g The Film Panel Notetaker: Filmmaker Conference - 21st Century Journalism – September 17, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Filmmaker Conference - 21st Century Journalism – September 17, 2007

Filmmaker Conference - 21st Century Journalism – September 17, 2007

Moderator:
(JG) Jason Guerrasio, Filmmaker Magazine

Panelists:
(DL) Dennis Lim, CinemaScope
(JI) James Israel, indieWIRE
(JM) Jonathan Marlow, GreenCine
(JA) Jody Arlington, Weber Merritt (PR for Silverdocs)

(JG) How has Web 2.0 changed the way you either promote or cover films?


(DL) As a critic, I don’t depend on press releases anymore. A lot is about reading as many blogs as I can. GreenCine, for instance. Film writers pay attention to blogs.

(JI) At indieWIRE, press releases don’t win us over anymore. You can put your work online, such as on YouTube, and attract more attention.

(JA) From a publicists’ perspective, new technology gets media to look at materials in different ways.

(JM) There’s so much material out there. We’re a lot busier than we’ve even been because of it.

(JG) Is print press coverage still the ‘gold’ standard over online press coverage?

(JA) You still want to get into print, but want to get similar coverage online. Finding segmented audiences is the way to go.

(JM) You definitely want to get into print.

(JG) What are some tips on how to approach the press?

(DL) It doesn’t hurt to get in touch with critics you think might like your film. Have a sense of what the critic likes.

(JM) Knowing the journalist you want to appeal to makes a lot of sense. For example, approach indieWIRE when you’re promoting your film that’s playing at a festival.

(DL) A problem that happens is when you don’t understand who you’re pitching to. It can be off-putting to the journalist.

(JI) indieWIRE covers films within the context of festival and theatrical releases. Recommend contacting us ahead of time regarding screenings. If you’re playing at a smaller festival, find out who the reporter is who’s covering it. Make it as easy as possible to screen your film. Send screeners to the festival press list.

(DL) It doesn’t hurt to personalize the note to the writer.

(JA) The number one “do” is to pick up the Filmmaker Magazine guide that explains how to handle the media. Getting coverage in the media is relationship- and product-based. Don’t do anything that makes you a neophyte like spamming the media.

(JI) Spend a couple of hours researching the media and refining your lists.

(JG) When does a filmmaker need to get a publicist?

(JA) They should have a publicist at a major festival like Sundance or Toronto. These publicists have established relationships with the press covering them. Some journalists ignore things unless they come from these specific publicists. Regional festivals are not huge markets, so work with the festival press office. Give them all the materials they need.

(JI) Ask the press office what journalists are attending.

(JA) Three types of very strategized articles to pitch: 1) About the film, 2) About the filmmaker(s) & 3) A review

(JG) What kind of photos/images should filmmakers have prepared?

(JI) Really good cinematography entices the press. So many good still images aren’t available. Need to have high-res images available to the press. 300 DPI resolution for print and 72 DPI resolution for web. Be sure to also have a website with bios, screening info, etc.

(JM) The easier you make it for the writers, the easier it will be for you to get coverage.

(JG) What are some ways to get attention for film blogs?

(JI) Write stuff people want to read about. Should be a balance between self-promotion and other things. Link to other blogs. Some people write about their personal life or trends in digital cinema. Do outreach to other people who might link to your blog. Email them whenever you’ve posted a new entry. Get on RSS feeds. It all helps to build traffic.

(JG) Are filmmakers concentrating too much on grassroots promotion of their films instead just making films?

(JM) I don’t get that impression. There are people who are more focused on marketing their films, and don’t get as much of my attention. We want to like the films and promote them and write about them that mainstream press might not.

(DL) Four Eyed Monsters was so grassroots. You have to get your film in the press. The distinction between print and online is increasingly insignificant. indieWIRE, for instance, has a sizable readership. Very targeted.

(JA) Depends on the market.

(JM) Some films have a built-in audience.

(JA) Being succinct when talking to the media is so important.

Audience Q&A

Q: For filmmakers relying on showing their films theatrically, forgoing the festival circuit, do you recommend going to the press market by market or going to them all at once?

(JM) There’s no one right strategy. Todd Rohall, for instance, went city to city with Guatemalan Handshake. Theatrical may not be the way. It’s cost prohibitive.

(JG) At regional festivals, contact and build relationships with local press.

Q: Is it a good idea to post your projects on viral social networking sites like Myspace and YouTube?

(JA) Don’t put your completed project there, but serves well for posting trailers.

(JI) I personally like to see scenes from films, not just trailers. It can’t hurt.

Q: Can you elaborate more on production stills?

(JG) Hire a photographer.

(JM) Don’t send screen grabs.

(JI) Resolution is much smaller on the web.

Q: What’s the preferred manner of outreach for local/regional festivals?

(JA) Work with the festival press office. My office will do all of the heavy lifting.

Q: How should you name your blog? Should it be your name, your film’s name, or have a catch phrase?

(JI) indieWIRE has some creative blog names, ie. Boredom at its Boredest, Back Row Manifesto, etc. Pick something catchy.

Q: What should publicity services cost?

(JA) It depends on the scope of the work. Check the PR firms’ background and track record. Get a few bids before selecting one.

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