Overview of the Underground
So you’re all lock, stocked and two smoking laptops. You just hit the SAVE and RENDER button on your favorite editing program and the world is your painfully hip oyster. Next, you’ll burn a few DVDs and show off your kick ass short film, starring your kick ass friends with your kick ass crew. The jokes kill, the sad stuff makes everyone’s eyes well up and noses hurt at the top. Everyone high fives. The Facebook Wall posts come pouring in. But you’re back at your job on Monday …
Now what? You’re in Milwaukee. Silver screens in NY, LA, Paris and Tokyo are thousands of miles away! Sell DVDs outta the back of your Hyundai hoping some producer “digs your style man”? Hit “I’m Feeling Lucky” on Google and start sending your film to production companies around the world? At this point a lot of filmmakers bottleneck and never really move with their short film. But we’re in the Midwest, damn it! Our work ethic will power us through, right? Right!
What you need is a Midwest-inspired marketing plan: a hustle better than your flow. Now pull VITAL closer and read the secret to getting you and your film off your Riverwest couch and out into to the masses. Get the F into film festivals! Film festivals are the back door into the film world and simply filling out an application ain’t enough. Here are tips and tricks to getting attention for your kick ass Milwaukee film:
BUILD YOUR OWN BRAND
Your film needs a look and vibe that will make film festival programmers grab your film off the shelf and check it out. Hit up your graphic design buddy or post an ad on craigslist for someone to make a pro cover, poster, DVD label, business card and press kit. One look = pro. One cool look = I will watch your film for more than 45 seconds. Live out that fantasy and create a cool poster and log line for your film. (A log line is your film skillfully summed up in 20 words or less.) Stack the credits at the bottom. Create a complete finished product and it will lead programmers down the path toward making your art work into a big screen reality. You’ll show you have the full, pro package and are ready to rock.
Heed this call: both Sundance and Slamdance have online short film festivals that screen at the festival and are eligible for awards. ENTER THESE IMMEDIATELY. Sundance’s info is hidden in sundance.org so have fun with that. You can apply to Slamdance at slamdance.com and click ANARCHY ONLINE FILM FESTIVAL. Get to Park City now … git!
SHORT FILM IS YOUR BUSINESS CARD
Have a script ready for the feature idea that’s gone from bong smoke to short film to festivals and now beyond. Remember, you’re big time.
SEND FESTIVAL PROGRAMMERS PIZZA
They say it doesn’t help but it totally does. Drinks and sex work too. But we’re baby stepping here, so start with pizza.
FISH FOR POSTER BLURBS
Get your film on YouTube or some website and email the link out to authors, local press peeps, filmmakers, musicians, CEOs or newsmakers of any kind to get quotes. You’d be surprised how many people will write back and give you a quick bite for your film poster and press kit. To them, it’s free publicity and you are dealing with vain entertainment people so exploit the shit out of them. Yeah, I said it.
FEATURE LOCAL BANDS IN YOUR FILM
Even if you have no spot for music in your film (which I personally would call a damn shame), snag a local band or two for your opening and closing credits. Those like- minded, hungry independent artists will blow up message boards and cell phones telling all their hipster friends that their song is featured in a movie! Holler!
USE YOUR NEW NETWORK
So, you have your graphic designer, your band, your blurb people, and you and all your friends with their 10-years-in-the-making, ridiculously long email and cell phone lists. Organize a blast of emails, text messages, anything you can think of – a call to action to watch your film online. Tell them to leave comments. Tell them to forward the link to their friends. Festivals are all about breaking new filmmakers and when programmers peep your site and see this online groundswell, they’ll feel the pull and score your film higher, getting you closer to being selected. The key is organizing this blast before you submit your film so be ready.
Enough reading. Get moving and don’t forget to tell us how you’re doing on our REEL MILWAUKEE blog at vitalsourcemag.com.
By Howie Goldklang
Howie DJs @ Burnheart’s, Red Room and Luna Lounge and sweeps up hair at The Establishment.