Welcome to the third part of our Filmmaking 101 series. In part 1 we looked at affordable print ideas, in part 2 we talked about how social networking could help get your film seen, and in part 3 I want to discuss your website. Click on the filmmaking tag (at the bottom of this article) to see the other parts along with some recent screenwriting tips.
So, you have Facebook, Myspace, and YouTube profiles, why would you need a website for your film? One word, professionalism. Social Networking sites are perfect for keeping people informed and getting people to your main website, but they shouldn’t replace your actual site. Your website has a few key factors that you need to look into and decide on before you even get to design it.
First and arguably the most important factor is your domain name (aka URL). It is best to choose domain names that are easy to remember and easy to spell out. You need people to be able to remember this name and tell it to others, without them screwing up the spelling because of abbreviations or cheesy word replacement (I.E. using l8er instead of later). Personally I like to have two distinctively different domain names pointing to my film’s website. The first one is a name that is close to the film’s title. You’ll have to do a search to figure out if the names you are brainstorming are free. Usually if the title is taken, you can at least get something with the word film or movie at the end. For example, if Thunderman.com is taken, you could always try ThundermanTheMovie.com. For the second name I like to be more creative and use something that will look cool on posters. I’m currently working on a zombie film, so in advance I bought TheDeadAreRising.com. I can picture a 1000 ways to use the url in ads both online and in print. I used to use Yahoo to buy my domains, but I learned the hard way that just because they are affordable, doesn’t make them good. Now I have moved all of my domains to GoDaddy, who not only has a great interface, but they have helpful customer service and are honest.
While it is easier to buy your domain names and web hosting fromt he same place, it isn’t always the best idea. For example, I host some of my websites on Powweb, but their domain names are overpriced. I can buy a domain for half the price from GoDaddy. Now in the reverse, I feel like GoDaddy is great with domain names, but their web hosting is lacking. You need a web host that offers you a ton of space and monthly bandwidth, and they need to be able to handle different scripts and CGI. You’ll likely have a ton of videos, photos, and a blog on your website. Make sure that the web host you decide to go with can handle what you need before you waste any coin on it. It is also a good idea to always keep up with current web hosting news. Not only do you want a great deal, but you need to choose a web host that is stable, reliable, customer friendly, and has a proven track record.
The design is going to be key in keeping visitors at your website and to encourage them to keep coming back. I prefer websites that are clean and easy to navigate. Include information about the project, but don’t go overboard. Don’t give a complete play by play of the film, don’t spoil the ending, and don’t post your full script. Include your film’s trailer and make sure that the quality is top notch. A blog is a great way to keep the film’s website content fresh and to add new content regularly. You can post behind the scenes photos, videos with scenes, or even just share experiences with the filmmaking process.
You are going to spend a lot of time and effort getting people to this website, make sure that they have something good to look at when they get there!