When the festival begins make sure that flyers and posters have been placed out by the festival staff. If not, ask a festival employee about where flyers and posters can be placed.
It helps to work the lines (e.g., outside of film screenings), handing out your flyers where potential patrons have gathered. To sell your film, you should try to create numerous impressions. If you and your team are handing out flyers around the festival, you will begin to build relationships. You and your team will become identified with your film and you’ll be surprised at how many familiar faces will show up at your screenings.
Attend film festival events and parties. Talk about the film you’re promoting and engage with as many patrons and filmmakers as you can. Don’t be surprised if your efforts result in increased attendance for your screenings. You might even build relationships with other filmmakers that can help you after the festival is over.
You can get attention by going above and beyond handing out flyers. Another great way to promote is to come up with an unexpected strategy or gimmick. At the 2010 Florida Film Festival several teams came up with truly unique promotions to build interest in their films.
For example, in 2010 the team promoting Cleanflix (a film about a religiously motivated campaign to offer edited versions of popular Hollywood films, without the R-rated content) came up with a great cheap way to catch patrons’ attention. The Cleanflix team worked the lines at the film festival distributing DVD boxes. Each box (obtained by the street team for free from a video store that was going out of business) featured a front cover that the street team had made offering a “PG Version” of a blockbuster film. The front cover included catchy artwork promising a desirable (if edited for content) DVD. But the box was empty and the back cover explained the promotion, listing Cleanflix screening times at the festival.
Another great promotion involved “lost keys” that were left around the festival by the team forHomewrecker, a film about a man on work-release from prison as a locksmith. Attached to the keys (obtained for free from a locksmith’s trash) were a small flyer that listed screening times for the film. From a distance, the keys and flyer looked like a lost key ring. The keys were left in public spaces around the festival, where they were found and picked up. People who picked up the keys inevitably read the promotion. Some patrons actually returned the keys to the box office as they bought their tickets to Homewrecker.
Finally, the team for Obselidia, a film about an encyclopedia salesman writing a book cataloging the once-beloved things that end up obsolete, came up with a unique promotion that resulted in an original work of art. For the festival, the Obselidia team created an actual book of obselidia. To start this unique promotion, the team purchased a large beautifully-bound artist’s sketchbook. On the blank pages of this book the Obselidia team asked patrons and filmmakers at the festival to write an entry about something that was “obsolete.” Every day the list of obsolete things in the book grew. The Obselidia team was a constant presence up-and-down the lines outside screenings and at the festival parties. After several days, page after page had been filled and the book itself became an attraction, with people lining up to read the entries and to add their own creative touches. This actual book of “obselidia” helped to explain the concept of the movie (not an easy task) and created its own buzz that helped to promote the film.
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.”