I found this list of 10 simple rules by Ahmed Bilal inspiring in its simplicity. Even though he has nothing to do with film publicity, his advice can be beautifully applied to the effort of online publicity for a film.
I’ve been watching the ravaging fires in Southern California on the news the last few days, and have spent most of today holding my breath, waiting to hear from my colleague and friend, and Co-author on this blog, Unit Publicist Michael Klastorin. I knew the fire was endangering the general vicinity of Michael’s town, but I had no idea just how close the fire may be.
This LA Times article raised the hair on the back of my neck. Fortunately, I learned about the article from Michael himself, who, I’m very relieved to report, is safe and back home after being temporarily evacuated.
Whenever disasters strike, we’re reminded of how fragile and precious life is, even though sometimes I think we’re partially numbed to it by all the media coverage. When it affects family and friends, it really hits home. I encourage everyone to contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross to find out what you can do to help.
One of the most important items in your arsenal of web publicity is B-roll: footage that gives the viewer a glimpse into the actual production process of the film. Allowing the potential audience to visit “behind the scenes” before the film is released has become standard for promoting a film. When the film is released on DVD, the B-roll footage is often included on the DVD as part of the bonus features.
B-roll footage used for promotional purposes usually includes footage of the principal creative team (director, producer, set designer, and/or principal leads) talking about what it’s like to make the film. A typical example is this ‘behind the Scenes” clip from the film 300.
Even if your project is a micro-budget production, you should still be able to get some useful B-roll footage that you can use to help promote your film if you remember to write it in to your shooting schedule. Have your interview questions ready, and have your cinematographer shoot your leads answering the questions while waiting to set up the next shot. Ask your cinematographer to shoot the crew while they’re preparing the set for a particularly challenging visual scene, and then later dub in your voice explaining what the crew is doing. If you can afford it, bring a second camera and operator onto the set on designated days to shoot you and your crew shooting your film.
You’ll end up with a great package of trailers, clips, and “behind the scenes” footage that you can place on your film’s website, share with viewers on other sites, and add to your EPK.
Bloggers are receiving recognition from the traditional press as “legitimate” news practitioners more and more these days. This article from LATimes.com discusses the current trend of many media outlets to adopt the philosophy of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em –and get some revenue while you’re at it”. Newspaper print circulation numbers have been dropping off, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the impact of the blogosphere’s proliferation.
Some traditional news organizations are still not quite on board with the whole idea of bloggers as journalists:
The blurred lines make many uneasy. “There’s a lot of uninformed opinion on the Internet and not a lot of solid reporting,” said Fred Brown, vice chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethics committee and a columnist at the Denver Post. A professional journalist “respects the truth and lives up to standards of ethics. Certainly that isn’t the case in the blogosphere.”
To that, I would say “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Nevertheless, it’s clear that blogs play a recognizable, important role in the dissemination of news and other information. Readers looking for content and information have more choices than ever to which to turn for a variety of sources, perspectives, and opinions. I have to think the result is more dialogue, and a better informed public.
What does it mean for film publicity? It means that a publicity campaign for a film must include bloggers in the grouping of “press”. It means press releases must be written and formatted for SEO and distributed accordingly. It means potential for exponentially increased exposure for your film.
According to this NY Times article, it appears the long period of detente between WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers may be culminating in a final show of brinksmanship before the current contract period ends this month.
Ironically, (at least as it pertains to what we talk about on this blog), one of the main sticking points for both sides has to do with:
“…residuals payment for movies and shows after their initial screening, including…when movies and shows are distributed on the Internet or through other forms of new media.”
Everyone in the film industry is still very much finding our way in this frontier called “new media”. With technology continuously evolving, innovation is providing new platforms for delivery and sharing entertainment content. Those involved in creating that content, and those who fund it, are justifiably concerned about their rightful place in the frontier.
Things certainly don’t look particularly bright at the moment. I hope, for everyone’s sake, that a compromise can be reached so all can get back to concentrating on the work of making movies.