So you’re making a short film – great! But unless you’ve embarked on creating a detailed marketing plan for before, during and after production has wrapped, you’ll soon find that the hard work is only just starting. Having worked on a wide variety of short films over the years, we at Grammatik have put together a comprehensive list of our top tips for creating a solid short film marketing strategy.
Set your goals & know your audience
What exactly do you want to achieve with your short film? Answering this simple question will guide your path and help give your marketing plans some structure. Are you looking to firmly plant yourself as an up and coming talent in the industry? Or perhaps you want to get your project snapped up by a distributor? Once you’ve decided on your goal you can then start to work on your plan: which festivals you want to target, your overall budget, and who your target audiences are. Defining that audience was probably a key factor in pre-production, but by understanding exactly who your audience is, where they congregate online, and what press publications cater to them, you’ll know exactly how to get your short film in front of the right people.
Develop a Festival Strategy
It isn’t enough to just fire your short film out to hundreds of random festivals and hope for the best; setting out an in-depth festival strategy early on may take some time, but it is essential to the success of your short film. Choosing your festivals based on proximity, subject, and niche audiences can work much better if you play your cards right. Sure, everyone wants to attend Sundance or Tribeca, but does your film look like it belongs on the festival lineup? Find festivals that suit your short film and its audience.
There are a number of factors to consider when selecting festivals: eligibility, location, submissions costs, deadlines, what awards are available and who will be in attendance. Ideally, you or someone involved in the creation of the short film should be there. Being able to talk up your work, schmooze with agents and distributors, and partake in workshops will pay dividends. Check with the festival to see if they can help subsidise travel costs. Speaking of costs, do you have to pay a submission fee? This is a common occurrence so be sure to budget accordingly or apply early for a discount. And be wary of exclusivity rules whereby your short film can’t have appeared online in its entirety before it premieres at the festival in question. Trust us.
Build an online presence
While we may have condensed this point down to a paragraph or two, building a solid online presence for your short film takes a long time and should really begin long before production commences. Let’s start with the basics: setting up a dynamic website or landing page to act as a hub for all of your online marketing strategies is key. Supplement this with tonnes of content – think about building a trailer, behind-the-scenes images, cast and crew profiles, a press kit and a newsletter signup form to keep fans updated with all your short film’s latest developments.
The importance of eye-catching content cannot be overstated here; you want people to be enthralled with both you and your work. Write some blogs about you and your experiences and the overall themes of your short film. Get creative! Does your film have a soundtrack or score? Original artwork or props? A VFX breakdown? This content will pique your audience’s interest and show people that you are a serious filmmaker.
Start spreading the news
There is a wide, wide world of publications, press, and podcasts (to name a few) that are talking about everything and anything – including the topics of your short film. But how do you know which outlets are right for you? Take the time to sift through the sheer number of websites out there and focus on those that are most likely to give you traction. Build a list of your top tier outlets and send them an industry and genre specific press release to maximise coverage – and include press kit with the trailer, images, and more.
And whatever you do: do not underestimate the power of a strong social media plan. Create a profile for your short film on all (applicable) social platforms and get shouting! Post fun and engaging content and post it often – consistency is key here. Create bite-sized clips and trailers that are ideal for social consumption, as well as utilising quotes, stills, behind-the-scenes details, and links to your website or short film. And it’s about more than just posting – engage with users online, join relevant groups, follow your chosen film festivals, engage your cast and crew, search hashtags for people speaking on topics relevant to your short film and incorporate trending topics, memes and gifs into your plan. You won’t regret it.
It lives on!
Once your short film has finished its festival run and things are starting to slow down, it might be time to start thinking of ways to extend its shelf life. The obvious choice is to upload it to a free video-on-demand service such as Vimeo or YouTube, but there are actually quite a few other sites out there which may be better suited for your film. Places like Short Of The Week exist solely to host and provide short films with more visibility, or for more niche genres like sci-fi or fantasy, check out DUST which caters exclusively to that market. Just be wary of signing any exclusivity contracts which may prevent you from using one or more of these sites.
There you have it! Grammatik’s full-length guide on how to market your short film. Do you have any tips or tricks you think we’ve missed? Let us know. Feel free to check out some of the short films we’ve worked on over the years such as Dispel, Duermete Nino, and RISE, and get in contact if you need marketing and PR support for your next short film.