Marketing Considerations in Pre-Production and Production
By Watch Meet Make
So since you’re doing a lot of planning anyway, it’s still not too early to think about marketing. In fact, since you started thinking about marketing back in Development, keep thinking about marketing during Pre-Production and Production. Not only can you start to build excitement for your project before you even shoot a scene, you could even score a little extra money.
You can’t fund an entire production through product placement. It might even be difficult to bring extra money in if you’re a small production with a limited track record and name recognition. However, you can potentially save money on goods and services through product placements, which means you’ll have more to spend on other areas. If you can establish good relationships with vendors, they may just straight up donate their products in exchange for use in the project. This may sound crazy, but given how little you might actually be able to pay them, they could view the free advertising as a better long-term investment.
Get Your Social Media Right…Right Now
So you want to set up all your social media for the project in pre-production. After all, you’ll have much less time during production to do all this, and your brain won’t be too fried to think of clever names for these accounts if the title is just too boring. Not only that, if you start to tell the world your project is real, that makes it much more likely to wind up being true. So what do you want to be doing? You can announce casting and crew deals, post pictures from the art department and even clips from your table reads if you’re really brave. If that seems too dull, start promising behind the scenes footage and stills, which will force you to remember this on set. You can also create a schedule for delivering content on these channels, and if all else fails, maybe even use them for self-distribution.
By production, the marketing for your project should basically be well in progress. In addition to posting stills and behind-the-scenes clips to social media, you’ll want to have at least one teaser ready to go by the time production wraps. This will give you more options as you try to find distribution. Unless you have a separate marketing department for the project, this should be treated almost like an extension of your story, assuming you’re not just making it for everyone who was there on set.
Let the editor take a crack at cutting a teaser, but don’t be too disappointed if it’s kind of “meh” – and definitely don’t fire anyone because of this. Editing teasers and trailers is more of a specialty skill. Some editors who are really good with scenes and narrative simply don’t know how to hook viewers in a minute or less. If you have the money, hire someone who’s good at the art of giving just enough without letting the entire plot slip. Advertisers are usually good at this, so if anyone you know has experience in this area and hopefully owes you a favor, now is the time to cash in on that. And as usual, for a last resort think about what you like in a teaser, then try to do it yourself.
Showing Distributors Footage
If you’re sending out footage to distributors, think of it like the teaser. You want to get them interested, but you don’t want to show the entire thing. Whatever you decide to submit, keep it pretty much standard. The distribution world is pretty tight-knit, so everyone knows everybody else and they love to talk about what they’re seeing. If anything looks bad, they will plant the seeds of your project’s destruction in the entire distribution community. Business is more important than creativity here, and distributors believe they’re the one group that actually knows something in the industry. Good thing you can always just release it yourself online, right?
Remember those sites you set up in Pre-Production – the blog, webpage and social media accounts? Don’t let the host sites deactivate them due to user inactivity, or the few people who have visited them lose interest. Try to stay on top of posting to social media. Get creative with the behind-the-scenes footage. Maybe even have some kind of a contest to win a visit to the set or be an extra. Who cares if both of these are completely underwhelming for anyone who has ever been on set or done extra work? There’s a small segment of the population who still believes in movie magic, and even if the winner is the only person who had an entry, it will look like people care! Just try to be careful that the winner isn’t actually a stalker with a crazed obsession for the lead actress.
The same rules that apply for sending footage to distributors also apply to festivals. Of course, most festivals also have their own set of written guidelines for submissions, so you should take a look at those as well. There’s also a lot of networking and politics that go into the festival game, meaning yes, it kind of is about who you know (UPDATE: We’ve just been informed that it is completely about who you know /sarcasm). Theoretically, they watch each work with pure objectivity towards the artistic merit – but then again, if your project is competing with a project that stars Bradley Cooper, they probably want Bradley Cooper in attendance more than even the biggest name in your cast.