This is the off-season for Dances With Films, but I noticed a tremendous spike in page views lately. Whether that is due to film festival submission season kicking into gear with Sundance's last submission deadline coming up, or because I've started promotion on my book, Billy Bobble Makes A Magic Wand, I don't know – but I thought I should give either audience something new to read since it's definitely too late to be a part of this year's festival (it was over in June and the subject of my last post).
My mind right now is on marketing. As just about any experienced artist in any medium will tell you, they knew marketing was important, but didn't listen when they were rookies and someone told them marketing starts on the first day of production.
In a way, all artists are marketing all of the time. No matter what discipline, we are communicating something through our art, and so are trying to present that communication in the best possible way. From the political, in-your-face, theatre of the 60s and 70s, to the pop-art of the 1990s, to the indie film and book circuits of today, every artist begins with a story to tell and a way to tell it. That's marketing, like it or not.
Lately, artists have become more and more responsible for the marketing end of things. Ask any author lucky enough to get an advance, and most of them will tell you they've rolled that into their own sales plan. Alumni of Dances With Films know how much we push each filmmaker to have a marketing strategy, and many of them have come back to thank us for that over the years.
As I now launch into sales of Billy Bobble, I'm learning a ton regarding internet marketing, that I'm not sure filmmakers know about – which they should. Films are being sold side-by-side with books these days on Amazon, iTunes, Nook, etc. The same campaigns that drive people to those sites for books can work for films.
One example is blog tours. Now almost passé with books, I'm not sure many indie filmmakers are aware of them. Blog tours reach out to the super-fans (or super-bloggers) for certain subjects and arrange interviews, guest posts, or reviews. Reviews, of course, every filmmaker knows about, but most seem fixated on the Trades and The Times (New York and LA). Sure, those are extremely important, but just as important are the super-fans on Amazon. Getting good reviews from fans with large followings has become a must with indie novelists – and they should with filmmakers, too.
When dealing with these bloggers, be respectful. There really isn't any difference between a critic on a blog and one for a major news organization – except that the blogger is usually a volunteer. The blogger doesn't usually have a staff, and is often doing this on their own time just for the love of it. They don't owe you a favorable review. Hopefully, they'll write a good one, favorable or not. Regardless, make sure to say "thank you."
That's it for now, and possibly for a while. We are busy getting ready for year 18! Some filmmakers may have already submitted. That's fine, but submission don't officially open until sometime in October – I think. I don't keep up with that part. I just watch 'em and help pick 'em.
In the meantime, filmmakers, finish your sound! Short filmmakers, try cutting your movie in half and show it to your beta testers. See if they like it better. If so, LISTEN TO THEM! If your music is a bunch of random cords (usually on a piano, usually with a cello coming in on the big emotional part), thank whatever friend you asked to do the music and go find a real composer. If you've already shot your movie, these are the things you can be doing to make it better.
Believe me, everyone at Dances With Films wants your movie to be better!
Thanks for reading.