Don’t expect the red carpet treatment straight away…
In the final part of his series on How to Make a Film, experienced Norwich based filmmaker Matthew Stogdon from Cheesemint Productions gives us the tricks of the trade when it comes to promotion.
Releasing and promoting your little film is quite daunting, if only because the process is such an alien one. After you’ve shown your friends, family and anyone else involved how do you get it to the general public? You may say to yourself, what about YouTube? We thought the same thing and eventually it didn’t work in our favour. I think YouTube is a very useful tool but solely relying on it to promote something serious amidst the saturation of pointless vlogs and cat videos is just a hindrance. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all have their place and should be used for trailers, behind the scenes material, interviews, etc but not the finished product and I’ll explain why in a minute. If you were to search for Cheesemint’s YouTube channel, it looks a little underwhelming, yet we’ve been involved in expo panels, convention Q&A’s and finalists in festivals such as the GenCon Indy Film Festival in America.
Set up a production company website. Whatever you and your colleagues are operating under: Bimmy and Jimmy Films, SharkBait Productions, Eyebrows Of The Wicked, whatever. Get a blog going, link it to Email, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts and start telling people about your work.. without actually showing them the finished product. Then go to conventions, review films, attend festivals; bring a camera with you and create something for your site, all the while handing out fliers or business cards, spreading the word about your film/company. It may sound cheap but it’s incredibly useful and instantly broadens your exposure.
But all this is the run up to the biggest move. The reason you don’t want to release your final piece on YouTube is your audience. If you just want to show your film to people you know, then fire away. If you want to show strangers, contact festivals. Film festivals operate all around the world every month of the year. They’re largely inexpensive and the conditions for entering are surprisingly reasonable. Whether a local or international festival, the key factor is to get more people to see your work. Some of them will hate it, some won’t care but at least they’re watching it and you may manage to entertain at least one person; which means the film has done its job. If you’re after money, fame and recognition, you may be in for a long wait but if you simply want to create something and show it to others, this is a guaranteed way in.
You may be saying that’s all well and good but how do I enter film festivals without a massive studio backing me or a publicity department? You don’t need it. Google the name of a British town and the words film festival and chances are you’ll be able to submit to a handful of them. If you’re aiming a little bigger, there’s a website called withoutabox.com which specialises in entering films to various festivals around the world. You submit all the details about your film, including synopses, how it was filmed, what it’s available on (memory stick, DVD, etc.) and you should be able to check whether your film qualifies for entry. Then you pay your entry fee (which ranges depending on the festival you’re entering and how close to the deadline you are) and post it to them. It’s as simple as that.
And after your film has done the rounds, won you the rights to adorn your website and CV with those laurels and granted you an IMDb page, you’ll just start the whole process again. Whether directing a western, a moody drama, a costume and makeup heavy horror, an effects laden science fiction or simply a comedy about a group of people, the simple pattern from conceiving an idea to promoting it will not change. But hopefully your repertoire and reputation will grow and along the way you’ll create something that others will find interesting, amusing or inspirational.