Creating a short film of any genre can be a long and challenging task with a great pay off. But for most creators distributing and marketing your short film can be even harder and often has very limited results.
In this post I’ll discuss the ways in which I managed to successfully market and distribute my short documentary over a twelve month period, all for under £100.
To start off it’s worth asking yourself, if you’re the director or producer of the film, how marketable is your films’ narrative?
The answer to this question isn’t always straight forward, as there are various things to consider with your short film narrative. For example, what genre is your film? Is it based of a true story, a creative piece of writing or is it an original idea?
If your film tackles a relevant social subject at the time of its release, either through fiction or nonfiction, then it may be easier to market and distribute. That’s not to say that a film that doesn’t tackle a particular social subject isn’t marketable, as all films have the ability to to be distributed and marketed to specific audiences.
Another aspect of short film marketing to consider is the subject of ethics, does your film tackle a sensitive subject and is it morally right to use certain marketing techniques without being exploitative?
With these aspects considered it’s time to start deploying some creative marketing techniques to distribute your short film.
1. Local Press Release: FREE
The beauty of news articles is that you can use them to distribute and market your film without spending any of your budget, you will however have to use your time to contact possible journalists.
This technique is particularly useful should your film tackle any social issues or subjects relevant to your local community. Once your film is in the final stages of post-production try reaching out to your local media. Either by contacting newspapers, community social media pages or websites to tell them about your film. The best way to do this is by searching the organisation online and looking for a phone number, email address or messenger (if on a social media platform).
2. National/International Press Release: FREE
Similar to a local press release, try to reach out to large news corporations and introduce your film to them. Make sure you treat your email, message or phone call like you would a short pitch;
Why are you reaching out to them?
What is your film about?
Why would they be interested in your film?
Remember always aim to be polite in your message tone, it’s unlikely that you’ll have any press coverage if you try and demand articles to be written. It’s also useful to remember that whether the journalists you contact choose to write an article or not, they may still be useful contacts for your next project - don’t ruin that relationship!
3. Social Media Ads: Varying Cost
This is a paid technique but a useful one if you’re looking to build awareness for your film online. From my experience Facebook Ads has been a useful tool when sharing my film beyond the boundaries of my friends list online.
Facebook Ad manager allows you to build ads related to your film and set a budget for Facebook to distribute your ads across the platform. You can create ads for free and set them live for as little as £7 over 7 days. I used this platform to share my films’ facebook page with people within the North West of England, as you can set specific audiences, times of day and locations for your ads to be shown in. As Instagram is now a part of Facebook you can use the ad platform to distribute your ads on Instagram too!
4. Film Festivals: Various Fees
This may seem like the most obvious technique for distributing your short film, but it’s one that many sometimes overlook.
There are various platforms out there which allow you to browse thousands of short film festivals globally and submit to them throughout various points in the year - on of these being Film Freeway. Due to the large variety of festivals available there are options for both free submissions and submissions with an entry fee.
Some of the best festivals to enter on a low budget are; Lift-Off Festivals (Global), Underwire Festival (London), BFI Future Film (London, 18-25 year olds), Aesthetica (York, BAFTA Qualifying) and Edinburgh Independent Film Awards (Scotland).
The list is of course a lot longer than this, but these are a few that I have entered in the past and found to be suitable entry requirements and fees.
Often marketing and distributing short films can be challenging but, now thanks to the internet, there are resources out there which you can use independently to share your film.
Sometimes some of the best, and least expensive marketing, is sharing the film yourself amongst family and friends. For example, if you share your film or your films website on Facebook, then ask your friend to share it, it could be easily seen by hundreds of people. Purely because of how friends of friends can see posts on the platform.
Even if you’re waiting to have a premier of your film it’s always worth sharing your social media profile online first, this is so that you can gain an audience and support any submissions to festivals.
I have based this strategy around the release of my short documentary In Bloom in 2018, you can read more information about our press release in my other blog post.
Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with links that do not directly relate to In Bloom as a film, this includes film festivals and online platforms.