Okay, if you had to list them, what are the most common dos and don’ts of movie marketing?

1. Work from the top down with all audiences (distributors, media, buyers)
2. Utilize the power of the Internet
3. Keep good records of correspondence and communications
4. Get a referral from everyone who turns you down
5. Embrace technology and make yourself accessible via cell phone and email
6. Plan on nothing happening as planned

1. Count on a Sundance slot to carry you to stardom
2. Try to do everything yourself – especially packaging art and web design
3. Make your website an inside-joke-filled chat area for your friends
4. Be rude to anyone
5. Trust the media to quote you correctly
6. Approach anyone a second time after hearing “no”

What is a good example of movie marketing and why did it succeed?
I met Jimi Petulla, the writer/producer/director of the independent film Reversal. The movie is about the sport of high school wrestling, and Jimi, smart guy that he is, loaded the roles with Olympic and well-known wrestlers. Better yet, he approached many wrestling organizations and respected athletes in the sport to gather reviews and help spread the word on the project. If you know anything about wrestling, you know about the fanaticism of the athletes, parents and fans, and Jimi used this fanaticism to his advantage, targeting this niche via the web and organizational contacts with a very clear promotion about the film and its wrestling storyline. His plan worked – as he’s sold 10,000+ copies on DVD without any formal distribution. With that kind of sales history, distributors are calling him.

What is a bad example?
Any film that promotes itself as all things to all people. That might work if you’ve got Jim Carrey in the starring role and a $40 million ad budget. But an independent film has to be very specific in its appeal, very clear in what audience segment it is targeting. Look around in a video store at DVD cases, especially the “B” titles. So many of them are ripoffs of big-budget Hollywood releases, yet their stars are unknowns. A floating head design works if its Cameron Diaz and Al Pacino. But not with Joe Nobody.

No delivering on the goods is also a bad mistake. The Real Cancun’s promotional imagery and trailers made it look like a soft-porn pleasure ride. But word of mouth spread that barely a bare breast was found, and the target audience of horny teens quickly dissipated. Nobody likes being ripped off.

How can marketing give filmmakers an edge?
Approximately 4,000 independent films and videos were produced last year. That’s about 12 a day. To stand out, you sometimes have to fit in, meaning that a filmmaker often wants to approach the market with a package that looks as much like a Hollywood product as possible. I’m not advocating dull, copycat projects – I’m talking about the marketing aspect of the whole process. It may seem cool to have a really off-the-wall and bizarre title and marketing package, but people are used to what they’re used to. And something too unique is often thought of as just that. Create a bulletproof combo of product, title, still photos, positive media coverage, active website and easily defined target audience. By showing a distributor that a sizable audience can be identified for your project, you exponentially increase the chances of getting to yes. A filmmaker must understand that he needs to go to a distributor with his hands full, not empty. It is the filmmaker’s responsibility to offer an irresistible package, and not expect the distributor to do all the thinking.

Get the rest of the interview in part four of MOVIE MARKETING FOR DUMMIES>>>

Posted on May 29, 2003 in Interviews by

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