Is film distribution institutionally racist? Why is it harder for films with actors of colour to get distribution? The answer partly lies in the importance of the international market and audience preferences.

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Today’s article is a guest post from my friend, film journalist and VOD marketing expert Corrina Antrobus. Corrina worked for Virgin Media and Blinkbox two of the leading UK VOD platforms and is here to gives us the inside track on how you can make your film stand out from the crowd and make a splash.

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Talk to any sales agent or distributor about your film and one of the first questions they’ll ask you is who’s in it? Cast is critical for distribution these days across all budgets and genres. But what’s a name? How do you balance the cost of a named actor versus the value in distribution?

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These days, making a film is half the battle. Marketing and distribution is the one that wins the war. Marketing and distribution can’t make a bad film good, but it’s critical for getting your film out there and getting seen. Here are five essentials for every film.

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Action films when done right are commercial, travel well and sell across multiple territories. The challenge is balancing the costs of making an action film with the returns from distribution. What do you need to keep in mind to blow them away at the box office?

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From development to distribution, your film lives and dies by its first five minutes. If you can’t hook a script reader, a distributor and your audience, your film will flounder. The first five minutes of your film is a promise to the your audience. It builds trust you can tell story. It’s your chance to show us why we should listen. Why we should give our time? Why should we care?

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Your movie artwork is the public face of your film. Along with your title and trailer, it’s absolutely fundamental for film marketing. You get one chance to make a first impression.

You need to be able to grab us in a glance, make us think, “Wow. What’s that? I want to see more.”

Artwork comes in many forms; one sheet, film poster, billboard, DVD sleeve and VOD thumbnail and needs to work across all of them. You’re hustling for attention among hundreds, if not thousands of other films. Great artwork can tip the balance from getting seen to floundering in obscurity.

It all boils down to being able to translate the essence of your film into one single compelling image that reflects the story and feel of your movie.

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Title, trailer, artwork. The holy trinity of film marketing. Get them right and you can make a spectacular first impression and leave us hungry for more. Get it wrong and your film might end up languishing unseen in film limbo. How do you make a great movie trailer?

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What kind of films should you make? There’s no magic formula, but you can stack the distribution odds in your favour by making films with pre-awareness by basing your film on a book or story in the public domain. They give you a fantastic marketing hook and allows you to tap into an audience of established fans. These are stories that have stood the test of time across all genres. They give you a hell of a screenwriting credit from some of the best writers in history. They’ve done the hard work for you. Forget the corsets and crinoline, modernise them and put your own spin on them.

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What’s in a name? Well, everything. Starting with your script, the title is the first piece of information actors, investors, sales agents, distributors and audiences will see about your film. It’s your chance to make a great first impression, pique their interest and hook us in.

A good film title needs to convey what your film is about in a couple of words. It’s a sales tool to get viewers into the cinema, pick up your DVD or click through to press play. Sometimes, the title is the only thing they’ll see – no artwork, tagline, synopsis or trailer. Make it count.

How do you choose a good movie title?

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