Promotion and Exhibition
Large-scale productions with big budgets are driven by their production company’s promotion and distribution cycle. This high-risk, high-return mode of filmmaking is heavily reliant on audience taste to dictate and determine genre and visual style.
The independent film distribution and exhibition process differs markedly from commercial enterprises. Without the ongoing supply of studio money to support the filmmaker’s production needs and undertake extensive marketing, independent filmmakers rely on an entirely different set of promotion and distribution strategies to ensure that their work is seen by its target audience.
Once a rough edit of your film has been completed, consider holding a test screening to gauge and analyse audience reaction.
Test screenings are a great way to ensure that your film will effectively engage your target audience, and audience feedback and suggestions can help to inform final editing decisions as you begin the final cut of your film.
Film format and compression
Consider the film format that will best suit the target audience’s viewing context. When exporting and compressing your project, set the video codec, audio codec, size, frame rate and file size according to the final format requirements. Be aware that film competitions and festivals often have prescribed formats and settings for film entries, so remember to check these before you submit your work.
Self-promotion and exhibition
Without a major studio to support the distribution, promotion and exhibition process through major cinemas, the challenge facing independent filmmakers is ensuring that maximum audience exposure is achieved.
Some of the ways in which independent filmmakers promote and show their work are through:
- Local, national and international film festivals
- Film societies or organisations that screen and exhibit the work of local or national filmmakers
- Public or community television stations; commissioning of new work may be supported by government funding and grants
- The internet, including social networking and video-sharing sites such as Facebook, MySpace and YouTube
The internet provides completely new opportunities to market films on a local, national and global scale. Filmmakers showcase their talents on popular video-sharing sites such as Vimeo and YouTube. The internet is an unlimited resource for free advertising: trailers, snippets or entire short films can be uploaded onto social media sites.
Short film festivals
Film festivals provide filmmakers with an important forum for exhibiting their work among peers and interested members of the public. There are hundreds of international, national and local film festivals to which filmmakers can submit their work for consideration.
Although the submission process can sometimes be lengthy and costly, the potential benefits usually outweigh the drawbacks. Apart from the possibility of winning a prize for your creative efforts, you may also capture the attention and interest of studios or distributors.
If you are asked by a production company or distributor to provide other examples of your work, consider assembling a 5 to 10-minute showreel that displays your creativity and technical expertise.
The following short film festivals or competitions are popular among filmmakers and audiences across Australia:
- Screen It, Australian Centre for the Moving Image – a national short film competition for budding filmmakers, animators and game makers from primary and secondary schools
- Tropfest – the world’s largest short film festival
- Tropfest Junior – the world’s largest short film festival for kids
- Flickerfest – Australia’s only Academy Award-accredited short film festival
The British Council’s Britfilms website has an extensive directory of international film and video festivals.
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