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Film marketing buzz

Getting attention

At every stage of the feature filmmaking process you need to be thinking about how you are going to sell your masterpiece and taking the appropriate steps.

I've included a page in each section of the filmmaking lessons on what sort of activities you should doing to spread the buzz.

Film Development Buzz starts before you've even written the script.

Preproduction Buzz makes the right people aware of what you are up to.

Production Buzz keeps spreading the word at the same time as you are gathering the important marketing materials you will need for the final assault.

Postproduction Buzz begins to get the word to the people who will help you sell your film.

Once your film is done everything needs to come together to get your film sold and in front of audiences.

During production you are going to be so busy and so tired that marketing will be the last thing on your mind. To bad.

There is one extremely important marketing task you need to complete during film production and a second very important task.

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The extremely important task is to get great set photos that you can use later in your marketing campaign. You especially need to get that one great photo that will become iconic to your movie. You know the one I mean. The one that is on every poster. It's Janet Leigh screaming in the shower for Psycho. It's Jack Nicholson grinning through the broken door for The Shining.

You are going to need that great picture and a lot of others to put together a great advertising campaign when your film is finished and you want to sell it. This is the only time you will have all the actors together, on set, in costume so plan the time, use a great photographer who knows what he/she's doing and get that great picture plus as many other great ones as you can.

Whenever your between takes let the photographer takes shots as long as it doesn't slow down the production, irritate anyone or get your actors out of character.

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While you're at it get pictures of you, the filmmaker, with your lead actors. Always stand so you will be at the left side of the picture as seen from the camera, so when the picture is printed and the people are listing in a caption your name will be first. Always be pointing at something like the screenplay or a clipboard. Get some of you looking serious and some smiling. The best picture will end up in your publicity kit.

Typical publicity photos deliverables list

Filmmakers are often stunned by the list of deliverables when they sell a film. Here is a typical list of the publicity photos that film distributors are going to want to get.

  • Black and white photos (three sets of contact sheets or digitals) with the subjects identified
    • 100 production stills depicting scenes of the cast in performance
    • 50 informal or casual photos of principle members of the cast and crew
    • 25 gallery or portrait sitting photos of cast in and out of character
  • Color photos (slides or digitals) with the subjects identified
    • 150 production color shots of scenes
    • 50 candid shots of cast and key production team members
    • 35 portrait shots of principal cast

The very important task is to be looking for any opportunities to create publicity for your film. Talk to the local media, newpapers, magazines and television and let them know of any reason why they might want to run a story on your film. Any interesting local connection, a local actor in the film, the subject is of special interest, etc.

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Get creative and come up with ideas. You will want those articles in your press kit for when you go to the festivals.

Are there any aquisition agents who have called to ask when they can see your picture? Call them and ask them if they would like to visit the set to watch a particularly interesting scene get filmed.

Find out the names of any local film festival directors or judges and see if they would like to visit the set or talk about your film. They will probably be flattered since they are film nerds and never get invited onto a set. Get one of them interested and you are a shoe-in to their festival.

And since festival directors talk to other festival directors they may spread the word about how great your film is going to be and you may find yourself getting invited to other festivals instead of having to pay entry fees and hope you get in.

Finally if you can do it, get someone to shoot some video of the production, especially interviews with the stars while they are waiting to perform, and you will have good material for a "making of" feature on your film's DVD.

Jump to the next part of the Film Marketing Buzz article in the Postproduction section.

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