Home (2016)
The Bar (2017)
The Midwife (2017)
The Fixer (2016)
The Giant (2016)
Fiore (2016)
Brimstone (2016)
previous
next
Choose your language en | es | fr | it

email print share on facebook share on twitter share on google+

Industry Report: Marketing

Finding festivals & fans, Creating buzz & benefits

by 

- This guide by Screen Australia describes various options for exploiting short films and emphasises that the most effective strategy flows from an honest appraisal of the quality and nature of the film itself and a firm focus on the filmmaker’s objectives. It provides practical information and outlines how to negotiate the festival, sales and self-distribution landscape. It is applicable whether the short film is live action, animation, documentary or something else entirely.

Stories abound of compelling short films becoming overnight sensations online or winning major prizes and catapulting those who made them directly into the heart of Hollywood. But short films that are just as impressive miss out on getting the attention they deserve and disappear without trace.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Success is unpredictable because thousands of short films are made worldwide each year and there is very little commercial impetus driving them. The experience can be beautiful for some filmmakers and brutal for others because there are so many uncontrollable factors: serendipity, for example, and the level and nature of the competition at a particular time. Think clearly, act strategically to maximize the potential.

There is no point beating around the bush: the film itself is one of the biggest determinants of success and it may be better to move on to the next film project rather than spending time and money marketing a film that didn’t work out as well as hoped. (And it is definitely better to move on immediately if the film is deeply flawed because spruiking it could be more damaging than beneficial.)

Consider and honour the original intent behind the work. A politically motivated short could be very popular within a relevant specialist festival but not measure up to the high level of competition at a major festival. A film made to test an idea, prove the worth of the production team or showcase the strength and suitability of an actor for a planned feature may have perfectly fulfilled that purpose but that doesn’t mean it is capable of winning major prizes.

Honestly assess the quality and nature of the finished film. Focusing on what you want to achieve long term is also critical when determining a marketing strategy. Frankly, a filmmaker with an outstanding short and the penultimate goal of financing a dramatic feature (ie not a genre picture) should treat the Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and Venice film festivals as priorities. The competition is cut throat but winning a major short film prize at any of these four festivals can have a powerful effect on a filmmaker’s career on many levels – and on the likelihood of securing commercial deals for the film. Targeting the most prestigious festivals first is the traditional marketing pathway and it still has a lot of potential benefits. Keep the expectations and ambitions of the filmmaking team in mind.

Honestly assess the quality and nature of the finished film. Focusing on what you want to achieve long term is also critical when determining a marketing strategy. Frankly, a filmmaker with an outstanding short and the penultimate goal of financing a dramatic feature (ie not a genre picture) should treat the Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and Venice film festivals as priorities. The competition is cut throat but winning a major short film prize at any of these four festivals can have a powerful effect on a filmmaker’s career on many levels – and on the likelihood of securing commercial deals for the film. Targeting the most prestigious festivals first is the traditional marketing pathway and it still has a lot of potential benefits. Keep the expectations and ambitions of the filmmaking team in mind.

Honestly assess the quality and nature of the finished film. Focusing on what you want to achieve long term is also critical when determining a marketing strategy. Frankly, a filmmaker with an outstanding short and the penultimate goal of financing a dramatic feature (ie not a genre picture) should treat the Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and Venice film festivals as priorities. The competition is cut throat but winning a major short film prize at any of these four festivals can have a powerful effect on a filmmaker’s career on many levels – and on the likelihood of securing commercial deals for the film. Targeting the most prestigious festivals first is the traditional marketing pathway and it still has a lot of potential benefits. Keep the expectations and ambitions of the filmmaking team in mind. Filmmakers interested in making genre films may be better off submitting to the Sitges Film Festival, SXSW or Fantastic Fest than to the most prestigious festivals. Filmmakers who know they will only make shorts as a hobby might just want their shorts seen by as many people as possible – or on a big screen. If a filmmaker is determined to crowd fund a well developed low-budget feature, perhaps time and energy is better spent doing that rather than marketing a short. Shorts can very effectively help find niche audiences by utilising the power of the internet and social media.

If a filmmaker wants to direct television or get employment as a commissioner, perhaps it is a better option to use the short as part of a well thought-through plan to approach individual executives at production companies or government agencies.

Those who believe that online distribution will eventually change the nature of everything, including film marketing and financing, may want to use their film to start building a self-distribution portal or a database of fans.

Whatever the aim is, act accordingly, because the fate of a film and the filmmakers behind it are entwined.

These points can help the team consider what they want to achieve from their marketing efforts.

  • The most influential distributors, sales agents, financiers, talent spotters and other film industry players can be found at the most prestigious festivals, and winning a major short film award – even just being in competition – increases the opportunities for a filmmaker to get attention.
  • Creating an online buzz around a tasty morsel of film is a way of building up a fan base that can be transformed into a permanent resource for film distribution or raising financing.
  • It has never been easier to access special interest audiences around the world. Ÿ Short films are saleable but it is highly unlikely that an individual film will make anyone rich.
  • Critical and commercial acclaim rewards not just the key cast and the filmmaking triumvirate of writer/director/ producer but all collaborators, backers and helpers for their hard work.
  • The marketing and networking skills developed by shopping around a short film are well worth learning.

Filmmakers, especially those at the beginning of their careers, have to plot a path that balances working on their own projects, earning money and developing skills, a good reputation and contacts. Any marketing plan needs to be seen in this light.

Read the whole marketing guide here

 

 

in this industry report

Newsletter

CASI HECHO Home

Follow us on

facebook twitter rss

Doc Spring