Help with maximizing our critical exposure at a Chicago documentary film premier.
September 18, 2007 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Help with maximizing our critical exposure at a Chicago documentary film premier.

On September 29th, we will be premiering a documentary film at Martyrs in Chicago. The event will begin with a musical performance by a well-known (in certain circles) Chicago musician, who also wrote 9 original songs for the film. We are a little late on getting promotions underway, as securing the date and venue didn't happen until later than we'd have liked.

My question is, who should we be sending press releases to? What else should we be doing to ensure quality eyeballs are in front of the screen?

We've been submitting the film to festivals, but this will be its first real public showing.

Also, I'm not sure about self-linking, but if I'm told it is OK I'd be happy to post a link to the film's website.

Thanks!
posted by Roach to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
 
It may be too late to submit something to the Chicago Reader (chicagoreader.com) but you could try. They go to press and release on Fridays. Gapersblock.com is a site that gets numerous high-quality eyeballs which could be directed your way. Send them an email and they'll post a blurb regarding your event.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:37 PM on September 18, 2007


You know, these kind of posts always amaze me. You're concerned about publicizing something, but (seemingly) deliberately obscuring the name of the film, the name of the performer who contributed to the film and who will be playing at its premier, as well as even the vaguest notion of what the film is about.

Hell, I'll *be* in Chicago on that day, and quite possibly know the performer, as well as plenty of people in film and music who might presumably be interested. But what info could I give them?

The first rule of publicity is publicize!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:38 PM on September 18, 2007


Best answer: Well Dee, it seems Roach is trying to be appropriate in term of not pimping his film here in AskMe. This really isn't the place. Personally, I'd prefer to focus on the question; how best to promote a film in Chicago.

Roach, just an FYI, some people post this kind of thing in MetaFilter Projects or put a link in their profile if that helps.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:48 PM on September 18, 2007


Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far.

I've placed a link to the film's website in my profile.
posted by Roach at 12:51 PM on September 18, 2007


Best answer: I have done this professionally.

First, and I'm not saying this snarkily: it's premiere. You should change that on the website. (Also, you have some typos right on the first page. You need to get a friend who's good at spelling and grammar to edit your website before pitching your project.)

Second, the website's copy doesn't actually explain to me what the movie's about. You need a really clear and succinct and easy-to-get pitch if you're going to get people to come see it. So it's an unconventional love story? What's so unconventional about it? Tell me up front. Were they both in jail when they met? Did they meet at an ashram? What?

Third, I'm not in Chicago, so I don't know your local media situation. You're too late for long-lead publications, and you may or may not be too late for short-lead ones at this point. So you need to really hustle: put together a list of which outlets (radio, print, TV, blogs) you want to target. Think of why you think they'd want to talk about your movie. "Because I poured my soul into it" isn't a good reason. "Your readers will really respond to this because I noticed the huge response your article about X got, which is a key element of the documentary" is a better reason. Or "Our movie features original new songs by locally-famous musician who is available for phoners" is another good one.

It's better to call the outlets than to email, but email is better than nothing. Pitching is like doing sales. You have to tailor what you're asking for (essentially, you're asking for free advertising) to each outlet. What do they get in return? An interview with an interesting person their viewers/readers/listeners will care about? Free tickets for a giveaway? Free copies of the soundtrack for the first ten callers?

But first, you really have to nail down what it's about, because the website makes it seem like it's a documentary about all your buddies talking about Deep Stuff, and you must find another way to pitch it if you want to get people who aren't your buddies to come see it.

Good luck!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:05 PM on September 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: Thanks for the great response, thehmsbeagle.

RE: the subject of the film, did you happen to watch the trailer?
posted by Roach at 1:24 PM on September 18, 2007


Yes! But I still don't know what the hook is. Is it religiously-themed? There's a HUGE subculture of Christian-culture enthusiasts who would probably turn out for this if you could let them know about it. But if it's "spiritual" but overtly non-Christian, those people (tons and tons of bloggers, for instance) are a hard sell.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:37 PM on September 18, 2007


Best answer: I'd see if Brendan Bayliss' or Matt Curren's fans have a Meetup.com site, popular fan-run website, or a mailing list, and enlist them in getting the word out amongst their fans.

At this late a date, I'd hit the Chicago blogs: Gapers Block has already been mentioned, but Chicagoist is also a good site, if they'll publish it. There's also a newcomer blog, the Chi-Town Daily News. Might want to see if they're interested. Also, nthing the Reader.

I'd also enlist people to post flyers in their workplace's cafeterias. Your goal is to get on people's calendars — maybe the Mayor's Office of Special Events? Craigslist Chicago's event calendar? This appears to be Buddhism-related, yes? If so, I believe there's a Buddhism center up in Evanston. Getting them involved?

Also, at the risk of sounding harsh, the summary for the plot on the front page your website is ... well, not to spare your feelings, it's really bad. very melodramatic and uses very cliched phrases. You ever see the Comedian trailer? As it stands, at the risk of sounding cruel, after reading your plot summary, I have absolutely zero interest in seeing your film, Netflixing it, etc., and I'm in the middle of exploring Buddhism and live in Chicago, so I'd presumably be part of your potential audience. (There's a reason that "a Very Special Episode of Blossom" is sort of a joke nowadays. "You'll laugh, you'll cry, it'll become a part of you.")
posted by WCityMike at 2:13 PM on September 18, 2007


Best answer: thehmsbeagle has already touched upon a number of points ... I would reach out to Umphrey's publicist -- they could pitch the music angle of the night and probably already have relationships w/ the music writers in the area. Talk w/ the booking agent at Martyr's too -- they usually have their own media list. But truth is, it really is late in the game (w/ only a week and a half 'til the premiere), so heading to Gaper's Block, Chicagoist, etc, is your probably your best bet, while also utilizing people to get handbills / posters around town.

If you plan on touring w/ it, or entering it into festivals, it could be worth investing in your own publicist. They have the relationships established, and the time it takes to ensure your film gets exposure through the press. Or at least hire someone to write a solid pitch / press release for the film. Good luck!
posted by pfafflin at 3:05 PM on September 18, 2007


Response by poster: Thanks all. I'll post a followup.
posted by Roach at 6:50 PM on September 18, 2007


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