Film Marketing And DistributionThe preparation of the necessary marketing and distribution materials for the promotion and delivery of your film can be expensive and time consuming.

However, with some forward planning and some clever use of resources during the preparation, production and post production process, the time and financial investments required may be greatly reduced.

Most importantly, it is shown here how time and money can be saved without compromising on the quality of essential marketing and distribution components.

I am about to share some of the most useful lessons that I have learned from my own experiences,to help you to maximize your effectiveness and minimize time wasting and costly mistakes.

Mailing List

The importance of getting the names and details of absolutely everybody that you come in contact with in the process of making your film cannot be overemphasized.  If you do this, you will have an extensive list of the appropriate people to whom you can forward the promotional material for your film once it is ready.

Essential marketing materials

In order for your publicist to sell your film, it will be necessary to furnish them with the elements listed below:

High quality production stills -Three types of production stills will be required:

  1. Film Stills; These are stills of the whole film. Hundreds of them are required for delivery, so thousands will need to be taken.  Remember to take the kill  clause into account, as an actor may be able to veto up to 50% of the photos taken of them. The best stills can be achieved by renting a blimp and placing the still photographer as close to the lens as possible.  Remember, shots that are taken from the side will not be adequate as the scenes are not set up for this.

Tip 1: If you cannot afford to hire a unit publicist, you should review the film production schedule prior to starting the shoot and hire a photographer for the days on which the best stills can be captured.

Tip 2: Show all of the photos to the actors not just pre selected ones, so that some of their kill  clause can be used up in rejecting the ones that can’t be used anyway.

  1. Stills of the crew; It is important that you have good photographs of the director standing next to the camera and pointing at something.  Shots of the director speaking to actors and pictures of the rest of the cast and crew should be taken.  In order to ensure you have an adequate number of stills, assume that only one out of 30 or 40 will be good enough to use.
  2. Special stills; Some special shots of the actors individually and together in a variety of looks and poses with a neutral background will be needed for key film related art.  You will save yourself a lot of time and hassle if you get these taken on set.


Press Kit

As there is a lot of work involved in gathering all of the elements of the press kit, it is advisable that the very latest it should be prepared is in the post production phase. It is more cost effective to prepare the press kit yourself and just use a publicist to review it.

The following elements are required to ensure an effective press kit.

  • A Short and long synopsis of the film.
  • Biographies of the cast and crew – factor in the time it may take to get the cast biographies approved.
  • Good quality production stills.
  • A production story – this should showcase the unique elements of your film.
  • Director’s statement – No more than one page. Film festivals like to have a compelling story which shows how passionately you feel about your film.
  • Final end credits
  • Photo credits
  • Technical specifications which include; the original and final format including the final audio format (Dolby can only be screened and listed if you purchase the license), the total running time (TRT), black and white or color and the aspect ratio.

Tip 3: A fast and effective way to create a production story is to film an interview with the director and/or the team. This will also provide you with a component of your Electronic Press Kit (EPK).


Electronic Press Kit (EPK)

The EPK is needed for the publicist, and also in the creation of clips of the film, which can be used to generate interest in the film by being posted on the film’s website and utilized in the creation of extra material for the film DVD. The EPK should include material shot during preparation, production and post production.  It should contain interviews with the actors and behind the scenes footage portraying the making of the film.

Tip 4: It is a good idea to include an interview with the producer and director post production, as this gives an opportunity for reflection on the whole process involved in making the film.

Tip 5: Film all of your festival question and answer sessions for the EPK, for the DVD and to use as web clips.

High quality trailer

The film trailer needs to be exciting and interesting enough to hook the viewer and leave them wanting to see more. As the trailer will be one of the main selling elements of the film, it is advisable (if you can afford it), to employ a specialized copy and trailer editor.

If you do not have the resources to do this, you could ask the assistant or apprentice editors who may be working on your film, to edit the trailer.  They will be glad of the opportunity to flex their creative muscles and they are often experienced commercial or trailer editors who are gaining experience in the longer form. We did this for the trailer of “Bomb It” and obtained great quality trailers, extra features and EPK.

Tip 6: If you shot on film, you have two choices when it comes to making a trailer, you can either go back to the original negative (which is the more expensive option), or if your tape master is of high quality, you can utilize tape to film transfers, this could save you up to $5000.


Delivery requirements

Delivery requirements are the elements which are required by distribution entities in order to complete the contract.  Therefore, it is important that these are completed prior to showing your film at a festival.

Standard delivery requirements

All of the aforementioned press materials are required to be present on delivery, and also the following:

  • Stills
  • The chain of title and copyright registration for the film
  • Copies of all the cast and crew release forms
  • Music licenses and composer agreements
  • Stock footage releases
  • Music cue sheet
  • Stock footage cue sheet
  • Dialogue list.
  • Final Credits.
  • Key Art

International televsion documentary version delivery requirements

Once the picture lock is done, have your editor cut the film down to 52 – 54 minutes to suit this requirement.  It is much easier if this is done immediately after the film is made.

Online delivery requirements

A tape of text-less backgrounds will be required for any part of the film where there is native language text.  If your film has a lot of text, such as subtitles, the cheapest option here is to output an entire text-less film. This will also save you a lot of work later on.

Both NTSC and PAL versions will be required to ensure effective online delivery of your film and also keep your files safe in a 4 x 3 title.

When signing a standard foreign sales contract, it will be necessary to examine all of the individual elements of the contract and negotiate any changes needed to suit your film.