SELLING YOUR MOVIE: The First Rule (Part 1 of 2)

Upon hearing any kind of feedback from someone, I keep this in mind.

A person’s notes or feedback does NOT tell you about your movie.  What it does is tell you about THAT PERSON.

It’s a pretty unique way of thinking about something, and sometimes it’s hard for people to wrap their brains around it, but try and follow.

By hearing a person’s perspective about something, we learn more about that person.  They tell us what they like and don’t like.  That simply means we now know what that person likes and what that person doesn’t like.

As you unveil your film to buyers, festivals, end viewers, you will be inundated with everyone’s two cents on what he or she would do better, what they love, and what they didn’t like.  But keep in mind, that unless that person is writing you a big fat check, or sending the private jet to fly you to Wherever for the screening, none of their feedback really matters.  Actually, the only aspect of their feedback that can help you is by learning how better to communicate to your audience in your marketing materials.

If someone tells you “it isn’t funny” then you might consider removing the words “comedy” or “funny” from your advertising plan.  Likewise, if “it isn’t scary” then you might consider swapping out the word “frightening” with “drama.”  And so forth.  But never change your movie to suit everyone’s tastes.

When an audience (you and me) goes to watch a movie, we know what we’re going to see.  We’ve seen trailers, clips from scenes shown on TV interviews, press junket Q&As with actors, photo stills, websites, we’ve read tweets, facebook posts, heard music, etc.  We have a very good idea the kind of tone the movie will have.

When a movie executive, festival selection committee, or distribution buyer or sales agent watches an unreleased movie—they have none of these things.

Anyone who walks in to watch a movie totally cold will not have an honest perspective of what they’re watching.

The only people (industry-wise) who might be useful watching a movie cold are advertisers and marketing people.  They aren’t worried about the details of a storyline, or a scene, or the micro-attention to certain characters.  That’s not what the advertisers or marketers are thinking about.  They’re thinking about how to communicate to the viewer (the audience member) everything the viewer needs to set some expectations.  So that by the time the viewer buys a ticket and sits down to watch the film, they know exactly what kind of ride they’re taking.

This is why your presentation to agents and executives must be paramount.  (No pun intended.)

The entire purpose of making the press kit and to have a list of blurbs, is to tell the viewer what it is they’re about to see.  It helps communicate something more, and sets up an expectation.

If your film is different, unusual, you might consider presenting it in a different unusual way.  Then the movie will come as no surprise.  Without any kind of set-up, the viewer could be expecting something standard or normal.  And then, when those expectations are not met, they will either dislike the movie or be confused.

Imagine not knowing anything about SharkNado and sitting down to watch it, only hearing the one-liner.  Perhaps you’re expecting Twister with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton.  What a surprise that will bring when the credits start rolling.

Advertising is everything.