Does Your Film Need a Publicist?
Planning your film, no matter how thrifty you can be with sets and equipment, is a daunting enterprise. Including a little extra for a publicist before you even begin shooting can seem like a luxury.
So why is it worth it? Well, why make a film if no one sees it? A publicist is your best advocate for outreach, press coverage, and generally putting a good face on your project.
If you are going to be showing your film at festivals, a publicist can help you stand out from the crowd. He or she will work with you to discuss your goals and identify the most interesting stories about your project. The many potential angles of your personal story might surprise you.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before hiring a publicist at a film festival:
- Is this my premiere, or another special screening (like US premiere or a regional premiere)?
- Is there a solid regional press corp that covers arts events or might be interested in the topic of my film?
- Are any industry or credentialed press attending the festival?
- Is anyone from my project attending?
When you hire a publicist, you are not only getting their skills with writing and communications, but also his or her Rolodex (well, probably his or her iPhone, these days). A publicist has spent years building relationships with radio, tv, bloggers, and print media. His or her knowledge of the media landscape will save you tons of time emailing press releases to unanswered addresses. The tactic of “spray and pray” is just not how it’s done anymore, and emailing the wrong person on the wrong day might actually work against you.
It might be easy to oversimplify the role of a publicist. You may say to yourself, “I know I can’t do the color correction on my film. But the publicity…how hard can that be?” The truth it it’s pretty hard, and time consuming. Hours of dead ends have gone into every interview or review a publicist places for your project.
A publicist will also give you honest feedback on your marketing materials, and connect you with the best in the business for stills photography, poster design, and social media. This stuff matters! Plus, a good publicist will stand by your film even after the contract is up. If you treat him or her well, he or she will continue to politely field media inquiries and forward them your way, or even remind a reporter about your project when it seems like a perfect fit for a story.
In short, publicity is a skill just like lighting, sound recording, or acting. A publicist will bring a new perspective and energy to your project, and best of all, will be a member of your team solely dedicated to getting your film seen.