In film school you learn that there is an established process once you’re done with your film.
After hours slaving away in an edit room, you start applying to festivals and hope for the best.
After my co-director and I started submitting There She Is to festivals, we received
countless rejections. We knew a 20-minute short about plus size pageant queens might be hard to program, but believed in the film and wanted people to see
We decided that an online premiere would be the best way to reach our audience – one that might not necessarily fit into the film festival crowd. We
launched on June 17th, to help celebrate the start of Full Figured Fashion Week in New York, and spark a conversation about size and beauty. We answered
questions on reddit, got
press on several blogs, and eventually, people worldwide began to contribute to the conversation.
If you’re thinking about an online launch, here are 5 things I learned along the way.
1. Start with your friends, and don’t be afraid to ask for shares.
I’m not an outgoing person, so when it came time to promote There She Is, I was reluctant to ask people to share or write about it.
I was concerned I’d be a nuisance to people, but in reality, the process of reaching out made me realize that I have many supportive people in my life. As
a result of my outreach, I’ve reconnected to many people in my social network in the best way possible.
The take away: the worst that can happen is that someone politely declines and the best is that a friend writes about your film in HuffPost Women.
2. Know your primary audience but don’t let that limit you.
We knew both the pageant and plus size community would be interested in our film. But we didn’t want to stop there.
As feminist filmmakers who want to get people thinking about standards of beauty we decided to target the feminist community, where we got a substantial
amount of coverage.
And when the film community didn’t seem interested in our 20 minute short, we decided to pitch the strategy that allowed us to have a successful launch.
The bottom line is, some of the communities you’ll reach out to will be obvious, and some will be a stretch. If you can creatively think about your film
and yourself as a filmmaker, you’ll realize that there are a lot more communities that are a good fit for your film than you initially thought.
3. Reach out to people who are leaders in the community your audience follows
Twitter is an amazing tool for outreach. It’s because of Twitter that Jezebel and
The Daily Life (Australia)
wrote about our film, and Desiree Hartstock ABC’s The Bachelorette) retweeted us during the show (which led to 400+ views that day).
It takes creativity to get people to notice you in 140 characters. Think about your film, the message and how it applies to the person you’re tweeting at.
It’s important that you don’t tweet the same thing at everyone since people will dismiss it as spam.
Finally, don’t be afraid to be persistent! It’s unlikely that someone with thousands of followers will see your tweet the first time.
4. Take time off if you can
Engaging your audience takes a lot of time if you want to do it right.
I started off researching people that would be interested in the film. Then, I compiled a database of contacts, managing who was contacted and when, and
who should be followed up with. Finally, I marked on my calendar when to follow up.
If you can afford it, having a P.R. person can be a great help, but as I learned, at the end of the day, no one will care about your film as much as you
5. Stay on message
Write out the message of your film in 2-3 sentences and make sure you are conveying it in all of your outreach. If you have a clear message and can
represent your film in a way that engages people, you have a strong chance of a successful launch.