I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It: A Guide to Film Festivals, Promotion, and Surviving the Ride – A Book Review by John Strange
I get requests to review books once in a while. Most are film-related in one way or another. This one, I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It: A Guide to Film Festivals, Promotion, and Surviving the Ride, hit several of the hats I wear on an average day. I have worked on shorts and feature films as a set still photographer. I have worked at and for several film festivals over the last 20+years. And I am part of a company that is intimately involved in the film festival world, building DCP’s (Digital Cinema Package – the hard drives that have replaced reels of 35mm film in theaters), running projection, and several other related jobs. Plus, I have been reviewing films since 1984 for a variety of organizations and have been the various sites’ editor for most of that time.
Reading Clarissa’s book at times made me smile and others, frown, but it was all good. Good, close to great, but not perfect. But it is a true-to-life story and lesson that I think filmmakers, beginning and experienced, need to read and ponder.
Having a strategy to market your film? Absolutely on point! It is imperative that you know what your endpoint is before you can map your path to that point. Film markets sound great but you have to have some buzz going about your film BEFORE you attend them. Film festivals are scary. There are so many of them out there and they are EVERYWHERE! And most have genres that they program to the exclusion of all others. Clarissa has some excellent pointers on building your personal map.
Building an IMDb page, an eye-catching website, and a good press kit are required to make your marketing plan the best it can be. Her strategy and pointers are spot-on here, too. I like her ideas for schwag, too. I know that I love to come across cool buttons and stickers plus other forms of “tchotchke” like pens, pencils, t-shirts, or even hats. But, as she tells you in the book, remember that COST per item should be as important to your marketing campaign as “cool”. You’re in this for the long run, don’t run out of schwag before you finish your run.
Where I disagree with her was on the still photos needed for your press kit. She implies that a friend with an iPad is good enough to give you the required still photos. Sadly, most owners of iPads are certainly not photographers. Clarissa got lucky. What you will likely receive from your friend or relative will be snapshots, not stills. And that is a crucial point.
As an editor of a film review organization with 30+ years of experience, I look closely at a film’s photos when I am preparing to publish the review of the film. If they are not crisp and clear, they won’t be used. If half of the people in the photo have their backs to the camera, it isn’t usable.
What I need are well lit, properly focused images of the cast of the film, preferably from a scene in the film, and shot in landscape orientation and sent to us (or put into a repository on a website in a hi-res jpeg or tiff format. I also need something that most filmmakers worry over, a good hi-res copy of the poster in portrait orientation. Some of my favorite films used photos from the still photographer to create their poster!
That photo repository will be part of the EPK (Electronic Press Kit). Clarissa covers the why’s and what’s of building the film’s website and press kit sites in her book along with excellent reasons behind their contents. As she says, if you want to market your film, these TWO sites are crucial!
Speaking of marketing, her ideas about schwag are spot-on for the film festival circuit
As a book for filmmakers, especially first-time filmmakers, this is an excellent tell-all to help you navigate the film festival world. I give it 4.5 stars! Get it, read it, and take lots of notes.
Author: Clarissa Jacobson
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc.
Length: 124 Pages
Selig Rating: 4.5 Stars
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent book, well worth the price
4 Stars – Good book for an afternoon’s read.
3 Stars – Okay book.
2 Stars – Glad that I read it but wish I hadn’t paid for it.
1 Star – Not worth your time. If you read this one, do us all a favor and keep it to yourself.