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Film Festival PR

Film festival submission season also means it is time to think about publicity and take action.

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Well, I know it's that time of year when many filmmakers await the exciting news; the invitation to participate in film festivals. For many filmmakers, this is their world premiere or the national premiere of their film. IT'S A BIG DEAL!! And you should be excited; it's thrilling.

Get your own publicist to represent your film in the festival

"Congratulations. Accepted into a festival, it's time to rev the PR machine up."

While each festival has a PR team that handles publicity for the festival, it is impossible for them to equally represent 100's of films all the once. They are a resource, but you shouldn't rely on them as your PR plan. It is very WISE to hire your own publicist to represent your film. This way, you ensure someone is personally battling for media attention for you… as most of the other films are doing this, whether you realize it or not.

Having a world premiere or national premiere at a film festival IS NEWS!!!! It is a reason to engage a publicist. You have something to share with the world and the media is interested to hear about it.

Use the waiting time to your advantage

If you have submitted to festivals and it's now the waiting time. This is a great time to reach out to publicists and see if they might be interested in working with you.

NO. You can't do a PR campaign first to help build buzz to get your film into the festival. The festival has to be confirmed first. Save the trailer and any assets to be released for your festival PR campaign.

When contacting a PR with an intro-email, I always appreciate as much information as possible and a trailer. And ideally, I need to be able to watch the full master version of the film. I don't want to imagine how good it is going to look. I need to see what the media will see (as part of my job is getting films reviewed and critiqued within media). I'm not a film producer; I am a publicist looking at your film with this lens.

When to start PR?

As soon as you get confirmation that YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED to participate in the film festival- share this with your publicist. The promotion begins. And you will do a PR campaign again when you get official distribution, too. Just to keep this in mind... festival is the first or second round of PR for a film. It is second round if you were able to confirm cast announcements in trade or any on-set coverage. But for most indie films, it's the first wave of publicity for the film.

"As soon as the festival announces its lineup, the pitching for your film can begin. Basically as soon as it is public knowledge."

Pitching for the festival PR campaign usually starts one month from your screening date. It is important to allow lead time for media to read pitches, reply, organize logistics for interviews and reviews. And enough time for them to write the article and have it ready to be published the week of your screening. Reviews are embargoed until the day after screening. Interviews can be published the week leading into your screening to build some buzz for ticket sales, etc.

I hope this gives you an insight into getting started for film festival PR. More articles to come about the nitty gritty of PR.

Other resources

To find out what material you need for PR pitching and more, read my recent blog, What you need before you start PR?

Also, I highly recommend Jon Fitzgerald and Justin Giddings at Film Festival Mastery.

Film Festival Mastery is a comprehensive coaching program & training system developed by Slamdance co-founder Jon Fitzgerald and filmmaker & financier Justin Giddings.

They saw so many of their talented friends who couldn't seem to crack the festival circuit despite having incredible films. With Jon's experience as a festival director (Slamdance, AFI, Santa Barbara) and Justin's experience of screening at nearly 100 film festivals, they set out to provide the gold standard in festival training so that good films - like yours - get screened.

Wishing you the best of luck as you start the festival journey for your film! :)



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