Film’s an art, but it’s also a business. You can be a fantastic filmmaker, but get lost in the signal to noise ratio, if you don’t know how to market your film effectively.

Marketing and distribution needs to be in your budget. The temptation is to put all your money up on the screen, but if you want your film to succeed, you’re going to have embrace that marketing and distribution is a necessity.

Here are five key elements you need to factor in.

Production Stills

I’ve written about the importance of production stills before, but it bears repeating. Budget for a professional photographer or rope in a talented friend  with a good camera and get high quality production stills.

Film’s a visual medium. We want to see what your film is about. It’s how you grab our attention and make us want to see your movie. You’ll need them for your artwork, your website, social media and press. You cannot sell your film effectively without good stills.

Chris Jones has some great guidelines in his post Top 14 Tips For Getting Killer Stills That Will Help Sell Your Film. Read, learn, apply.


In an ideal world, you’d get professional web designer to put together a film site for you. If you want to see how it’s done well, take a look at Moli Films production company site. It’s a beautiful website. If not, WordPress has some stylish free and premium templates, as do Wix and Weebly.

Your site should reflect your goals for your film. If you’re looking for traditional distribution, you need make sure all the information a sales agent or distributor needs is instantly accessible.

The trailer should be on the front page. There should be tabs for the synopsis, one for cast, with photos and bios for your main cast, director with bio, stills, video with any additional content and most importantly, current contact information.

That means phone numbers and email addresses that people answer. When I was scouting for acquisitions, you’d be shocked how many filmmakers missed out because I couldn’t get in touch with them.

Dead or wrong phone numbers, bouncing emails, Facebook and Twitter accounts started with the best intentions but inactive. If you want to be found, make it simple for us to get in touch with you.

If you’re self distributing, your site needs to immediately funnel people to ways to buy your film. Indie Game: The Movie has a watch now button on the front page using VHX. They’re upselling their film with a special edition offer with extra content and a limited edition boxset. Papadopolous & Sons Watch page has links to iTunes, Netflix, Google Play, Blinkbox, Amazon etc.

Make it easy for us.

Extra Content

How can you add value? You’re not just selling your film, you’re building your audience and brand. What extras can you give us? Production blogs with photos, behind the scenes footage, director’s commentary, production stills, interviews with cast and crew, blooper reels.

If your film has VFX or stunts, you can do a featurette on the making of.  This means you can create tiers of content and potentially upsell like Indie Game: The Movie.

It’s also invaluable for press and publicity. The more extra content you have like teasers, interviews, clips, it allows you sustain momentum and interest.

Legals and materials

The painful but necessary. Your actual film, video and audio masters, M&E tracks, source music and composer’s score, music cue sheets, licenses, combined dialogue/continuity spotting list, title registration, chain of title, copyright registrations, E&O insurance, certificate of origin, credits and so on.

You’ve probably looked at that list in absolute horror. That’s generally what a sales agent will ask for when repping a film, with some additions or omissions

You might be able to get away with not having all of these if you’re self distributing, but it’s good practice, and will likely be needed if you want to sell your film internationally and cover yourself legally.

All of this can feel overwhelming. I speak to a lot of filmmakers who tell me they just want to make films. Let someone else deal with the selling.

You can get help. You can hire a unit publicist who will take some of the pressure off.  Have a read at Film Independent’s Do You Need A Unit Publicist? Yes! Here’s Why!

Alternatively, a Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD) can balance the marketing and distribution responsibilities of a film. A PMD will help you identify the audience for your film and create a tailored campaign to help you connect to them, working with marketing, distribution and publicity partners to make the biggest splash and capture the audience for your movie.

Jon Reiss came up with the term and outlines their role in this article which explains more about what PMD can do for your film. I consult and advise on films as a PMD, from development through to distribution, so feel free to drop me a line if you want to talk about your project.

For more on marketing, check out my posts on artwork, trailers and movie titles.

Agree, disagree, questions, thoughts? Hit me up in the comments.

Picture Credit: Thank You For Smoking

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