Some of the many rewards of creating a film festival include getting an oversight into how films/productions present themselves online. Women Of The Lens Film Digital Broadcast Festival requested films via Filmfreeway an excellent portal for film submissions and from here it was clear to see which productions were thinking ahead in terms of storytelling beyond the last roll of the camera.
As Independent filmmakers without the budget of the latest Marvel blockbuster film, one has to corral as many low-key tactics to generate audience engagement, press interest, social media following, film festival criteria and juice for the long-haul extension of the life of one’s film.
One of the elements, which I believe is central to Women Of The Lens is being able to give filmmakers shine, or profile them well across our platforms. The success of this was often predicated by the imagery and comprehensive information the filmmaker was able to provide the Festival.
Below are some key ingredients for building a repertoire in the industry.
I cannot stress enough the importance of pictures for film promotion. Filmmakers clearly understand the importance of imagery during the filmmaking process, yet I’m still taken aback by those that struggle when it comes to marketing their film. It’s amazing to me to still see productions thinking about pictures after the final wrap when everyone’s gone home and/or onto their next roles! This is the time when the crew finally realise they need strong images for film posters, media kits, social media banners, or stills to fill a website! Think about it in terms of DVD extras. Ask yourself, how would you be able to fill the DVD extras space on a disc?
If your images are strong enough you might even see them used as part of a festival’s promotional aspects as the film Proclamation Punctuation (dir. Sewra G Kidane) was used by Women Of The Lens. Most of the major film festivals do this.
The promotional aspect of filmmaking begins with the script, then on set. It’s key to have a stills photographer on site to take those all-important images. You might even engage a graphic artist to draw your cast or scenes. Interview your cast and key crew on set. This can be achieved as simply as using a mobile phone. It’s often harder to pin anyone down once your production’s wrapped as crew and cast move on to other engagements.
Website creation couldn’t be more contemporarily simple. Gone are the days when one needed to be fluent in computer programme language in order to set up a website presence. Sites such as Squarespace, Wix and Weebly are just three that offer reasonably priced options. Of course you can engage a professional web designer for this, but you must include it in your budget (and add hosting and support costs for at least 12 months).
How you fill your website is often determined by how you want to brand. Do you want to brand personally as a director, or will the film play centre stage? A good example of this for the Festival was Roxana Vilk and her film Hopscotch. On the director’s website, Roxana has a collection of her creativity as a musician, filmmaker and writer, as well as her awards and campaigns.
Setting up your film’s social media is also easy. Keep it simple. Stick to three platforms at most to begin with – the choice of which is determined by your audience demographic. So for example, if you’re going to reach 16 to 25-year-olds forget Facebook, they left this platform generations ago.
If you want to engage press, make things easy for PRs and/or journalists. Have a comprehensive media kit, which contains strong images, trailers, synopsis and other film information.
Make a plan of action for film festivals. Which ones will you enter and why? Be realistic. Of course you’ll need to budget for this too.
You’re thinking, ‘how am I going to afford all of this?’ Add it to your primary budget. It’s often harder to secure funding for this important element of filmmaking after you’ve spent all your finances on the production. It’s a move I often see during crowdfunding when the filmmaking process is wrapped. Another crowdfund request is made for the film’s promotion and marketing. My question is this; why didn’t you do that in the first place, now you want more money from me?
Finally…film trailers. My view is this; if your film is one minute long, you can still make a trailer! Make. A. Trailer.
Below are just four films from Women Of The Lens Festival, which made promoting them easy for most of the reasons above.
Jennifer G. Robinson is the Founder/Director of Women Of The Lens Film Digital Broadcast Festival