October 13, 2022
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How to Promote Your Short Film

Nathan Hilgartner
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A short film is a great way to get noticed. Call it a demo, proof of concept, a calling card: if you make your own short film, you have the chance to show the world what kinds of films you’re capable of producing. That is – as long as you know how to promote your short film.

But how do you make sure the world watches? You know how to produce, but do you know how to promote your movie? What are the tricks to short film marketing?

In this post, we’ll break down six interlocking strategies for how to promote your short film. By the end, you should be an expert short film publicist as well as producer!

Let’s jump in.

1. Build a Website

We’ll start with the most basic prerequisite for how to market a movie in the 21st century: you need a website! 

Every major feature production launches a website as part of its film marketing plan, and the same principle applies with short film marketing. Any short film producer that doesn’t make a website doesn’t know how to market a short film.

Your short film website is the hub of your strategy for how to promote your short film. Every other component in your short film promotion plan will redirect people here.

How To Promote Your Short Film - Wrapbook - You Go Girl
The website for You Go Girl! Is a great example of how to promote a short film. Note the Sundance festival wreath! SOURCE

As you can see looking at the site for Shariffa Ali’s film You Go Girl!, the website should be simple but packed with relevant information. When, where, and how can audiences see your film? If they can watch your short film online, the link to do so should be front and center. 

There should also be links to the teaser and trailer, social media presence, press releases, press and other inquiries, and festival credentials, all of which we’ll discuss below.

How To Promote Your Short Film - Wrapbook - You Go Girl Press
Including contact information for short film publicists is important – publicists know how to market a short film! SOURCE

You can design your short film website using any number of powerful tools such as Wordpress, Squarespace, or Wix.

2. Design Poster & Other Graphics

Another essential component in how to promote your short film is a poster and other graphics with a clear design theme and linked aesthetic.

Take a look at the poster for Travon Free and Martin Desmond Jones’s Oscar-winning short film Two Distant Strangers. Just from the juxtaposition of black and white, hoodie and uniform, we can tell that this is a film about racism and police brutality.

Clear images which suggest theme are great answers to "how to market a short film?" SOURCE

You’ll use these graphics – including a poster, thumbnail, and various other-sized images – on your website, on your Youtube and Vimeo pages where you post your teaser and trailer, and on all your social media feeds. 

Think about the aesthetic of your film, the kind of images, text, colors, and other design features you want. Reach out to graphic designers and see what you can put together.

3. Cut a Killer Trailer

When you think “film marketing plan,” what comes to mind? Most likely, trailers and teasers are obvious answers to the question of how to market a movie. But making a concise, exciting trailer – and even shorter teaser – for your short film promotion is more than a matter of cutting together sections of your short film. 

Take a look at the trailer for Alison Rich’s film Training Wheels. Notice how it gives you a sense of the film’s tone and sensibility without giving anything away.

An even shorter, hype teaser – like this one for Riz Ahmed and Aneil Karia’s Oscar-winning short The Long Goodbye – can give us character, setting, tone, and plot, all in 15 seconds or less. Here we see a family dancing together, then an SUV closing in, and the phrase “They’re rounding people up!” – character, tension, conflict! It’s a great example of how to promote your short film.

Focus on conveying the look and feel of your film. Show us who our protagonist is, and give us a quick picture of what they’re up against. 

Once you’ve made an exciting trailer, it’s time to promote your short film on social media.

4. Engage On Social Media

If you know social media, you’re already halfway to knowing how to market your film. It’s all about driving up engagement by posting at regular intervals. 

Each social media outlet offers different opportunities for how to promote your short film. Youtube and Vimeo are great for posting your teaser and trailer. Instagram allows you to post production stills and embed videos. 

On Twitter, you can Tweet a plot summary or dialogue snippets in less than 160 characters. Once you’ve generated some buzz, you can do a Reddit AMA about the process of shooting. The possibilities for how to promote your short film are nearly endless. 

Focus on making your posts exciting and intriguing, to generate buzz among and beyond your immediate circle of followers. Always link back to your website. There’s a reason we made the website number one on this “how to promote a short film” list.

Does this seem daunting? Consider hiring an expert on how to promote a movie on social media. Or check out these guides on how to promote your short film on Youtube; how to promote a movie on Instagram; and how to promote a movie on Facebook.

5. Manage Your E-Mail List

Using social media and SEO for short film marketing is all about casting a wide net to build buzz and expand your reach. But you can also take steps to double down on audiences you’ve already reached. It’s good to keep your short film at the top of their minds.

Remember, a major part of how to market a short film is making sure you’re always on your viewers minds.  Repetition is key.  It’s a big part of how to market a short film!

See what we did there?

Using RSS (Really Simple Syndication), you can prompt visitors to your website to leave their email addresses, and then send out press releases to the list of addresses you collected. 

Whenever you have news to share about your movie, you can send it out to your list. It’s a great way to keep your fans updated on new developments! An essential tool for anyone who wants to learn how to promote a short film.

6. Networking

This is an essential – but underrated – component in all aspects of the movie business, and of life in general. Opportunities are all about who you know! The same goes for how to promote your short film.

I don’t know who you know – actors, directors, influencers – but if you can get some big names to help get your work out into the public eye, it could be the missing puzzle piece for how to promote your short film, and generate buzz in a whole new way.

The same goes for people who know people you know – that’s what makes it a network! Reach out, think outside the box, and see who you can enlist to help out with short film promotion.

7. Attend Film Festivals

Speaking of new developments: as a short film producer, you probably have your eyes set on one or more prestigious film festivals and their awards and prizes!

That’s great! And now, with your website, trailer, social media presence, SEO, and press release system all set up, you’re ready to send in your film. Fingers crossed!After all, there’s nothing better for promoting your short film than having audiences see it and rave about it.

As your short film (hopefully!) goes through the process of acceptance, screening, and winning awards, be proud of yourself. All the fans who follow your social media and subscribe to your newsletter will be proud of you, too. 

Wrapping Up

Knowing how to promote a short film may not seem as glamorous as making it. But if no one knows it exists or what it’s about, they won’t see it. Movies are meant to be seen. Help your audience find you!

You now have all the tools necessary for how to promote your short film. Now you just need to start submitting so you begin your festival run

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Nathan Hilgartner

Nathan Hilgartner is a writer living in Brooklyn.

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