For the Sundance/Slamdance Chosen

December 1, 2010
posted by sheric

(I’m working on the audience building post, I promise!)

In the next few hours and continuing throughout the week, both festivals will be making their public announcements about the lucky chosen for this year. If you are one of those people, listen up.

You should be ready to press send on a press release right after they announce. DON’T SEND ANYTHING out ahead of their announcement. No need to piss them off or get disqualified. But be ready with at least a release. Then you need to find a publicist if this person isn’t already on board.

You should also have a website up, even you short form filmmakers. When people hear about your film, they look you up online. I know you think this is common knowledge, but even last year some of the Sundance features did not have a website up before the festival. Tsk, tsk.

Next, you should be making a hit list not only of the major publications, but the publications that actually reach your target audience (which is NOT everyone). Getting coverage is one of the main reasons this fest means anything to you. Get your story to them as soon as possible, the earlier the better. I would advise against sending screeners if this is your world premiere. In the case of Slamdance, this may not be your premiere and you may already have some coverage and reviews. Put it all together in your press kit, online. Ditch the notion of having a paper press kit, I don’t care what the Sundance/Slamdance press office tells you. But do have all your elements together. Plenty of hi res, good quality production stills of the action, director’s statement, bios for all the major people, synopsis (both long and short), reviews if you have them, laurels from other fests if you have them. You’ll also want to remember to get a copy of the laurels as official selection.

Also, you should be devising a steady stream of content to release at intervals during the lead up. Make several trailers or release small clips. Customize them to the publication that is doing the coverage. What does this mean? In the case of a horror flick, there are lots of different horror sites. Some bloody, some scary, some monster-centric. The audiences who read those sites are all looking for something different from their horror movie so don’t release the same content to all of them. Know what I mean? Find something that is customized to their audience, it also gets people talking about all the different content out there for your film. You may even pick a publication to whom you only give exclusive content. But make every piece of content kick ass! Good god hire a professional trailer editor! If you are ever going to do that, it is now when you will have benefit of the most coverage. Think up lots of different angles to your film’s story because after a few have covered the fact that you are an official selection, there really isn’t that much more to talk about if you don’t have other story angles to pitch. This all happens in the lead up to the fest. During the festival, you’ll be doing work on the ground too.

The next 7 weeks or so are non stop promotion. If you aren’t ready, you need to get on the stick. Don’t waste this opportunity. It might be the biggest push your film ever gets. Also, have your distribution plan in place. I know you think this will just happen automatically since you’ve been accepted. Don’t count on that. Go into it like that isn’t going to happen and then be pleasantly surprised if it does. Everything you can do to get attention for your film will only help your distribution chances no matter how the film gets distributed.

Congratulations on your acceptance and make the very most of it.


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