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10 Key Tips to Help You Release Your Indie Film

#ArtistServices had a panel at SXSW about little known hacks available for indie filmmakers to help them better raise awareness about the film they are trying to release, all the while saving time and money.

This goes hand to hand with the 15 tips to help you better distribute your film and if you are in the process of working of entering pre-production for your film (or passed that stage!), I can only recommend you to check both. Making a film is half of the battle, and being totally unprepared to what’s next often defeat even the most highly spirited souls.

The Sundance Institute shared their 23 hacks, and here are the ten I found absolutely essential:

My advice, scan through the titles, and if you are not 100% clear about what that means practically, read the description below. It will take you a grand total of 3 minutes and might save you a hundred more minutes and $.

1. Schedule Pre-Order Windows.

“Offering a Pre-Order window (even if only off your own website) is the best way to capitalize on festival chatter and press reviews. It will put your film on the radar of the retailer marketing departments and will help to make the case for promotion.” – Paul O’Neill, Premiere Digital

2. Avoid December and February

“If you have flexibility and control in your release date, it may be best to avoid December holidays and February awards season. Digital retailers often give priority placement to higher profile indies during these months and your film, absent a specific and robust marketing plan, could get lost.” – Paul O’Neill, Premiere Digital

3. Small Size Matters Too

“Never underestimate the power of the thumbnail image, used by all digital stores. This is often the first experience people have with your film, whether you want to admit it or not.” – Jeremy Boxer, Vimeo

4. Email Subject Lines Matter

“Publishers and editors receive hundreds of emails a day, especially during and leading up to a Festival. Whether they open the email or not, they will read the subject. Personalize it and be specific. Keep your emails short and the emails that end in a brief question increase your chances of an immediate response. ex: SXSW Panel Pitch- Crowdfunding, Reporter’s Name.” – Jessie Cohen

5. Email Lists Are Still The Gold

“Email is still the most direct way to reach people and converts 3x better than social media. Build your website to have a splash page (like Upworthy’s) where fans can enter their email to sign up for alerts. We like NationBuilder.” – Tiffany Shlain & Sawyer Steele, The Moxie Institute Film Studio + Lab

6. Upload Content Natively to Each Social Platform

“To boost social engagement, upload content natively to each social platform. On Facebook, posts with photos receive 50% more likes, and posts with native videos receive 75% more interactions. On Twitter, tweets with photos boost engagement by 35% and tweets with video boost engagement by 28%” – Michael Latt, Sundance Institute Social Media

7. Better Bundle for Bigger Bucks

“Filmmakers who create meaningful bundles and tiered pricing sell DOUBLE the amount than filmmakers who offer only a single product price point. Packaged content definitely moves the needle.” – Ryan Delk & Jessica Jalsevac, Gumroad

8. Private Vimeo Screener 

“Even when working with partner organizations, universities, and/or brands in securing non-theatrical screenings, share your private Vimeo link. Mailed DVDs can get scratched, lost, and rack up expenses. Not to mention, most partners prefer to watch links versus DVD screeners.” – Bethany Clarke, Film Forward

9. Growth Hack Your Backer Rewards

“After a crowdfunding campaign, some backers get a copy of the movie as their reward. Even though they don’t need to buy a copy, they’re still invested! Give them opportunities during rewards fulfillment to buy more (discounts on merchandise, bonus content, etc.) or include a coupon they can share with a friend to expand your audience.” – Alexandra Marvar, VHX

10. Pay for a Quality Closed Caption File

“Closed Captions are now a required deliverable, so build costs into your post budget. If you receive a quote from a post house that is too good to be true, then it probably is. In creating the file, they will cut corners i.e. there won’t be any sound cues, action noise or off screen narration. Pay for a quality closed caption file (we have found that costs from reputable post houses range from $4 – $7 / minute).” – Missy Laney, #ArtistServices

[thanks to Smarthouse Creative]