Sunday, May 16, 2010

PR or Not PR

Things are moving fast now for the “Fugue” team. We’re three weeks away from our World Premiere at Dances With Films, and while it’s going to be a busy 21 days, we’re pretty on top of our to-do list. Color correction is nearly finished, we start the week-long audio mix tomorrow, and the poster is in its final tweaks.

But first, a bit of news: “Fugue” has been given a screening time of 9:30 PM on Sunday, June 6. Tickets are now available for pre-order through the Dances With Films website:

Just click on the “Tix” button. Tickets are $10 if you pre-order, and $12 at the door.

We’re excited about our screening time – it’s on a weekend, it’s a night slot, and it’s not the first or second night of the fest, so it gives us a bit more time to get ready.

In terms of getting ready, one of the biggest decisions we have to make (and soon) is how to handle public relations. Dances With Films highly recommends hiring a PR firm, so we (really Barbara, as I was in Europe for two weeks) talked with a company about repping “Fugue” for the festival.

PR is kind of a slippery thing. Your goal is to build buzz and visibility for your movie, but accomplishing that is another matter. Reviews help (the higher profile the better), as do write-ups on websites, advertising, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, and on. You hope at some point that awareness will take on a life of its own, but there’s no guarantees. You could do all of the above and still, only your mom will care about your movie.

But you can certainly weigh the odds in your favor. Hiring a PR firm will certainly give us a shot at publications and websites we don’t have on our own. But here are the terms from the company: for $1000, they will spend the next three weeks sending our DVD and emails to any website or publication we can come up with. They may also help set up interviews and behind the scenes articles. There is, however, no guarantee that any of the sites or publications they contact will look at “Fugue” sideways.

So what do we do? We’re mulling that over right now. Being a low-budget movie, a thousand bucks is a lot of money to us right now. But if it helps get us a distribution deal, it’s a thousand bucks very well-spent. And at this moment, that’s the goal: to get a distribution deal.

Later on, we’ll focus on getting audiences to see it. Right now our key audience is a very small group of people in the film industry: those who buy feature films from indie filmmakers and release them to the public.

Nowadays, you can get their attention in a number of ways. You can get noticed at a film festival. You can have a YouTube clip that hits 200,000 views. You can get a great review in “Variety,” the industry’s top business publication. You can build excitement on websites. You can put a page on the Internet Movie Database (which has already gotten us a couple emails from distribution reps). You can have a friend or work associate recommend it to them. And on, and on.

We’d like to do all of the above. But do we need the help of a PR firm to do it, is the question. Right now, the answer seems to be “yes.” This is an industry built on contacts, and the more contacts you have, the better your chances are to get distribution (or really anything, for that matter). Hiring a PR firm may not guarantee anything, but it will significantly increase our chances.

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