Time after time debut filmmakers ask the Raindance team this question: “What should I do to enhance my career right away”. There’s no end to their impatience. Every time I ask them these seven questions, the questions successful filmmakers answer:

1. Do you have social media?

It’s imperative to have a social media presence. Without it, it means you have to rely on traditional print media to get the word for your film out. And without anyone knowing about your film and your career, how can you expect anyone to help you?

I gave a talk at the Colombia Film School in New York. At the end, a filmmaker asked if I would help her with her social media. I said I would, of course. I asked how many Twitter followers she had and she answered “Twelve”. I told her to call me back when she had a thousand. How does anyone get a thousand, she asked. I advised her to look at her history books. Jesus, you see, started with just twelve followers!

And do you have a good tool to manage your different accounts?

Forbes Magazine lists Hootsuite.com as a very good, inexpensive and effective way to manage your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts. And by the way, it’s the tool we have been using at Raindance since 2009.

2.How long is your short?

If you want to get your short film into a festival you need to, pahleez, keep it under 15 minutes. Otherwise we can’t show it in front of a feature.

3.Are you planning a festival strategy?

There are three ways to approach festivals.

The first is the DIY method. Go to FilmFreeway.com and research the relevant festival, and then submit. Remember that relationships with festival programmers are worth their weight in gold. Also remember you can overstretch the friendship to a programmer and you can make a dreadful mistake that can hamper your film’s success at being programmed.

Read: The 5 types of film festivals

The second approach works really well if you already have a film sales agent. Their interests and yours are shared in this way: If your film is accepted into a top tier film festival, they are more likely to earn commission if your film is sold. Ditto for distributors in the territory you have sold your film to. They rely on film festivals to get the hype going pre-release of your film.

The third is to hire a festival consultant. Rely on their personal contacts and see if they can attract the attention of a festival programmer at one of the world’s top film festivals.

4. Do you have a one-sheet?

This is probably the single most important piece of visual information you need for a film’s career. Get the right image and your film sells itself. Get the wrong image, and you will always be fighting it and trying to get people to watch your film. I think this single-frame, while like the most expensive frame in your film, is easily the most important.

Have a look at Bobo.com – who do most of the Raindance movie posters. Have a browse and note the aggressive and overtly simple style. But remember, if you call them up and want them to create your own one-sheet and campaign imagery that paradise doesn’t come cheap.

5.Have you cut a trailer?

You are unlikely able to cut your own trailer simply because you are too close to your film. And getting the right trailer is a real art. I’d advise hiring a professional.

Keep it to 90 seconds or less. And use the trailer to tease the story and show the emotion.

Here is the trailer we did for a Raindance Raw Talent film. This trailer sold the film based on the emotion.

6.Have you researched Creative Space Amazon?

Why pay a distributor when you can sell and distribute the film yourself? Amazon Creative Space allows you to upload you books, CD’s and DVDs and sell direct, one at a time, without you needing to buy large inventory.

And of course, you will need to advertise.

7. Have you a dedicated URL for your movie?

Don’t you just hate to see a bus ad with titleofthemove.themovie.com? Far better to get the URL for your movie title, and while you are at it grab all the different social media handles that a potential distributor might use in order to sell your movie.

Fade out

Please let me know if I have forgotten anything. And by answering the questions successful filmmakers answer correctly you should avoid the expensive mistakes filmmakers make.

About 

Photo Credit Jay Brooks / BIFA 2015

Elliot Grove is the founder of Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. He has produced over 700 hundred short films and also five feature films, including the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead in 2006, Deadly Virtues in 2013 and AMBER in 2017. He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance trailer 2017

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

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