Despite the film industry having one of the biggest markets and reach in the world, filmmaking has fundamentally always been an independent process. It’s as simple as Stanley Kubrick put it, “If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.”, but even the most obscure projects might end up spending a good deal of money, of which the maker might expect some repaying at least. And admit it, everyone wants at least some neutral and unbiased audience, whatever the quantity. Even the most kino filmmakers that you know and love has at least a studio like A24 to have their films known, and have recognition and coverage from film institutes like the British Film Institute (BFI) and Criterion. Such a backing and set of connections would be impossible for beginner and independent filmmakers too, and the budget is rarely enough to meet the standards. In that case, here are some tips about the reachability of your independent films.
1. Submit it to as many film festivals:
Since the issue is that of not finding an audience, film festivals are on top of our list about solving that. And though most film festivals, especially the more local ones are directed towards either a genre or a film-making style, it’s still a way to provide you with a neutral audience. Websites like Film Freeway are a hub for thousands of free and premium film festivals. The free ones may mostly not have worthwhile prizes but are an effective platform for the viewership of your film. On the other end, the premium festivals may not always be very expensive and might have a larger range of prizes for the participants, and more of an audience too.
2. Make it shorter and re-watchable:
This issue persists in even mainstream cinema, and especially since the reach is its main concern. The more prominent indie filmmakers may not find themselves with the same problems, because their audience is open to viewing longer films that comply less with the conventional filmmaking standards. But even an audience with the biggest of bladders would hesitate from watching a longer local film, especially because it’s a film that they’ve never heard about, and haven’t found enough acclaim to spend the time on it. Shorter independent films tend to find a bigger reach and are even re-watched more by those that happen to love them. Not to forget that even a lot of the accessible film festivals have length limits, so the takes should only be long enough to fit the film’s length.
3. Have a social media presence:
You’re not going to find viewers only through film festivals. And while this method too will provide you with a generally film-oriented audience, you’ll also find some spread among casual viewers. The main advice would be to engage more in forums and groups related to films and share your films around in them. It’ll be easier to find even larger sets of viewers if you become a prominent participant in the group or forum. It would be very proficient to create social media accounts/pages specifically for your films. The films should be posted on YouTube and Facebook, and other sites should be used to promote the film. Facebook pages allow paid promotion of posts, from which the upload post of your film can benefit greatly too.
4. The film itself should garner curiosity:
Films that appear to have a unique style or narrative are likelier to get clicked and viewed. This tip is linked with the previous one because this unique style should be promoted around too. The film should not only be technically well-made, but it must have a unique aura and mystery that would gain the attention of film viewers. Equally unique posters and promotional imagery should be implemented prior to the release of the film. It may be vague to judge a book by its cover, but since the film itself is advised to be unique, the cover should provide a fitting representation.
5. Don’t comply too much:
Popularity certainly requires your work to fit certain standards, but it shouldn’t sacrifice the identity of your film. The above-mentioned tips, alongside having at least one or two strong actors are helpful enough to bestow your film with an audience. So don’t fear making your film complicated and experimental, as long as it manages to keep up with the viewers’ interests. The reason why you shouldn’t follow film-school standards too much is that the kind of audience that seeks these criteria would most likely not be interested in viewing a local film. Therefore, it’s ideal to experiment and form your own audience.