One of the promotional strategies with my first feature has been going straight to local newspapers and offering them a “public interest story about the first feature film being shot here in [my hometown].”
Not aware is this is the first movie shot in your hometown? Hop onto Google and do some research. Or even your local library. Those places still exist.
This has created some great buzz with the papers. The great thing is, you can pretty much promote this as you like – no one knows exactly what sort of backing and funding you have.
Another great reason for doing this is to get a buzz flowing with regards to potential locations – once you have an article in the local paper, you build authority. People are more likely to allow you to use their location or, in some cases, straight up contact you to use their location. This also goes for people who might offer you other free things in order to get a credit – like catering and such.
The important thing is to get such hype going locally – promote it as something unique and a real first in your town/city (if it actually is).
BITING YOUR HAND OFF
A newspaper will bite your hand off for a local entertainment story like this, especially if you can sell a personality story in it as well – like, “I’ve been stuggling to make this film since I got back from travelling to Africa and have been working dead-end jobs ever since trying to get the money together to make this thing!”
Getting in a newspaper will build great authority for you with any crew, actors, etc you contact in the future.
Why start throwing money into your film until you’ve got some hype and promotion behind you?
There are a few more people a filmmaker should consider contacting for getting some local promotion (which can be expanded regionally and even nationally once you establsih your local base).
WHO TO CONTACT FIRST?
The first person to contact is the movie reviewer of your daily newspaper.
Also check out your weekly entertainment paper, and TV and radio reviewers and interviewers (local talk shows need interesting guests every day).
These people often go on press junkets and attend the première of new films to interview the cast, directors and others involved in the making and promotion of those films. Your hometown reviewers probably attend several big film festivals every year (I know mine do) and they get to know some industry leaders by first name (I have been introduced to a number of Hollywood actors and directors myself using this method).
Never underestimate the interest and voracious hunger of movie reviewers, entertainment reporters and radio & TV interviewers who need to come up with fresh content on a regular basis. Make it a goal to add some of these people to your list of best friends.
WHO ELSE CAN HELP YOU PROMOTE YOUR FILM?
The next people to get to know are the managers of local cinemas.
Ask one of your new movie reviewer-friends / entertainment interviewers which local managers they would feel most comfortable introducing you to (remember, the theater managers love movie reviewers and they often become close friends with them, since they see each other regularly at the showings and share a passion for movies).
Invite the manager to lunch to discuss your film (bring his reviewer friend too, if you like). People in these roles have a lot of contacts in the movie industry, some of whom will be well worth you knowing. Your new friends will be pleased and flattered that you (an up-and-coming feature filmmaker) would be contacting them as your local “ambassadors of film”.
The cinema manager may even offer to hold a private showing of your film at his theatre, and perhaps invite a few reviewers to see it with him. They can even meet and interview the filmmaker and write a review of it for their paper, magazine, TV or radio station, blog or entertainment website.
These people have a vested interest in helping you. Promoting your film helps the reviewer sell more newspapers and and the cinema manager sell more popcorn.
An added benefit for these people is that they will be perceived as supporters and promoters of local arts and artists, something which giant news conglomerates and giant movie theatre corporations want and need if they are to remain relevant in the communities that support them.
LOCAL AND REGIONAL FILM FESTIVALS
Don’t overlook your local or regional film festival organizers.
They will be excited about giving you any help they can, and may encourage you to enter your work in their next festival, which may attract attendees from all over the world. Many of those attendees will be reviewers, and let’s face it, these days we’re all movie reviewers. It’s one of the most talked about subjects in our culture.
FILM COMMISSIONS AND INDUSTRY INSIDERS
The next people to approach are members of your regional film commission, who work with governments at all levels in promoting the visual arts and the film entertainment industry through grants, scouting of locations, and other important issues.
These folks are extremely well connected in the industry and understand how the financing side of the equation works. They can also offer assistance on equipment rental, hiring crew members and a plethora of related pieces of the puzzle. Again, people with a vested interest in growing the film industry locally.
PROMOTIONAL STRATEGIES — IT’S ALL ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW
Let’s not forgot your most important asset – the people you already know. Your network will be massively influential in your success.
The people you already know (whether they be family, friends or any kind of associates) will be the people who start talking to others about you.
The minute they find out that you’re up to something awesome in the movie world, they’ll start telling all their friends about it! Who doesn’t want to be friends with someone who’s working on a film?
These are the people who will fight for you and get your name out there because they already like you.
Use and respect your current network and it will help you expand and grow an even bigger network.
What have you done to promote your film? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’ve found value in this post, please click one of the buttons below to share it!