by C. Raboin

1. A Plan. Focus your limited time, efforts, and funds on efforts that make sense for your specific film. Develop marketing themes, images, and a tagline (your brand) and start marketing before you start production. Particularly for your first film, reserve as much of your budget as possible for marketing. Sale and distribution won’t just happen, because you have completed production.

2. The Title. The title leads. It leads on screen, in any pitch or presentation, and in any discussion of whether the film should be seen, made, or distributed. Make the title engaging and memorable. It should be a title of a film you want to watch.

3. Personal Contacts. Virtual contacts may be fast and replicable, but personal contacts have credibility. You are the head of sales and your strongest marketing is based on personal contacts.

4. The Elevator Pitch (and Expanding Folder). Your elevator pitch is one sentence that says why someone would want to see your film. You will be giving your pitch to actors, production team members, investors, agents, and distributors. You should vary your pitch depending on its purpose – but all pitches begin with one compelling sentence why someone would want to watch your film. You should be ready to expand it from a sentence to a paragraph to a page, but you should always assume you will never have an opportunity to offer more than that one compelling sentence.

5. The Trailer. The trailer is an elevator pitch composed of moving pictures. It should be short, entertaining and engaging. It visually says why someone would want to see your film. Allocate a significant part of your marketing budget to making the best possible trailer.

6. IMDB. IMDB is the standard of credibility in the film industry. You want an IMDB listing. Not having one will mark you as an amateur.

7. The Marketing Package. Your disks (both blue rays and dvds) should be professionally designed and printed. The exterior packaging (the box) should be high end. You can’t compete with a studio’s production budget, but for a couple of bucks you can make your packaging as nice as the big boys. Whenever you send out a disk or a link to your film you should include: photos and resumes for principle actors, resumes for principle production team members, a detailed credit list, a fact sheet answering common questions, a flyer, and when appropriate a poster. Promote your actors and production team members to make them marketing ambassadors for the film.

8. The Website. Your website is your 24 hour sentinel. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It does need to be professional and well organized. Consistent with your brand, the website promotes the film, gives access to your trailer, gives access to your marketing package, and links anyone looking for more information to the right person with whom they can make a personal contact.

9. Social Media. Social media is not magic, but remains one of the least inexpensive ways to begin promoting your film. You want a social media presence consistent with your brand that is exciting, but professional. Create a database of followers that will be evangelists for your film.

10. Festivals and Contests. Select the right festivals and contests to give your film exposure and create opportunities for you and your team to personally promote your film.