Marketing Your First Short Film

As an independent short film director, you don't have a big studio or 10 employees behind you to market your creation. You have to do the marketing yourself or with the help of a few people you pay on an as-needed basis. What you should not do is avoid marketing altogether because you are afraid of failure or unsure of how to start. Without marketing, you won't have an audience. Here are some tips for marketing your short film. 

1. Apply for film festivals.

One of the best ways to get an audience is to show your film at film festivals. No, you may not have the experience or connections to get into the Los Angeles or Canne film festivals, but there are plenty of smaller, county-wide festivals and others hosted by art museums and the like. Not only will attendees of the festival see the film, but the festival will include information about your film on their website -- which is basically free marketing! If the first festival you apply to turns you down, keep applying. You will eventually get into one.

2. Edit down a trailer.

Creating a great trailer can take weeks, but this is time well-spent. Telling someone what your film is about is one thing. Showing them what it is about is a whole other ballgame. Make sure your trailer accurately conveys the basic plot of the film without giving up its ending or any significant plot twists. Make sure it has a similar pace and feel to the actual movie. For instance, you don't want to use a fast-paced and energetic trailer to sell a slow, artsy film set in the prairie.

3. Ask friends to describe your film.

You've been working on this film potentially for years. You know it better than anyone, but in some ways, that can be limiting. What you see and feel when you watch the film may be different from what others see. Have some friends watch the film and describe it, and then use their descriptions to help formulate your description of the movie you use in marketing materials.

4. Don't rely fully on social media.

These days, it's easy (and inexpensive) to use social media for marketing. However, your entire audience may not use social media. So you want to use some other marketing tactics, too. See if a university magazine in your area will print an ad about your movie, or post flyers in the local grocery store. Be creative -- the more advertising venues you use, the better.