HOW TO BUILD A PRESS KIT

I think it’s fun to google press kits online.  It’s easy to find some for your favorite movies, TV shows, or product launches.  Making your own isn’t really that difficult, but it will take some time.

There are no rules to crafting a good press kit.  I’ve seen incredibly complicated press kits, three-dimensional designs, and short and concise press kits.  In ancient times, press kits were usually a package (or folder) with papers inside, photographs, and other bulky things used to promote the product.

These days, press kits are usually entirely online or easily shared via email.  Some might consist of audio/visual treats and be shared on a flash drive.  But, most everyone agrees that there’s no reason to spend money on something when you can achieve the same result for nothing.  So, I say, go with a simple PDF.  You don’t need to send a DVD or CD anymore.  A link to Vimeo works just great.

You’ll want to write a well-formed synopsis.  It’s often a good idea to include a medium-length synopsis and an even shorter one.  Keep in mind that you should make it sound exciting, as if you were writing a review.  Most often, journalists want to simply copy-n-paste what you’ve written so they don’t have to work so hard.  And in the process, when the Boston Globe (or whomever) writes that your movie is a “fast-paced gem” you can easily lift that quote from their article, quote the Boston Globe, and use it for promoting your movie.  Even though you were the one who wrote it.  So remember that.

Write biographies for your key cast and crew.  If you aren’t working with anyone notable in show business, write their bios full of excitement and wonder about the world those people live in.  If your lead actress was a former beauty queen, or if your DP was an escaped felon, or if your supporting actor was a hot dog eating champion—share that info!  Weird stories make for great media coverage.

You might want to consider incorporating a mock interview with yourself and other key players in your project.  Sometimes this acts as a showcase for the type of interesting interview you can do.  I like to make up a game of 20 Questions and keep them light and simple, and sometimes juicy and controversial.

You’ll want to include some stills from your film.  Some should be glossy shots of the actors that might be considered a scene from the film, or a portrait.  Other shots should be from behind-the-scenes, showing the camera and lighting set-ups, or certain “filming” moments.

You’ll definitely want to include a link to the trailer, and maybe even some clips from the film.  Some people with online or broadcast capabilities could run clips of your movie during their news segment.  (For an example, check out the opening 10-15 minutes of “WAMEGO: Making Movies Anywhere” which shows news stories about my movie PEP SQUAD as featured on television.)

Consider including other reviews or other third-party blurbs.  The world is incredibly lazy when it comes to independent thought.  By sharing that a dozen (hopefully influential) people love your movie, it sends the signal your movie is great.  “Why, if so-and-so loved it, it must be good!”

Keep in mind that at the end of the day, of course you want your project to speak for itself.  But, sometimes if you don’t tell people in the media what they’re looking at, they won’t know what to think.  So even if it sounds a little creepy, or pretentious, you’d better do it.  Or you might risk getting lost in the shuffle of all the people who are.

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

You’ll want to read Part 1 if you missed it.

Say you’ve shown a sales agent (lets call him Bill) your movie and he says, “I loved Act 2 & 3, so great I cried, but Act 1 is boring.”  Remember the First Rule and ask yourself, “What does that really mean?”  Meaning: What does that say about Bill? (Remember to always turn the question around and think about it with the First Rule in mind.)

Did he watch the film late at night?  Early on a Saturday morning.  Was he drunk or hung over?  Was he tired?  Was he awake?  Was he hungry?  Did he feel Act 1 was boring because he didn’t realize what the tone of the movie was?  Was it because he hadn’t seen the press kit?  Or perhaps it was because he simply didn’t care about character development and wanted it to start with a bang like Dark Knight.  Any of those situations are plausible.

Bill probably doesn’t understand that one of the reasons he loved Act 2 & 3 so much was because of Act 1.  If one starts watching a movie in Act 2, there is no kind of care for the characters and no emotional connection to them.  Which then would make Act 2 & 3 not work.  Unless you’re making Batman.

Perhaps Bill is incapable of getting to know someone, which would indicate that he would want to jump right into sex without even going on a date to test the person out.  (Yes, by using the First Rule, it’s possible to learn a lot about a person).

When someone comes back with feedback or notes, listen to them, kindly say, “that’s something to consider” and then immediately switch the topic to:

“So all that aside, who are the companies buying these types of movies?  Remember Wellspring?  They would’ve loved to release this movie.  Who are the other companies out there like Wellspring today?”

That’ll distract them, and pull them into what you need them for.  Now they’re giving you a list of companies like Wellspring! (Which should be written down in case you need to approach them on our own).

You do not need Bill’s advice on how to make a movie (though he will disagree).  You need his advice on how to find the right buyers and get into the right festivals.  Remember that.

Always remember to stay on topic when people like Bill offer feedback.  By saying “that’s something to consider” it puts the topic to rest and allows the rest of the conversation to continue.

Maybe a question like, “Do you think it’s important to find a buyer before a festival premiere?  Cassian Elwes told a friend of Steve Balderson’s the other day on the phone, that with social media as it is today it might be important to find a buyer before it’s ever screened publicly.  But how do you get a buyer without anyone seeing it?”

Move them away from “notes and feedback” and into the other.  Keep them engaged.  Keep them giving you what you want.

If they refuse to engage in any conversation beyond notes and feedback, tell them you have other interested parties and thank them for their time.

If Bill passes, simply smile and say thank you and hang up.  Then call the next sales agent on the list.  And repeat the process until one of them says yes.

As you continue your path, you’ll be inundated with everyone’s two cents on what he or she would do better, what they love, and what they would change.  But keep in mind, that unless that person is writing you a big fat check, or sending the jet to fly you to a screening, none of their feedback really matters at the end of the day.

And if they are sending the jet?  Tell them you’ll be happy to change something about your movie.  But my advice is to not do anything of the sort without a legal agreement in place.

That way, if they fail to deliver, you can get rid of them and revert to the movie to it’s original cut and move on to the next person.