With your passion for film comes the necessary evil of having to market and promote your work. Any person who embarks upon a creative endeavor has to face this darker side of their industry, and most will complain that they are terrible at it. And for good reason! It’s the part of the game that is most insincere and most based on hard work, networking, and all the aspects of modern society that you’d probably most like to avoid if you’re an artist, otherwise you’d be wealthy in your commercial real estate business.
When you finish your film – or even before – you know it’s time to submit to festivals. Yes, Sundance is the major one, but there are countless other exciting and important festivals, from Atlanta to Austin and everywhere between. You will be swamped by the red tape and stamps you have to plow through, lick, and pretend to enjoy. However, the ultimate goal of your submission is of course to be actually picked up, to achieve real world distribution.
Sadly, the numbers don’t like, and most likely you will not get the holy grail of full fledged distribution. In fact you’ll probably be rejected for the festival altogether. That does not necessarily mean you should give it all up and get the commercial real estate license, not at all. But it does mean you’ll have to think a bit outside the box on how to get more than just family and closest friends to see the result of your blood, sweat and tears.
Take some of this important advice:
REVEL IN THE NOW
You can be a curmudgeon and talk about the days of yore (that you weren’t even around for), and discuss how films used to be successful based on merit alone, or you can realize that in a world where any fool can make a feature length film using his telephone, there are going to be greats overlooked and fools over-pushed. Use the changes in the industry to your advantage by being aware of them and not pretending things are different than how they are.
COMBINE OLD AND NEW
When you are aiming to self-promote and distribute your film, it’s important to remember that some folks like it old (DVD) and some like it new (just send me the link, bro!). To force person comfortable with a DVD to watch your Vimeo stream is just as bad as sending a VHS to someone who doesn’t even own a TV much less a VCR. Keeping any and all submission comforts in mind will only help to increase your exposure.
IT’S ALL ABOUT CONTENT
Your film is beautiful and to appreciate it, everyone must sit down and watch it from start to finish. We couldn’t agree with you more and you should be very proud. Unfortunately, many folks are impatient and want to judge a book by its cover. That’s not wrong, it’s human nature. Create as much content as you can – pictures, trailers, twitter posts, hash tags, etc etc, to get your brand, your image, and your name out there.
Social Media (Whether You Like it Or Not)
So many people in all aspects of art – film, music, books – disparage social media as a tool of the simpletons. Hate to break the news, but they are the folks with the dinero. Having a social media presence and a coordinated campaign is not only savvy and smart, but, in these modern times, it’s absolutely essential.