Looking for ways to market your indie masterpiece but unsure of how to proceed without the backing of a major studio? Filmmakers interested in maintaining a reasonable marketing budget for their projects while still drawing ticket sales, take note! Using social media to market independent films is an effective and low-cost alternative to the advertising efforts of studios in promoting big-budget releases. Here are some Supercool tips to consider.
1. Indie filmmakers can maintain creative authority over a project, make a profit, and reach a diverse audience through the use of social media. As always, it is crucial to understand your target audience while maintaining in mind ways to appeal to a wider crowd. For example, Like Crazy, Drake Doremus’s prizewinning film, was marketed to appeal to opposite ends of the age spectrum to encourage a higher box office turnout.
2. Another avenue to consider is the independent film festival circuit. Submitting work to a range of festivals and using social media to plug both the festival and your film will bolster awareness and may even ignite a bidding war between studios, as was the case with Like Crazy. Films screened at major festivals including Sundance, the Venice Film Festival, and, of course, Cannes, benefit from extensive press coverage. Combining mainstream media attention with your own Tweets and blog posts will enhance your promotional campaign.
3. Websites including Kickstarter offer a venue for emerging directors and producers to raise money and fund new projects. Filmmakers can also use Kickstarter as a marketing tool, posting updates and clips of footage to gain sponsors and fuel public interest in a film. In addition, Twitter offers independent filmmakers an opportunity to engage fans with live progress updates and accrue new followers along the way.
4. Experimental tactics can be effective too, but involve a certain amount of risk. For example, Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck promoted their film I Am Here via the usual press channels, but decided to orchestrate a charade implicating Phoenix as a dazed and confused actor-turned-rapper. While the approach was certainly edgy, an idea created to market the film, intrigue the public, and offer a satirical take on the world of celebrity; Affleck and Phoenix assumed a level of risk in relation to their careers. Critics questioned Phoenix’s ability to make a comeback, though ultimately the idea paid off, generating buzz for the film and melding humor with marketing.
5. Promotional and social events also serve to engage fans in the marketing process. Auctions allow interested buyers to bid on props, costumes and set pieces used in independent films, and can be accompanied by a screening. Hosting private events is another way to network and tout upcoming releases while entertaining guests. Social media networking allows filmmakers to attract fans before a film is released. Short films are now being released on the web as part of a “viewers choice” strategy, asking viewers which of several clips would work best as a full-length film. Catering to the interests and preferences of potential audience members supports filmmakers in producing a popular product. Holding Q & A sessions post-screening and inviting fans to meet writers and directors also work well to attract audiences. In addition, partnering with independent movie theater groups is an effective way to entice spectators. The Landmark Theater group, for example, sends a weekly email newsletter to subscribers, alerting them to upcoming events, new releases, and giveaways.
A film doesn’t need the big budget of a studio release to succeed; rather indie filmmakers can take advantage of creative marketing alternatives. Plan out a strategy and make smart, Supercool decisions around your promotional campaign to engage moviegoers and you can put your work on the map.