So, some entertainment journalist has written about you and your film project. This has created a lot of excitement amongst your friends who come out online to congratulate you and give you that virtual slap on the back. But within a day and a half that excitement normally subsides and the number of Likes you receive taper off, before stopping altogether. What do you do then? You can then share your post on different film-related groups, or other social media platforms. But if that creates any additional buzz, it is only short-lived. We have all done it.
You can conceivably hire the services of a publicist that works with independent filmmakers to help build your buzz, that is if you are in a position to do so financially. But to retain a professional publicist’s services would normally cost from $1K to $10k a month, sometimes even more. This is just a retaining fee, and this seldom comes with guarantees. You see professional publicists may say that they will create X number of press releases for you within a month, which they may distribute, depending on how wide a media list they have. But they cannot guarantee their results. And the smart ones won’t
Ultimately you will want to have people attend your film premiere, where they will help promote your film through word-of-mouth. For this, you can create an event announcement that you can share. Though a person may Like your event, they may not show up for your event. Those that do Like your event, or show Interest, or even tell you online that they will attend, often are larger in numbers than those that actually do show. You can say in your event listing that “tickets are limited,” or that “tickets are going fast,” or there is “X number of tickets reserved.” But come the night of your event you find that you are playing to a virtually empty house. What happened? As embarrassing as it is to admit, we have all experienced this. The numbers we get are fewer than the number that we need to break-even. What do we do?
Yes, indeed. What do we do?
You can create a teaser trailer that tempts your audience into seeing your film. If staged correctly, or if coupled with an article, may entice your audience to attend your premiere. But realistically, you cannot simply upload your trailer on youtube, or any of the other streaming platforms, and expect people to see it. We all can point to trailers that were posted on youtube back, say, in 2014, that have fewer than a thousand views. What happened? It’s likely that this filmmaker never told anyone, and with all the billions and billions of videos that are on youtube, all competing for eyes, this video never attracted a viewership. And with these depressing numbers, never will. After all, aren’t you much more intrigued by a video that has attracted high numbers, to one that hasn’t? These numbers in themselves are buzzworthy. What do you do?
You can do as the “big boys” do and create a marketing campaign. Yes, but…but…you don’t have the ducats to go head to head with the “big boys.” You are but a small independent producer, and you have spent your load on the creation of your film. Realistically, you may not have the budget to do more than a limited run on the film festival circuit. But here is a brutally honest truth. Unless you create “buzz” for your film beforehand, you may be passed over by the film festivals even though you pony up the admission fee to be considered. It’s this “buzz” that you create that will sell your film to the festivals and convince them that your film is worthy of the consideration of being screened. Much less, if you fail to create buzz, you won’t be considered by a distributor– any distributor –who will pick up your movie. Even the shadier distributors want a “hot” property, rather than one that can’t create excitement. If yours fails, they know they are only spinning their wheels, if they distribute your film at all.
So, how do you create buzz?
Creating buzz and creating a publicity campaign, getting people to talk about your film requires many different elements. There are those that are absolutely essential. A Fan Page. This is created for each film (whether for a feature film or a short film) that is completely separate from the filmmaker’s Profile page. This would include behind the scene photos from the set of the film, film clips and trailers, articles, posters, and reviews. Check. But is your Fan Page interactive? Does it truly engage your audience? What more can you do to get people to talk about you, and your film?
You can create a youtube channel for each film. This would be where you post film clips, bloopers, outtakes, trailers, BTS, short films, etc. Do you presently post things for whatever reason that you have edited from your desired film, or if you do multiple takes, posted these? Do you regularly post table reads or snippets from (we all understand how protective you want to be of releasing too much before the release of the film for fear of spoiling things.) What of short on set interviews with different members of your cast and crew (obligated by NDAs, these members cannot talk about the film, but they can introduce themselves, talk briefly about what they do, ie, “Hi, I am (name) and I am the producer, director, cinematographer, audio, editor, wardrobe, make-up, lighting, etc., etc.) These you can do during breaks, or completely off-set. Check. This gives your audience a chance to get to know the people associated with your film. Many of the larger studios used to do this. We have all seen such films. Frequently late at night, possibly on TCM.
In the weeks to come, The Weekender is going to be running articles on how to create buzz for your films. Because others aren’t doing these things, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You are a trend-setter. You are a leader. Doing something more, doing something different may be what separates you from other indie filmmakers and creates that buzz that you desire that puts you over the top, ensures your being screened at film festivals, and ultimately lands you a distributor that realizes they have a hot property with your film. These may be things that you are presently doing, they will be things that you certainly can do.
In the weeks to come, The Weekender will be running these and other articles And they will be written for the small filmmaker.
Creating Buzz: Make your Facebook Page Interactive
Creating Buzz: Use Social Contests & Quizzes
Creating Buzz: Utilizing Memes & Other User Generated Content (UGC)
Creating Buzz: Using Google AdWords
Creating Buzz: Create a Visually Compelling & Functional Website
Creating Buzz: Use More Niche Social Media Platforms Such as Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram
Creating Pre-roll Advertising for your Movie
Create Something Memorable With A Publicity Event
Creating Buzz: Make Viewers a Part of the Film
Creating Buzz Allow Your Audience to Experience the Story
Creating Buzz: Push your audience to experience an Emotional Extreme
Creating Buzz: Open Up Your Press Events
Creating Buzz: IMDb Listings & Advertising
Creating Buzz: Using Celebrity & Brand Partnerships
Creating Buzz: Auction props used in the film or TV show
About David W. King
David W. King is a noted entertainment journalist. He has covered the entertainment beat for many leading magazines and newspapers for over forty years Until 2008 he owned a PR firm working with musicians,, and other entertainers.
Since 2008, he has covered the whole of Michigan’s independent film industry He has written hundreds of articles on Michigan filmmakers, actors, directors, producers, casts, and crews in an effort to bring to light all that is happening in the Mitten State.
” And there is much happening in Michigan film, much of it of comparable quality to Hollywood, ” he says.“Who knows who the next great film personality will be. It may be you. “