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HaZ on marketing your film

After you've made toyr VFX masterpiece, what next? How will anyone know? You need to become a one-person marketing department to get your work seen!
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My pet peeve is whenever I see amazing, talented– and I have really amazing, talented filmmaker friends out there that are way better than me. And they make these amazing films. They spend years crafting this labour of love. And then they just put it on Youtube and they only have like 20 hits. And they’re like, oh, I don’t understand. Maybe the film is crap. I’m like no. It’s nothing to do with if your film is crap. Half the work is making the movie. The other half is getting it out there. With me, I chose to go with the Vimeo route as opposed to Youtube. And I get asked this question, why Vimeo as opposed to Youtube?
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Because I really wanted film executives to see it. I didn’t want to show my film with those adverts popping up all the time. So firstly, pick your platform and what you’re going to host it, whether it’s Vimeo or Youtube. Doesn’t matter which one. It’s a personal preference for me. Second is how you get out there. And for me, I approach science fiction sort of like websites. So I place it at io9, geektyrant. Pick about three or five. Don’t go more than that. Pick the big ones. Now you’ve picked them. And you can see that your film will be a perfect thing on their front page. Next thing is how do you approach them?
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For the love of God, don’t write a big massive email explaining the whole synopsis of your film because no one’s going to read it. You don’t even tell them the story. You just tell them it’s a sci-fi film about robots and computer hacking. That’s enough to go, oh, what is that? I tell you now, most people read, I read, most of my emails on my phone. Imagine if I sent a massive synopsis– oh, it’s a film about this. It’s my passion, blah blah blah. They would’ve got like within two lines, delete or file it away and I’ll read it later. And I don’t read it later, not intentionally, because they just don’t have time.
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So when you’re approaching an editor or a publication, you’re pitching. And this is a very American thing, the elevator pitch. That’s what your email should be. Keep it mysterious. Have you ever wondered what it’d be like if we made drones the size of this ring and we had a swarm of those? Check this out. That’s it. Two lines. So that’s my big advice in telemarketing. The other thing is social media, Twitter. Get your friends to tweet. Get your colleagues to tweet. And again, don’t pester them. The big thing I would say is when you ask people to help you in your film, just please ask them that you want them to collaborate with you.
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Don’t say I want you to help me on my film to tell this amazing vision of this sci-fi spectacle and it’s going to be good for your show reel. Don’t say that because it’s off point. Be genuine. People will go a long way to help you. And that’s the same with marketing your movie. If you come across as someone that genuinely wants you to look at it, but you keep it succinct, it’ll go a long way. And lastly, spamming is not the same as good marketing. That’s a big thing.
When you are doing something for the love of it, publicising it or even marketing it is probably not an immediate priority, especially as it calls on a different bunch of skills.
Marketeers can have a bad name- cold calling you at home, or stopping you in the street. But how can we use marketing to get our film ‘out there’ without compromising it? It could be argued that film is all about audiences, and our work can only grow when we get feedback from an audience. We can put our work on YouTube, Vimeo or any video sharing site and expect the hordes to find us, or as HaZ suggests, we can pro-actively find an audience, and drive eyeballs to the piece of work we’ve spent so long creating. All guerrilla filmmakers know they can improve by having an interaction with their viewers.
HaZ reminds us that everyone is busy and attention is a commodity in short supply. It’s so easy to convert our own excitement for our film into a long winded press release or email recounting every detail, as if we are the only film being released that week, and our recipients don’t have anything else to do. To compete for attention we need a simple message, and maybe to pose a question that will intrigue the right people enough and turn their heads.
In the next section, we’ll hear from the point of view of a Film Festival and Event Producer about how to get your work seen.
What are your tips for getting your work seen? Are there particular sites that you’ve found more constructive or helpful in terms of feedback and enthusiasm? What kind of personal approaches work best, without annoying the people you hope to see your film? What do you think of HaZ’s approach?
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