If you’re the type of person who finds themselves skipping meal breaks on set, at the office or during conference sessions so you can get in an additional 15 to 30 minutes of answering messages/emails done, try and break this habit. 3 meals, 2 snacks, lots of water.

And don’t live your life out of a vending machine or your hotel mini-fridge, either! I was a shocker for grabbing a soda and a chocolate bar at 3:00pm in order to try and get over the afternoon slump. When I’m travelling domestically, I take little pouches of instant oatmeal with me, as well as packets of trail mix. Another snack I love is Tasti’s Smooshed Wholefood Balls, especially when I’m craving a chocolatey hit.

Make exercise your BFF

I won’t lie…I loathe most exercise activities. I do. I have to force, cajole and bribe myself to get my gym gear on and break a sweat. However, as much as I hate it, I know that it has a huge amount of benefits that will also benefit the way I run my business. As a busy creative or entrepreneur, it can be really hard to slot regular exercise into your busy schedule, but it can be done. Even incidental exercise has its benefits. Think about investing in a standing desk, suggest going for a brief walking meeting instead of meeting with someone at a café or in your office, or schedule in a block of time at the gym when you know you will commit to those sessions.

In my case, because I’m currently having to do a lot of desk-based work, I have made it a point to get in a 30-minute workout on DVD early in the morning before I start my working day. In addition to that, I stop every hour on the hour, put on a video from The Fitness Marshall on YouTube. One of the benefits of working from my home office means I can do that without looking like a complete idiot! See what works for you. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you DO IT.

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Photo by Les Jay on Unsplash

Try meditation and mindfulness practices

I say without reservation that meditation has been a game-changer for me, both personally and professionally. I have been meditating every day for the past 5 years, and it has allowed me to cut through stress, get in touch with my intuition on a daily basis, and is one of the most important self-care practices I undertake personally. I went from being a worried, anxious, stress-head to someone who can take on a strenuous workload and still remain calm and happy. When you’re able to get in touch with your intuition through meditation and mindfulness, it means you will be better able to assess opportunities. You will be able to feel in your gut when something isn’t right, and take action as appropriate.

Meditation isn’t hard, and it doesn’t have to be complicated (in fact, it shouldn’t be). Hey, there’s even an app for it now! Try the meditation and mindfulness app Headspace. You can also do guided visualisation meditations to assist you with your goals. There’s a wealth of meditations available via iTunes and Spotify to suit a range of goals. You don’t have to have your butt on a meditation cushion for hours on end to get benefits- even small bites of meditation and mindfulness really help with your peace of mind and wellbeing.

Do a bit of something you love every single day

I know what you’re going to say: “but I love my business/film/gig, I’m doing that every day!”. I know. I hear you, I am passionate about what we do here at Film Sprites PR, but it’s not healthy to make it the be-all, end all. You should have other things in your life that you are passionate about, that give you pleasure and that you enjoy doing. It also gives you social currency with your friends and at conferences or by the water cooler. You don’t want to lament the fact you would love to do something you enjoy but don’t have the time for it!

Confession: for a short period of time, I didn’t go to the movies. I would attend screenings when I had invites or passes, but otherwise I was reluctant to go to the cinema. And this was a very bad thing for someone who runs a publicity and digital marketing consultancy for independent film and whose greatest passion is film and who lives for the experience in the cinema. Even my partner was concerned. “You used to love going to the movies,” he said, “but now I can’t convince you to go.” We currently live a 5-minute walk away from our local cinema, and it still seemed like a Herculean struggle. That’s when I knew I had to make sure I wasn’t working myself into the ground and losing my passion. After taking steps to get a healthy balance back, I’m now back to enjoying what I love, which also means that passion for film also benefits everyone I work with.

But it also meant becoming re-engaged with other things I loved to do, and making sure I integrated them into my life each day. So now, that means things like enjoying a chapter (or two…or three) of a good book just before bed, creating a digital art journal layout, or watching something good on Netflix (speaking of Netflix…how GOOD is Mindhunter??? I’m completely obsessed!).

Even if you’re passionately reaching for a goal, don’t lose sight of the rest of your life, because you’ve got a full life to live!