For those lucky indie filmmakers who find distribution, most often their distributors will contribute a little, or a lot, of money to help publicize the film.
But before that happens, indie filmmakers are on their own. And often, publicity is the last thing on a filmmaker’s mind.
“What you hear all the time is ‘I was so overwhelmed with the movie, I didn’t think of those things,’ ” says Margot Gerber, a publicist for independent films as well as the Hollywood-based American Cinematheque. She also programs the Alternative Screen at the American Cinematheque (American Cinematheque.com).
But “those things” — good still photos, press notes and trailer material — are key to getting your film seen by distributors and getting it publicized at festivals once it’s accepted.
“It’s elementary, yet many filmmakers both don’t think about creating these materials while in production, and realize they need to do it later, which costs even more,” she says.
The ideal situation is to budget to include the tools you’ll need for publicity while still in production. And there are parts that can be pulled together without much financial outlay at all, such as documenting the shoot digitally and creating a Web site.
Good photos are one element that can play an important part in attracting media coverage for your film. A really good picture gets picked up all over the place, says Gerber. She cites the example of a director with a short film called “Oatmeal.” The director had a great photo from the film that several media outlets used.
“It’s a good idea to get something [on still film] that represents action in the film that you might be able to use for poster or postcard later,” Gerber says. It’s important to get that photo during production because independent filmmakers don’t usually get a chance to go back and shoot poster key art for advertising.
Another key element is good production notes. “It will give the filmmaker the opportunity to tell the press, distributors and others why they made the film in the first place; the process in which they made it and really have a chance to personalize the story.” When selling a film or having it reviewed, distributors and journalists will always want production notes that include a full cast and crew list, total running time, director’s notes, biographies on the cast and crew, any reviews and photos.
Hiring a friend to shoot documentary footage, or keeping a log of interesting events that happen on set, or information about a special location or the history of how the filmmaker found and used it are three ways to get fodder for written or electronic press kits.
Also, looking for publicity opportunities while in production is another way to bolster the buzz. “Especially if you’re shooting outside of a big city, sometimes you can get a story in a local newspaper about yourself or your production,” says Gerber. With that story, “You have the beginnings of a press kit,” she says.
After a film is finished, and a filmmaker wants to screen for distribution, money can be saved by planning ahead as well. “It costs roughly $ 300 to rent out a screening room at (Hollywood’s) Raleigh Studios which can hold about 40 people and if the filmmaker plans right, they can invite distributors to one screening,” says Regina Santos, an independent film publicist who has worked on films like “The Big Empty,” “Charlotte Sometimes” and “Gypsy 83.”
She added, “Also think about making screening copies on DVD from digital as well. It’ll be easier to ship and grab images from later.”
Santos’s publicity must-haves for those on a budget:
1. Shoot your movie or a “making of” doc on digital: It’ll be cost effective later when you are trying to sell the film or even when a film gets picked up for distribution. This way, you can use images for publicity and marketing from high-resolution stills.
2. Create a press kit: Complete a press kit with production notes, stills saved as both high-res and low-res quality, and a great trailer.
3. Get a Web site: The site can have a press section where production notes are posted, as well as still images from the movie that journalists and others can download. If a filmmaker has a great Web site, with all the necessities in an electronic downloadable file, there’s a huge savings on materials and shipping.
By Evelyn Sheinkopf
Evelyn Scheinkopf writes for Zoom Lens Media, publisher of “The Indie Filmmakers” series of books. For more information about “The Indie Filmmakers” books, visit [http://www.zoomlensmedia.com/series.html]
The first book in the series, “The Indie Filmmakers: The Directors,” features bios of successful independent film directors, including Justin Lin, David Jacobson, Peter Sollett, Everett Lewis, Fenton Bailey, Matthew Bright, Greg Pritikin, Jonathan Kesselman, Gene Cajayon, Michele Maher, Miles Swain, Patty Jenkins, Billy Ray and C. Jay Cox. All these directors got their films into fesvivals, such as Sundance and Cannes, without having big-money backers. With Jenkins’ film, “Monster,” Charlize Theron won an Oscar for playing lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos.
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Question by : Camera for young indie filmmaker?
I’d like a camera which shoots 24p has great picture and sound quality.
I’m a young indie filmmaker, so I make short skits etc.
I really emphasise great pic and sound quality to have my vids looking professional.
I was considering the Canon Vixia HF R 20/200 but can’t find it anywhere available to Ireland .
Answer by Cj
Canon HF R2 Series HD Camcorders are available in amazon.com
Add your own answer in the comments!
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