Question from my meebo widget: Which union do film publicists belong to?

June 15, 2008

Whoever left the question for me on my meebo chat widget, you didn’t give me an email address for direct response to you, so I’m posting the answer here.

Unit Publicists who work on location during principal photography of union films and want to receive union benefits need to belong to the International Cinematographers Guild.   Publicists and Cinematographers were merged into one guild in 2002.  One of my co-authors, Michael Klastorin, belongs to the ICG.  Incidentally, he hasn’t been around to post in what seems like forever because since the end of the writers’ strike, he’s been working almost non-stop on location.

Film publicists that don’t necessarily focus on unit work, rather in other areas of film publicity, such as launch, festival, theatrical release, etc., or who do unit work on non-union films or films with union waivers, don’t have to belong to a union.  There are professional associations, however, that are useful to join.  For instance, I belong to the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society.

Each organization has its own eligibility requirements, application and acceptance process.



Budgeting for marketing and publicity

March 25, 2008

“How much is it going to cost?” I hear that question often from filmmakers.  The simple answer is “probably more than you thought you’d need to spend.”

That costs vary widely is an understatement.   At one end of the spectrum are the millions per film spent by the major studios, while at the other end, some DIY filmmakers are doing it for themselves, while others turn their friends and fans into flacks.

fa0109.jpgThe March/April issue of FilmArts Magazine contains an informative article, penned by colleague Lyla Foggia, that explains why it’s important to build marketing and publicity into a film’s production budget, and includes some rough estimates for various costs (as well as a quote from me).

I’ve written before about how important it is to think about publicity and marketing at the very beginning of the filmmaking process. And not only to think about it, and plan for it, but to incorporate it into every phase. You’ll find this article useful, I think, as you plan your production budget for your next film.

The FilmArts Foundation is an invaluable source of information, education, low-cost filmarts.gifequipment access, fiscal sponsorship, exhibition opportunities and numerous other methods of support for the independent filmmaker community. Check them out if you’re not familiar with them. They are a non-profit organization, and can really use some support with their fundraising campaign.  

Article shared with permission from FilmArts Magazine, thanks to Laurie Koh, Managing Editor.

Publicity questions left for me on my meebo widget

December 13, 2007

I enjoy chatting with folks who say hello through my meebo chat widget.  I wish I could stay logged in all the time.  Unfortunately, that’s impossible, so sometimes people leave me questions on the widget, but they don’t always provide an e-mail address or other contact info,  so I have no way of responding to them personally.

Hence,  from time to time I’ll be posting answers to questions folks have left me. Here’s the latest.

Question:  Our publicity person on our independent film is asking 1/3 of the profits. Is that reasonable? He has a proven track record in internet marketing.

Answer:  While I don’t think it’s very common for a publicist to get a back-end deal, it’s not altogether unheard of.  Obviously, the circumstances surrounding the production, marketing, and distribution of a film are different for every project.  If a publicist is providing unit publicity on a union production, then union rates and rules apply and must be stated clearly, along with any mutually agreed upon and allowable exceptions, in the deal memo prior to the publicist beginning work.   Non-union productions afford much more flexibility for negotiating creative deals with publicists.   You and your executive producers will have to decide on what’s reasonable.   Consulting with an entertainment attorney may also be a good idea.

The occasional guest…

August 8, 2007

 from Guest Author Michael Klastorin

Hello to all.  My name is Michael Klastorin, and I have been graciously invited by Jane to stop by the blog from time to time and offer “insights” (and I use the term loosely) into the world of publicity.  This is not something I usually do, as the basic tenet of publicity is that a good publicist should be invisible.  He or she should facilitate activities that enhance the visibility of a project/client/etc., without being a visible presence in that equation.

For those of you wondering what qualifies me to speak on the subject, I’ve been in the motion picture industry for many, many years, having worked as a production publicist on features ranging from “Swamp Thing” to the “Lethal Weapon” and “Back to the Future” series, among many others.  Am I an expert? By no means.  I have opinions.  You may agree.  You may not.  It’s your prerogative.  I won’t be offended.  If I can help someone along the way, that’s great, and I think that 10% of your future earnings is a small price to…oh, never mind…it’s on the house.

If you’re looking for any pearls today, I’m sorry to disappoint you.  I did promise Jane that I’d post, and I have no desire to incur her wrath (She’s actually a very nice person, and from reading her posts, quite knowledgeable as well).

So, for now, consider me posted.