Are You Ready to Do Press and Promote Your Film on the Red Carpet?
Since I’ve been attending film festivals and premieres as both the marketing consultant for MORE TO LIVE FOR and on the other side of the rope as a member of the press, I’ve had the opportunity to make many observations with regards to film promotion at events and on the red carpet and thought I’d pass along a few observations. First of all, one of the most important words to consider is control. The more you have, the easier it is to spread the word about your project. For example, if you send out your own press kits and try speaking with writers doing the coverage you may have a better chance of spreading the word. Festivals tend to promote their events as a whole, so unless your film has a local tie-in, celebrity attachment or some other type of draw you may be one of many. However, it’s also true that many writers look for a handful of films that appeal to them on some other level or have a hook that they can work into their pieces. There are also bloggers or critics who enjoy writing about independent film. A festival may not reach out to these people if they are not mainstream press, yet they may be more willing to give you a review. However, although this may sound like a contradiction, it is also helpful if you can work in concert with other public relations people and festival organizers in order to maximize your coverage. Connecting with other attendees on Twitter and Facebook helps get the message out that there is an event and your project is a part of it.
Another factor to keep in mind is that even if you are doing interviews or have someone taking photos for you, if the equipment being used isn’t yours you may not wind up with access to the finished product. I have been in the position of doing interviews and moderating panels and Q&As and then have not received copies of my stories afterwards.. I have also had to set aside interviews that John Donovan and I taped for Filmmakers Notebook because we were in venues where the staff had started playing music through the speakers that was picked up on our recordings. Because of music copyrights we have to be careful not to post any interviews that have protected material playing in the background. This is another reason why I prefer to do my shows at Theater7 either in person or on the phone
If you are hosting a red carpet, put someone in charge that is good at organizing and listening to what people need. Be sure you have a list of media that you are expecting and that you have press passes available when they check in at a designated table or desk. It is best to email them beforehand with specific instructions and be sure you have an up to date list given to your volunteers. If you haven’t sent out electronic press kits beforehand, have handouts ready for press as well. If writers are coming without a photographer send out production stills and/or other photos electronically along with any additional info they may need the next day so that your story isn’t delayed.
When organizing media, try to keep those shooting video in one section, photographers in another area and writers grouped together that way they don’t get in each other’s way. It’s very easy for writers to be overlooked and for photographers to get their shots blocked if they are competing with video cameras. If you know the names of publications or reporters you can write them on pieces of paper and put them down on the floor beside the red carpet so that people have assigned spots. This way they can set up early and be prepared. When filmmakers line up for the step and repeat have someone there to write down the name and title of that person and their film on a good sized sheet of paper or cardboard that can be held up so that the media can view the info and copy it down or take a photograph., This way when they go back later on and review their notes or pictures they will be able to tell who everyone is. Because red carpets tend to be a bit frenetic with lots of distractions having an orderly process in place benefits everyone. Assign another volunteer to make sure that everyone gets the photos or quotes they need and that they keep moving down the line so that everything flows. This is the process I had the opportunity to watch professional Event Producer Jeff Grinstein use when managing the red carpet at Vegas Cine Fest. Photographers were located at the beginning of the carpet to take their pictures before the filmmakers continued further down where video was shot and interviews done. Jeff also had two other people assisting him so that if there were any questions they could be addressed quickly and the line could keep moving. Timing can be critical if you need to stay on schedule with screenings and Q&As even if you’re only showing one film and it’s particularly important when there are several.