We’re almost there. Everything is in the can nothing but the edit left, right? Sure, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot of things to keep thinking about that will make your film easier to sell.
First, look to your running time. Your goal should be 90 minutes, but the film needs to be at least 83 minutes or it will, again, be rejected by most buyers. Any shorter and they just don’t consider it a feature. Also, please keep in mind that you are not Peter Jackson so no epic length films. In fact keep it to a maximum of 110 minutes and don’t be surprised if your sales agent asks you to cut it down to 90.
Keep your edit tight. Start already in the scene and cut out before it ends. Keep action sequences moving. The faster your pacing the better the perception of the film. It is a fact of the business. Just keep it moving.
Get objective third party feedback. Don’t trust your friends, your cast, your crew, and especially your mom for objective feedback. They like you. They are invested. Hold public screenings with an anonymous way to give feedback. The studios do it, so should you.
Make sure ALL your music is cleared. That means licensed. Even if its “public domain” you will need to show proof. If its royalty free under a specific license or purchased from a website, you need to show proof. If you purchased royalty free music online save your invoice/receipt and a PDF version of the page from the site that shows its royalty free. If its from a site like incompetech.com (great resource for independent film makers) get a copy of the appropriate license and, again, document the proof.
A FILM FESTIVAL license is not a license for distribution. That will not suffice and will make you and your distributor liable (mostly you).
License stock footage. It really is not that expensive and can give you great cinematic appeal. The cost of you getting an aerial shot of the city vs. just buying one of dozens of stock film clips can mean hundreds if not thousands of dollars back to your bottom line.
You can also get large crowd scenes, disaster footage, and simple establishing shots. All of this adds to the quality and completeness of your film.
Make sure to copy the license agreements and keep the receipts for your chain of title documentation for each clip.
BUILD YOUR PRESS KIT
While your editor and sound designer are hard at work, spend the time putting together your press kit. You’re going to need it not only for your press contacts, but to give to potential buyers and then it will be a delivery requirement to those that license your film.
What should be in a press kit?
- A quality, professional folder. Not some off the shelf, mass produced stock.
- Synopsis, actually three. A Long, Medium, and short synopsis
- Cast and Crew Bios
- Create a Frequently Asked Questions document. You are actually writing the article for them at this point. What author, if given a set of questions and answers won’t want to use those to make their life easier? Viola, they talk about exactly what you want them to.
- Publicity Stills. Ok, time to go through the 100+ photos you took and single out a dozen for use in the press. You can even provide some crew shots and definitely provide headshots for the director.
Now deliver it to all those press folks we’ve been keeping in contact with since before the film began.