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The Short Guide to Making an Awesome Short – Part 5: Release & Promotion

The Short Guide to Making an Awesome Short

Part 1. Script Writing: Have a good story to tell
Part 2.1. Pre-Production: Be ready!
Part 2.2. Pre-Production: Keep on preparing!
Part 3. Production: Are you ready?
Part 4. Post Production: The fun part!
Part 5. Release & Promotion

Part 5: Release & Promotion

You’ve done it! All that hard work and you finally have a film!

But don’t settle down quite yet. You still have plenty of work to do – these are times you wished you had a producer.

Press Kit

Once your final film is exported, finalize your marketing materials. Start by creating a press kit for your film, this will come in handy when submitting your film to festivals, instead of gathering this information for each submission, have one prepared with everything you can offer. A Press Kit usually consists of a poster, a few high resolution screen shots from the film (3 is fine), a short synopsis of the film, a director profile with a short bio including a filmography, and finally a large portrait photo of the director. See these Press Kits for inspiring examples:

The Old Samurai Press Kit & Logan Press Kit

The Old Samurai Short Film

Still shot from short film The Old Samurai

As for your synopsis, the trick is to give an idea of what the movie is about without completely giving away the plot. I’m not that great at this since the one I wrote for my film After The Rain isn’t as punctuate as I wish it would be:

A dramatic short film about a man stranded in his thoughts and struggling with his daily routine, finds himself doubting what he knows to be his reality after a series of strange déjà vu experiences cause an existential crisis.

Luckily I now receive dozens of short films daily with a synopsis attached, so I can fetch out a couple of exemplary ones.

A naive Confederate soldier begins to doubt the justification for killing in war, but when he doesn’t pull the trigger, will lives still be lost?

In The Grey by Justin Peter

When several jaded filmmakers tire of the hard work needed to make a film, they turn to the part of the process they enjoy the most… auditions. Under the guise of making a film called Throng, they get actors to come entertain them, but things quickly fall apart.

Throng by Chris R Wilson & Zach Persson

Val has lost control of her life. Those around her deny the reality of the extraordinary experiences she feels powerless against. Realizing she must stand alone, she has only one remaining option – to find a way to fight back.

88:88 by Joey Ciccoline

Have A Premiere Event

Try to create a big hype around your film, creating an event for the premiere of your film is a good way to do this. The type of event is at your discretion, usually premieres are exclusive events, where only a certain amount of people are invited and don’t have to pay a cover charge, people will feel special to be invited to an exclusive event.

Have a Premiere Event

This is a nice way to thank your all your cast & crew for all the hard work they had put in for this film. Have a nice cocktail with finger foods and a candy table (everyone loves to munch on something while watching a movie), this can all add up to a few bills out of your pocket, so do what’s affordable to you. Lots of local bars have big screens for sports games, shop around and negotiate with the owners, depending the place they would be just happy to get 50 people in their bar on an off night. Bargain to let you use the place free of charge, you bring your own food or cater from them, but people would have to buy their alcohol and drinks from the bar and that’s where he will make his money.

This can be the same event that I spoke of in the previous post, you gather people’s comments and make your final edit afterwards for festival or online release.

Make Your Choice: Festivals or Online?

Your film is done, you have 2 options: Either you get into the film festival run or you just go directly to the Internet. Usually this is a decision taken before the production, but it can happen that the direction changes after the makers have a chance to see the completed film.

Get Into the Film Festivals

If you think your film has a strong chance to make a run at film festivals go for it, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of film festivals that accept short films, but it can get pretty pricy submitting to each one, usually varying between 20 & 50$ per submission. So tracking the festivals that would best suit your film will be primordial, there are a few websites out there that help you track film festivals such as shortfilmdepot.com & kinoflix.com. But perhaps the best tool is Withoutabox.com, the world’s largest independent film community. You sign up once, post all your details in one place and then submit to all the festivals you want directly from the site. In fact, many festivals require a Withoutabox submission.

Get Into The Film Festivals

If your are not sure if your film will be accepted into festivals, test the waters first. Submit your film to 2 or 3 film festivals, and avoid the bigger names at first like Cannes or Sundance at first. If you see your film is getting picked up, then the investment might be worth it into submitting over several festivals.

How About Getting Your Film Distributed?

Stanley Pickle on iTunes
Let’s face it, you did not create your short film for distribution, or to make money from it. With so many free and high quality short films out there it is hard to make any considerable profit on shorts.

This being said, signing a contract with a distributor could mean exposure and credibility. You might not even get the cost of your production back due to a percentage allocated to the distributor & iTunes, but having the iTunes logo on your poster does look good on your portfolio.

However it’s a painstaking process for filmmakers, as you do not have control of your film for the duration of the contract. Meaning that for 2 full years (usually) you cannot post your film anywhere online for free, that can be an excruciating long time for a producer or director.

The Web

This is where we come in to say hello! Going straight to web is the choice of many filmmakers, and it’s not necessarily a bad one. Film festivals might get you the attention of several hundreds, maybe thousands of people, and some would argue that it’s a concentrated number of people that you want to watch your film (actors, producers & directors) and their absolutely right. But if your main goal is going viral from the start, the online world can be your best friend! But don’t expect miracles, your film really needs to be awesome for it to go viral.

Even if your going straight online, you still need a plan. Read our YouTube vs Vimeo Article to get an idea of the differences and benefits between the two when posting a completed short film. Your synopsis and keywords will play a tremendous role in the online traffic, so write this with attention using words closely related to your film – and never leave this space empty. Use your best, most exciting still shot for the cover of your film on Vimeo, this is important since it will be your first engagement for the viewer. Once online, start your promotional campaign, spreading the word online through your social media, websites and film forums.

And of course don’t forget to submit your film to Film Shortage!

Premiere Your Short Film on FilmShortage.com

Besides obvious short film sites like ours or shortoftheweek.com, try to find popular websites that touch your theme and subject. For example, if your film is about gadgets turning on humans and taking over the world, try submitting your film to a site like wired.com or motionographer.com. And finally, try to get your film featured on Vimeo’s Staff Pick, if your film is good enough it should get automatically picked up, but it’s possible that they miss a few so try to submit it there too.

Get the word spread

Use your entourage to its full potential, start by your cast and crew and make them feel and believe that the film belongs to them also, then ask them to use their social medias to spread the words. Then move on and do the same with friends and family. In the first few hours of launch this can be enough to get the ball rolling and skyrocket you into fame – at least if you followed this Awesome Guide!

Best of luck on your films! We really hope this guide helped you achieve awesomeness in your short film, and we would really love to see your results, so don’t forget to submit us your films once your done, and mention that you followed this guide!

  • Your synopsis and keywords will play a tremendous role in the online traffic,

  • Fantastic advice. Thanks!

  • Hussain Zidane

    Thanks you made my life easier


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