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Film Marketing Guide

Film marketing is an excellent opportunity to get media exposure and market your film directly to fans.

Here are the steps in how to identify, engage and build your audience. You will learn how to increase your fan base, create a buzz online and get media exposure.

Film Marketing

What is Film Marketing

Film marketing refers to the promotion and advertising efforts aimed at building awareness and interest in a film. Effective film marketing can help build anticipation, drive ticket sales, and ultimately contribute to the success of a film project.

Some common methods of film marketing include:

  • Trailers and Teasers: Previewing clips or footage from the film through trailers or teasers is a popular and effective way to build anticipation and create interest in the film.
  • Social Media: Utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to reach potential audiences, build buzz, and engage with fans.
  • Influencer Marketing: Partnering with influencers, such as celebrities, bloggers, or social media personalities, to reach a wider audience and promote the film.
  • Outdoor Advertising: Utilizing outdoor advertising, such as billboard and bus stop ads, to reach potential audiences and create awareness of the film.
  • Public Relations: Working with public relations firms and media outlets to generate coverage, interviews, and articles about the film, its cast, and crew.
  • Film Festivals: Screening the film at film festivals, such as Sundance or Cannes, can help build buzz and reach industry insiders and potential buyers.
  • Cross-Promotions: Partnering with brands or products to create cross-promotional campaigns that reach a wider audience and build interest in the film.

Film marketing should be carefully planned and executed, and should align with the film's target audience and overall marketing strategy. By utilizing a combination of traditional and digital marketing methods, filmmakers can reach potential audiences and build excitement for their film projects.

With large budget productions, distributors spend up to 40% of the film total budget to promote a film (tv ads, billboards, corporate sponsorships), but with independent film distributors expect the filmmaker to do a major part of the film marketing.

You are responsible for making the film and selling it too.

Film Marketing Goals

First you need to decide exactly what you want to achieve, why did you make your film.

  • Film Festivals are for red carpet, fame, you need a technically outstanding film to win.
  • To make big sales, you need a recognisable star that viewers know and want to see on screen.
  • To change the world, you need to concentrate on the theme and a highly targeted audience
  • If it's your first film and this is your showcase to make your next film, lots of self promotion.

The goal affects your marketing message

What is a Film Hook?

Your film hook or USP (Unique Selling Point) is what makes your film stand out above all others, what piques the interest of something new and valuable.

  • Star Power: you have a A-list star or an Oscar winning Director, huge up.
  • Emotion: what do viewers want to feel when they watch your film.
  • Niche Audience: a highly targeted audience like boxing, ballet, etc that you can market to online.
  • Genre: audiences exist for genre such as slash horror, romantic comedy, action, etc.
  • Theme: some VOD platforms concentrate on spirituality, sports, Bollywood, etc.
  • Technical Innovation: the use of cgi, metaverse, something that excites tech enthusiasts.
  • Awards: you won top film festivals like Cannes or Berlin, people want to watch that excels.
  • Reviews: viewers often research up to 6 resources before watching a film, they count.

Independent Film Marketing

How to Market a Film

The most important part of independent Film Marketing is the ability to know who your Audience is. What are their interests, where do consume content and will they be passionate about your film. You need to find and connect with a core audience.

The key to a film success is how well it has been marketed

  1. Define your niche audience
  2. Figure out how big your audience will be
  3. Research how you going to reach your target market
  4. Set up your marketing schedule
  5. Calculate your film marketing budget
  6. Design your EPK (Electronic Press Kit)
  7. Connect with influencers that apply to your keywords
  8. Launch your Film Marketing Plan to Media

Now that you have decided on your goal and what you USP (film hook is), you are going to come up with a film marketing timeline that tells a story and excites the potential viewer.

Over a period of time before release, drip feed images, videos and related content to get the audience feel involved and attached to the project.

Film Marketing Strategy

A film marketing strategy is a comprehensive plan for promoting and advertising a film project, with the goal of building awareness and interest among potential audiences. A successful film marketing strategy should consider the following key elements:

  • Target Audience: Identify the target audience for the film and understand their preferences, behaviors, and interests, to tailor the marketing efforts accordingly.
  • Unique Selling Point (USP): Define the unique selling point of the film and how it differentiates from other films in the same genre or market.
  • Timing: Plan the marketing efforts around key dates and milestones, such as the release date, film festival screenings, and awards season.
  • Budget: Allocate a budget for marketing efforts and prioritize the most effective and cost-efficient methods, such as social media, influencer marketing, and public relations.
  • Content Creation: Create engaging and impactful marketing content, such as trailers, teasers, posters, and social media graphics, that effectively communicate the film's USP and target audience.
  • Distribution Channels: Utilize a variety of distribution channels, such as social media, influencer marketing, and outdoor advertising, to reach the target audience and build awareness of the film.
  • Analytics: Regularly track and analyze the results of the marketing efforts and make adjustments as needed to optimize the strategy and reach the target audience more effectively.

A well-planned and executed film marketing strategy can help build anticipation, drive ticket sales, and ultimately contribute to the success of a film project. It is important to be flexible and adaptable, as the film industry and the media landscape are constantly changing and evolving.

  • Research your Film Title, super important
  • Decide the Emotional Promise: anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, neutral, sadness, surprise, etc
  • Build a website for your film
  • Social Identity: create social accounts that is uniform across your accounts
  • Uniform: decide on font and colors so your content is easily recognisable

Who is your Film Audience

  • Create a Persona, one unique person you know who will be a super fan
  • Find Similar Films: watch what content they react to and what their needs are
  • Calculate your Audience: if there are millions, your audience is too wide, you need to target a defined group

Create a Database

  • Social Groups: join online groups where your audience hangs out
  • Media: create a list of publications, blogs, tv talk shows, podcasts, etc for outreach
  • Organisations: find organisations that are relate to your keywords, make a deal
  • Newsletter: super important, no need to rely on algorithms, email your fans directly

Key Art

  • Video: you need a teaser, several trailers in different formats, ie YouTube and Instagram is different
  • Assets: create visual and text assets that will resonate with your audience
  • Images: images of key crew and cast, during production and on set
  • Posters: several poster with text and without text

Content Assets

  • Press Releases: prepare them in advance, example 'announcing production', 'star has signed up', etc
  • Social Content: bring value to groups, become an expert in the field, only then you start film promotion
  • Press Kit: your Press Kit is what you send to media, film festivals and distributors to get exposure
  • IMDB Listing: the first thing media and distributors look at before they consider your film

Film Marketing Timeline

From the time you create the script to the time your film is watched by all of your intended viewers, marketing your film is the thread you must keep in mind.

Funding Stage

On submitting your business plan to funders, grants or private equity, they going to ask you what is your marketing plan. You need to include your film marketing plan, the intended audience and the strategy of how your going to reach your audience.

During Pre Production

  1. Analyze the script and decide which scenes will resonate with your audience.
  2. Decide on the branding of the film, theme, colors, and message.
  3. What are the tactics to reach your audience
  4. What percentage of your total production budget are you going to spend on marketing

Analyzing the Script

The genre and theme of the film is what is going to attract audiences, so which scenes are going to resonate with the viewer, where they feel an emotion. Decide on 3 to 5 scenes you going to concentrate on, for which you need images, video and text to use during your campaign.

Branding your Film

Now that you have chosen scenes, you need to be consistent with your brand. What colors are you going to use, the font on your poster and images, what words are triggers for your audience. Make a list of keywords that you can later embellish into social posts and press releases.

Audience Strategy

The list of keywords above is going to drive your film strategy and where you going to find them. Example if your film is a teen comedy, you most likely to use Tiktok or Instagram, but if your audience is a more mature audience, you likely to do your promo's on Facebook.

Marketing Budget

Huge blockbusters like James Bond films go into the millions of dollars, on average 50% of the total budget. On an independent film you should not go less than 30% as you need to do a lot of outreach to get a dedicated audience excited.

On Set

  • Schedule the set photographer
  • Schedule cast photography in costume for head shots
  • Schedule interviews with cast and key crew

The Set Photographer

You need raw high resolution photography to use for your posters, marketing materials and backdrops for television interviews.

Cast Photography

It is advisable to rent a portrait studio to take head shots of your key cast (in costume) so that your brand stays consistent.

Behind the Scenes

Get high resolution photography and video of behind the scenes, the making of, interviews with the cast and crew.

During Post Production

  1. Compile your marketing materials
  2. EPK Kit
  3. Deliverables

Marketing Materials

You need to keep in mind your teasers, trailers and social marketing serve different purposes. Submitting a trailer to a film festival could look vastly different to a teaser on Twitter. Create as many 1, 5, 10, 30 and 90 second videos as you can.

Teaser vs Trailer

A Teaser is a short video that gives a taste of the feel of the film, a trailer is designed to tell a story without giving the end away.

Film Press Kit

Your Film EPK Kit is what you send to film festivals and the media to engage press.

You need to be specific in your marketing, how, why, when and where you going to reach your audience.

Tips to Promote your Film

  • Keep an open mind, you might be targeting a certain audience, and find there is a new target
  • Watch for other films in the same genre that might be releasing the same time as you
  • Be realistic, your audience is as big as your budget and the time you spend on film marketing

Film Marketing Campaigns Examples

Over the years, several films have had noteworthy marketing campaigns that stood out due to their creativity, impact, or sheer scale. Here are some examples:

  1. The Dark Knight (2008): Warner Bros orchestrated an alternate reality game called “Why So Serious?” which encompassed various real-world events and interactive online experiences. This campaign played a pivotal role in hyping up Heath Ledger’s iconic portrayal of the Joker.
  2. Deadpool (2016): The marketing for this movie was as unconventional as its main character. From humorous billboards to cheeky social media posts and viral videos, the campaign captured the irreverent tone of the movie.
  3. The Blair Witch Project (1999): One of the earliest examples of viral movie marketing, the creators made many believe that the film was a genuine documentary of real events through clever online and offline promotions.
  4. Inception (2010): Warner Bros created a multi-layered marketing strategy, much like the film’s plot, including viral campaigns, an online game, and interactive trailers.
  5. Paranormal Activity (2009): Paramount used a “Demand it!” campaign allowing users to request the movie in their city. The buzz generated from these screenings led to a nationwide release.
  6. Frozen (2013): Disney released sing-along versions of the movie’s songs, particularly “Let It Go,” which became a massive sensation on its own, propelling the film’s popularity.
  7. Avatar (2009): 20th Century Fox partnered with companies like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola for promotions and merchandise, held a global “Avatar Day” offering free screenings, and utilized cutting-edge 3D trailers to emphasize the film’s visual spectacle.
  8. The Hunger Games (2012): Lionsgate launched an extensive social media campaign, creating Twitter accounts for the fictional districts in the movie and encouraging fans to join and participate.
  9. Get Out (2017): Universal Pictures used both traditional trailers and an innovative social media campaign using the hashtag #GetOutChallenge, where people mimicked a running scene from the film.
  10. Toy Story 3 (2010): Disney/Pixar created vintage 1980s-style commercials for one of the new toy characters, “Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear,” making it seem as if the toy had been around for decades.

Each of these campaigns leveraged various marketing techniques, from viral internet promotions to real-world events, ensuring that the films remained the talk of the town leading up to, and after, their releases.

Convince your Audience

How to Build a Film Audience

Who is going to watch your film? The most essential part of a film is knowing who your audience is going to be, learn how.

Film Marketing Goals

Keep in mind you constantly pitching, to the audience, the media, festivals and distributors.

Apply for Funding with a Professional Film Business Plan