Launching Your Independent Film Online

The traditional model of production/rental films is changing dramatically, but with changes there are new opportunities. As with music and publications, the Internet has opened up new opportunities to promote the market and create excitement for your film. While traditional PR is always a critical aspect of any film marketing campaign, it is a tool in your overall marketing and promotion kit. Public relations include reviews, interviews and reports in print or television. Now add to that online marketing, including blogging, article marketing and a stronger presence in the world of social networking.

Media coverage is important because it gives you and your film confidence and confirmation that you will get into the news. It helps create hype and earn a reputation for you and your movie. Media coverage also sets your film apart from your competitors, which is extremely important.

My only caveat is to think carefully before submitting your film for review to major entertainment magazines. These critics are used to being cared for by big studios and reviewing films worth several million dollars. Not that some of them could not go beyond the budget constraints of real independent cinema and judge the film on its merits, but it is a risk. As an unnamed little independent film, your chances of being priced out without a distribution contract are slim, and not always much better with distribution. In addition, it can do more harm than good if you are convicted and potentially torn to shreds in one of the big deals. Distributors rarely use the opportunity to broadcast a film that is publicly offended. Shoot for movies or stories about your film or the process of filming. Once you’ve caught the media’s attention, tune in and amplify it.

But don’t wait for media coverage to promote your film. Create a cool, preferably interactive site. Develop your presence on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and other social networks. Don’t just talk about your project. Post information that will interest moviegoers. Respond to other independent films. Start talking. Focus on movie sites, but also look at other possible markets related to the theme of your film. If your film is science fiction, look for blogs dedicated to this world. If your project is western, target certain sites oriented to the old west. You get the idea.

Look for blogs such as Giant Robot, Ain’t it Cool News and Rotten Tomatoes. Find blogs about the types of movies you’ve made, list all movie and entertainment sites, and get in touch with them. Don’t try to cover all social networks. You don’t have the time, money or energy to cover any blog, forum or social networking site. Make a list and work on the sites and blogs you think are best suited to your project. It is better to focus on multiple sites and establish connections than on one or two in hundreds of places and not build relationships.

Think of different ways to generate interest: humor, sex, controversy, shock – things that blow up – it’s all for sale. Use it. Don’t focus on sales, but on creating great content. Since you work in the film industry, you have visuals, video clips that you can publish. Use it to your advantage. When it comes to marketing your cinematic work as a freelance filmmaker, think like an experienced marketer.

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