Sometimes it might seem like 1% of directors hold 99% of the film budget in the world. For the other 99% of filmmakers, budgets are very tight and squeezing the most out of your budget can make or break the success of your film. In this article, we break down some cost-effective tools, strategies, and methodologies available to promote your film.
When do you start promoting your film?
You can start creating the marketing for your film the very same day you decide to make a film. In today’s world of DIY marketing and with the power of social media, you no longer need a huge corporation backing you to give your movie legs. Use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets to your advantage by sharing and discussing your movie with your communities. You may be thinking, “Duh! I was actually going to send carrier pigeons to my friends to announce the movie,” True everyone knows you must use social media, but there’s always the question of what to post on these social media platforms.
What do you need to promote your film?
You’ve heard it before. Content is king. In order to keep your movie top of mind (TOMA), it’s important to have engaging content to fill your social feeds.
With that in mind, create your Content Wishlist. This is a list of promotional tools you can keep in your back pocket. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but it can provide specifications and reminders of what you’ll need on hand. The last thing you want is to be unprepared when you just Instagrammed your last crew shot and your film’s release isn’t scheduled for another 2 months.
• Behind the scenes footage
• Trailers (See Below)
• Explainer video (See Below)
• Cast and Crew photos
• Film Title and Logo
Remember, this is just a bare-bones list. There are so many different types of content you can utilize to drive interaction with your audiences. You can create an online auction of costume/wardrobe pieces and pair it with 2 premiere tickets, take pictures of your storyboard to share the filmmaking process or even crowdsource for suggestions on fonts and logo. Think outside of the box, creativity always wins with successful promotion.
70/20/10 – How do I use this content?
70% = Building brand awareness. This can consist of behind the scenes footage, cool photos, interviews, etc. Remember, this is not selling, this is strictly building a brand around your movie.
20% = Shared content. This means being an active part of the relevant community. Support other filmmaker projects, cross-promote with them, share their efforts. Be a part of the community that will ultimately support you.
10% = Self-Promotion. At the end of the day, you gotta pay the bills, right!? This can consist of posts about the release date, ticket cost, premiere announcements, etc. Anything that affects the monetary side of your film.
As a filmmaker, this is probably the promotional part you are most comfortable with, which is great because trailers are the ultimate selling tool! The sooner you can prepare your trailer, the better. What is your movie going to look like? Feel like? Your trailer will go a long way towards generating hype and giving audiences a first impression of your film. It’s important to have varied lengths for different uses as most platforms have different specs (see above). The most common lengths are 30, 60, and 90 seconds.
Facebook offers awesome 6-second ad spots you can utilize to reach wide audiences economically. If you can make a 6-second cut or teaser/explainer video this can be a great cost-effective tool!
Actual marketing/advertising budget, strategy
We’ve talked content to death, let’s finally talk about marketing/advertising budget. We’re not discussing what you should spend here, but ways to keep costs down and what you can expect to pay per view of your content.
On Facebook and YouTube, if you have a successful marketing/ad campaign you can find yourself paying $0.01 a view. So for $100 you can potentially reach 10,000 unique, targeted people. “Unique” meaning, you can set certain parameters in your campaign so you do not reach the same person more than once.
It can be a good idea to divide your ad budget. A simple rule of thumb would be to use 50% of your budget for film promotion, advertising, marketing etc., and 25% of your budget for re-marketing to fans who have already engaged with your original campaign. Re-marketing is a key tactic to secure fans who may be interested, but not totally sold. The final 25% can be left to move around to whatever’s working.
If you’re seeing a ton of success with your original marketing push, you can throw some money there. If you’re getting a ton of conversion with re-marketing (conversion in this instance, rather than signups, could be likes, shares, followers, etc.), push the extra 25% there. If you say, “The hell with marketing I want to make some t-shirts!”, use the final 25% to create some merchandise! Be creative with your 25%!
Pro tip – You may find more success advertising locally for an indie film. This is not only cheaper than international advertising but will likely be more effective at the indie film level. Use your budget where you will see more success, not necessarily where you want to see more success.
Launch Party – Premiere
You’ve worked your tail off for this moment! Finished your final cut, gathered a plethora of content, become a marketing wiz, now it’s time to make this a memorable night. Use the content you’ve generated throughout the filming process to promote the heck out of your premiere and create evangelists from your fans.
Plan a pre-party, prepare a slideshow, and inspire your crew and actors to promote the event through their social media. The most important thing is to make this a night to remember!
How do I keep the momentum going?
The premiere’s over, your friends, family, and fans loved it. Now what? Comparatively, as musicians, we finish our record, distribute it and then think the album will have its own legs. Contrary to popular belief, this is actually where the real work starts and your content wishlist comes in handy. Post content from the premiere, repost and engage with fans on social media who are discussing and raving about your film, submit to film festivals, etc. With just a little bit of preparation and some solid strategy, you can put your film in a position to be picked up.