6 Independent Film Marketing Strategies That Work in the Digital Age
Over 90% of independent films don't get shown in mainstream theaters. It's a good thing that there are other ways to launch your film to greater heights if you market it the right way.
For a movie to make an enormous profit, the typical route would be to cast global stars, raise a vast budget, and produce under a giant banner studio. But here's a quick reminder: there's no single path for a movie to become a box office hit.
You also have independent movies that succeeded, even with a relatively low budget and a virtually unknown cast. For example, the indie film, The Slumdog Millionaire, which raked in $378.4 million at the box office. They did that despite having only a $15 million budget and a cast led by first-time movie actor Dev Patel.
So, indie films can be as popular as movies produced by big banner studios. Even in cases when your film doesn't get a theatrical release, there are other ways to promote your movie, especially in the digital age we're living in today.
If you're curious about how you could launch a viral marketing campaign for your independent film, we've listed several suggestions to help you get started.
How To Promote Your Film in Today's Digital Era
As soon as you're done shooting your film, words can't explain the feelings of relief and fulfillment across the whole cast and production staff. However, the final cut is not the endpoint; the challenging yet exciting process of marketing your independent film comes now.
Independent filmmakers aim to get their movies seen by their target audience. The market for independent films is a vast ocean filled with endless ideas, but you could still stand out among the crowd. Try these six marketing strategies that could transform your next film into the next hit in the cinema industry.
1. Think outside the box
It goes without saying that creativity is a must in crafting movie marketing campaigns. Do you still remember how the 1999 horror film The Blair Witch Project created a fictional story around the fake disappearances of the movie's characters? It was a brilliant marketing process that tapped into the curiosity and concern of audiences worldwide.
We've seen indie filmmakers make the most out of their relatively low movie marketing budget. So dig deep into your bag of tricks, brainstorm with your fellow creatives, and create an enthralling campaign that will compel your desired audience to watch your film.
2. Distribute a compelling trailer across different channels
The nature of creating trailers has evolved from its inception in the 1920s, but it still maintains a powerful purpose. Think of it as a two to three-minute audition that will cast a lasting impression on your target audiences.
But there's a difference between creating a good trailer and a great trailer. A good trailer is right on the money with what you want your audience to see. A great trailer not only does that but also encourages people to talk about it for days, leading to an organic word-of-mouth marketing strategy.
If you succeed in making a compelling trailer, the next step is to distribute it across various channels. The advantage of the Internet era is you can share your trailer on social media, video streaming platforms like YouTube, and on your website if you have one. If you're planning to enter a film festival — which we'll dive into in a short while — chances are organizers and critics might also request your film trailer.
3. Have a consistent social media presence
How do you promote a film on social media? First off, there are so many social media channels to choose from; you could even find Facebook groups dedicated to film promotion. So the challenge would be to create engaging content that your audience would consume.
Independent filmmakers always try to get creative with their social media campaigns. Your content list could include the following:
- Behind-the-scenes footage.
- Interviews with the cast.
- Fun and witty posts relevant to your movie's genre and themes.
Social media is never a one-off strategy; there's the entire process of figuring out which hours your audience is most active and which content they're more likely to engage in. But the key to successfully promoting your film across social media platforms is consistency. Developing a regular content schedule will help you crack the algorithm of these social media platforms, enabling you to have greater reach.
4. Consider running a website
Most films released by major studios have their own websites, but that could prove too costly for independent filmmakers. You need to shell out a lot of money on designing one, not to mention the resources you'll pour into writing content that would rank on search engines.
A cost-effective solution is to put up a site or personal blog for your branding. If you're a filmmaker or a director, having your site will not only promote your next film but also showcase your talent in filmmaking. It can be a portfolio displaying your previous works or a blog if you love sharing your thoughts through written words.
As a director or filmmaker, it's your goal to establish your name in the market. A personal website could help with that.
5. Exercise patience in getting good press
Building connections is undoubtedly part of the process if you have big dreams in filmmaking. The film industry is filled with very influential people, meaning you'll get tremendous support if you have strong connections.
Of course, you can always hire a publicist to handle your press releases and promoting needs. If you have up to $15,000 to spare, getting a publicist for your film would go a long way.
But if you don't have that much money right now, you can just stay the course, make friends within the film market, and network as much as possible. Don't force relationships, though, as it could set off a wrong notion.
6. Gain entry into film festivals
Independent film marketing would always involve local film festivals. It's where aspiring filmmakers and actors show their abilities and where producers scout for up-and-coming talent.
It's great if you get an exclusive invite to enter your movie at a film festival, but don't sweat it if you don't. You can always gain entry to film festivals of your own accord, although it might come with a reasonable price. Prices might depend on categories like short films or feature films, but it won't break the bank if you're concerned about that.
Moreover, a film festival is like this vast social network where you could give out your calling card or go around getting ideas for your next project. If you have a good film and you gain the attention of several producers, your film might be up for distribution in no time.
Another critical thing to note here is that most film festival organizers have social media pages where they post films and directors that won awards. If you're one of these winners, that could be additional exposure for you and your movie.
7. Tick all boxes on the traditional marketing side
Digital campaigns might have a more significant impact nowadays, but that doesn't entirely cross out the value of traditional film marketing. Printing movie posters and getting your film reviewed still have a substantial effect on moviegoers. It creates a legitimate air around your movie, which could be great for word-of-mouth growth.
Finally, if you want to outsource your independent film marketing efforts, there's no shame in that, either. You're not only employing a marketing team to help in film promotion, but you'll also learn strategies from them. It's a great trade-off as you figure out how to penetrate these different film markets.
Jumpstart your independent film making journey with Gruvi
As you advance your skills in filmmaking and directing, Gruvi will help put your name and work out there for the world to see. With our connections in film markets and expertise in customer-driven marketing strategies, we could empower your movie across your target audiences.
Contact Gruvi today to learn how we can support your filmmaking journey.