Being an indie filmmaker can be a tough business. The independent film industry is like a vast ocean filled with endless ideas, films, and adoring cinephiles who love a good story expressed through the art of film, however, without the support of the large studios, it can be hard for filmmakers to get their movie seen. It is estimated that over 90% of independent films never reach mainstream theaters in the United States.
The truth is that independent filmmakers fight a never-ending uphill battle at every stage of the process of creating a new film. When it comes to budget, casting, production, and promotion, it is not only difficult because you are competing against the big film studios, but you are also competing against other independent filmmakers who are also making incredible films and going through the same struggles.
So, how do independent filmmakers promote their films and how can they stand out in the vast ocean of the film industry?
One of the main ways that filmmakers go about creating buzz around their films, gaining loyal followers, and eventually getting their films into festivals and theaters, is through email marketing. Email marketing, if done correctly, can be extremely effective in building a following and creating buzz around a film project.
Let us take a deep dive into five methods to remember when it comes to email marketing for your next project.
1) Use an email marketing platform
To tap into the numerous benefits that email marketing can provide, it is important to find an email marketing platform that works for you. A good email marketing platform will have features like contact management, ways to segment your subscriber list, email templates, drag-and-drop email builders and email scheduling, all included in the PosterMyWall marketing platform.
Also want to make sure to track certain metrics and KPIs such as open rate, click-through rate, and unsubscribe rate.
Use the PosterMyWall email marketing platform to make your email campaigns will stand out. Think about how many emails you receive on a daily basis and how many you actually open and then continue to click on links seeking additional information.
Emails that are visually appealing and thoughtfully crafted using catchy language and stellar graphic design are almost always more likely to be viewed and opened by subscribers.
2) Create a subscription list and segment users
Simply put, a subscription list is a list of email addresses you have gathered from people who would like to receive information, updates, and special offers about your film project. The more people you have on the list, the more people you can keep informed about your film who will likely advocate for you.
They may forward emails, share information and updates on social media, and bring up your film in conversations with friends and family. You need to look at your subscription list as your lifeline that needs to be well taken care of so that when your film is finally released, everyone on the list, and ideally their friends and family, will see your film.
So, how do you get people to sign up for your list?
After you have invited all of your friends and family to your mailing list and added all the people from your contact list, the next thing you need to do is create a landing page. A landing page is a website where you can gather information from people to add them to your subscriber list.
Once you have the landing page created, you can typically start including the link with engaging social media content and exclusive offers that people can claim by going to the landing page and signing up.
After you have created your subscriber list, it is beneficial to segment the list using your email marketing platform. Segmenting your subscribers can help you easily target individuals with unique and relevant emails that are more valuable to the receiver and result in higher open and click-through rates.
For a film project, there are a number of ways you may want to segment your subscriber list. For example, it may be beneficial to segment your email list by region in order to target specific groups at specific times when it comes to release dates of your film or special events taking place in certain cities.
Aim for a cause, too
Aside from location, there are ways to segment your subscriber list by age, gender, persona, job, education level, and any other way you could think of that would be helpful to your email marketing strategy.
A great example of an indie film project that utilized subscription list segmenting to micro-target a specific group is the movie Promising Young Woman.
The 2020 film Promising Young Woman stars Carey Mulligan as Cassie, a 30-year-old woman with a traumatic past who works as a barista by day and at night, she pretends to be a drunk and vulnerable young woman who “lets” guys think they are going to take advantage of her and get her into bed. Just when the men in the movie think they have her, she flips the table on them in a horrifying fashion.
The film gathered support among young women everywhere who could identify with the main character Cassie who seeks revenge after a traumatic experience made her drop out of Med School. The film’s marketing team was able to target young professional women and college students using subscriber list segmentation.
3) Prioritize engagement and provide value at the same time
Another important aspect of email marketing is that you need to create content that people will gravitate toward, but that’s useful at the same time. Subject lines need to be attention-grabbing, emails should include colorful graphics and exciting language, and within the emails, you can include links to movie trailers and other types of exclusive content.
For informational emails, you may want to set up templates that can be easily edited for various segments in your email subscribers list. Look for docx editors with features such as Native DOCX Editing and web application integration to help you set up picture-perfect templates can both grab attention and showcase your content. While it might not seem like a big deal, your target audience will consider your content much more valuable if it’s user-friendly and easily accessible.
Fun Through Fungi
One example of a successful indie film marketing strategy that included a grassroots organizing campaign filled with captivating and engaging content is the niche documentary film Fantastic Fungi. When the documentary was released, the film became wildly successful not only because the documentary itself was incredible, but because of the grassroots campaign that was built around the film.
The success of the marketing campaign behind Fantastic Fungi was largely due to the exclusive content that their email marketing and social media campaigns consisted of. Fantastic Fungi not only partnered with celebrated experts in the mycelium movement, but they also created a community of amateur mycelium enthusiasts who were able to share their own expertise through online forums and discussions. They included the fans in the conversation, made them feel heard, and even thought of a quiz. This turned out to be extremely powerful when it came to uniting the mushroom foraging community from all around the world.
They also started “Fungi Day”, a virtual global gathering of mycologists and mushroom foraging enthusiasts to celebrate mushrooms and to bring awareness to the almost limitless number of health benefits that they bring. They even compiled recipes from enthusiasts from around the world and created a cookbook of everyone’s favorite mushroom recipes.
One of the most powerful things to come out of the marketing campaign behind Fantastic Fungi was the lobbying and passing of several health-related therapy initiatives in Congress. This further put Fantastic Fungi at the forefront of the conversation by including mental health and medical experts and by tackling a gigantic social issue in America, the issue of mental health.
As you can see from the success of Fantastic Fungi, it is not only about creating emails and social media campaigns that contain catchy language and aesthetic graphics, it’s about creating engaging content and unique experiences that are so captivating that it creates a community and a movement.
4) Use social media
It is almost impossible to promote a new and exciting film project without the use of social media. The project should have its own social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. In addition to running marketing campaigns on those platforms, social media can be used to generate interest in your film and gather the contact information of individuals who are interested. This is where the landing page can be most helpful.
Social media content can be engaging and entertaining on its own but it can also include a call to action to go to this link and sign up for special offers, insider information, and other exclusive content that non-subscribers won’t have access to. If done correctly, social media can be the most powerful tool in your arsenal when it comes to generating interest in your film and building your email list.
Two of the most popular social media platforms for indie filmmakers looking to promote their projects include Instagram and TikTok. Let’s look at a few ways that these two platforms are utilized to promote a film project.
Instagram is a powerful social media platform for connecting to other filmmakers and movie lovers chasing the next big film that no one has ever heard about. Here are some basic ways to use Instagram to your advantage when promoting a new film.
- Follow accounts in your niche or accounts that are related to the topic of your film.
For example, if your movie is a documentary discussing environmental issues, then not only should you follow accounts of other documentarians, but you should follow accounts of environmental activists, organizations, and any related scientific community groups specific to your niche.
- Include your film title as a hashtag in all of your posts to form a branded film hashtag.
- Connect with other filmmakers and comment on their photos and posts.
- Have a plan for posting content.
- Post photos from filming, behind-the-scenes shots, and stills from the movie trailer.
- Engage your followers and respond to comments.
- Follow Instagram influencers and film distributors.
- Stay up-to-date on what’s trending in filmmaking.
- Keep content fresh, new, and exciting.
Another great social media platform for indie filmmakers is TikTok. For example, TikTik can be used to create short and captivating 60-second behind-the-scenes glimpses into the filmmaking process or to give viewers a rare look into the lives of many of the film’s actors and directors.
Here are some effective ways that indie filmmakers are using TikTok to promote their film projects.
- The short-form video format of TikTok allows for a lot of creative license when it comes to telling compelling stories related to the film, showing behind-the-scenes glimpses, and giving viewers a sense of who the actors are and what they are like when they are not in character.
- Use the creative tools and effects that TikTok offers to enhance the visual and auditory effects of TikTok content.
- Take advantage of the wide reach and engagement that TikTok offers by creating content in multiple languages.
- Engage with your TikTok audience by answering questions, responding to comments, and soliciting feedback from viewers.
- Create educational content about different aspects of the filmmaking process.
- Collaborate with other filmmakers, actors, writers, directors, cinematographers, and editors.
- Create TikTok challenges and contests with incredible prizes to create buzz around your film project.
5) Use subscriber-only contests and exclusive content to incentivize subscribers
The last step to creating a successful email marketing campaign around your film project is to incentivize people to sign up for your subscriber list. Why would anyone sign up to receive a monthly or weekly email if it did not provide any unique value they could simply access from social media?
Some of the best things to add to an email marketing campaign aside from exclusive content are contests and giveaways. Contests and giveaways can be extremely effective at motivating people to sign up for mailing lists.
For example, you could create a social media post advertising a contest opportunity for people who sign up for the mailing list to win two tickets to fly to the set and meet the cast or you could give away tickets to the premier and other special events.
Likewise, people who don’t meet-and-greet will certainly appreciate some exclusive behind the scenes content, such as never-before-seen videos from shooting sessions. If the content manages to create a more intimate connection with your intended audience, then this opens more opportunities for future campaigns as the customer journey progresses.
Lumiere Cinemas is an indie art-oriented cinema organization based in Christchurch, New Zealand. With their two venues, they’re intent on cultivating a community around niche cinephiles and everyone looking for a non-mainstream movie and experience. Since they were one of the rare projects to showcase Polynesian and Micronesian works, they quickly established a large following.
However, they also bolstered their online presence with a newsletter which unlocks special offers, ticket discounts and even exclusive previews of first screenings. And given the fact that the newsletter is jam-packed with information, it provides the local audience with an added incentive to stay in tune with the latest events, festivals and retro movie nights.
Remember, if you are an indie filmmaker trying to build hype around a new film project, the odds are already stacked against you. You most likely don’t have the budget and resources that the big studios have and you are competing against other like-minded creative filmmakers who are also producing some incredible films. Also, with the internet as saturated as it is, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd.
Considering all this, keep in mind that email marketing is still the very core of any effective marketing strategy. By using an email marketing platform to create an email marketing campaign that includes segmented subscriber lists for targeted advertising and that tracks KPIs and other essential metrics, you are taking the first step towards building an online community around your film project.
Senior editor at PosterMyWall.