Planning Marketing Strategy for an Independent Film

Published On July 11, 2010 | By admin | film, film marketing, film production, Filmmaker, filmmaking, Independent Film


"Accused" Table Read

Developing  marketing plans for independent features and shorts is becoming a necessity for filmmakers, especially in view of the current financing and distribution challenges facing them.  As co-producer of “Accused” I’ve been handling promotion, which has proven in some ways to be a juggling act. At this point we are in the final stages of editing on this project and I have recently begun working on a preliminary campaign for another short that’s in pre-production, so I thought I’d share a few observations.

First of all, be sure to get signed release forms from everybody at the beginning.  While this may not seem that important at the time, it can become an issue later on.  For example, although we meticulously started this process during auditions with “Accused”, there was an oversight.  One crew member attended our table read before we got his release form signed and then he left due to a scheduling conflict. There were a few photographs and some video footage from that night that we decided not to use because we didn’t want to run the risk of featuring him without his written consent.  When a person comes to a rehearsal, table read, or production meeting getting a signed release form protects your production by giving you permission to use that individual’s image in any promotional materials you decide to create at a later date. 

Next, when actors and crew provide their contact info, also request the names they use on Twitter and Facebook if they have accounts and a mini bio about themselves.  While most if not all of them will provide resumes listing their professional credentials, having a few personal details such as their hobbies and interests can come in handy.  This didn’t occur to me initially with “Accused” and it would have made it easier to tag pictures and develop a following had we done so. You also want to be sure that you are connecting online with everyone involved in your production, so that you stay up to date with what they are doing and keep them informed about the film’s progress when the shoot is over.

Get an early start on your marketing.  Although we decided not to launch a website or blog for “Accused”, we are on Facebook and Twitter.  However, we didn’t begin a social media campaign until we were already in post-production and in the future I recommend starting much earlier, so you can begin building your audience prior to the shoot and share information in real time.  Also try to determine what kind of video footage and photos you’d like to use.  Next time I will bring my cameras to the set every day, tape interviews with the cast and crew and be sure I have both candids and stills taken throughout the shoot.  While we did have several people snapping pictures, we didn’t think about getting particular shots or about how we were going to use them.  We have chosen particular themes for our online photo albums, but have had to disregard some ideas because we don’t have the materials to support them.  Think about your film’s genre and potential niche audiences in pre-production and develop collaterals you believe will draw them in. 

Finally, put your marketing strategy in writing when you start the project.  I did this for both the upcoming short and the production company doing it, so we already have a timeline in place for the website and social media campaigns.  Our shoot is in August and discussion is underway about designing promotional materials aimed at reaching the film’s potential audience online.  The marketing plan covers production, post-production and distribution for both the short and the production company itself, which is planning a number of subsequent projects during the next 18 months as well.  While some of this data may be subject to change, having written objectives provides a means for gauging how effective your efforts are and ensures that goals are being met.

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2 Responses to Planning Marketing Strategy for an Independent Film

  1. Gene Anthony says:

    thanks for you thoughts about marketing. I wanted to say that I too started early to begin the marketing phase. It started the day I started my DVD when I begin the research to locate distributors. After my work-in-progress first cut I started sending DVDs to possible distributors who I found on the web. One day I found my first distributor – theSailingChannel who liked my project. I think I sent out twenty DVDs and got three e-mails back showing interest. Soon, Tory Salvia wanted to make a deal. Good Luck, Gene Anthony,

  2. admin says:

    Congratulations on your success and thanks for sharing.

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