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Film Promotion 2.0:
Getting Your Film Out Into The World

by Tony Levelle

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Tony Levelle PictureWhen filmmaker Matt Luotto awoke to find an alarmed mama bear walking around his sleeping bag, his first thought was “How do I keep from getting eaten by this bear?” He did not know it then, but being eaten by a mama bear was not his biggest problem. His biggest problem came nine months later: figuring out how to get his hiking film out into the world.

The Internet has made the physical act of getting a film ‘out there’ simple. Just put your film on CreateSpace and Amazon will make a good quality DVD instantly available on Amazon for purchase, worldwide. Amazon even takes care of the billing and shipping and sends you a royalty.

What is hard is finding your audience—your true fans—and building a relationship with them.

This article started out to be about digital film distribution, but the more I got into it the more I realized that the real problem for 99 percent of micro-budget filmmakers is finding and building a relationship with an audience. For lack of a better word, I am going to call this “promotion.” To promote your film successfully you have to be ready to answer five questions.

  1. What is your goal for this film?
  2. Who is your audience?
  3. What channels reach this audience?
  4. How will you promote your film online?
  5. How will you promote your film offline?

Question 1: What is your goal for this film?
Answering this question can be hard. It might cause you a lot of grief, because it brings up all sorts of anxiety. This reaction is caused partly by the fact that you may have conflicting goals. Usually these goals fall into two categories: personal and money. One way to avoid the anxiety and clarify your thinking is to write your goals on a piece of paper under two headings: Money and Personal.

Sorting them into these two categories, money and personal, is tricky. But this is one way to get your lizard brain out of the way when it comes to thinking clearly about your film. By having a column titled “Money” you can mentally put aside your financial concerns and look clearly at your personal goals for the film.

Under each heading, write every goal you can think of. You may have several goals for each heading.

One of the personal goals will emerge as your primary goal. It will turn out to be more important than all the rest. However, you do not have to choose a primary goal just yet; first, you have to become aware of what your goals are.

However, sometimes people know right away, what is primary. When I asked Luotto what his goal was for the documentary Lucky Joe, he had an immediate answer.

“I believe that everything has a spirit.  No matter how artificially contrived an environment we live in; everyone has an innate longing to cut a fresh track through the new fallen snow.  This documentary is my attempt to document and protect the spirit of our wild places...both the internal corridors of consciousness and the unspoiled wilderness along our national scenic trails.”

The money column may surprise you. The money goals may be quite modest, or they may be extravagant. You may learn you really do not want to make any money from your film. You may have something to say with your film, and just want to see the film out in the world. Luotto’s financial goals were simple.

“…to help finance subsequent treks.”

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