So, you made a film, huh... What's next?
Everybody seems to agree that these next 6 steps are the way to go. Do keep in mind that each film is different and you may need to try a different approach for each of your films based on genre and desired audience, but the following six tips are intended as a general outline for what happens next.
1. Build an awesome website for your film.
We're not trying to toot our own horn by making this the first step. In many cases, however, you might want to have a central hub where you'll keep all the information about your film. Let's say you want to show off the cast and crew for the film, have a place to announce upcoming events and screenings, have a way to collect info about anybody interested in upcoming happenings, or a way for someone to reach out to you about your film. Do you see a common denominator? That's right, it's a website. You can list a trailer for your film and highlight taglines and loglines for anyone who might be interested. If you have press releases or reviews, or even social media followers, that will help show that people love what you do.
A website helps you amass all the information about the film, but use it wisely and think of the main goal you want to accomplish with it. Do you want people to learn about the film and be able to stay informed? Do you want to use it for fundraising? Or do you just want a presskit for PR purposes? Whatever the reason, Web For Actors can help you out with it, so feel free to register for free today and we'll help you get your film ready for high-quality online presentation.
2. Make a great trailer for the film.
This is where your editor's skills come in handy. This is a biggie! A lot of people judge the film purely on it's trailers and on reviews, but guess what, if you don't have enough reviews, people will judge it strictly by what they see in a trailer.
So, I'd say leave this in your editor's hands, but what if your crew is so small and so indie that you're the one who did most of the edits for the film? You can always hire some help! Consider Stage 32's free job board. If you've ever searched for a crew job yourself, you're probably familiar with all the alternatives. You have the Production Hub, FTP, Mandy, Backstage and others. It's not hard to find a place where you can hire an editor and a voice over actor online.
Is there another way you might ask? There's always another way, I suppose. One pretty simple way would be to get a pre-made After Effects trailer on videohive.net. Now, I'd never say it's a great replacement, but if you need to do something fast and on the cheap, After Effects might be the way to go. Work with your screenwriter on creating some catchy lines and have one of your actors narrate everything. And there, you got yourself a trailer.
3. Design a catchy poster for the film.
Once you've got a great design for the poster you should reuse it the best you can for anything that's related to your film. That includes a cover image for your social media, covers for your DVDs, images for the IMDb page and so on. You want to attract people to your film by providing a good resolution art. So how do we get there?
Let's first assume that you do have resources put away for that task. You can go to 99designs.com or one of the other crowd-sourcing design sites here and provide an idea to designers all around the world. Within days (sometimes within hours) you will start receiving designs and you'll be able to pick which ones you like which ones you don't like and pick some of the designers to go to the next phase where you tweak the artwork to work for you. You then pick a winning design and pay the person who did that for you. You could then ask them if they can create different dimensions on the side so that you can use the poster for different purposes. This will normally cost you about $200.
Now, let's say your resources are limited. It happens. I believe that spending $200 on a poster that draws attention might be a good call, but lets say that this just can't be done. If you know anyone with elementary Photoshop skills they should be able to help you out with this. What you do here is go to graphicriver.net and do a search for "movie poster". If you find anything that might work for your film, you can purchase it for about $10 and your colleague with Photoshop skills will be able to make small modifications for you.
If you don't have anyone handy, you can also request edits to any file you purchase through Graphic River. That will cost another $25 or so, but would still be cheaper than hiring a designer.
4. Get social media pages and keep them updated.
You should, no, you need to get involved in the social media to get people from all around the world into your website and involved with your project.
Two easiest ways to begin would be with a Twitter and Instagram profile. Many filmmakers might consider Facebook pages, and if you have a lot of money to spend on advertisement on Facebook, this might be the way to go, but assuming that you're not trying to put in a small fortune into your Facebook ads, I say get on Twitter and Instagram and utilize the hell out your hashtag searches.
Find tags that would be appropriate to your film. Let's say you're making a doc about veterans. That's easy, there's plenty of veteran related tags. Don't be afraid to get your hands a bit dirty with these accounts. Even though you may not be a supporter of the NRA, if you're talking about the military in your doc, get that hashtag in there. Let's say a large part of your cast is part of the LGBTQIAPK community. There's a lot of hashtags for you there. Maybe you have an alumnus of some big name college involved in your project, toss that around. Maybe someone worked on a big name project before they worked on your film, hey, no shame in praising them for it while getting the name of your project out there.
And finally... RESPOND. Respond to anyone who asks questions. Like posts of people who liked your posts. It doesn't matter what it is. It doesn't reflect on you. Get involved. Follow certain tags, and comment, like, repost anything that might be applicable to your film. Get people talking.
5. Sign up for film festivals.
Film festivals are extremely important and for some filmmakers, they're the end goal. Getting into film festivals allows you to showcase your work. Getting into big name festivals alone means something. It's an achievement on its own, while collecting prizes at those festivals opens a lot of doors. Sometimes it leads to pushing your film further and getting into more influential festivals, while other times it gives you a badge of recognition, so that the next time one of your films is presented anywhere you can list yourself as an award-winning filmmaker.
We've dedicated another blog post talking about different ways to get into film festivals. I don't feel the need to repeat myself, so click here to learn more about that.
6. Keep everyone informed of everything that happens.
I left this as a last item on your to-do list, because I know that a lot of creatives out there tend to procrastinate with this step, or pay as little attention to this as possible, but this is VITAL. You need to tell people about your work. Be it through advertising, through your social media, your website or through word-of-mouth. The world will not suddenly wake up and decide to search for your name or the name of your film.
Getting involved in social media was explained above, but if you don't tell anyone about what's going on with your project, they'll never know about any premieres or the awards you've collected. They'll never know that you've got a kick-ass trailer that looks so awesome it makes every other filmmaker's jaw drop. They'll never know that you need help collecting some funds to put finishing touches on a film that they'd love to support. So do yourself a favor. Use these tools often and keep everyone in the loop.