How To Use Social Media To Get Your Underdog Film Made
If you're looking to tell people about your film and get some buzz going, social media is probably your best bet, seeing how Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so many other platforms have helped filmmakers not only find their film's audience, but get their films made. Filmmaker Robert Mockler shares how he used social media to do just that for his film Like Me, which is currently in the running for Indiewire's Project of the Year.
This is a guest post by Robert Mockler.
One year ago, I was a filmmaker with an idea for a short film that I hoped would one day be made into a feature. I knew that I needed money, partners and enough buzz to build a growing and passionate audience of viewers who cared about seeing my project come to life. So, I hit social media.
Today, I have an experienced team of producers on board, a growing base of supporters following me along my filmmaking journey, and awards: this week my film, Like Me, is up for Indiewire’s Project of the Year.
How did I go from being a filmmaker with an idea to a filmmaker with a feature film in development? Here is my advice for using social media to get your film made.
Create Something Worth Sharing
In order to break through the oversaturated social media landscape and get people interested in our project, I wanted to create something that would catch people’s attention and be so engaging that it would take on a life of its own. I hadn’t finished the script yet, so I decided to film a short concept trailer.
I aimed to affect viewers on the most basic visceral and aesthetic levels while teasing the bigger themes at play. It was designed to reflect the colorful and contrasty style that aligns with the sort of glossy filters that many of us often use to enhance the photos that document our lives. I also wanted to incorporate nontraditional shots that we might not suspect from films, but are inspired by the various ways in which we capture our experiences today. The narrative deals with topical issues that are provocative and controversial, so naturally I wanted to emphasize those sensibilities through the concept trailer as they are often catalysts for engagement. This all revolved around a dark and unique female character that is underrepresented in films.
The Day One launch was simple. We threw up the trailer on Facebook, and people lost their minds and shared it organically. By creating a visual experience that was unlike what people were used to seeing, I got them to immediately engage with the project and want to spread it on their own. And almost everything that has happened since has mainly fallen into place based on the strength of the concept trailer.
Identify the Big Fish
Instead of building our audience slowly over time, I set out to find the shortcuts that would get to our potential supporters and viewers -- and start raising money -- as quickly as possible. I found a campaign out of Singapore for a short film called The Body that had raised an incredible $29,000 and saw that they had nailed the following accolades: Indiewire Project of the Day/Week/Month, Indiegogo Project of the Day, and IndieReign project of the Day.
I had a very small network, and I knew that if we were going to make any money at all, we’d have to hit all of those marks.
Determined to get featured on those platforms and reach their audiences, I began contacting them directly -- even though I had no relevant relationships at that point. I found the contact at IndieReign and emailed her personally. She loved the trailer, and we were up that very day. For Indiewire, I filled out the general submission form and hoped for the best. Happily, we were selected as Indiewire Project of the Day pretty quickly. And when I wanted to get the project on the radar of my now-producer, I sent him (and a few interesting, somewhat like-minded individuals) a tweet with a link to the trailer. Several meetings later, I secured him as my producer.
Mobilize Your New Base
The Indiewire competitions were the most effective in driving engagement and getting people personally invested in the project. Once we realized that we were competing against larger films with big-name directors, celebrities and festival premieres, we communicated our underdog status to our potential new audience -- and they went all in to help us. Many of our friends and others we had never met before pulled an all-nighter to personally reach out to their contacts and get us votes. The support was beyond our expectations and created lasting ties.
As our audience grew, we began tracking and engaging them and gave them clear calls to action when it was time for them to get involved in contests, crowdfunding or overall awareness campaigns. We stayed persistent and ruthlessly respectful by keeping them engaged with news, teasers and imagery whenever possible, and they stuck around with us and brought their own networks into the fold as well.
Diversify and Mutually Support on Each Platform
Many of our biggest supporters who have gone to great lengths to promote the project are people who found us through Twitter, Instagram and the like. On each platform, following other accounts and liking other people’s posts has proven to be one of the most effective (and cheapest) ways of driving engagement. At one point, when we launched our Instagram account, we were liking 300 photos an hour. Some of the followers we picked up during that period have grown to be our most passionate advocates.
Looking forward, we are planning to build our protagonist Kiya’s identity and engage audiences in meaningful ways via all of these social media channels. The project will be represented in different ways on Facebook vs. Instagram vs. Twitter vs. Snapchat and beyond. But on each platform, the goal will be to provide audience members a chance to directly engage with the project in an organic, non-contrived way.
A compelling concept trailer used as the spark for getting attention and support over social media and crowdfunding sites has brought my project from a cool idea to an award-winning film in development. Reach out to tastemakers in creative and direct ways, and then follow that up with consistent efforts to engage your new audience in meaningful ways, and you’ll be on track to getting your film made.
Robert Mockler is a filmmaker from East Windsor, New Jersey who is presently residing in a dilapidated pre-war building in Brooklyn, New York. He’s currently developing his first feature film alongside Dogfish Pictures called LIKE ME. The film is scheduled to shoot in fall of 2014. His company, Go Infect Films, was selected for Dogfish Accelerator’s inaugural class in 2013.