Marketing a Film

Making a movie is just one part of the film making equation. The other side is the playing of the movie. What’s the point in making a film if it’s going to languish on the shelf and not get in front of people to experience it? It is irrelevant how fantastic and awe-inspiring it might be; if no one sees it, what’s the point? Some intrinsic merits could be argued for – since of course not everything made is meant to be seen or bought – but this isn’t meant to be a philosophical piece about consumerism or the act of creating.

So, where does that bring us with Skeleton Girl? Well, I’m hashing out the details of our unveiling of Skeleton Girl to the world. Originally our plan was to get some footage in the can and pitch it to two or three of the top shorts distributors or buyers out there. We know that what we have looks fantastic; everyone who has previewed it has said so, and given the 3D element – and the currently high demand for 3D – we expect there to be a great deal more interest. I know that might sound slightly arrogant, and I suspect most filmmakers think they’ve made the next greatest thing that everyone’s going to love. But seriously, we really do have something beautiful and magical that we think others will like. It’s also a great showcase for the high quality and creative work that Bleeding Art Industries - the company behind Skeleton Girl and Skeleton Girl Productions – is capable of.

But we’ve changed our plan. As I’ve learned more about filmmaking and getting one’s work out there, I’ve realized that selling it to a distributor isn’t the be all and end all yet. Imagine if we did sell it to someone without trying the festival circuit. There would be no build-up, no buzz, no potential awards with contacts and ancillary opportunities missed. Less people would be seeing it, and as a result it would be up to the distributor or buyer to create the buzz and get people to buy. It was a bit of an epiphany that that wasn’t the way to go. We need to get out to the festivals –  to experience what that part of filmmaking is about – and to really start to create the buzz – and hopefully win awards. And we’re going for the big guns – the award of all awards for film – the Academy Awards  (call us crazy but we think that way).

I know for those of you that have already been through the process I’m describing, this won’t be news for you. But for other newbies out there, here’s the scoop. In order to even be a part of the Academy Awards process, your short has to have won a competitive award at a qualifying festival first. The fortunate part is there are a lot of them worldwide. The tricky part is having a strategy and timeline that works: a) for when you’re done your film; b)  for the deadline to submit your film to a festival (often months in advance); and c) in sync with the deadline to submit a film for an Academy Award nomination (early October).

Although I’m still mulling over the many variables we need to consider, we’re likely going to first submit to the Rhode Island Film Festival, which happens in August 2011, as well as to Sundance and either Clermont-Ferrand  or Berlin. Our film has a bit of a European feel to it – and given we have the fantastically talented Polish composer Tomasz Opalka composing the music for it – it’s not a big surprise. We’re hoping European audiences will love it. Unfortunately, because none of us were born in Europe, we don’t qualify to enter it into BAFTA (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts), which we were thinking about.

Join our email list for Skeleton Girl news and we’ll keep you updated on what ends up happening on the festival front.

What has your experience been like figuring out what festivals to enter into for your short film? Do you think we’re on the right track with our plans? Would love to hear feedback!

Discussion — No responses