Four New Tips For Online Film Promotion
Two years ago, I put up a post called “10 Ways to Market Your Underground Film Online for (Mostly) Free,” which is still pretty solid advice, if I may say so myself. If you’re a filmmaker looking for some quick and relatively easy promotional tips, go check it out.
However, a couple of things have been gnawing at me lately when I’ve tried to look up promotional material for films I’ve reviewed here on the Underground Film Journal. So, consider this post an addendum to my previous advice. Some of these things are additions to the things I wrote before, but some is based on some new issues I’ve come across.
Now, for most of these ideas, I will tell you that not doing them is a personal annoyance to me. But this isn’t really about my own personal convenience. I’m a professional entertainment writer and I’m offering this advice so that you can make info about your film easily available for other writers and journalists. Making a great film is only half the battle if you really want people to watch it. Basic online promotion is fairly easy — although I’m biased because I’m an Internet guy — and it’s best to make the most out of the little things.
1) Make sure your IMDB listing is 100% accurate. One thing I should have written before is that IMDB will only accept your listing if your film has played at a festival. A fest director was telling me a few weeks ago that IMDB is a real stickler for that based on what filmmakers have told him. (SEE IMPORTANT UPDATES IN COMMENTS BELOW!) But, IMDB is a powerful industry tool. As an entertainment writer, I’m usually on there dozens of times per day and it’s the first place I go looking up filmmaker and actor info for the Underground Film Journal or other sites I’ve worked for. So, once your film is listed on there, make absolutely sure of at least two things:
a) The cast list is 100% filled out, accurate and in order of importance. One thing that drives me nuts is looking through a list of twenty credits like “Man in Chair” and “Bank Teller” to scan and find out the lead actor’s name who’s listed three from the bottom. The leads have gotta be on top. Also, if you have five characters named “Joe” in your movie try to figure out a way to differentiate them.
b) If your film has an official site, make sure IMDB links to it. I find this info missing on so many IMDB pages and it drives me crazy. Especially if the cast list is hard to make heads or tails of, I always hope the official site will guide me. But if I can’t find the link on IMDB or it doesn’t come up in a Google search, then there’s no hope for me getting the info correct. This leads me to my next tip:
2) Avoid Flash based promotional sites like the plague. If you pay someone to develop a website for you, don’t let them make it all out of Flash even though it looks really cool and all the Hollywood studio films do it. Here’s the problem: Google can’t search Flash, so you’re just making it harder for people to find your site. Your film title will probably make a search engine match, but it won’t for any of the cast and crew’s name, even if the web designer keys them in as keywords in the header. As I said, studios do all their film sites in Flash, but they have so many links to their sites, they get the good Google matches. You won’t. Also, as an entertainment writer, I need to cut and paste synopses, plus cast and crew lists. Can’t do that with Flash. And, it’s more than likely that your Flash-based designer won’t make film stills available for download. Rather than flash, create a blog, or do an easily updatable static HTML site.
3) Put all your credit info on your film’s MySpace page. I see that a lot of filmmakers use MySpace as their only film site. I don’t have a problem with that. I have a problem when there’s not even basic film info on the page, especially cast and crew info. Particularly if your film isn’t listed on IMDB, then it’s essential to have this info on your MySpace page. It’s also a good idea to put downloadable film stills somewhere. I’m pretty sure visitors can see your profile’s image gallery even if they’re not your “friend.” That wasn’t true in 2006.
4) Create a personal Facebook account and a page for your film. Facebook was around in 2006, but it wasn’t that popular yet, so I didn’t mention it in my original post. The personal account is handy because you can easily connect to people. But one thing I’m not sure people are aware of is that Facebook pages are open to everybody to view. Here’s mine for the Underground Film Journal. That means they’re also open to Google searches, so make sure the page, like MySpace, has cast and crew info, film stills to look at, plus you can send out updates and upcoming screening info to “fans.” Facebook has been a pretty good tool for the Underground Film Journal and I get film and filmmaker updates there all the time.
Underground Film Feedback (2 comments)
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Mike — IMDb will list films in pre- and post-production, but you have to meet some requirements. I managed to get my new film, Endings, on there while in post in large part because the production was “verified” by coverage in the news and on the local NPR affiliate. I submitted those links as independent verification when I submitted the film for listing, and they accepted it.
Also, Withoutabox is now owned by IMDb — and they’ve made this easier. When you create a listing for a film on Withoutabox in order to enter it into fests, you can now automatically get an IMDb page… This one is a very recent development, which a lot of filmmakers on the Withouabox forums have been hoping for since IMDb bought WaB…
Wow! That’s really great to know. Glad they’re loosening up their requirements! Thanks for the extremely helpful info.