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Marketing as a Vital Part of Film Production

August 3, 2010 - Behind the Scene, Filmmakers, Films, People, Personal Insights, Professional Advice
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You don’t shell out thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions just to let the film bury itself inside the can, that dusty DVD container, or the inner workings of your dying hard drive.

Whether you intend the film to be watched for commercial purposes or you want it to be merely seen and touch lives of people for non-commercial film screenings, festivals, and other artistic endeavors, you need to let the people know there is something to watch out for.

Creativity and networking are crucial to effective marketing. From PR materials to merchandising items, they play significant roles in making the film better known; while actually earning additional money from sales through branded materials.

Classic examples of a film franchise’s merchandising items include books, shirts, button pins, bookmarks, keychains, bags, caps, paperweights, and school supplies (especially for children’s movies like “Harry Potter”and “Ice Age”) — where the film’s title or its sample art work gets branded into specific merchandise items. Sponsors also receive product placements in movie projects and their logos and contact details can even be placed at the film credits. The major sponsors can even be provided advertisements and write-ups in newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, and sometimes, even the film’s poster. Events and advanced screenings to further create buzz also become welcome sources of sponsorship goods.

Press people are invited to conferences and advanced screenings. They are provided physical and/or digital press kits containing publicity photos, production notes, poster, bonus articles about the film, film trailers and other media files. There are also fun stuff sold to a number of stores and Internet sites, where more than just merchandising materials, actual props used in films get auctioned or sold. Sponsorships and ex-deals on children’s films are also common in fast food chains and other commercial establishments where merchandise items are sold or given as freebies.

Marketing sounds pretty commercial, but even independent films practice marketing in one way or another. It is quite clear how the marketing arm of a mainstream production goes. Now, taking the idea of marketing in an independent production: a person talks about the film with friends, then friends-of-friends, and so on. The filmmaker and his/her team build profiles of the project in various online networks, create a website, a blog, or a Facebook page, put trailers on video sites like Youtube, and even collaborate with certain musicians for the scoring and coming out of music videos with mutual benefits for both parties. They promote the movie posters or even create memes and even artistic and viral calls to action in as much venues as possible. People get screening invitations through post cards, phone calls, text brigades, emails, e-groups, and social networking sites.

More often than not, a motion picture clings on to reviews and words from those who watched it in advanced/press/block screenings. The idea is, “if the film is really good, people will start talking about it.” With Hollywood productions and even independently-produced films like “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Once,” words coming out from those who initially saw the films affect their box office power.

In the Philippines, the main difference between Hollywood films and most of the country’s local films is how the value of marketing gets practiced and taken into account. To compare, it is still Hollywood and other developed countries with successful film industries that are able to market their films effectively, as they have ample budget and they have the support of their own governments, as well as many private institutions. However, this doesn’t mean that Filipinos should hamper their creativity in marketing strategies. Being creative and resourceful people, Filipinos, whether involved in commercial or independent films, can come up with great ideas and innovations on how to go about it. This also applies to struggling independent filmmakers and small production companies anywhere in the world. In fact, by this time and age, basic marketing strategies abound with or without a big budget. In this era of fast-paced communication and information technology where it is already very feasible to reach the greatest number of people through viral campaigns in the internet, film marketing is just a matter of setting priorities and putting effort and creativity to it.

It is as simple as: “If you have a film, you have to let other people know about it.” You have to reach out and let others share their thoughts about it. It is a storytelling medium anyway… so just tell them you have a story that they may want to check out, and hopefully, they enjoy it and tell more people about it.


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