Film marketing buzz
The marketing buzz starts to build
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.
Getting the best deal for your film
No Sneak Previews! Acquisition executives may ask to see an early cut of your film. Don't do it for two reasons.
First, you don't want to create the wrong impression of your film by showing a cut that still looks amateurism, unfinished or lacking in maximum emotional response. That first impression will last and since the agents often talk to each other the word will spread around the industry. When the final cut is ready no one will care.
Second, you want to show the film to all the acquisition agents at once, preferably at a film festival, so they will be competing with each other and you will get the best deal in the excitement of the feeding frenzey, and with the cheers of the audience still ringing in their ears.
The only possible reason to show a film early is to in desperation to raise completion funds. This is a very bad spot to be in. Any money you get will probably be under the worst possible terms The word will get out that your film is in trouble, the film won't look its best so bad word of mouth may get started about the film itself and possibly your skills as a filmmaker.
If you must show it to an industry audience do it in a screening room in Hollywood, away from phones and other distractions. Bring in a live audience of friends and supporters to fill the theater. Carefully prepare the invitation list to only include distributors that are appropriate for the film.
Even if a powerful executive says s/he will only watch it if you send a tape or DVD don't give in. It will never get watched. The executives have too many interruptions and will pass it on to a junior executive who might watch the first five minutes before rejecting it.
The best route is always to have your first screening at an important film festival that is attended by many acquisition agents. If your film is well received you will get positive press coverage, distributors will see the audience reaction and with any luck you will have the distributors competing to give you the best deal.
The distributor's job is to get an early screening so they can try to get the best deal by being in early. The filmmakers job is to have everyone see it at once so s/he gets the best deal due to competition for the film. The filmmaker can promise all the distributors that they will get the first screening just to keep them interested. Just be sure that they all come to the same first screening.
Without being obnoxious and alienating the bidders, the filmmaker wants to firmly push each buyer to make their best offer.
Buyers that acquire for foreign distribution are most hungry for films a few months before the big markets.
Planning for the festival debut
Prepare a list of the top festivals where you think you have any chance of being accepted. Don't worry that you may not be accepted into your first choices. No one will know unless you tell them. Just don't waste you premiere on a minor festival that no buyers will attend.
You want to be sure your film will really be finished in time to get a good copy in for judging so allow plenty of time to finish before the first festival's cut-off date.
Jump to the next part of the Film Marketing Buzz article in the Sell Your Film section.