The unbelievable mistakes filmmakers make when promoting films

'Johnny English Reborn'

We've featured many indie filmmakers and their projects on the Film Industry Network, but there are still some who struggle with basic presentation, and that really undermines their creative effort when trying to promote films and showreels.

There are many ways to present films and creative work but sometimes it's not the filmmaking that is important but the way the art is revealed. The film industry is a difficult place to get a foot in the door, and self-promotion is often the most important part of getting recognized. In the 'networking' process, a certain group of people that filmmakers want to reach out to have a set of standards. In fact, they can judge within seconds whether there is potential in a film or whether they think a project is worth hearing more about. It's one of those unwritten rules that unfortunately have the most impact on the careers of people working in this industry.

It's difficult to strike the right balance, but getting things done properly makes a big difference. When that one important connection is made, whether it's at a party, film festival or just through an email, it's vital to have the best possible chance at making a good impression. Below are some examples of these presentation elements that people still struggle with:

Homemade business cards

At a film festival or networking event the last thing filmmakers should really be doing is handing out paper business cards written with a leaking blue pen. In fact, handing this over to a producer, executive or someone who's going to invest, distribute or potentially recruit new talent will automatically throw this in a trash. It's one of those areas where filmmakers put no money in, and it really undermines the whole pitch. Don't be afraid to spend on this important first step.

Broken websites

It's a shame to send out an email with a link to a website that his half finished, with missing elements, page errors or is generally hard to navigate. Again, this is another demonstration of one's own 'art', and if it's not clear, or working properly, it really shows, and that can be detrimental when reaching out. Having a domain name that is unique rather than part of a free hosting platform is far more professional and should be prioritized from as early as day 1 of film school.

Incomplete showreels

Film festivals are a great place to network with others but when a showreel is half complete or only shows work done years ago, what's the point? People are always looking to find out what someone's next project is. Keeping the reel up-to-date with the latest projects shows that someone is pro-active with their careers. This is especially important for videographers and short filmmakers. For feature and documentary filmmakers it's a little different, but again, making a professional film reel takes time, and placing un-edited cuts into a showreel from a film yet-to-be finished or never released is not a good idea.

Outdated social media pages

Again, this is a subtle thing but since most of us check social pages when we get contacted by someone, having a page with no recent activity looks very bad. In fact it is better to have no page than to have one that has had no updates in the past two years. If a filmmaker is actively promoting a film or production company page, that activity has to be recent, to show people that there is a story behind the company or the person.

Inaccessible trailers

The worst mistake by far is when content is unavailable, especially when people are out and about at a film festival. Services like Youtube and Vimeo provide us with free streaming but when there is no connection, people need a local file. It's something that is often overlooked, but having a video file that can run on a phone or tablet at hand, is a major plus.

Depending on 1 or 2 film festivals for recognition

It takes more than 1 or 2 submissions for a film to get a chance at being selected at a festival. In fact, a realistic ratio is 1 in 5 or 1 in 10. That's just how it is. If no money is put aside for this part of the process, then the film will have no chance of reaching an audience.

Not going to any film festivals

Even worse, not going to important film festivals or even planning to is counter productive. It is great to get many festivals to play a film, but what matters is those important events where filmmakers need to be on the ground making those connections.

You can take a look at other film tutorials we have on the network to help guide you in the film industry or check out the interview section for some success tips and more!

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