As film becomes an increasingly competitive medium, where modern films require an effective marketing campaign to see itself delivered to an audience, the marketing of distribution and film have become more important than ever.
It is important to understand how marketing works, the key factors at play, what promotional activities you can use, and why your film may need more or less marketing than other films. Once you have an understanding of these ideas, your film will have greatly boosted its own chances to find the audience that doesn’t currently know that their favorite movie of all-time is already being made.
How Does Marketing Work in the Film Industry?
Marketing plays an integral role in your success in the film industry. Unfortunately, no matter how impactful or excellent a film is, it will not be recognized if you do not effectively advertise your film. The adage “if you build it, they will come”, only applies if people know what the building (or film) is for, when it is available for the public, and why one would choose to go see it.
In this sense, film marketing is as important as the film itself. In fact, the most successful marketing campaigns start as part of the filmmaking process, in pre-production, instead of being an afterthought.
Key Factors in the Marketing and Distribution of A Film.
As mentioned before, the most successful marketing campaigns are ones that were treated as part of the filmmaking process. This means that if you want to market your film, you should begin as early as possible. If you are in pre-production and have not given thought as to your plans for distribution or started marketing your film, start now.
There is no single template for marketing and distribution. Just as every film is unique, so too must its marketing be.
Some factors for what should be considered are:
- Goals of the filmmaking team. The team should all be on the same page in regards to marketing and distribution. Sit down with your team and talk about what you want out of the film, and ensure that clear communication is present and ongoing throughout the project. A team that cannot agree on the goals of the project will cause a lack of unified vision that will cause you problems later on.
- The film itself. Every film has its own blend of tone, genre, and themes within its work. Because of this, some advertisement and distribution strategies may work for one film, but feel totally incongruous or even jarring for another. Nobody knows your movie better than you, and so this factor is up to you to decide how it affects your strategies for marketing and distribution.
- The audience. Ultimately, your film, and your efforts in marketing and distribution, are for the audience. You should try and know your targeted audience for the film. Be as specific as possible when deciding your target audience. How do they consume films? Where do they learn about films? What’s their choice of social media? Do they check the local theater for independent films? These are important questions that you need to be confident you can answer.
- Your team’s resources. How much time and money you have available will determine your approach. To save time, you may want to consider hiring a Producer of Marketing and Distribution – sometimes abbreviated to “PMD” – to take charge and direct your distribution and marketing in order to achieve your team’s goals.
What are some Promotional Activities for a Film?
Promotional Activities for a film, sometimes called the press junket or film junket, can take many different forms. Oftentimes with large budget releases, several run in tandem with one another, or are rolled out with strategic timing for maximum effect. These activities include:
- Film Posters
- Paid print advertising, such as inserts in magazines and newspapers
- Paid television advertising
- Interviews (this includes talk shows, interviews with your local radio or news station)
- Press releases
- Behind-the-scenes documentaries
- Partnerships with online media, such as blogs or news articles
- Digital advance “press copies” of a film for the purposes of either direct promotion or for review
- Social media marketing, including advance trailers
- Creating and hosting your own website to provide regular updates and new promotional material
- Mailing lists (usually for email)
Why do some Films Require More Marketing than Others?
Every film is different, and so is its marketing needs. While the cost of production for films is often made public knowledge, marketing budgets are often made separate by studios and can vary wildly in how much is spent by the studio.
It is industry wisdom that no film created in recent memory has had a marketing budget below 50 to 70% the total production value, but oftentimes the marketing budget can be 150% the production value, or even higher.
Social media and word of mouth can go a long way. If your film goes viral, for instance, you may not need as much marketing as other films who are still trying to “break into” the mainstream.
Blockbuster films, for example, are likely going to be more expensive than more niche productions, such as documentaries or “arthouse films”. As the goal of marketing is to attract a target audience, marketing is only as effective as the film it is advertising and the audience it is advertising to. The goal is audience awareness, not to spend as much money as possible.