I know that when you’re filming your movie, you’re excited and want to share that excitement with your friends on various social networking sites. But think twice about posting photos too soon. Movies take a long time to complete, and in this world of “now, now, now” you might be shooting yourself in the foot by posting things prematurely.
Think of it backwards. When your movie is about to premiere at a festival, you’ll want to publicize it and get people to go see it. So, naturally, you’ll want a website and a press kit, photos and such, and a trailer for people to see. This will get them excited about the film and hopefully they’ll want to see it. So, I’d suggest launching the trailer for your movie about a month prior to that first screening.
Backing up from there, a month or so before that trailer launch, you’ll want some kind of web presence to showcase some photos and information for festivals. Maybe you’ll already have a trailer, but my advice is to keep it hidden from the general public. A password protected Vimeo or unlisted YouTube page work well.
But, before you can submit your movie to festivals, buyers and critics, you’ll have to complete the final sound mix, score it, and do the color timing. All of those things take time. Some of those can be done quicker than others if you’re paying top dollar. But if you’re paying less, it might take four to five months to complete post-production.
Think of it from the audience’s point of view. When you see a trailer for a movie, and it says “coming soon” at the end, do you expect that to be in a few weeks, a few months, or a couple years? Ask yourself if it’s a year later, will you still be interested in seeing that movie? Will you even remember it?
It’s very important to tell your actors, crew, and friends, that when you’re filming your project, it might be the best idea to WAIT and not post any photos or news about the film until after it’s totally complete.
That first premiere screening very well might be—at the earliest—an entire calendar year away. And most likely the release of that project will be the following year.
I made this mistake when promoting my film FIRECRACKER. We filmed it in 2003 and couldn’t find distribution for a long time. I had to invent a way to keep hooking the audience that was already generated, to keep them interested until it came out. So, first I made a behind-the-scenes documentary (WAMEGO: Making Movies Anywhere). I released that and used it as a promotional tool for the film, without giving anything about the movie away.
FIRECRACKER was based on a true story, so I gathered up all my research and figured out a way to showcase bits of information on a monthly basis via a “True Story Investigation” section of the website. This would help pacify the fans who were there already, and would hook new ones. Without those monthly updates, we likely would’ve started to lose our audience, as they slowly lost interest before the film was eventually released.
It was fun to do all that, but it was a full-time job. It’s much easier to be strategic with your marketing and wait until the movie will be ready for people to see. If you tell them about it too soon, you might lose them by the time it’s released.
So take all the photos you want, and make all the behind the scenes clips you can! But, just be careful about making them public too soon. Because coming up with a really great idea to maintain awareness of your project to last the next two years can be tough.