written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/1/2010
It's one thing to get your film into a festival, but it's another thing to get it seen.
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A film festival can be the place to get the word out about you and your film and maybe even sell it to a possible distributor. In more recent years the indie scene and digital video have exploded and every city seems to have their own film festival, not to mention the more focused and themed events. At any of these, many films are going to sweep through, using celebrity and other hooks to gain attention. If you are going to keep your head above water in this competitive environment you are going to have to figure out how to manage the "buzz" in your favor.
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The buzz is simply the talk about you and your film. This can be in a formal sense such as publications and other media covering the film as one of the more important aspects of the festival, or simply a rabid word of mouth spreading like the plague from theater to theater. The only way to approach this is to keep it steady and in your favor.
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The best way to get some buzz to begin with is to have a quality film that will gain word of mouth reputation. This is likely the case if your film got into the festival in the first place. From here you need to begin managing the information and getting the first crowds to see it to amplify the discussion. Try to get a spot at a prime time on the first day so the most important people can see your film. This can take quite a bit of lobbying with the festival managers, but this is where much of the effort should be directed.
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Once your spots have been selected you need to promote as much as possible. The film festival crowd is a little more jaded to conventional forms of press notification and advertising so you are going to have to be creative and use principles of guerilla marketing. Post interesting posters around town and specified venues. Hand out flyers to potential audience members, and try and seek out celebrity filmmakers and critics to support you. You are also going to need to have press kits available with a synopsis, mission statement or treatment, production stills, and any other piece of information about the project, the cast, and the crew. Try to send these out to any press outlet that will have them, as well as anything else around the film festival.
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You are going to want some press coverage, which almost every filmmaker will get. The best way to get more and to receive very iconic representation in your articles is to focus your answers to questions in a way that makes people actually want to say the film. You do this by making yourself and the film sound somewhat enigmatic and profound. In this way people will see this as an event that may not occur again and they will want to be on the ground floor of something incredible.
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Make sure that you have already created a serious web based presence so that the audience has something to tie the film to, and especially something to look at further once they have seen the project. This means that you should especially be looking into social networking as well as movie specific sites, as these are the egg of what can become an international consciousness about your film. Make sure that you can then share news and information through these sources so that people can get a sense of importance about your film and know where to turn if they like it.
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There is a problem with "over hype," which occurs when the film is too talked about and too promoted. This can end up creating expectations that are far beyond anything you can meet. Keep things to a quite murmur and your film should be able to deliver.