So, by luck or sheer bribery, your movie somehow has made it into a festival. You are totally excited, and you can’t wait to tell your mom the news. Then you start doing a little bit of research on said festival, and you find out that they are also screening about 149 other films. 149. Buzz kill. How is your film going to stand out in the crowd of all those other films that don’t deserve to be there nearly as much as yours?
Answer: Promote the crap out of your movie. Actually, promote the crap out of your movie in a fresh and creative way.
Enough of the postcards and pins. Those don’t do anything and we all know it. Yet it seems like that’s the only thing moviemakers do. I don’t get it. I’ve seen a few people pass out T-shirts, but those aren’t really that unique, and they require a serious budget. However, if Paris Hilton is wearing your film’s T-shirt, now that’s a little better. TTYN.
A few months ago, we ran into this same promoting dilemma. Our first feature, Billy Was A Deaf Kid, was going to have its world premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival. We were stoked. “Stoked” isn’t even the right word. We were so filled with excitement that our heads were going to explode.
See, we were (and still are) nobodies. We had no name actors in our film. We had no big rep repping our film. And this was our first film at our first festival.
We knew we wanted to make our film stand out in someway, so we looked to films at other festivals for ideas. Sure, there was the Toxic Avenger combing the streets handing out postcards during Sundance, but we wanted something more, something better. What could we take from our film that would get people’s attention and fill the seats? After several days of brainstorming, it came to us. The couch. In our film, some of the characters ride a couch through an automatic car wash and down a street. So, we decided to give couch rides an hour before each of our screenings to drum up some buzz and publicity.
It worked perfectly.
We strategically did our couch rides when some of the films with high attendance were getting out. That way, all the people exiting the film saw us pushing around our smelly, orange couch; without fail, curiosity would take over and they would ask what in the world we were doing. This, of course, created the perfect opportunity to ask them if they wanted a free couch ride. Who would turn that down? As we pushed, we shamelessly plugged our film and gave them a flyer with screening times. On top of that, Burke was taking photos of each person we gave rides to and published them to our Website and Billy’s Facebook fan page. From all of this we were able to pack the theater and sell out our screenings.
Every moviemaker’s guilty pleasure at festivals is eavesdropping while you wait in line at Starbucks or as you exit a theater. We are no exception. We were constantly hearing whispers of “those moviemakers with the couch.” If nothing else, it got people talking about our film. Now, getting those people to actually like our film, that’s a different story.
This is just one example. There are tons of different things you can do to help promote your film in a unique way. This type of promoting obviously doesn’t fit every type of film out there, but if you look at your film closely, you’re bound to find something you can use to get people excited about your screening. We also found that festival-goers like props from your film. Viewers really liked seeing the actual couch we used during shooting. It was better than having the lead actor at the Q&A! (Plus you don’t have to feed props or get them a hotel room). Our couch turned into a celebrity. We were interviewed a few different times during Cinequest, and each time they wanted to do the interview on the couch.
So there you go. Don’t think that just because you made a movie, people are going to want to go see it. Get out there. Do something unique, different or crazy. Get people to notice you and your film. And have fun doing it. That’s the point of all of this right?
Rhett and Burke Lewis are a scoop of Mango Crème Fudge in a plain old Vanilla moviemaking world. They grew up making ninja/action movies in their backyard, where they became incredibly gifted with being able to light Rhett on fire and catch it on camera. They also consider themselves true moviemaking mavericks, because they both loved wearing cowboy boots when they were younger. Billy Was A Deaf Kid is their first feature.
To see Billy’s trailer go to www.billywasadeafkid.com.