I’m pleased to announce my brand new 2017-2018 Unit Publicity Portfolio that showcases my experience in running PR campaigns and media relations strategies for indie film & television projects all over the world. If you’re interested in my PR strategies, please contact me for more info. Take a look at my case studies for more in-depth looks into my project as well.
As a unit publicist with experience running public relations campaigns for short films, an actor at a film festival and a horror film moving through a competition, this film presented challenges I hadn’t previously dealt with in my other projects. For my other short films, I’d had the benefit of support through the film event I was working on (see my Crazy 8s case study) or it was a one-off event such as the TIFF strategy for Peter Dacunha or helping Black Land through the Cinecoup competition.
Heartless is my first American-directed and produced short horror film where I didn’t have a film event, competition or team behind me as a jumping off point and a sense of urgency to make the publicity campaign flow easier. Heartless, and by extension, the film’s award-winning production company, Sunshine Boy Productions, also has the distinction of being the first film I’d actively pursued for publicity.
An unintended benefit of this being my first major solo unit publicity campaign, however, was the ease in obtaining film reviews where it had previously been difficult for my other film projects. Not only did the fact that Heartless is a horror film make it much easier to obtain reviews, Kevin & Jennifer Sluder, the film’s director & executive producer (and owners of Sunshine Boy Productions) have also been readily available for interviews as the production company is their primary business, rather than a side venture.
Focusing on local media (newspapers, magazines, blogs), indie film podcasts, blogs and horror review outlets, I updated my media database based on the region the film was screening at on the festival circuit. As a result, I was able to pitch Heartless to countless local media in regions such as Lansing, MI, Durham, NC, Calgary, Alberta and the greater Los Angeles area.
In addition, I was also able to pitch interviews and reviews for Heartless with numerous horror and indie film media outlets worldwide such as Ready, Steady, Cut out of the UK, Rue Morgue Magazine out of Toronto, Canada, Promote Horror out of the US, Dave Bullis’s Indie Film podcast out of the US and Popcorn Horror out of Scotland.
As the unit publicist for APTN’s third season of the Indigenous cooking series, Moosemeat & Marmalade, this production stood out from my other indie film projects for a few reasons. 1) It would be my first time doing publicity for a TV series, 2) It would also be my first time promoting Indigenous food culture and 3) As a recurring client of The Social Agency (a boutique PR agency I do contract work for), they’d already established press coverage from numerous outlets across Canada for the past two seasons that saw the show increase in popularity.
So as the new publicist coming into the project, I had both the added benefit & challenge of pitching Canadian media coast to coast as well as trying to establish new story angles for a series that had already covered a lot of ground over two seasons. Additionally, I didn’t want to just obtain press coverage from outlets already familiar with the TV series, the goal was to expand coverage to reach completely new audiences.
There was also the media relations strategy between the outlets and the two co-hosts; Cree bush cook/Indigenous rights activist Art Napoleon and UK born Chef Dan Hayes, owner of The London Chef Cooking School, to consider.
Focusing on story angles such as the first-ever gleaned Vegetarian Chili recipe (meaning it used leftover crops after the harvest) and Indigenous food culture and sovereignty, I pitched several mainstream major city newspapers, blogs and radio stations across Canada.
As the TV series also filmed in several locations on the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, Northwest Territories and overseas in the UK, I pitched the story angles to publications, radio stations and blogs located in these specific regions. Using the Indigenous food culture angle and Art’s passion for Indigenous food sovereignty and security, I was also able to secure interviews, coverage and recipes in Indigenous radio shows, newspapers and websites.
For the results & press coverage received, please go to Case Studies, where you’ll also find my other film & lifestyle PR campaigns. For more project examples, please check out my Unit Publicity Portfolio.
For those of you who have been following my blog, you know how much I love and support indie film. I’ve written about some of the goofy B-movies that I love, covered some awesome marketing campaigns for truly great films and given insight into how unit publicity can help films-and their primary storytellers-get the exposure and promotion they deserve. Promotion that will also help them achieve financing and distribution, which I’ve shared some ideas on and some truly awesome platforms that can help.
But what I haven’t done, is share some of the great short films & web series, done by deadly awesome directors who have some of the best creative minds I’ve ever seen. These films & web series span all genres from horror to comedy and film noir and even overlap on a few of them. They’re also from all over the world, from Canada and the US to internationally across the pond in the UK. I regularly chat with many of the production companies and directors on Twitter, sharing their latest projects, tagging them on some cool news and just generally talking about film.
If you know of any other awesome, thought provoking indie films I should check out, please let me know!
But without further ado, here’s the list, in no particular geographical, genre specific or likeability order.
Holding Back-Crossroad Pictures
In this short from the UK production company, directed by the talented Scott Lyus, a seemingly innocuous conversation between a young woman and her mother takes an interesting twist. You get the feeling during the conversation that there’s a lot in the young woman’s past that led to her estrangement from her family and that she’s trying to make amends. The twist comes out of nowhere but yet, is intriguing enough to make you sit down and go over everything you’ve just seen in your mind. Definitely a worthwhile 7 minutes.
The Missing Hand-23 ½ Films
The second short from the very first UK based production company I’d ever come across on Twitter, is a hilarious horror comedy. Without spoiling anything, it’s about two people who come across a missing hand and the unintended consequences of finding it. It’s the perfect mix of comedic timing and horrific circumstances. Definitely one of my top two faves from Daniel Harding and 23 ½ Films-top notch and worth the re-watch over and over again.
Play Violet For Me-Sunshine Boy Productions
For the third entry, we go back across the pond to the US, this time to an award winning film noir short from a LA based production company that I’ll be working with really soon. It’s the story of how smoke and mirrors can not only obscure the truth that’s right in front of your face but make you think of love that’s not really there. Foley Merrick’s obsession with the love of his life, Violet Dupree takes a tragic turn when he finds her dead on her kitchen floor. However, when he calls her twin sister Lila for help, things definitely take a darker turn and slowly, Merrick starts to realize that maybe what he believed to be true, was never true.
The Lobster-Guerrilla Motion Pictures
This absolutely gut-busting hilarious 5-part web series is from an Edmonton, Alberta based production company. There’s a chance you’ve probably seen my previous admiration of their short silent film, I Phub You on my Storyhive post.
But this series is definitely something different and it speaks to anyone who’s ever gone through a break up and you’re looking for some wisdom and advice. Here’s the difference, though, the advice guru in this series is a lobster! He bought the lobster from a grocery store and somehow, the thing doesn’t die and continues to dispense relationship advice through his break up! It’s the perfect series for anyone who might be feeling a little down and looking for an unconventional comedy to cheer them up.
Going for Broke-Red Castle Films
This comedic short film comes from slightly west of the previous web series, this time on the West Coast, in Vancouver. This production company, led by Jon Silverberg, was responsible for the awesome production values & effects on Static Alex, also featured on my Storyhive post and I’m super excited to see what their upcoming feature, Crypto, will bring to the table.
Basically, the premise of this short film is that a struggling semi-pro golfer struggles to keep things afloat financially for his teenage daughter following his divorce. He struggles on the circuit, losing his last few tournaments, before a hilarious suggestion from a friend results in a good performance. It definitely re-defines ‘going for broke.’
Two Pound Forty Pence-23 ½ Films
The second entry on this list from this uber-talented British filmmaker, it’s actually the first film I’ve ever watched from this production company. A man only has enough change on him to catch the last bus home and he’s pursued through the streets by a persistent homeless man. It’s 6 and a half minutes of great nightmarish tension and thrills-and the fear of being caught by someone is something I think all of us who have had to walk home late can relate to.
Coffee-Dark Tower Pictures
We’re going back to the US for this entry, this time to a production company that was created by two Elon University students in North Carolina.
Their short film, Coffee, is a film noir about a blind date-with an interesting twist. While I’m sure many of us have gone on blind dates, both good and bad, and might have even set our friends up on a few-I can guarantee that no blind date you’ve been on has a twist quite like this. The film may be just over three minutes long, but the noir atmosphere and the twist make you want to see what happens next.
The Face of Vengeance-Kessel Run Productions
We’re in the Land Down Under, in Adelaide, to be more specific, for the next film noir. A hard-boiled detective is driven to the brink to apprehend a suspected serial killer, who murdered his brother. The fact that the suspected serial killer is the mayor’s son makes him virtually untouchable to the law and the detective takes the law into his own hands to get revenge.
The Clown Attacks-Crossroad Pictures
Moving back to the UK with the second entry from the amazingly talented Scott Lyus, this film illustrates exactly why so many people hate clowns. On the one hand, you do feel slightly sympathetic towards the clown for being rejected but on the other hand, his reaction is why people fear clowns. So, if you’re not too afraid of clowns or you want something to ease you into watching IT, I’d recommend this gem from Crossroad Pictures.
Zombie With a Shotgun-Hilton Ariel Ruiz
We’re in NYC for this 5-part zombie web series, which also has a companion comic book series. This web series, which is also being turned into a feature, is about how a young couple sees their love tested when Aaron ends up infected with a mysterious virus. How he becomes infected is a bit of a mystery, although there is references to a doctor’s appointment and blood tests. But what’s more important, is how long he can fight the infection for, whether or not it can be reversed-and what it means for his relationship if he does turn into a zombie. It’s definitely a more sympathetic look at zombies, certainly a vibe closer to that of Warm Bodies, where zombies are not just mindless, hungry creatures. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this series will progress.
The Killer Bird-23 ½ Films
The longest short film and the third entry from the UK based production company, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this one is another horror film or a thriller, similar to the ones from Daniel Harding that I listed earlier. However, the title is simply a metaphor. Wrapped in guise of a young man hunting for and attempting to capture a killer bird, it’s actually an interesting social commentary on some of anti-immigration sentiments that Daniel himself has overhead from people, based on what they hear in the news. The dialogue and the characters are heavily influenced by social groups, key political figures and people with far-right agendas. It’s not a conventional horror film but it’s horror more on a social level. And that, in some ways, is much more frightening. Give a watch if you’re looking for something more though provoking.
Dead of Night-Kessel Run Productions
For the last film on this list, we go back to Adelaide. This short film is has a more abstract story than the others. Basically, you see a man crouched in an empty room with a shotgun by his arm and a note that reads “The man with the key is the one.” Whoever opens the door in the house will get shot. It seems straight forward, but there is a twist and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Let me know if you think there are other awesome indie films I should be watching! Stay tuned for more posts on great films, publicity and the business of film!
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve probably seen the in-depth previous posts on the different ways to achieve a better film financing strategy, extensive options on where and how to distribute your film online and why unit publicity matters when it comes to film production.
I’ve also tried to shed light on great Canadian short films, which you can see here (both the Storyhive & National Film Board libraries, respectively.) But with this post, I wanted to hone in on the specifics of how unit publicity can help promote projects smoothly on the festival specifically.
So, if you’re in the midst of submitting your web series, short or feature film to festivals, take a look at some of the tips below and consider working with a passionate publicist to create a PR strategy to maximize exposure for your project on the festival circuit.
Take Care of Pre-Festival Publicity
When you’ve completed the post-production editing and before you start submitting to film festivals, you have to make sure you have all your publicity materials in order. That means making sure you’ve re-cut the trailer, the teaser and have film stills, bios of the cast & crew and a synopsis of the film’s plot ready to go. Keep in mind that not all film festivals will ask for every single one of your promotional materials, but it’s good practice to keep everything on hand just in case. Also, try your best to keep a regular social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, engaging with your prospective audiences about the film (without giving too much away!) and on what you’re passionate about.
There are also shorts, feature films and web projects that will go the extra mile to make sure that they have a completely built website, posters and even print flyers made in order to build a complete brand around their film. Although a fully built website, print ads/posters and online posters aren’t an absolute necessity, it’s really important that you get the mandatory materials like the film synopsis, bios of cast/crew, trailer and film stills to your publicist. Once she or he gets their hands on the promo materials, they can start thinking about a strategy on how best to position your film and who to reach out to gain some press coverage.
Is your film/short/web project genre specific? Does it have an underlying theme(s) focusing on issues such as racial tolerance/diversity, environmental concerns, social commentary on crime etc.? Making sure that your promo materials emphasize these themes is a great way to help your publicist figure out how to maximize your film’s visibility with genre specific press both before and during a festival.
NOTE: Although your publicist will be working diligently to secure press as you hit the festival submission circuit, the resulting press coverage for the film/web project will help to raise its visibility but doesn’t GUARANTEE the project’s entry into any festival.
Festival Publicity After Acceptance
Once your film/web project gets accepted into a festival, then it’s time to get into the logistics. Will you and other members of your team be attending the festival? What section is your project being screened in (gala presentation, shorts, docs etc.)? These questions will determine how the PR strategy will work for your project at that particular festival.
It goes without saying that if you and your team (whether it’s a producer, screenwriter, fellow directors etc.) are able to attend the festival screening that it would be easier to secure in-person interviews with various web, podcast, blog and traditional print/broadcast/radio outlets. If you’re attending the festival, your publicist will carefully pitch the film to suitable regional writers/journalists/podcasters that are attending the festival themselves to arrange media passes to the screening, red carpet photos during the press junket and other on-location interviews. Your publicist will also manage your team’s schedule and coordinate attendance at networking mixers, where you’ll be able to pitch your project to media and possibly distributors as well.
If you’re unable to attend the festival, don’t worry, your film can still obtain some great press coverage! Regardless of whether you walk the red carpet, a passionate publicist with some connections and a few ideas will still pitch your film to regional media, arrange phone/Skype/podcast interviews and give the media either passes or screeners out as an opportunity to review your film. Your publicist will also be on hand to work with the festival’s publicity team to make sure that all festival material advertising your project has the correct information and the scheduling for your film is on track.
How NOT to do Festival Publicity
If your film/web project does get accepted to a festival and you’re working with a publicist, please DO NOT schedule your own interviews and other press opportunities. Your publicist is working with a long term strategy during the festival and beyond and has a direction that he/she believes is the best way to maximize press coverage for your film. It can often be more advantageous to have a film/web project covered in several smaller, genre specific publications rather than a mention in a larger outlet. Arranging your own media opportunities can contradict your existing schedule and be a detriment to further press coverage. Should a journalist approach you for a media screener or interview, please make sure to liaise with your publicist on the best course of action.
Also, as stated earlier, make sure you have your press kit in hand and ready to go. Keeping everything from the trailer to the film stills and the exclusive media screener in a to-go package (like a USB stick branded with your film’s logo) will go a long way to making it easier for the press to review your film. It’s the attention to detail that the media will appreciate and lead the way to forming positive relationships for further press coverage down the road with other festivals.
How to Find a Publicist
You may be tempted to do some DIY publicity due to costs and the fact that social media is not only prevalent but also free to use in many cases. There’s been many examples of great social media campaigns promoting some amazing indie films and web series.
But a good publicist can have ideas and connections that you may have never thought of. When you’re looking for a publicist, it’s important to find someone who is passionate about your project, has some experience with pitching films/web projects to media and who is full of ideas on where the PR strategy can lead your film and how problems need to be ironed out.
Moreover, a publicist not only has good connections to key press and media outlets that would be the best fit for your film (which includes reviews, interviews, blog posts, podcasts & social media outreach) but they also have TIME. They have time to source these connections, pitch them and schedule your interviews. Wouldn’t you rather just enjoy the festival atmosphere and leave the pitching to someone who knows the ropes?
Now you’re set to get on the film festival circuit, armed with ideas on publicity and how a publicist can help! Want more help on other stages of your project? Check out my posts on film financing & distribution!
For those of you avid readers who have been following my blog, you’d recall that a few months back, I posted about the amazing Storyhive library of animated & live action short films from the past couple years, showcasing film making talent out of BC & Alberta.
With this blog post, I’ve decided to expand beyond just BC & Alberta and touch on some amazingly awesome Canadian short films that have some historical (and childhood, to me) significance that are archived within the National Film Board’s library.
If you’re in Canada or abroad and want to watch these for yourselves, you can find them via YouTube. They’re also on NFB Telus app (for all you Telus subscribers). Without further ado, here’s some of the best short documentary films, animated films and other skits that I love from the NFB archives.
The Cat Came Back
I’m sure that by now, every kid of the 80s and 90s has heard the iconic song, but now we get the story behind it. In Oscar nominated, nearly 8 minute long animated short, we see a guy living alone who is fanatical about his house, his tuba, the rattle he owned when he was a baby and not much else. A cat appears mysteriously on his doorstep and he takes it in, only for thing to quickly turn sour. Then he spends the entirety of the short trying to get rid of the cat. The hilarity only increases the more he tries and while it’s responsible for one of the most prolific (and annoying) ear worms of my childhood, I can’t deny that it’s catchy.
Turning to some of the icons of Canadian music, this nearly 8 minute short documentary focuses on the bonds of brotherhood between the long running members of the legendary band, The Tragically Hip. While I’m not a HUGE Hip fan, seeing their iconic performance on CBC last summer following the news of Gord Downie’s brain cancer diagnosis made tears come to my eyes. Not only was the performance legendary, it carried the emotional weight of possibly being one of the last times we’d ever seen the band on tour. And let’s be honest, in Canadian music, there are very few songwriters that can match Gord’s thought provoking songwriting ability. And who hasn’t sung Bobcaygeon on a camping trip? I know I have.
Now onto arguably the OTHER most iconic Canadian band in history. This short 6 and half minute documentary pays tribute to Geddy Lee, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson of Rush, featuring the band members talking about what inspires them and why they love music. It also featured a band of young men barely out of their teens who, inspired by Rush, perform their music live as well. It’s extremely uplifting to see Rush’s music still inspiring later generations and as a long-time piano player myself, I give anyone credit who can drum ‘Spirit of The Radio.’ Try it out for yourself if you don’t believe me on how hard it is, Neil Peart is one of the most iconic drummers of all time for a reason.
Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater
Nearly every Canadian kid in my generation (and perhaps even 10 years younger) has to have read the book and seen this iconic award-winning short by now. This story literally exemplifies what it means to be Canadian as Roch Carrier recounts what being a Montreal Canadians fan meant to him as a child and how receiving a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater from Eatons instead was about much more than being a hockey fan. It’s about the essence of Canadian cultural identity and how hockey and language plays into that. It’s a must-read and a must watch for any hockey fan and certainly one of the major cornerstones of my childhood.
The Big Snit
This Oscar nominated animated short is hilarious and yet, somehow makes you think. In a nutshell, it juxtaposes a global nuclear war crisis with an argument a husband has with his wife over a Scrabble game as he sneaks a peek at her letters when he can’t seem to create a word. The hilarity ensues in the couples’ obliviousness to the chaos outside as well as the seemingly random TV show “Sawing for Teens” that the husband is a huge fan of. I mentioned that it makes you think to an extent, well, I can that I’ve never treated an argument with my husband as a nuclear war, so there is that. If you like twisted hilarity, this one is for you.
For my last film on this list, I turn to a stop motion short film featuring live actors. It also happens to be the oldest film on this list (shot in 1952) an Academy Award winner and features an anti-war message of loving one’s neighbour. It was revolutionary at the time for the stop motion technique, though it did court some controversy with the violent actions of the neighbours that resulted in their deaths. Still, I recommend this film for anyone who’s interested in a slice of Canadian cinematic history.
So that’s my list (though I suspect I may have to create a second one, with how large the NFB library is). Any Canadian cinematic gems you’d recommend out of the National Film Board library? Sound off here!
If you’ve been reading this blog, then chances are that you’ve come across my earlier posts on film distribution (for short films, feature films & web series), why it’s important to budget for unit publicity and cool & creative marketing campaigns for films.
But then I started thinking, what are some of the other struggles that indie film makers I chat with and work with have? It became apparent that film financing was a big concern. Typically, film makers would try and apply for competitions to receive grants, or they run campaigns on platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, getting burnt out on using some of the fundraising to create fan perks and try their hand at getting angel investors.
So, what can film makers do to make financing their projects a little easier? That’s what this blog post aims to do-I’ll cover some great resources that will help with film financing AND some tips on how to better position yourself and your projects to make it easier.
Setting Yourself Up to Maximize Financing Potential
If you’re a first time or even a novice film maker, it can be like fighting an uphill battle to get the funding that you need-when no one knows your name/brand and you don’t have notable projects under your belt.
So, first step is establish your credibility by attaching industry veterans to your projects in key roles. Start going networking mixers & workshops in your indie film community and I bet you can connect with veteran directors, editors, cinematographers, producers and screenwriters who’d be happy to act as a mentor/advisor for your project. Enlisting a seasoned veteran to lend their name & reputation to your project is a great way to get more experience on your crew, which will raise your chances of fundraising success.
Second thing, don’t forget to engage your community! Attend the mixers & workshops, spread the news of your film/TV/web project at these events with people you’ve built relationships with & take the news online as well! Grow your core audience via social media & invite them into the process of making your project by keeping them informed, whether in person or online. Make people feel like a part of your community and they’ll be your team-and do the promotion work for you. (*KEY NOTE: ENGAGE them about your project but don’t make ALL your content about your project, people want to have conversations with you about film & share cool things, NOT always being asked to help fundraise or share news*)
Lastly, don’t feel like you have to confine yourself to ONE film financing platform or method. Each method has its pros and cons (which I’ll cover in a bit) and by signing up for and using a variety of platforms & methods (especially to fund different elements of a project such as props, locations, set design etc.), you’ll maximize your opportunities to meet & exceed funding goals.
Too often, I see great projects that I support and that I’m providing unit publicity/social media for, concentrate on ONE financing platform and end up losing out receiving more funding due to a strict unmoveable campaign deadline or having to use revenue of their own to pay out for fan perks. It’s TOTALLY OK, I’m even ENCOURAGING you to use more of a varied film financing strategy on more than ONE platform. You’ll increase your chances that way AND not have to freak out about a fundraising campaign deadline looming.
So now that we’ve established some of what you need to do to start fundraising for film financing, let’s talk about film financing methods.
Method 1: Government Funding
Governments all over the world have grants/funding incentives to help indie film makers. In the UK, the government distributes funding for British film through the BFI for various film making initiatives and Europe has the MEDIA program which helps to bring projects to production. British Columbia has several project funds such as helping production companies support the development of two or more eligible film/TV/web series projects through a slate development fund and funding to help film makers with travel costs when they are looking to open to different domestic & international markets.
Here’s the caveat: whichever fund you try and apply for through your respective government, keep in mind that there are strict deadlines and criteria (down to the amount of experience your team has), competition is extremely fierce and you may have restrictions on what/who/when/how/where you can complete your project, which can compromise creative integrity.
Method 2: Tax Credits
Government related, though not strictly a fund, tax credits can be great at helping you reduce overall labor costs on production services and act as an incentive for refundable tax opportunities to production companies. Just like government funding however, there are parameters that must be met in order for your project to qualify for tax credits (ie. The project being Canadian controlled for a labor based tax credit or running a Canadian or international film/TV Production Corporation to qualify for a labor based tax incentive).
Method 3: Product Placement
This one is a little tougher for indie film makers as it’s essentially teaming up with brand managers of a certain brand to do an in-kind sponsorship whereby they give your project some cash funding and their products are included on camera/in the production of your film, web series or TV series. In theory, in sounds awesome because it’s cheaper for said product company to place their products in the film rather than do straight advertising but few indie projects have the pulling power of a huge block buster. However, if you have a hook up for a couple different product sponsors who are part of small/medium brands who could use the exposure, it could work.
Method 4: Incorporating Music
Similar to the product placement, this one can also be a little tough for indie film makers, but doable if you have the connections in your network. As film & music are closely associated with one another, having a great soundtrack can enhance your story & entice audiences. Moreover, if a musician that you know who has their own following signs on to do the original score, you can leverage their name in promoting your project, find new followers in their audiences AND the musicians themselves can earn additional revenue from your film. Of course, this method, just like the product placement, is entirely dependent on who you’re connected to and if their audience following is large enough to be an effective marketing tactic,
The musical romance Once is a great example of how incorporating music into your indie film can work.
Method 5: Production Grants
This is where the fun happens :). There’s literally hundreds of production grants you can apply for through all different organizations, contests that will award production funding and film initiatives in every city. Not only that, but there are production grants available for literally everything having to do with film making (from specific genres like documentaries and fiction narratives to areas such as screenwriting and even to support emerging teen film makers).
There’s also competitions you can enter that will help winners get professional development, mentorship and also production funding. The First Look Project from Script Pipeline is a great example of a competition as is the Pilot Launch TV Scripts Contest by Screencraft. The First Look Project accepts screenplays, teleplays and short films that are judges on originality, writing ability and commercial potential. Each winner in each category can receive a cut of the $14,000 in prizes, industry circulation and long-term personalized professional development assistance from Script Pipeline’s executive team. For the Pilot Launch TV Scripts Contest, they accept drama & comedy TV pilots for network, cable & online with 3 winners getting cash rewards and VIP invites to the ITVFest in October.
For production grants in different categories, The Bertha BRITDOC Documentary Journalism Fund offers between £ 10,000 to 50,000 to documentary film makers from any country from a mixture of grants & investments. Screen Australia also has a documentary development fund that allows applications to apply for any amount up to $30,000 and have at least 3 eligible credits in the role of either producer or director.
Screencraft’s Short Film Production Fund supports short film and online series projects with grants up to $20,000 twice/year. The amounts vary from $10,000 to $20,000 depending on the scale, originality and potential of the project. Each winner receives production guidance from Screencraft and resources from BondIt & Buffalo 8 Productions.
The Film Fund has a unique & challenging production grant opp: you get up to $10,000 to make your short film simply by crafting and submitting ONE sentence with a compelling premise that conveys why you need funding to achieve your vision.
So morale of the story: check often, apply often and don’t let rejection of one grant stop you. The more you have, the more varied your financing strategy, the better off you’ll be.
Method 6: Crowdfunding
As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be elaborating on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Both platforms have their merits in that their overall popularity means that you already have an audience base to engage with on your film. Fans understand how Kickstarter & Indiegogo work when it comes to their donations and both platforms make it really easy for them to share the campaign with their own networks. Given the amount of other films, TV series and creative projects like board games that get funded every day, it’s no wonder many indie film makers flock to both these platforms.
Here’s the problem though: Kickstarter & Indiegogo both have firm 30 day & 60 day deadlines to their crowdfunding campaigns, so once that’s over, you have to start again. There’s also the added stress of having to use some of the funds you’ve worked so hard to raise on creating/distributing the perks as thank yous to all the fans who donated which can be time consuming & overwhelming (time you can & should be spending on your film project, by the way). There’s nothing wrong with thanking fans, but not being in control of the way you want to do it can be a negative.
And the last negative, because of the hard & fast deadline, many indie film makers I support & work with end up literally spamming social media day in and day out to try and make their funding goals, rather than spending time engaging with their fan base. That’s the best way to piss off your audience, not make them part of the team.
So, am I telling you NOT to use Kickstarter & Indiegogo? OF COURSE NOT! These platforms can be great at reaching large audiences & projects do get funded on them every day, but just be careful with HOW you use them. Instead of using the one platform to fund your entire film, consider using either platform to fund a certain element (ie. Revenue to secure a location or to purchase gear) so it takes the pressure off.
There are other crowdfunding platforms, don’t forget. GoFundMe may not strictly be a creative industries or entertainment crowdfunding platform but it does have the benefit of not having a deadline, so you can keep the fundraising through production and post. You can even take some of the funds raised to enter the film into the festival circuit once editing’s completed.
I’ve previously mentioned Seed & Spark in my previous post on film distribution, but their main objective is helping great films raise capital. They even have classes and workshops on how to crowdfund properly along with a film maker’s gift box that has over $9,000 in products, services & festival waivers for projects with 500 followers. They even have a monthly Seed Fund where additional cash from their subscribers goes to the crowdfunding projects.
Slated is an online marketplace that connects investors with film makers and industry professionals to help find film financing. There are hundreds of film finance and distribution opportunities listed monthly and the Analytics Package score will allow potential investors to see each project’s true value based on the strength of the team, the quality of the script and the potential for financial returns.
Last crowd funding platform in this section is known as Seedrs based in the UK. Similar to GoFundMe, it’s not a fundraising platform that’s particularly geared towards entertainment and films, more so towards start-up companies but through their story-building pitch, you’ll be able to highlight what you want to do with your investment and submit it to Seedrs executive team for review.
I’m sure I may be missing a few more crowdfunding platforms, but I think this section is long enough, don’t you?
Last Method: Angel Investors
Just as you’d do research to see which production grants you qualify for, finding the right investors requires some prep work. To convince potential investors that your film is worth investing in, you must first believe that it’s worthy. Sound simple, right? You’d be surprised how many people have a crisis of confidence when it comes to finding investment opportunities.
You have to build your case with a fantastic script & a great pitch towards investors that needs a strong business plan.
In a nutshell, your business plan should contain an executive summary of the major points, a synopsis of you film, hypothetical investment return, timeline/production plan, bios/resumes of your team members, risk management details and contact info.
You must believe – and in your business plan, show – that to offer an investment opportunity is to give back more value than you’re requesting. Don’t go hunting for investors until you have a kick-ass script, pitch & business plan in place!
As far as where to find potential investors, this is where all your networking comes in. Going to different events, mixers, workshops, even events that have nothing to do with film such as large scale celebrations and chatting with vendors can be a great way to find referrals. If you have a particular great referral network, consider offering an Associate Producer credit & a possible finder’s fee to sweeten the deal.
I wanted to share with you the interview I did with the talented & incomparable film maker and podcast host Max Cole out of LA. In this interview, we chat about my work as a unit publicist for indie film, what attracts me to indie film and what my process is when it comes to pitching for a film and how I build my network. Then we moved on to chat about music, sports and our mutual love for video games! Definitely a great interview and I’d love to stop by again and chat with Max. Check him out on Twitter @cinemaafterdark & @maxcolefilms, Instagram at @maxcolefilms and on Facebook at Cinema After Dark!
After taking a bit of a break for Easter and then getting sidetracked by other work, I’ve come back with a film list I haven’t done before.
I started thinking about some of the films that I love, films that maybe many people don’t talk about anymore or even remember. Films that may not have the best acting, cinematography or even the best story and yet I love because they are memorable and in some cases, really make me laugh.
Sometimes, you just really need a film that makes you laugh hard enough for it to stick in your mind. These top 4 films aren’t all quite “B Movies” but I think they mostly qualify.
This film is FAR from being Jerry O’Connell’s most memorable piece of work in his filmography. Heck, I’d bet $10 that most people don’t remember this movie even existed and if they did, they’d remark on how Jerry isn’t exactly leading man material. Well, I’d always had a soft spot for Jerry since his Slider days and this film was AWESOME!
What’s not to love about a film that doesn’t take itself seriously and features singing, dancing cockroaches? I just about keel over every time the cockroaches come on screen, every time I watch this movie. Yes, they’re disgusting, yes they trash everything and no one in their right mind would want them as roommates and yet-it’s hilarious.
It not only prepared me for the worms of the Men In Black franchise, I also found out much later that the lead cockroach is the one & only Billy West! Yes, fellow Futurama fans, Fry was a cockroach (I think Professor Farnsworth would agree with that)!
Hilarity Factor: 7/10
2)Amanda and The Alien
Years before I became a fan of Roswell and an ardent fan of the amazingly talented Shiri Appleby, Colin Hanks, Brendan Fehr, Jason Behr & the highly underrated Nick Wechsler, the premise of Roswell or maybe it was more like ET, showed up in a TV movie I’ve only managed to find a few times.
Similar to the premise of Jeff Bridges’ Starman, it starred Nicole Eggert as a lonely Bohemian artist who comes across an attractive alien who must change host bodies every few days. On the run from the government, Amanda agrees to help him hide and they fall in love.
Yes, it had the clinched love story of aliens falling in love with humans and clinched story in general of the aliens living among us. Yes it was also cheesy as all hell and no, it’s not a movie that ages well to stand the test of time. But somehow, even after all these years, I have a soft spot for it. Maybe it’s because it was the first movie of that type that 8-year old me had ever seen. But regardless, it holds a nostalgic soft spot for me.
Nostalgic Factor: 6/10
3) Embrace of the Vampire
Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been a HUGE fan of vampires and different facets of vampire lore ever since childhood, so long before the God awful Twilight craze started.
I’ve always loved Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles and the related Mayfair Witches, read a ton of other standalone vampire lore books (such as Thirst by Michael Cecilione, with BDSM elements) and been a fan of TV series such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Blood Ties (which suffered from being on the WRONG network!) The 1994 film Interview With The Vampire & 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula remain my ULTIMATE two favorite film adaptations of vampire books and the documentary Blood Sucking Cinema is on my top documentaries of all-time list.
Embrace of the Vampire, on the other hand, holds none of this legendary status and yet, still remains memorable to me. It was the first project I’d ever seen Alyssa Milano in for one, as part of her pre-Charmed days. But mostly, I think it was memorable because it was the first film that had a TON of vampire sex. Other films had sexual scenes such as From Dusk to Dawn & Bram Stoker’s Dracula (and later, the much-maligned Queen of the Damned, which I still love) and Interview With The Vampire contained subtle homosexual overtones, but Embrace had full-on heterosexual vampire sex.
This film was anything BUT subtle in that aspect and I think it played into early fantasies I’d had involving immortality, becoming a vampire and yes, even being seduced by one. Of course, the older I got, the more the downside of living such a life (or un-life) as it were, became more apparent through Stuart Townsend’s portrayal of Lestat de Lioncourt in the aforementioned Queen of the Damned and how Angel turned back into Angelus in the Buffy universe, but it’s still a fantasy I entertain from time to time.
Sexy Factor: 7/10
4) Kangaroo Jack
OK, so this film isn’t a B-movie by any stretch, more of a bigger budget Australian buddy cop comedy, but that’s why I said quasi at the beginning of this list. Even though it’s not a B-movie per se, it IS the second entry on this list that has Jerry O’Connell, this time alongside Anthony Anderson.
For those who don’t know, this movie takes some of its cues from this news story, where a couple of guys accidentally hit a kangaroo in Australia, decide for some reason, to dress the kangaroo in their clothes and take a photo. Once the photo was taken, the kangaroo regained consciousness and basically bounced away with all their possessions.
That’s basically the premise of the movie in a nutshell, except Jerry & Anthony are best buddies who have to deliver a bag full of money to a contact on behalf of Jerry’s mobster stepfather, played perfectly by Christopher Walken. And as it so happens, the money is inside the sweatshirt Anthony puts on Jack, the kangaroo who runs away. Oh and did I mention that Jack talks?
It’s a crack film to end all crack films and there’s just something about talking animals that always makes me keel over with laughter. No, it’s a not a great movie and yes, you have to suspend disbelief and stop yourself from yelling at the screen at how boneheaded the characters are, but somehow, a talking, rapping kangaroo in a hoodie makes up for that.
Hilarity Factor: 8/10
For more on the films that I find awesome, check out my post on the amazing Storyhive library and the top 10 most badass publicity campaigns in film & TV!
Although I’ve been working on and watching some amazing films lately, this year is the first year that I’ve actively paid attention and supported the Storyhive project. In a nutshell, the Storyhive project is a community powered funding program run by Telus in Western Canada that distributes production grants and distribution opportunities for creative people to develop live action and animated short films, web series and music videos.
Every year, Storyhive has submission periods for each category and once they’ve been accepted for the $10,000 production grants, voting periods open allowing the individual creators to get promoting for votes via social media as they vie for production grants in each category. Winners in each category receive customized career training and the opportunity to have their projects screened at the Banff World Media Festival.
I’d like to focus on the amazing library of female-directed live action short films from this year’s Digital Shorts competition as well as add in a couple of other projects that you may not have heard of. These films are all amazing in their own right with innovative and fun narratives and you definitely be watching them before it’s too late!
Never Better: A Closure Comedy directed by Lucie Guest
The first BC entry on this list, this one is a hilarious cringe-worthy comedy about the situation one woman, Rudi, finds herself in post-breakup. It’s about her journey to find closure.
Where to see it: It’s available on Storyhive online and for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Short Films by Female Directors for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!
I Phub You directed by Shannon Hunt
A cool concept for a short film rarely seen today, I Phub You tells the story of timid Kurtis struggling to connect with people in our technology obsessed world. After an incident leaves his world silent, he discovered what it means to truly connect with someone.
Where to see it: It’s available on Storyhive online and for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Short Films by Female Directors for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!
Nightwalk directed by Andrea Beça
A captivating mystery, Nightwalk focuses on Aatisha who makes an eerie discovery walking home one night: a memory card full of photos of her. The hunt is on to discover who’s been following her and the truth is more than she bargained for. You’ll love the twist at the end!
Where to see it: It’s available on Storyhive online and for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Short Films by Female Directors for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!
The Man in the Rabbit Mask directed by Ariel Hansen
Directed by seasoned horror actress Ariel Hansen, two girls recite a poem over candlelight during a sleepover that invites a mysterious stranger offering a gift-for a price. It’s 5 minutes of suspenseful horror that you’ll want to watch over and over again!
Static Alex directed by Alayna Silverberg
After mysteriously acquiring powers that allow her to control static electricity, Alex struggles to learn how to utilize them when faced with a crowd of bullies. Help from an unexpected source leads her to realize the full potential of her powers and how to move forward. For a 9 minute film, I loved the super power effects on this and I appreciated how it reminded me of Lincoln Campbell from Agents of Shield!
Chocolate Cake directed by Brittney Grabill
Jenny and Tim share a slice of chocolate cake during their first date and imagine through a series of flashforwards what it would mean for them to put themselves out there and take a chance on love. A sensitive look on how taking a chance with your heart can be a reward within itself, it’s definitely the most thought provoking film in the library.
Inconceivable directed by Joel McCarthy
This one isn’t a short film but rather the pilot episode of a hilarious web series where after 6 months of an experimental, open relationship 24 year old lesbian artist Rita discovers herself pregnant by 25 year old straight filmmaker Adam. The pilot does a great job of establishing the awkwardness and the humor in the situation along with the fear that comes with the ‘what now’ scenario.
Where to see it: It’s available for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Web Series Pilots for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!
The Third Bandit directed by David I. Strasser
Runaway teens Charlie and Lara crisscross across BC in a drug fueled bank robbing spree after being taken in by a cult-like family. Indebted to the charismatic leader/crime lord Donovan, they must rob three banks in three days while deciding if they can trust disgraced cop Andrew Boone as the third member of their trio on this crime spree. The film establishes the suspense and tension right away while leaving you wondering what will happen next. It’s an older entry into the Storyhive library but it delivers just as much as the newer films.
Where to see it: It’s available for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Past Winners for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!
These great stories and amazing short films definitely deserve recognition and I thought I’d do my part in making sure they reach larger audiences!
Stay tuned for more on film and TV publicity campaigns, new projects, film festivals, travel/tourism projects and other news!