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The Five Most Effective Ways to Promote Your Short Film in the Festival Circuit

What lies behind an award-worthy film is not only strong cast and crew but even stronger - publicity. The festival circuit is a great way to build an audience and your short film a name for itself. Submitting to festivals is step one but arriving with a publicity package and plan is the key to utilizing the short film festival circuit to the best of your advantage.

Entering your short film into film festivals can raise its chance to be seen by many audiences and especially those who have the “ins” to the bigger festivals, possibly producers and networks looking for the next film to stream. Self-distribution is the other route to good exposure, but why this may sound difficult, filmmakers do not have to go through it alone. Public Relations (PR) teams or Film Marketing Agencies are the simple alternative. Work with experts who know more than just the current market, but how to sell to the market.

This does not just happen overnight, but if done right, distribution is necessary and, in the works, not only during but also before the festivals. Short films have the power to expand into features and are the place to start putting work out into the world as a filmmaker and growing artist.

It is assumed that marketing and publicity happens during the festival circuit, however, to take advantage of the festivals, preparation and publicity needs to start beforehand. Following are five ways to get your film noticed and on top of the PR game for the festival circuit:

  1. Building a Host Page

Every film needs a “home base.” Whether it is a Facebook page, website, IMDb profile, etc. where can audiences go to know everything there is to know about your film. Filmmakers can use social media to their advantage, so nowadays, the traditional website can be a Facebook page as long as all of the included details are there. Some details to include are the production company, listing cast and crew with credentials that follow, contact information for media and press, the trailer and where audiences can view the film.

  1. Utilize Social Media at its Peak 

In the world of brand building especially for the festival circuit, social media is everything. Who do audiences tag after they watch your film?  Where does the producer you just met follow along with your latest filmmaking news? The account page in itself is like a mini blog telling the world about where your film is off to next (festivals, award shows, screenings etc.). During the production of the film itself, keep behind the scenes videos and photos ready to post. Reviews are one thing but when audiences tag your film, share your content to their followers, the news can spread just as fast as word of mouth because social media is the “mouthpiece” these days.

  1. Give Audiences a Snippet 

To build a press kit, one of the most important things needed is the film’s trailer. This can be promoted not only through your landing page and social media but can be bait for audiences to attend your premiere. The right trailers give away context around central themes, tone and the major conflict of the film itself. Distribution for the trailer is the next step. When contacting press (see #5 for more information), podcasts, e-mags etc. can share links to the trailer. When pitching to the press and contacting sources for film reviews, they will look at your press kit but will view your trailer first.

  1. Networking 

As the industry saying goes, “it is all about who you know,” which in hindsight, is true. The short film festival circuit is a huge opportunity to make the right connections and develop a following for your film. It is important to have that trailer, landing page and social media ready to pitch; but do not forget, networking is all about actually making the connection itself. Get to know the person not only about their career and what they offer, but connect about their passions, their latest projects, etc. Then, do not forget the crucial part…. Follow Up!

  1. Press: Before, During and After the Circuit 

Press is crucial! The more filmmaker interviews and reviews and articles dedicated to your film adds incredible value. Reach out to the local newspapers, social media blogs, and popular podcasts about your film. It’s beneficial to start before entering the festival circuit, during and after you receive nominations and awards. Film marketing agencies and public relations firms can especially help with press outreach as many may already have connections to the most well-known entertainment media outlets and an understanding of how to approach them.

Film festivals are a huge resource, so it is even more of an advantage to know how to best utilize and navigate them. Self-distribution is always an option, but filmmakers do not have to go through it alone as marketing agencies and public relations firms can assist in bringing your short film to the right audiences.