Handy Resources for Indie Filmmakers

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Following the success of our blog post featuring PR and digital marketing resources for indie filmmakers, we’re back with even more general resources! These are things that are too good not to share. After all, it’s all about working smarter, not harder. Here’s some resources we stumbled across recently that we think you’ll like:

Distribution expert Peter Broderick recently taught a masterclass about the New World of Film Distribution at NZ’s Big Screen Symposium 2017, and it was hugely informative. Thankfully, you don’t have to have attended the session to make the most of his information- check out his post on the New World of Film Distribution HERE.

Want to know what types of low budget films break out? film industry Stephen Follows and Founder of The Numbers, Bruce Nash, bring you a comprehensive report that is well worth reading.

For people in the NZ film industry, ScreenSpace is a free website which acts as a classified ads service for people in the industry. Hire/sell equipment and services, post jobs (crew jobs, acting, etc), and more.

Jonathan and Kieran, the creators of ScreenSpace say: “After always struggling to find either a location, cast member, crew member or piece of gear on every shoot we’ve had, we decided to start ScreenSpace to make it easier for New Zealand filmmakers to connect and collaborate – sharing both their resources and expertise. A service by filmmakers for filmmakers to find what they want, when they need it, and for a reasonable price.”

Another excellent resource for NZ filmmakers is Showtools, a cloud-based production system which makes the production process easier. Better yet, Showtools has easy pay-as-you go pricing…and short films are FREE. Keep track of work hours, crew and rentals, and share product information with everyone easily. It’s a smart, affordable resource to make your film production less stressful and more streamlined.

Whether you’re keen to enter your film into a festival, or need to know how the screening dates of prominent festivals could affect your release and/or the publication schedules for film media, check out this handy guide to key festivals and markets.

And finally- some shaaaaaaaaaameless self-promotion: at Film Sprites PR we’re currently taking on films (short and feature-length) for publicity and digital marketing in 2018. The best time to chat with us about PR and social media marketing for your film next year is right now in order to secure our services. From copywriting for your website and IMDb profile, right through to sourcing media placements (features/reviews/interviews) and social media marketing, we do it all. For the past 3.5 years we’ve provided 25+ filmmakers and their films publicity and digital marketing, and because we focus on independent film we know the media landscape and market for indie films. For more info, download our services pamphlet HERE.

Happy filmmaking, folks!

 

Film Sprites PR At Big Screen Symposium 2017

Film Sprites PR at Big Screen Symposium 17

On the weekend of September 30 and October 1st, people from the entire spectrum of the film industry in New Zealand converged on Auckland to take part in Big Screen Symposium 2017. It was Film Sprites PR‘s first year at the Symposium, and due to the fact that we’ve worked mostly with international films thus far, it felt like a bit of a homecoming. For two wonderful days we were treated to a line-up which included speakers from various threads of the industry, including directors, producers, a casting agent, and writers. There was also plenty of time to network and catch up with old friends (as well as make some new ones).

The theme of Big Screen Symposium 17 was Authenticity and Pretence, a theme which is so pertinent in the digital age. As Big Screen Symposium Director Esther Cahill-Chiaroni notes in her introductory letter which accompanied the schedule: “[i]n an age of selfies and fake news, what is the role of the storyteller and how is it that sometimes ‘making shit up’ enables us to get closer to the truth?” Thanks to the wealth of information given via talks, masterclasses and the keynote address, I know we all came away with our own unique answer for that question.

Participants were spoiled for choice when it came to selecting which sessions to attend, because there were so many tempting choices and so many opportunities to learn even more! In particular, I thoroughly enjoyed the masterclass with writer/director David Michôd. I personally consider his first feature, Animal Kingdom, to be one of the finest Australian films of the 21st century, so to hear about the process behind this film (and his latest, War Machine, now on Netflix) was refreshing. I can definitely say his road to the completion of Animal Kingdom is the definition of “authenticity”, especially when it came to the remarkable performances of his cast, including Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver.

Equally engaging was the Casting Matters session with casting director Kerry Barden of Barden Schnee Casting. Kerry’s credits include American Psycho, Spotlight, August: Osage County and Winter’s Bone (and that’s a fraction of his credits!). It was interesting to discover the role of a casting director, the interaction between casting directors and the film’s director and listen to Kerry’s anecdotes about working in the film industry.

From the producing side of things, it was a delight to hear from Kylie du Fresne of Goalpost Pictures Australia (whose producing credits include the smash hit The Sapphires and popular TV series Cleverman), and Midge Sandford (whose first project as Sanford/Pillsbury Productions with her producing partner Sarah Pillsbury was Desperately Seeking Susan). One of the really interesting things that came out of both sessions from both speakers was the concept of having a producing partner, and how beneficial that can be from a producing point of view.

As well as publicity and digital marketing, distribution is one of my great areas of interest in the film industry, so it was a real treat to hear from Peter Broderick, distribution expert, leading the charge in the “New World of Distribution”. His knowledge of distribution is so pertinent, I encourage you to go to his website and make sure you sign up to his mailing list. Peter was knowledgeable, but also incredibly approachable and engaging (and let’s face it- I’m always going to like someone who has a giraffe on their business card and penguins on their website!).

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention NZFC CEO Dave Gibson’s final address in this current position, where he announced additions to NZFC’s gender policy, which you can read here. It’s a step in the right direction to not only encourage women to participate in the film industry, but to continue to support women currently working in the industry as well.

If you want to see the entire line-up of speakers who attended Big Screen 17, you can look on the website. A massive thank-you to everyone involved in the weekend, from the Big Screen Symposium team through to the speakers, sponsors and everyone working behind the scenes to make things run smoothly. I look forward to attending next year.

Lessons From the Marvel Cinematic Universe

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Recently, it was my 36th birthday (hooray! Or maybe boo…I still haven’t decided). For the past 5 years I have been celebrating my birthday the same way: I have a Marvel movie marathon. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a massive Marvel fan- I love the comics and the MCU equally. In fact, you can hear my own “origin story” on the Cinema After Dark Podcast! In fact, working in the Publicity Department of Marvel Studios was definitely my dream job. But, hey, I love what I do now.

Each year, the selection of films in the marathon tend to change due to the fact that the Marvel cinematic universe grows more each year, but the level of enjoyment is still the same.

You may know that on the blog there is a semi-regular feature about cinematic life lessons (Doctor Strange was one of the films to feature recently). During my Marvel movie marathon this year, I thought about how so many of the Marvel films have a wealth of lessons in them (as do the Marvel comics themselves). So seeing as today is National Comic Book Day, I’m bringing you cinematic life lessons from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To avoid frustration: SPOILER ALERT! Yes, there will be spoilers. Hopefully there’s a little bit of inspiration for everyone in this post.

Ready? Suit up and let’s get down to business:

Let the past make you better, not bitter: Ahhh, Loki. He’s got more daddy issues than Gamora and Nebula (and let’s face it- they have a right to be screwed up due to the fact that they have Thanos as a father). Abandoned by his Jotun father for being sickly and small, he was taken in by Odin in case he could be used as a bartering chip with the Jotuns (considering he had been abandoned to die by his father, he’s not exactly going to be a particularly useful bartering chip, but I digress…). Growing up without knowing that he was really an Ice Giant and believing that he was the blood brother of Thor, Loki discovers the secret of his heritage to his horror…and things go downhill from there. Cue slaughtering his birth father, falling from the Bifröst, attempting to enslave Earth, faking his death and ousting his adoptive father from the throne of Asgard. Oh dear.

Now, Loki wasn’t exactly snow white to begin with (no pun intended), but the truth behind his heritage solidified his stance. Instead of rising above his untraditional start in life, he channeled his efforts into rage and maliciousness.

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Loki: cold-hearted….literally.

 

But look at some of the other characters in the Marvelverse- Tony Stark loses both parents in his early twenties, Steve Rogers becomes an orphan as well, and even though T’Challa seeks revenge initially after the death of his father, he ends up offering refuge to the man he believed was responsible for his father’s death.

Every one of us goes through tragedies in our lives. They’re painful, unexpected and life-altering. And while it’s so easy to feel helpless, we have the choice to be better, or remain bitter.

This too shall pass:  Who’d have thought the MCU could teach you about impermanence! Doctor Stephen Strange is a hotshot neurosurgeon. He’s pretty sure that his prowess, success and accolades will last forever. He will save lives and be rewarded for it with praise and a hefty salary. That’s what he went to medical school for, right?

But then a near fatal car accident strips everything away. What he thought was permanent was not. On the flip side, when he came to Kamar-Taj almost completely penniless and hopeless with hands that he believed were worthless, he discovers that this was an impermanent state as well. With the guidance of the Ancient One and opening up his own latent metaphysical abilities, he saw that he could again use his hands for something better. He could again save lives but in a different capacity.

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Stephen Strange: from world-famous neurosurgeon to Sorcerer Supreme

Bad things do not last. But neither do good things. Our lives resemble an ocean’s tide patterns: it ebbs, it flows. So what does one do with this impermanence? I’m not eloquent enough to explain it, but I discovered a beautiful post about the lessons of impermanence and the story of King Solomon’s Ring (which is where the phrase ‘this too shall pass’ comes from) over at The Emotion Machine. It really is worth a read.

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When he’s actually opening the door for you but you think it’s a hug… #awkward

Got goals? Find a mentor: Peter Parker has Tony. Doctor Strange had the Ancient One. When you’re learning new skills, or reaching for your goals a mentor is a huge asset. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to traipse through the streets of Kathmandu or be found via YouTube by a billionaire philanthropist playboy. Check out our post on How To Find A Mentor (And Be A Fabulous Mentoree).

With friends, it’s quality, not quantity: in the digital age we’re likely to have a huge amount of friends and followers on social media, but how many good friends do we have in ‘real life’? The most poignant friendship in the whole of the MCU has got to be that of Cap and Bucky. Steve and Bucky were childhood friends who grew up together and eventually fought together after Steve managed to rescue Bucky’s captured squadron in Italy during WWII. They would end up fighting together again in order to keep Bucky from being captured after he was wrongly accused of the bombing which killed T’Challa’s father during the signing of the Sokovia Accords. Even though Steve counts Sam Wilson (Falcon) as one of his close friends, and was close to Tony Stark pre-Civil War, Bucky will always be the numero uno bestie in Cap’s life.

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Steve without Bucky is like macaroni without cheese

As for other prominent BFFs in the Marvelverse? Tony’s got a lot of fame and prestige, and that has a tendency to draw a lot of fake friends. Thankfully, he’s found a cerebral chum in Bruce Banner, the two of them sharing a love of science and tech (even if they did unleash Ultron and have to clean up the mess afterwards). Peter Parker’s got Ned, a massively devoted bestie who ends up being able to help Peter under pressure (and sometimes egging him on to do things he shouldn’t do, like disabling the tracker in his new enhanced Spidey suit and unlocking the full range of features in the suit). You don’t need a million friends to make your life interesting! You’re an interesting person as you are and a few good friends are worth more than a million fakes.

Don’t just settle for what you’re good at: Post- Super Serum infusion (and the melee that followed), Steve was offered a role touring with the USO as Captain America, a patriotic character to help bolster support for the war effort and the purchasing of war bonds. After initial reluctance, he began to shine in the role, the character of Captain America being good publicity for the US war effort overseas. But there’s only so many times you can punch Hitler onstage without getting tired of it. By the time Steve and the USO land in Italy to entertain the troops, he’s pretty much had enough of not being able to fight alongside the troops. So when he hears that Bucky’s squadron is MIA, he defies direct orders, saves the squad…and the rest is history.

You can spend a lifetime doing what you’re good at, or you can stretch yourself further, gain new skills and expand your world even more.

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Gamora and Nebula: taking sibling rivalry to the extreme

Sometimes family are the people we choose: the Marvelverse is definitely a place of family dysfunction. There’s the whole Loki situation, Gamora and Nebula’s fractious relationship (which, when your Papa is an intergalactic megalomaniac who forced you to fight one another is pretty understandable), Natasha never knew the meaning of the word ‘family’ and was trained to be an assassin from a young age, and Peter Quill’s papa was a Celestial! These families aren’t the stuff of dreams by any imagination. Sometimes, instead of having close ties to blood relatives, we form bonds with people that are unrelated to us. We create a family. The most obvious example of this in the MCU is the Guardians of the Galaxy. Here’s a ragtag bunch of intergalactic outlaws, but they’ve banded together as a familial unit (albeit a chaotic one). And before Peter met up with Gamora, Groot, Drax and Rocket, he was welcomed into the fold by Yondu and his Ravagers…even if Peter spent most of his life convincing the Ravagers not to eat him. Of course, by the end of GotG Vol 2 the team have got a teenaged Groot on their hands…ohhh boy…!

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I’m not sure I’m ready for Teenaged Groot, so here’s an excuse to put a picture of Baby Groot in this post for maximum cute factor. Awwww.

It’s not about the super-suit: it’s cheesy but true: it’s what’s inside that counts. Look at Steve Rogers! Even when facing Red Skull he declares he’s “just a kid from Brooklyn”. Well, that kid from Brooklyn was skinny and small until he was given the Super Soldier Serum via Dr Erskine and a dose of Vita Rays thanks to Stark Industries. But the Serum enhances what is already inside the patient. In Johan Schmidt’s case, it amplified his evil and turned him into the grotesque Red Skull. In Steve’s case it made him faster and stronger. But pre-Serum or post-Serum, one thing remained the same with Steve: he had a good heart and a sense of right or wrong. He lined up countless times at recruiting offices (albeit illegally sometimes), because he was passionate about serving his country and defeating the enemy. When he hears about Bucky’s squadron being captured in Italy, he’s not going to wait for anyone else to intervene when he knows he can help. His good nature may have enhanced his abilities post-Serum, but it was there all along.

Here’s another example: Peter Parker. Yes, he’s got superpowers, but before Tony Stark got involved (and gave him a tricked out new suit), he was saving people in a DIY suit. He doesn’t just have the superpowers, he’s got the brain to match, something that no bite from a radioactive spider could provide. And when he gets into a massive mess and Tony takes the enhanced suit away, he’s left without web options, suit warming and other functions the Stark suit had provided. He’s got to rely on the powers he has, his cunning, and the help of bestie Ned.

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Yeah, you’re cool. But are you “Peter Parker in the enhanced Spider-Man suit, sitting on a balcony, eating a sandwich” cool?

And speaking of Tony Stark, remember Iron Man 3? Tony spent most of the movie without his suit. He has to rely on his ingenuity and an array of home-made weapons. What happens when you lose everything you’ve relied on, including your home and your tech? You summon up your wits, your strength, and everything you have inside you to face the challenge.

Doctor Strange may have become the owner of the Cloak of Levitation, but prior to the Cloak becoming part of his arsenal he was a fast learner of sorcery, using his photographic memory to whiz through ancient texts that would take another student twice as long. He transcended the failing of his hands as a surgeon to become a sorcerer and defend the world from intergalactic threats. This ability had been in him all along, but he needed the right guidance and training in order to bring it to light.

The suit, the tech, the outside trappings….they’re nothing compared to what’s inside us all. We don’t need capes to be heroes. We don’t have to be genetically enhanced or be the child of a Celestial to achieve greatness. It’s all there inside us, an untapped source of power and greatness. Go forth and find your own inner superpowers.

Why There’s No Such Thing As A Wasted Opportunity

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Many years ago, I trained to be a primary school teacher*. I was fresh out of high school, the world was big and uncertain and I chose to go to Teacher’s College. On the first day in our first class, our lecturer got us to introduce ourselves to one another. There were so many bright, bubbly people who were excited to be undertaking the journey. Some had waited their entire lives to become a teacher.

And…then there was me.

I couldn’t tell you why I wanted to be a teacher. I think partly it was parental pressure, partly trying to suppress my real desire to work in the film industry. So I persisted with this path for 3 years. I did well with the academic work, my teaching placements also went well. I was one teaching placement and a university paper away from graduating when I decided that this really wasn’t for me.

I felt like a complete and utter failure. My parents were supportive of my decision to leave, but I knew they were disappointed as well. In hindsight, it was the right thing to do- schools need teachers who are 100% passionate about what they do and can instill that into their teaching. The classmates I had whose eyes lit up on the first day and had wanted to teach from a very young age were exactly what the education system desperately needed (and subsequently they have gone on to have very successful teaching careers).

But what at first seemed like a complete loss was actually a gift. I may not have gained my teaching degree, but along the way I gained valuable skills which transferred over into everything I did subsequently. Even now, the skills I gained all those years ago are appropriate for the work I do in publicity. There’s not a lot of difference between the research, planning, implementation and review of a lesson plan and the research, planning, implementation and review of a publicity campaign. Teaching taught me how to be adaptable, to manage my time effectively and work with a wide range of people. Better yet, when I did a Bachelor of Arts a few years later I was able to cross-credit some of my teaching courses over into my BA and ended up completing my degree in 2.5 years instead of 3.

I firmly believe that there is no such thing as a wasted opportunity. Even in your bitterest disappointments, you’ll find a diamond in the ashes. You might have to wait a while to find that diamond (because let’s face it- disappointments are awful and you might ruminate for a while), but it’s there. If you’re in the indie film industry, you’ll know that sometimes productions fall through, you might not get the role, or locations that were initially viable at the start of production are taken off the table suddenly. None of this is a waste of time. A production that stalls or doesn’t go through to post is valuable experience. The role you didn’t get gave you the opportunity to audition and put yourself in front of an agent and director and put yourself on their radar for future projects. The location you had your heart set on that was made unavailable may open the way for a better location.

A few years ago I spoke to a filmmaker whose short was crowdfunding on Kickstarter. With Kickstarter, it’s a case of “all or nothing” for funding, and the campaign didn’t look like it was going to reach 100%. The filmmaker was incredibly positive about things. “OK, we’re not going to get the funding. That’s fine,” he said to me, “but having our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter meant we were able to gain positive awareness around our campaign, so we’ve got a solid grounding for the next steps”.  He subsequently used the data from the campaign to look at what worked, what didn’t and what they could do in the future to ensure they had a successful campaign.

Currently, I am transitioning from working for myself to potentially joining a new PR team and that has meant sending out a lot of applications and getting in touch with agencies. I’m not worried about rejections, because connecting with agencies is another opportunity to network, and at the very least they are aware of me and what I have been doing as a freelancer. I chose to look at this undertaking as being a positive one, no matter what. Eventually, there will be the right position and it may come from somewhere completely unexpected. You can never underestimate the power of networking- there are times when someone will know of another person who is looking for exactly the skillset you possess and can put you in touch.

So if you receive a rejection e-mail, you don’t get a callback or things go kaput on a production- find the gift in it. There’s always some experience or skill you have gained during the process that can be of use later on, you just have to find it.

*= for those of you who are American, primary school is the equivalent of elementary school.

The One Thing We Need to STOP Doing on Social Media

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Earlier this week I logged into my e-mail to see a message from an acquaintance. We’d been connected via Facebook. Upon opening the message, all I see is a banner for his film. There’s no salutation, no explanation…just the banner. Curious, I emailed him back to ask why he had sent it to me.

“Well, I know you’re interested in social media so I e-mailed it to  you for your awareness”.

Awareness achieved…albeit negatively. Perhaps if he had told me more about the film and what he wanted to achieve by sending the picture, I might have been more receptive.

The one thing we need to STOP doing on social media is treating people like receptacles for links.

 

Regardless of whether it’s messaging your IMDb link to someone without context, or using a third-party provider to send an auto DM to your followers when they follow you, we need to get back to having the ‘social’ in ‘social media’. Recently on the blog I mentioned that we need to work smarter, not harder when it comes to social media- especially when you’re trying to gain awareness for your film. No matter what industry you are in, forging strong connections with people in your network is key. Think I’m wrong? Watch Joe Wilson’s video on Film Courage about actors spamming people on Twitter (note: contains swearing).

Imagine you’re at a conference and there’s a networking cocktail hour. People are milling about, catching up and talking about the day’s events. And then there’s you- you have a billion sheets of paper that only have the link to your film’s crowdfunding campaign on them. Instead of organically networking and getting to know people, you throw the paper up in the air and hope that as it falls, people take notice. That’s what social media can feel like at times, instead of being a conversation. One of the advantages that independent and micro-budget filmmakers have is that they have the ability to make the most of social media. Big blockbusters have PR departments, directors may have their own social media accounts but their engagement can be few and far between, depending on scheduling and whether or not they have someone else managing their personal social media feeds or not. With indies and micro-budgets, most of the time it’s you on the other end of the conversation. So instead of thrusting links upon people…engage with your followers. After all, one of the most important parameters of digital marketing is engagement. You can have all the followers you could possibly want, but if engagement levels are low, it’s not good. That’s how you can tell if someone has bought social media followers: the engagement levels don’t correlate with follower numbers.

Additionally, if you are approaching someone to assist you in any way, be it via e-mail or a social media message, approach them as if you were to approach anyone you’d like assistance from outside of social media. Sending a picture with the hopes it gets shared (and sans message) doesn’t cut it. It just doesn’t. Does that mean I’m not guilty of these social media sins? Not at all! I put my hand on my heart and say that as I was learning and growing, I committed some pretty gnarly social media and publicity sins. Everything is a learning process.

Another way of gaining awareness around your project is to help other people out. Take competition out of the equation, especially if you are an indie filmmaker. You’re not scrambling for those box office dollars (not yet, anyway!). If someone is looking for equipment to hire for a weekend shoot, share their info or point them in the right direction. If you know two people who could benefit from meeting one another and networking, introduce them. Being a connector is a great way of not only assisting others with their goals, it’s great karma. Plus, there will come a time when someone thinks of you when it comes to an opportunity, and will gladly connect you to the right person.

And yes, I’m counting myself as a recipient of this blog post, and as needing this message too. At times, I have been guilty of treating people like link receptacles as well. It’s all part of the human experience. So, from now on, let’s make even more of a concerted effort to really connect with the people who have chosen to follow/like us online. Deal? Deal.

 

You Matter: A Call To All Creatives, Dreamers and Entrepreneurs

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When I was 10 years old, I had a teacher who decided it was a good idea to put the word “eccentric” on my personal record. I would never had found out about this, had it not been a rainy day when all of the class was inside and my personal record was open on the desk. Her bowels turned to liquid the moment I saw her after lunch and said: “I’m eccentric, am I?” I remember the blood draining from her face as she realised she had left my record open on the desk for all to see…including myself.

For years, that one comment, written in ballpoint pen, haunted me. I’d been called “weird” by my classmates…but to have an adult say it (especially one in a position of prominence in my life)…it must a)be true and b)also be a really, really bad thing. So I let it rattle around in my head for years and years, and instead of embracing the fact that being eccentric could actually be a good thing, I let it erode my confidence and my interactions with other people. As I got older, however, I discovered that being a little bit “different” in other people’s eyes is actually a good thing. I used to get bullied for being interested in computers, and now they’re commonplace, and as a result of being an early adopter of personal computing in the 1980s I was able to jump on the social media zeitgeist early as well.

Why am I telling you my personal sob story about being the “weird kid”? Because so many of us out there were the “weird kids” growing up. We were the ones who were bullied for what was deemed socially “uncool”, the things our peers  (and sometimes family members) didn’t understand. Quite often, it’s the creatives, dreamers and entrepreneurs of this world who have had to endure the pain of being isolated for what they love and who they are. I love this quote from George R.R. Martin (when Tyrion is giving counsel to Jon Snow):

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

 

Whether you’re in the process of making your first film, working on a fledgling business, or trying to make your life better after tragedy, know this- you matter. Birthing anything into the world can be a lonely process, filled with doubt, regardless of the medium or purpose. There will be some friends and family who don’t understand what you’re doing. Well-meaning people will tell you “horror stories” to try and make you “see sense”. Sometimes, you will walk the path alone- it’s your path to walk, nobody else’s. There’s a reason for that, and it’s got nothing to do with your inherent worth. Remember (and I’m about to geek out on you again here) in The Empire Strikes Back where Yoda was instructing Luke, and Luke had to enter the cave by himself? Exactly. Did he end up alone at the end of the film? Nope. He was alone again *SPOILER ALERT* when Rey meets up with him at the end of Ep VII, but again there would have been a reason for him to be alone, because that was yet another point on his journey where he needed to tread the path on his own.

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Photo by Rich Lock on Unsplash

Believe in yourself and your dream. First and foremost, you need to be your own cheerleader. When others see how much you believe in what you are doing, and how passionate you are about it, that’s when you start to open doors.

The world needs you. Whether you’re writing your first novel, teaching drama to underprivileged children, or composing a score for a film, we need the creatives, entrepreneurs and dreamers of the world to help make the world less lonely, less bland. And yes, there have been times throughout my journey where I have had dark teatimes of the soul, times when it seemed easier to tap out than to continue…but if you get into a similar situation, ask yourself: if I quit today, what will tomorrow look like? In my case, I couldn’t bear to think about a tomorrow that didn’t involve working in the film industry. I just couldn’t. It was a lifelong love, and would physically hurt if I quit. Things have been tough, but I’ve taken it one day at a time and kept going.

So, why did I choose to write about this, instead of a post about social media marketing, filmmaking or publicity? Because sometimes you just need to hear that there are other people out there that have gone through the same things you have. Sometimes, you need to know that other people “get” the creative struggle. Let this be your sign that you are seen and heard…and that you matter.

The Indie Filmmaker’s PR and Digital Marketing Toolkit

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Over the years at Film Sprites PR, we’ve amassed a mountain of really useful resources for independent filmmakers; everything from graphic design lifesavers for your social media graphics, through to inexpensive (or free) ways to advertise your independent film to your audience. They’re all things we’ve been recommending to our clients, and now I want to share them with you. They’re not huge trade secrets- just things that we personally rave about and things that work.

In addition to these resources, we’re also including a ‘sanity saving’ section, additional books to add to your reading list, as well as some inspirational resources to help keep your momentum up. Let’s face it- every bit helps when you’re working hard for your dreams.

Advertising/Promotion

While social media and organic publicity is great, sometimes it’s a good idea to reach out to places that can do paid or unpaid promotion, or provide advertising space. If you’ve got a horror film to promote, we thoroughly recommend PromoteHorror.com. They have a range of options with minimal pricing, but they also provide free services, like the posting of press releases (and they’re exceptionally prompt about it!). Popcorn Horror also has advertising packages available. Also, whether you have a short, a feature or a webseries, our media partner FilmDebate has a FREE promotion section. Click HERE to read all the details.

And, hey- I’m going to be cheeky and shamelessly self-promote. Here at Film Sprites PR we offer publicity and digital marketing services to independent filmmakers; from crowdfunding campaign promotion and support through to securing media placements (reviews, interviews, features), and social media marketing (both feature and short films). We can also provide copywriting services for websites and IMDb biographies. Get in touch with us to see how we can assist you. Email us at: thefilmsprites@gmail.com.

Additional Good Reads for Filmmakers

You may have seen our recent post about great reads for filmmakers, but since then I’ve found more reads that need to be added to the list! Firstly, Dean Silvers’ book, Secrets of Breaking into the Film & TV Business is a great read. Just like Julia Verdin and Matt Dean’s Success in Film, Dean breaks down every step of film production, financing and promotion. It’s not only useful, it’s genuinely enjoyable to read. If you have an interest in film marketing (both indie and mainstream), Film Marketing into the Twenty-First Century is a great read. A series of academic articles, it looks at different topics within the film marketing sphere, so you may choose to read the entire book or just focus on topics that interest you. There’s an excellent piece about international voice casting and subsequent publicity for the Ice Age franchise, as well as publicity around the high frame rate of the Hobbit trilogy.

Our “Cheat Sheet” Posts

As you may know, we’ve been providing “cheat sheet” blog posts which cover the ins and outs of indie film publicity and digital marketing. Here’s a list of posts that can assist you at various stages of production:

Crowdfunding: notes on looking after yourself during your crowdfunding campaign can be found HERE. We also show you how to harness Twitter for your film’s crowdfunding campaign. And what about after your crowdfunding campaign? We show you how to maintain connection with your contributors post-campaign as well.

Publicity and Digital Marketing Timelines: our most popular post gave a handy timeline for generating publicity and social media coverage for indie films, which you can read HERE. We’ve also broken that timeline down even further and with more information in our post about publicity prep in pre-production and filming, and publicity prep from post-production to release.

Social Media: we gave you the lowdown on the most annoying things you can do when promoting your film via social media, as well as giving you some handy alternatives. We also answered the questions we’re most frequently asked by filmmakers.

Pitching to Media Outlets: There will come a time when, if you have to do most of the heavy lifting on your indie film yourself, you will need to pitch to media outlets to secure reviews, interviews or features. We’ve got you covered when it comes to this process! We give you a breakdown of what to do (and how to do it) when pitching your film to media, as well as identifying what’s newsworthy about your film to make it even more appealing to media outlets.

Sanity Saving Resources

Sometimes things can feel impossible, the pressures insurmountable…or sometimes things are just plain awful. It’s a good time to seek out some inspiration! TED talks can be incredibly uplifting. Check out these great talks by J.J. Abrams, Jeff Skoll, and Deborah Scranton. The incredible Marie Forleo and her interviews with creatives and entrepreneurs like Seth Godin, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Tony Robbins (just to name a few!) are definitely a good watch if you’re feeling down or uninspired.

And sometimes the best thing to do when you’re not feeling so great is to get up and get those endorphins firing. Whether you choose to have a short walk, a run on the streets or a jog on the treadmill to get rid of the existential funk, we’ve created a special Spotify playlist for you. Lots of tunes to get you moving and feeling better.

Hopefully there’s something for everyone in this list of resources. Happy filmmaking!