How to Build a Press Kit

A press kit contains all the information a journalist or festival programmer needs to know about a film. A press kit not only contains informative bios and a synopsis of a film, but notes on the production as well. This provides an interested party with all the information needed to formulate a feature or review your film for submission in a festival.

Getting Started

A press kit can be presented as a hard copy in a folder, on a CD-ROM/DVD or other portable media, e-mailed, hosted online, presented through a website, or a mixture of delivery options. In the past all the elements of a press kit were physical hard copies placed in a folder. As the use of computers and digital technology increased these physical kits were replaced by CD-ROM and eventually moved to an online environment.

The method you choose to utilize is entirely up to you, and may rely on the requirements of the recipient. By digitizing a press kit into an EPK, or posting online, you can easily provide high resolution photos, easily replace outdated information, and have the convenience of quick delivery to an interested party. The various ways to transfer a press kit digitally will be discussed further on in this document.

There is no set standard for the organization, visual style, or formatting of a press kit. However, care should be taken to have a uniform look throughout all the documents included. An unorganized and sloppy press kit can discourage the recipient from even reading a kit.

Remember to keep a master copy of your press kit at all times. You must be prepared to reproduce it if needed. Also, keep the information in a press kit honest. It is okay to present some showmanship and make your film sound great, but don’t stretch the truth.

REMEMBER, always check with your filmmakers before you send out a press kit or contact any media.

Elements of a Press Kit

Cover Sheet

The cover sheet to a press kit should include:

  • The logo for the film, if available.
  • Publicist contact. In the case of this course, most likely a participant.
  • Filmmaker contact.
  • Festival contact. If a press kit is being sent to a journalist in relation to a local festival, include the contact for the festival.

 

Contact numbers provided should be cell phones when possible, as you will need to be available easily.

Each film has a unique situation or need when it comes to contact information. You can make changes to the information included as necessary.

While most of the content in a press kit will stay the same, the cover sheet may change often depending on whom it is being sent to. If sending a press kit to a journalist in reference to a specific film festival, create a custom cover sheet with the contact information for that specific festival.

Synopsis

A short paragraph or two that describes the plot of the film. Remember that this synopsis will be used by festival staff and journalists to build interest in and promote your film. Often times your filmmakers will be able to provide this synopsis.

About The Production

Include details about the production of your film. This can be behind the scenes footage, interviews, or anecdotes about the production. Check with your filmmakers to see if any such materials are available.

Bios

Bios about the key players in a film’s production will be helpful to journalists when building a story. Include the director, producer, cinematographer, actors, and other crew members that are of note. Check with your filmmakers to see if any such materials are available.

Credits

List the credits for the key crew members of your film. Remember to verify the spelling of their names as this document will be used as a reference by journalists. Check with your filmmakers to see if any such materials are available.

Other Press Clips

It will help to include positive press about your film, particularly from a well respected source. Check with your filmmakers to see if any such materials are available.

Photos

A press kit should include at least one photo representing the film, if not more. The subject can range from behind the scenes, to a poster image, or a frame taken from the film. Often times your filmmakers will already have these photos ready.

Include caption information identifying the actors, their characters, what is depicted in the photo, photographer credit, copyright, and any other pertinent information. Always name your photos so that the caption information can be associated with them.

For the purpose of this course, digital formats delivered through e-mail or online will be the most used option due to time and budget constraints. If time permits, ask the recipient what formats they require.

More on photos will be discussed further in this document.

Building a Press Kit

While physical press kits do exist, and are still used, this course will focus primarily on electronic and online press kits.

Electronic Press Kit

An electronic press kit will save both time and money and allow quick delivery to interested parties.

Preparing Text Based Documents

Instead of making hard copies of all your documents, you will create digital copies that are organized in a folder on your computer. Save all the text based documents to PDF format. PDF has become a standard format for both PC and Mac operating systems and can be read by the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Some programs offer the feature to save to PDF. If not, try PrimoPDF which can print any document from any program to a PDF document. Google Docs will also export documents to PDF format.

If you are sending a journalist your standard EPK in reference to a specific festival it may be a good idea to attach the cover sheet, with region specific contact information for the local festival, as a separate e-mail attachment or in the body of correspondence. EPKs can be large files, and to create duplicate copies just to change a festival contact can take up a lot of online storage space.

Preparing Press Coverage

Hopefully your filmmakers will already have press coverage prepared. However, if you need to prepare any coverage consider taking these steps.

For copies of press coverage, include high quality scans or content saved from the web. If scanning printed articles, make sure the scans appear clean and the articles are isolated on the page, with other non-related information removed. If saving articles from the web try to utilize the “print” feature now offered on most sites, as this will isolate the article content and remove much of the site’s graphics. You can then use the PDF printing solution mentioned above to get a PDF file. Or copy and paste the article’s content into a word processor where you can format it to match your other documents, and then print to a PDF document.
Preparing Photos

Include a PDF document that lists the name of each photo along with the caption, credit, and copyright information for each. Make sure all digital photos are are provided in a high resolution, 300 dpi.

For more information on including digital photos refer to these resources:

Compiling the EPK

Clearly name your EPK folder to identify your film’s name and that the folder is an electronic press kit. The organization of the files within the folder is up to you but it may be best to place the Synopsis, About the Production, and Credits documents in the main folder and create separate sub-folders for Bios, Other Press Clips, and Photos. Place your folder into a ZIP file to compress the contents and provide a single file for easy distribution. Or burn the folder’s contents onto a data CD-ROM/DVD.

Due to the high resolution images included in your EPK, even the compressed ZIP file will have a large file size. While still possible to e-mail the ZIP it is recommended to host the file online and then e-mail a link to the file. More on hosting files will be discussed further in this document.

 

Some also decide to compile their entire EPK into one single PDF file such as this one for the Sunscreen Film Festival.

Online Press Kit

Taking the electronic press kit one step further, an online version can be created. The line between an online press kit and a film’s general website can be blurry. While a film’s website and online press kit can be one and the same, it is important to ensure that the online press kit is free of complicated navigation.

 

The main purpose of an online press kit is to direct an interested party to the information and allow them to quickly process it. This being the case, if the film’s website is quite flashy you may want to create a separate area of the site for the online press kit or simply offer the electronic press kit as a download.

 

The online press kit for Wesley Willis’s Joyrides is good example of a website incorporating a press kit area.

Hosting

You will need online server space to host the files for your online press kit. Unless you have some intermediate knowledge of web development, the simplest way is to utilize a blog. Blogs offer the perfect mix of customization and structure to quickly create a clean and professional online presence.


Several blog services such as Blogger and WordPress offer free hosting. Refer to the document How to Create a Blog for more information on using these services.

Another option for large files are free hosting services:

Posting Documents

Instead of creating hard copies, or even PDF versions of your documents, you will post them on your blog. If your blog offers the ability to create static pages you can create a separate page for each section of your online press kit. If not, they can be provided in news posts.

Posting Press Coverage

For copies of press coverage, include high quality scans or content saved from the web. If scanning printed articles, make sure the scans appear clean and the articles are isolated in the final image, with other non-related information removed. If saving articles from the web try to utilize the “print” feature now offered on most sites, as this will isolate the article content and remove much of the site’s graphics. You can then use the PDF printing solution mentioned above to get a PDF file and then host it on your blog/server. Or you can link to the original article online. You should back up the article to your computer in case the link becomes broken in the future. You can also copy and paste the article’s content into the your blog as text. Be sure to give proper credit.

Posting Photos

Most blog services allow you the ability to upload and import photos right into a news post or static page. Typically the blog will offer you the option to insert a thumbnail of the photo into the post, linked to the full-sized image. Make sure the photos you begin with are in 300 dpi. Be sure to include the name of each photo along with the caption, credit, and copyright information.

Posting Video

If you would like to include video clips or the trailer for your film consider using an online video hosting service and then linking to or embedding the video from their site. Refer to these resources:

 

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Licensed by Randy Finch and Nick Martinolich under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. This license allows you to copy, distribute, and transmit this work as well as create derivative works. Any copies or derivative works may not be used for commercial purposes, must be distributed under a same or similar license, and in addition must contain the following language: “The Film Fest Marketing Project was developed by Randy Finch, Nick Martinolich, Sam Torres, Alex Bowser, Morgan English, Masha Murakhovsky, Jeph Alexander, and the faculty and students of the University of Central Florida’s Film Department, working with the Florida Film Festival, and with the support of the Sarasota Film Institute.”

 

 

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