With all of the work you’ve put in into making the film, from writing/securing a script, finding financing, pre-production, production and post-production, you would think it’s time now to market your film, right? Well, in most cases you would be right, but if you’re an independent film, you should have been doing this all along. Everyone knows the importance of marketing, since without it, your movie wouldn’t be seen.
We hope you also dedicated some of the finances to marketing. Many new filmmakers will tend to spend the entire budget on the film, sometimes not even having enough for post-production. We should know, we ran into this issue due to filming cost overruns and we had to run a kickstarter to help finance some of the post production processes, such as coloring, special effects and music sourcing! We were lucky to have a successful kickstarter campaign, thanks to the producers and writers of I Had a Bloody Good Time at House Harker, having a built-in fanbase from their successful YouTube Series, Good Cops and Tumbleweed.
As for marketing costs, we weren’t so lucky, in that we greatly under estimated the budget required. From film festival submissions to running Facebook targeted ads, from printing flyers and posters and other promotional items, the costs can easily add up to thousands of dollars.
Learn from us and what our plans are moving forward for all of our next projects.
Grow your social media early
Many sites and articles about marketing a film, underplay the importance of continuously marketing the film throughout it’s life. Other sites say to begin your social media marketing and audience building after the movie is done and when you begin to submit to festivals. What they don’t tell you is that without regular updates or engagement, it is really difficult to stand out from all of the noise.
Being an independent filmmaker means many things, such as low budgets, not enough time, and definitely not a lot of manpower. The latter most is what we realized was truly something we didn’t think would be an issue, especially after we began submitting to film festivals. Throughout the shoot we would post some photos and updates regarding the movie on our facebook and instagram pages, but due to the hectic and long shooting days, not only were there many photos simply not taken, but updates were very sporadic, and we didn’t focus on growing the fanbase so early. We had also been told by other filmmakers that it’s best to market after everything was done and submitted. Boy have things changed in a few years. Now-a-days it’s fairly normal for movies to ‘leak’ images and updates before the movie is even completed.
Our revised strategy for movies now changes from beginning the audience growth at the end of the production to as early as conception. Begin to engage users and create a fanbase, and keep them engaged by having regular updates. From simple updates in terms of progress (include photos and/or video!), quizzes, and random musings. Engage with the users, and not simply dump information on them about the movie. This means commenting/replying, and most of all, continue to invite users that like your page/tweets/insta’s.
Marketing is one of those jobs that sounds so general, that it’s like almost any can do it. In some cases, that could be true, but in reality it does take a lot of work. From conception, to planning, then to execution.
For instance, some of our most successful marketing tactics occurred before we released the movie on Amazon.com, on a Friday, Oct 13th! Our producer, Noel, gathered up the core team about 2 months before release, and laid out a 6-8 week marketing plan, that would hit it’s zenith the week of the release, and then continue through the month. The type of marketing and content needed was laid out and structured so that we would be able to give regular updates to our users as well as create engaging activities such as games and quizzes. Some of the content that was created were special videos, posters and images that would be easily digestible and shareable. All of this takes time to develop, unless of course you have that ‘one’ friend that is great at design and editing and they happen to have time when you need them. With our luck, none of this was the case, so we left nothing to chance by working out the plan early enough to allow for any issues prior to the expected start of the marketing firehose.
Impact of engaging with fans
With the marketing for the release underway, we were able to increase our engagement and shares over 500% in some days, as well as increase the number of followers across our social media platforms. It was a lot of work to get to this point, but the success was shown in the stats from Amazon Prime video, where within the first 24 hours our movie got onto the Amazon Trending Movie spindle, where it stayed for 72 hours. We got over 80 reviews, with 90% of them 5 stars, thanks to many of our fans and followers. This allowed non-fans to be exposed to the film and many of those did leave some great reviews.
From then on, we saw new fans engaging with our social media.
Marketing doesn’t end with the release
After your movie has been released everywhere, know that your marketing isn’t done. Especially if you’re the producer or executive producer, where the ultimate goal is to continue to generate interest in the film, as the movie will live on forever. It’d be good to build up as much content as possible that’s associated with it, as not only does it help future potential fans to fall in love with your movie, but it also acts a time capsule to that period.
I would recommend to continue to market the movie and engage fans at least up to a year after the release. After all, as Noel said in one of his posts about his first feature film, “it’s like giving birth to a child and watching her grow and then releasing her into the world”.
Good luck filmmakers and remember to start building your ‘social capital’ early and often!