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So, you put in months and months of hard work crafting the perfect independent/no-budget movie and it is time to showcase your work. There are lots and lots of avenues for you to go, but there is nothing like seeing your movie on the big screen. And if your work is good enough, there is no better way to get the word out about your movie than hosting a successful screening.

One thing that people might not know about having a successful screening to add hype to your movie is just how important it is to use your crowd to your advantage. You’ll need to pick up/rent velvet rope and barricades to do this right. Most movie theaters allow people to rent out theaters for personal screenings. Make sure in your deal with the theater that they will let you do it right, with a red carpet, lines, and the works. If this is a small movie on a low budget, there is no reason to waste money on a 400 person auditorium, a smaller theater will be easier to fill and still do the ob of getting the movie on the screen.

First off invite the cast and crew, so right off the bat you have some audience members that are partial to the movie. Let them invite friends and family. Invite local bloggers (I know how much we love being invited to screenings and Q&As, trust me, they will come and talk about your movie). Also take a chance and invite bigger press, in NY? Try the Times and the Post. They likely will not come, but hey, you never know. Have a contact at a radio station or with a podcast? Give them a certain amount of free tickets to give away. Their hype will go a long way.

Now that you have everyone invited. Make sure you have the manpower to make the screening seem a lot bigger than it is. Have lines for general audience, press and VIPs. Don’t let anyone in right away, let the crowd gather and form. Make sure that people passing on the street or in the theater wonder and ask what is going on. “What movie is this?” “Who is in it?” One perfectly planned screening can cause your movie’s hype to snowball into something a lot bigger than you ever imagined.

Posted on June 29th, 2011 by ThePit | Comments Off on Hosting a Screening? Use the crowd to your advantage!
Filed Under Filmmaking Resources, Sponsorships

In the first part of “How to Get Your Film Seen: (Part 3) Your Website” we discussed why you need a homepage in addition to your social networking profiles, design, web hosting, domain names, and a few different styles that your website can take. Today I want to expand on what we talked about last time.

Not only is it a good idea to get a website, but it is an even better idea to learn how to build a website. Websites can become very costly after you consider the yearly price of hosting and domain names and then take into the account of the actual design costs and maintenance. As a low budget filmmaker, you have already likely taught yourself how to edit and use camera equipment, why not also learn HTML and CSS coding? Just a little knowledge can get you a very long way. In the very least you can beg someone to do the initial design work on the site and you can comfortably edit the pages by yourself, successfully avoiding the costly maintenance.

Also touching on what I mentioned in the last column, if you create the website around a blog platform, like WordPress, then you’ll be able to easily edit all of the pages via an Online editor. WordPress themes are completely customizable and you can manipulate them into exactly how you want your website to look.

Posted on March 3rd, 2011 by ThePit | Leave a Comment
Filed Under Filmmaking Resources

Today’s Daily Filmmaking Tip is a bit different. Sometimes, to hype your completed film, the best thing to do is to party! Attend screenings, networking events, social gatherings, and the like. You have to get yourself out there and make as many contacts as humanly possible. Get to know other filmmakers, film groups, vendors, theater owners and employees, local businesses, etc. Everyone will be the key to getting a good word of mouth for your new film or webseries. Go back to your college or high school and see if they would be interested in screening your movie (or a few scenes) with a Q&A. Talk to the local theater to do pre-screenings and events.

Not only should you attend other people’s parties, but you should also throw your own party. Get creative. Have you ever been to any themed parties? Not only are they a lot of fun, but it sticks with people. I once went to a release party for a horror film DVD and all of the waitresses were dressed as “sexy zombies.” This caught a lot of people’s attention and gave strangers something to talk about.  I know people who have held decade parties, where everyone had to dress in the particular styles of a decade and all of the music and movies they had on fit the time. One of my personal favorite ideas was someone that held a “Heroes and Villains” party where everyone had to dress as a superhero or villain from movies, comics, or video games.

Anyone can gather people together and screen a film at a local bar or apartment. It is what you do to set your screening apart that people will remember. And they will not just remember your party, but also your film.

Posted on December 2nd, 2010 by ThePit | Comments Off on Daily Filmmaking Tip: Party! …?
Filed Under Filmmaking Resources
daily filmmaking tips

Okay, so it might be a little strange that most of my recent filmmaking tips have been more about the business around the process, rather than actual tips for making films. Maybe it is because I’m in early pre-production on a new film, so my head is more in the business side of things, or it can be that I keep seeing young filmmakers making the same mistakes that makes them appear very unprofessional.

On the level of the filmmaker, we’ve talked a lot in the past about how to get yourself out there. Being prepared with business cards, a personal website, and a reel geared towards your particular skill (cinematography, editing, etc) is very important.  It is also important not to misrepresent yourself.  If you are applying for a production assistant job, nothing annoys me more than seeing a list of “films” you produced. And by “films”, I mean short student films.  You are not applying to be a producer, don’t list those. List the films and shows that you actually worked on. I’d rather hire someone with zero credits as a production assistant, than a “producer.” This goes for business cards also, don’t list yourself as a producer if you have never produced anything.

On a company level, you should look the part of a legitimate production company. Go the extra mile by designing a professional looking logo. Then put that logo on everything from your website, stickers on your gear, make letterhead, and you can even do postcard and envelope printing. The idea is to look as  professional as possible. You want to set a tone for how people see you, and by extension, your work.

Posted on September 19th, 2010 by ThePit | Leave a Comment
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daily filmmaking tips

So, lets say you spent the long amount of time it takes to make a feature film. You have worked your butt off to make it as good as possible. What comes next? Chances are, you have spent a mint getting it made. Whether you had an investor or just put everything on credit cards, feature films cost money. Even low budget ones. So, now do you hire a marketing firm for the film? A seo company for the film’s website? A public relations rep?

The first big thing to ask… is there an money left? Did you put aside some money to advertise your film or were you hoping that it would make it into a festival and a big studio would see it and snatch it up in a heartbeat? Well, that would be great, but it doesn’t always happen. While making the film it is a good idea to put some money on the side. You need cast for film festival entries, travel to be at said festivals, design work, a web site, and even a PR person to help your film get noticed. Those are the people that have ties to newspapers, blogs, and even festivals themselves. If you don’t have an agent, you just might need to hire someone to help you get the word out about your film. No matter how hard you work as a lone wolf, you just might not have the skills to do it alone. Plan ahead and put some money aside for advertising to help sell your film.

Posted on September 12th, 2010 by ThePit | Leave a Comment
Filed Under Filmmaking Resources

If you have been following My Hollywood Dream’s Filmmaking 101 series, than you know just how important having a website is for the promotion of your independent feature films, shorts, and webshows. One of the questions I get a lot is “how do you actually get people to go to your website?” That is not an easy question to answer. What works well for someone, might not work well for someone else. Here are two ways to get people to your website…

Word of Mouth
Just like with your film, one of the best ways to get people to your website is through word of mouth. Tell everyone you know about your website, post it on your Facebook and Myspace pages. Spread the word the old fashion way. Tell your friends and have them tell their friends. This will not get you thousands of hits, but it will get you some eyes onto the page. To get more hits, you’ll need..

Search Engine Optimization
If you are new to making websites, than you might not realize how important Search Engine Optimisation is (or even what it is). Lets start with what it is, in a nut shell, it is improving the ranking of your site in search engines (like Google and Yahoo). For example, if someone types the key words “My Hollywood Dream”, my goal is to be at the top of the search results for those keywords. This is no easy task. The best way to improve your place in search rankings is to get a lot of sites to link to your site. You need bloggers to put your link in their posts, other film sites to link to you, and where ever you can get to link to your site really. Post your link on social networking sites, post comments on other people’s sites that allow you to add a link to your site (we allow it, post a comment below!). The better the quality of the sites that link to you, than you’ll start getting better results in search engines.

Posted on September 1st, 2010 by ThePit | Leave a Comment
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daily filmmaking tips

Yesterday’s Daily Filmmaking Tip was about costuming and how you could prepare for future films (features and shorts) just by keeping your eye open for sales and buying costumes you might not have an idea for, just to prepare for later shoots. You never know what you might need.

Today, I want to talk about Postcards and how important they are to promoting your independent film. Postcards don’t have to be in your face or overly colorful, they can be simple, clean, and effective. I personally recommend having two styles of postcards for your film or webseries. One should be your main poster image, just on a tiny card and emphasis your film’s website URL. The second one can be more of a traditional postcard, have a candid or promo image on one side (glossy) and on the other side have it be a traditional postcard back, with a short message about the film and an area for the address you are sending it to. Like the first one, make sure it has your film’s URL and make sure it stands out. You want to direct people to your website to see the film’s trailer and learn more about how they can buy or see your film. You can do it yourself or hire a postcard mailing service to help you make these. When writing your short message about the film, I really recommend that you don’t have a canned message that you send to everyone. Instead, hand write a message specifically to who you are sending it to, for example; “John, It was great seeing you at the film expo, here is the film I mentioned to you. Would love to discuss it more!” This makes the postcard more personal to them while reminding them that your film exists. Hopefully they will not just toss it in the garbage.

Posted on September 1st, 2010 by ThePit | Leave a Comment
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