Marketing your film through design

Recently a close friend of ours sold his film to a distribution company. Within the distributions companies contract they included the costs of re-marketing the film.

Within the film industry there are many levels of marketing, each changes as the process of creating the finished product.

Initially you will have a concept of the film, along with a synopsis, a script and from this you are likely to require various marketing materials to encourage investment, sponsorship or fan-funding. These marketing materials will provide the essence of what your film could look like. They will be an insight into your vision for the project.

During the pre-production, fundraising stage what marketing materials will I need for my film?

Synopsis

Short description of your film, this should not give away too much of your story but should be enough to capture the imagination and reveal what your film is actually about.

Script 

Investors and companies who pay for product placement will want to know what happens within the scene their product will be featured in and how it will be featured. Equally investors may wish to see the full script, certain investors will ask for elements to be changed to increase the marketability of a film.

Poster

Having a film poster is probably the most obvious part of your film marketing efforts, even though this poster will be changed once your film gets picked up by a distribution company or even a sales agent, you need to ensure your poster looks like a finished piece and not just a concept. Early film posters will not require the block text at the bottom of the image for the most part this is because not all the required roles will have been filled and are subject to change.

Project Website

Having a website helps with keeping your investors unto date. Equally it is a great place to put more information about your film, such as newly acquired cast members, and key crew members. The added advantage is that your website will make your production look more professional especially if it gets updated often. Plus people can contact you about your film through the website. Even if you don’t have the funds for a project website go for a production website to help promote your projects.

Production Company Website

Having your own production company website also helps with the professionalism of your project. The advantage to a production website is the ability to promote all of your projects and you can have segments of your website dedicated to different projects. Displaying more projects which your company is involved with may also help with gaining more investment especially as you will have a track record of projects.

Social Media

Facebook pages, twitter, periscope, youtube etc, which ever social media group you feel most comfortable updating regularly will help promote the film. Even in the early stages of your film it is a good idea to promote it. Simply because you’re raising awareness of the project and the more people who know about the project could mean you get a better investment deal or distribution deal.

Social media can also help as method of finding actors for the roles, along with casting websites. Always do a live casting session in person.

Cast

Obviously you will want the best cast you can afford in your film, unknowns may not bring in the viewers but they can be great actors. Ideally you should seek a balance between unknown and the more known actors or even more known people who want to dabble in acting.

Using more well known people opens doors for investment, backers and marketing opportunities. With radio, TV and magazine interviews and hopefully a more engaged social media audience.

During filming what marketing do I need to do?

Social Media
Ideally you would have already set this up during the pre-production. Throughout the filming phase you want to be making those interested aware of how far through the production is. There’s a few advantages to this.

1. this interested have the feeling that they themselves are involved, it creates a form of investment and this becomes an ideal way to find out what your potential viewers will think.

2. Updating in real time shows the lengthy process of film making, yes the actors may only be on set two hours a day acting but they’re spending another hour in prep, plus you have to organise the shoot too.

3. For independent filmmakers social media provides you with the opportunity to ask for assistance if something isn’t quite working to plan. This also increases the investment people are making into your film, becoming it’s own community.

Posters

At this stage your posters can start to change, you are no longer seeking investment and your posters will be moving on from the concept stage. Admittedly it does sound odd that your poster has changed but new actors, locations and even things you hadn’t envisioned yet can make for some amazing poster designs.

You can get away with having featured screen grabs and released images of locations and behind the scenes if your budget doesn’t allow for a full updated poster. These updates should ideally also feature on your projects website or your production companies website depending on which is the best option for you.

Post production marketing

Pretty much this is the same as what you are doing through the filming stages, this time round your screen grabs are coming direct from the editing time line and are hopefully colour graded to show the quality of the final pieces.

Again keep your investors and backers even those supporters updated as to what stage you are at. Small snippets of ‘unimportant’ scenes can be released as small teasers and this also becomes the ideal time to make any music video for the theme songs which accompany your film.

Screening

A private screening for cast and crew and those who have funded the film, it all helps when it comes to seeing errors. So far you’ve probably been working on smaller screens and taking something to the big screen just amplifies any minor errors, the major ones should have been spotted, occasionally there will be a few major errors if time isn’t on your side. 

Word of warning
If you want to get distributers on board do not hold a premier, this is for your distribution company to organise and holding a premier can affect any potential distribution deals. 

Distribution

The so called easy option is to get a distribution company or sales agent to deal with the distribution and marketing side of things. A big thing to look into is what you will require legally to get the distribution deal along side the more creative elements. Talk to distributers and sales agents and get their take on what you need.

Ideally you need to do this in the early stages of your production, so there are no nasty surprises once you’ve completed your masterpiece.

The distribution company or sales agent will take over the marketing of your film, modifying posters, designing the DVD covers and producing all the necessary artwork.

Do it your self distribution

A greater challenge but if you have an active social network which engages with your audience your job has just been made a little easier.

Even though you’re distributing yourself it is worthwhile speaking to distribution and sales agents to see what legal aspects need to be completed, alternatively you can speak to an entertainment lawyer for some advice.

It is also worthwhile to keep updating your social media to maintain the interest whilst the film is out of your hands.

If you do decide to self distribute where are you going to sell your film?

Through your own website – you’ll have to be active on social media, attend related film festivals, perhaps even ask some film festivals if they can show your film or at the very least a trailer to your film. 

Through a large company such as amazon – you can use amazon to publish your work, there’s potentially the option to stream and download the movie obviously these sites will take a cut of your percentage but you won’t be out of pocket with thousands of DVDs going nowhere. Again you will need an active and engaged social media network.

You could also make contact with the supermarkets and other outlet shops such as book shops where they sell films as well. This is where the legal stuff will be more important as the stores will want to know they are protected if you’ve infringed on anyones copyright. There is also the challenge of getting through the doors of the sales team.

Going the self distribution route means you have to recreate the posters, the trailers, the DVD covers and the internal booklet of information. You also have to source who can cost effectively provide you with blu-rays, DVDs, and your printed materials.  All marketing is down to you, and often the marketing budget is far greater than the budget of the film.

Final thoughts

There are no certainties when it comes to film making, you are not guaranteed to make money even if you sell your film, you may even loose money. It is one of the riskiest businesses to invest in but it is also one of the more exciting industries. Things are ever evolving and capturing the audience at the early stages is paramount. Retaining and growing this audience relies on visual cues showcasing the ever changing progression of your film. Design can help provide these cues without giving away the story of the film.

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