Part Two: Screening
Enthused with the know-how, once you’ve grasped the Do It Yourself attitude, anything is possible. In this edition, we’ve teamed up with Shooting People and Branchange Jersey International Film Festival 2009 to give you practical hints and tips for finding successful routes to market for your short films.
In Part One of our guide to DIY filmmaking, we cut to the chase and asked readers outright – why are you making a short film? Once that was established, James Mullighan, Creative Director of Shooting People and Philip Ilson, Director of London Short Film Festival, offered advice on how to avoid the clichéd pitfalls. Assuming that after reading Part One, you made the film that you have always dreamed of shooting, it’s time to ask, what’s next? Two more experts join Aesthetica to offer some real industry advice on what to do now that you’ve made your short. It’s a tough industry and competition is fierce, but with the right planning and logical steps, you should be able to make your film and get it seen, if anything have a bit of fun in the process. Over tea and cake, Marketing Managers Helen Jack from Shooting People and Harriet Fleuriot from Branchage Jersey International Film Festival, compiled their top ten tips to get your film recognised and seen.
1. Market yourself
When filmmakers hear the words “self-promotion” they often flinch, fearful that marketing their film detracts from their creativity, or worse – that they might appear unjustifiably confident about their film. But in the digital age, filmmakers now have huge audience numbers at their fingertips via the web and you can be as creative, individual and targeted as you like.
2. Make a website
This can either be a personal website with a film section or a whole website dedicated to your film. Don’t forget your social pages – sites like Myspace, Facebook and Twitter are great ways of building a dedicated fan base who will invest, emotionally and hopefully financially, in your film. Ideally these are set up before the film is even shot to build anticipation and supporters. A blog is a great way to engage people in the progress and development of your film.
3. Create a press pack
There are numerous assets that you can create, which will help journalists and festival programmers to compile accurate information about your film and continue to promote it for you. Make sure content is eye-catching and engaging. You need to include a synopsis, director biography, crew information, script extract and interesting facts. Also include high quality images, these can be film stills, behind the scenes and even storyboards. Make this all available online and downloadable, so that people can easily access and share it to help spread the word for you.
4. Festival strategy
This one takes the most planning and is crucial to the success of your film. While popularity of online video platforms is gaining speed, film festivals are still an important route for getting your short film seen by others and gaining credentials as a filmmaker. Find out about the festivals that are out there and decide which are best suited to you and your film. When researching festivals, think about whether your film would appeal to a niche festival and so stand more of a chance of success e.g. women-directed film, horror, HD-shot, comedy etc. Also, identify festivals that will only screen your film if it is a UK or European or Global premiere (usually very prestigious ones such as Cannes, Berlin or Edinburgh). If you are completely confident that your film has a chance of getting into one of these festivals, then make sure you do not submit your film to anything that will screen your film before they do.
5. Self-financing and distribution
This is an exciting and innovative time to be a filmmaker. Funding bodies and your Nan’s will are not the only ways to get money behind your project. You can use online sites like indieGOGO.com where you can raise money through donations. Or perhaps you’d like to put your film on your website and add a tip jar – this will allow people to pay a small donation to watch your film, giving however much they can afford.
6. Give your film away for free
Maybe you’re not interested in making any revenue. If the aim of your film is get as big an audience as possible, put it up onto sites like Shooting People, Dailymotion, YouTube and spread the word. Who knows – you may become an Internet phenomenon.
7. Enjoy your success
After all the blood, sweat and tears spent submitting your film to festivals, it will hopefully get accepted by one or two of them, if not more. Let’s also not forget that film festivals are immensely inspiring and can be very fun, often a creative pick-me-up for filmmakers seeking motivation for their next project. The British Council has created a list of film festivals that they will fund filmmakers to attend, so if you are fortunate to get your film into one of these festivals, then apply.
8. Meet people
After all those months holed up in your editing suite, make sure you get out there and meet your potential audience as well as other filmmakers. Attend as many festivals, shorts screenings and networking events as possible. You can also use the Internet to meet and stay in touch with people. Social networking sites, forums, discussion boards, blogs and video-sharing sites are all heavily populated with people sharing their personal opinions, ideas, work and advice. This activity will not only help you form a useful and supportive community of like-minded people, but will also help you develop your all important networking and promotional skills, both online and face-to-face.
9. Keep screening
Whether your film made it into festivals or not, it can have a shelf life far beyond its “sell by date”. Put on film nights in a local cheap venue, whether that be the village hall (Tilda Swinton and Mark Cousins did this with their Ballerina Ballroom Festival. Entry cost a tray of cupcakes.) or a friendly pub. Send it off to all the other film nights, club nights and creative happenings you like the look of. Upload your film to the Internet – take advantage of free video-sharing sites like YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo to create a profile, network with other filmmakers, increase your searchability and allow users to share and embed your film (including you). Shooting People is a great place for filmmakers to showcase their work amongst like-minded people, both inside and outside of the industry.
10. Keep the ideas flowing
You may still be riding the high of having made your first short, but it’s important to keep the momentum going. Avoid the pitfalls of investing everything in one film. Start getting those ideas down and begin planning for the next one, which will be even better.
Remember us when you’re rich and famous.