Having the germ of an idea for a great indie film and seeing it through from beginning to end seems like the hardest part of the film industry. Effective story telling, using the little resources you’ve got, and making a product that is highly received and leads to greater things? That’s the secret to success! Wrong, however. The most over-looked and yet most important aspect of the indie film world is distribution.
It’s so simple. Would Mozart be Mozart if no one had heard his music? Would Charles Darwin be a worldwide household name if his theories of evolution had never been published?
So in this day and age where everyone with an iPhone can now make a decent looking video (at least for the internet), how do you distribute your film? How do you get it out into the world?
The first lesson is that there’s no wrong – other than doing nothing at all. If you think starting a Twitter feed for your movie will help, it probably will. If you want to make download cards, it’ll help. Anything and everything, the more the merrier.
But let’s talk specifics. You want to get publicity, you need publicity, so it’s up to you to create a forum for that publicity to start. Create a blog or a website, a place where you can put out a public face of this movie. You may think uploading to YouTube is enough but that’s incorrect. You need a place where you can talk about the film, the behind the scenes, the inspiration; any and all content is important to put out there. People want to engage. Never before have people been able to connect so easily with fans, either via twitter or other social media. People want that now and you would be remiss not to focus on that.
You also should make trailers and clips that can be shared among your friends and family and their friends and family. If you have a 15 minute movie, you’ll want a 60-second teaser that can lure people in. No one will watch a 15 minute movie on a whim, but they will if they’ve been properly enticed by a 60-second trailer. Upload these clips to Vimeo and YouTube and get people buzzing about your film.
You will want to have your film available also on DVD, an actual physical item that can be purchased or given away as a promotion. You may think that you don’t have the money upfront to make a huge run of DVD’s, but that’s ok. You can design a cover and burn DVD’s yourself until you generate the resources to make a professional printing. It’s a totally legitimate way of presenting your film, and even gives it that much more of a personal touch. Sometimes it’s even better to have a handmade DVD cover as opposed to a manufactured one. You can even sell these DVD’s on Amazon and other online retailers if you get a bar code/UPC label, which I recommend.
Lastly, you want to get into as many festivals as you can. The application process is daunting and time consuming, but the exposure you gain from being admitted to these fests is irreplaceable. You can also set up your own independent screenings at the art theater in your home town, or at your university. Any showing of your film helps; not only do more people see it, but having a back history of many showings helps others take it seriously when they’re perusing your website.
Good luck, stay focused, and work hard!