Stage II: Pre-DISTRIBUTION

Working on your marketing assets during production.

Here I’ll explain how to plan your film marketing strategy during all phases of production.

From the moment you begin pre-production you need to have a marketing mindset. You’ll have to start building your audience, setting up your social media platforms and web presence. This involves growing your fanbase and create anticipation, but also gathering assets that later on will help you market your movie, such as photos, interviews, etc.

When you do it right, you’ll be set for a successful launch of your film, whether you have a distribution deal or not.

Let’s go over the different phases, step by step…

PRE-PRODUCTION – TIME TO PLAN AND SET YOURSELF FOR SUCCESS

It’s that time – you’re already moving forward with your project to make it a reality. Casting calls, location scouts, gathering the crew… everything and anything that you may need before production starts. And this includes getting your social and digital presence in order.

There are two types of social and digital presence: you as a director or producer, and your movie or show. You represent the brand, while your movie is your product. As an independent filmmaker, you need to build your brand in order to sell your product.

If you don’t have a website yet for your production company or for you as a director, that’s your first step. It’ll be your most powerful presentation. There you’ll have a section for your film or show. Same applies to social media networks, where instead of opening new pages, you’re better off customizing your brand pages for a specific project.

I highly discourage independent filmmakers from having a separate website or social media page or account for each film. Reason being, you want to make sure you grow your brand, versus growing a product. Brands live through many products, and that’s why it’s important to focus your efforts.

Building an e-mail list is another important aspect of giving value to your brand. Make sure you start getting subscribers as soon as possible. You can customize fields when capturing leads, so you know who got there for a specific movie.

Which type of content can be created during pre-production? Things like photos from the cast introducing them, casting videos, pictures of interesting locations, documenting meetings with the crew… it’s all about being creative and keeping always a marketing mindset that allows you to find interesting opportunities to entice the audience.

Once all this is set up, then you’re good to start seeding some of the content you’ve gathered during pre-production.

PRODUCTION – GENERATE AS MUCH CONTENT AS POSSIBLE

As hectic as a production can be, it’s undoubtedly the best chance you have to generate tons of shareable content. And I’m not just talking about social media… a perfect photo session in between takes can secure some nice pics for posters and other promo materials.

These assets can also be used later on to put together the EPK (Electronic Press Kit) which will help you make it easy to contact the media and provide details of your projects in a comprehensive package, available online.

This phase is also perfect to get interviews with cast and crew. It’s incredibly efficient, since you already have everyone there for you. Try and prepare relevant questions beforehand. It’ll be tempting to simply go and improvise an interview, but chances are you won’t get as much valuable content unless you identify key questions or topics. When you plan ahead, you’ll find yourself with plenty of material to use. But remember, it’s not about extremely long interviews, it’s about being able to generate tons of clips that you’ll later on be seeding across multiple channels.

During the shoot you’ll discover plenty of “shareable moments”, but chances are you’ll be too busy to realize it and take action. That’s why it’s always recommended to have a unit photographer and a unit publicist on set to be accountable for those details, and ensure you get what you need.

If you’ve previously established a clear social media strategy, at this point you’ll be able to seed your content in a way that responds to your objectives. It’s not just about going crazy sharing every single thing, but to have a vision for what we want to accomplish.

POST-PRODUCTION – INTRIGUE AND EXCITE YOUR AUDIENCE

Although some content can still be created during post-production, for the most part is all about continue to post things you’ve gathered during the previous two phases.

At this stage you should have already increased your fanbase and, if your posting schedule is constant, you should see more and more engagements with your content, to which you should be responding.

This is the time to intrigue your audience and create anticipation about your film or show. It’s the last step prior to launching your project, so you want to make sure you have an audience waiting for it.

Some ideas you can still leverage to entice with last-minute content are photos at the editing room, first impressions from the director about how the movie is going, color grading comparisons for a specific shot, etc… In essence, anything and everything that can prompt conversation about your project.

If you’ve been methodical up until this point, you’ll probably be more than ready to go into the distribution phase.

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