Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Marketing 'Slaughter is the Best Medicine'

(by Daniel Tee)

As Rishi Thaker, A.D. Barker and many other film makers will attest, shooting a feature film can take a few days if planned well. Editing it can take several months, especially when doing visual effects. 'Slaughter is the Best Medicine' has been a labour of love and something I personally am very proud of, as are the rest of the team. Now, we're very much in the marketing phase.

At every stage along the way, having no money to work with has been an issue and one that's hard to get around. Large companies would spend many thousands of pounds to promote a film, but we've only got what we can put together from our limited resources. However, using these small resources we've been looking at the best ways to push 'Slaughter' forward.

Step 1: The very first step of the process was to get our film listed on Internet Movie Database (IMDb). This is trickier than first thought. They need evidence that the film is not only real, but is commercially viable and or of note. By providing them with a plethora of information and proof that we didn't just pretend to make a film, they eventually listed the title, which was a great step forward.

Step 2: The second step has been to send the film to festivals that are appropriate to the genre. What we were unaware of was that we'd need a massive amount of material to go along with our submissions. Whenever we thought we'd got enough information or press material, we'd find another section of the application to fill in or another type of photo needed. Michael Spiby's documentary photography of the filming days and various promotional images has really helped. People need visuals to back up what they read and that's something we've learned greatly over the last few weeks.

Step 3: The third stage is to have our film reviewed. We took the bull by the horns, having two test screenings before completing the film, which meant that we could tweak things to suit the audience's view about certain areas. It was unavoidable that doing things on zero budget meant the quality of certain production areas would be lesser than most mainstream films; what we've achieved has consistently been judged not as a low budget 'effort', but as a solid piece that stands well next to high budget cinematic releases. Not all the reviews will glowing I'm sure, but it's important to approach criticism in a positive way and learn from anything constructive. This stage also involves speaking to the press, but generally they will only get in contact when something significant has already occurred for the film.

Step 4: When the film is on IMDb, shown at at least one festival and has some decent reviews, the fourth stage can begin; the distribution phase. This is potentially an organic process based on success at festivals. It's about giving distributors access to the film and proof that it's of high enough quality to be chosen by the industry professionals who judge the entries. Independent cinemas often accept films directly from film makers, as long as they have been successful with audiences at screenings and festivals. Breaking into the mainstream is difficult for most independents without the support of large production houses or millions of pounds to spend, which is why there is a divide between the two. Speaking to as many people as possible about the project and promoting by any means is the way to reach the right people. The right people being distributors of the appropriate genre who are willing to take a risk on an unknown film. It can and does happen, so this is one of the things that we're hoping for.

I always wondered why many films would take two years to make it into cinemas. It generally isn't that the film isn't complete; it's because there are so many pre-requisites along the way to distribution, not one of which can be ignored. So, it's a grindstone that I'm happy to have my nose to. There are rewards along the way for cast and crew alike, the first of which will undoubtedly be to have the film shown at a major festival in front of thousands of people. After all, the goal of making a film is to entertain audiences. Let's hope this four step process is one that will herald success over the coming year.


Photographs by Michael Spiby (Copyright © Michael Spiby 2011).