Getting your film seen

My colleague Joy Loewen has opened her doors with her new company Exposure Film.

The company’s mission is to promote Canadian films and ensure they receive the audiences they deserve.  Here’s her guest post on what she’s learned in the process of doing this.

Joy’s Three Truths

Tapping into my love of promoting and programming, earlier this year I launched a new company – Exposure Film – which provides marketing and promotion services to independent filmmakers and arranges exhibitions of Canadian films.

I’ve enjoyed the two-fold benefit of endorsing the work of talented filmmakers while sharing a variety of short and feature films to audiences across Canada as well as in faraway places like Ghana, Malaysia, Tanzania and the Ukraine.

I’ve discovered a few simple truths in my new career path.

Truth #1 – Surround Yourself With Good People

Filmmakers do this during production so it makes sense to also surround yourself with professionals during the marketing and exhibition phase. In his book, Think Outside the Box Office, filmmaker and marketing visionary, Jon Reiss encourages filmmakers to hire a Producer of Marketing and Distribution (a PMD).

In November 2010, producer Polly Washburn hired me as the PMD for Shelagh Carter’s first feature film, Passionflower.  I started working with the Passionflower team at the rough cut stage by coordinating test screenings, developing marketing materials, and strategizing a plan for festival screenings and exhibitions. I’m proud to say the experience has been a good one for us all.

Having a dedicated person with fresh eyes and new energy manage this final phase in the life of your film is as important as making a good film. Filmmaking is a team sport.

Truth #2 – Shine Your Light!

Quebec actor, film director & writer, Claude Jutra, states “not making the films you want to make is awful, but making them and not having them shown is worse”. Once production is complete and a film has been mastered it’s understandable filmmakers will feel drained and exhausted.

A considerable amount of time, energy & financial resources has already been invested and, combined with a few festival rejections or slumping box office numbers, it’s simply easier to move onto other projects before fully exploring and realizing the exhibition opportunities.

This reality combined with the typical Canadian modesty of quietly waiting for success to find us is a devastating combination. I can’t help but hear my island relatives saying, “you can’t hide under a bush!”  Your work needs to shine and the best way to do that is under the bright lights of a projection screen. As Reiss writes in his book, “film is about connection. Connecting with an audience and having that interaction feed your soul.”  Films must been be seen on screens in order for people to know how good they are.

Truth #3 – Audiences Are Hungry To See Great Canadian Films

As a patriotic Canadian, nothing brings me more satisfaction than seeing our stories and people presented on screens to appreciative audiences. During my festival travels earlier this year, I marvelled at theatres filled with people eager to see the newest Canadian indie films.

Both screenings of the VIFF ”Water” shorts program (which included NSI Drama Prize film, Wait For Rain) were sold out.  At the VIFF world premiere screening of Passionflower the audience stayed in their seats an additional 45 minutes for the Q&A discussion.  The thoughtful questions and comments was evidence the audience connected with and appreciated the work of this talented director.

After two decades working in the Canadian film & TV industry it’s no surprise to me that audiences are enjoying Canadian film. They simply have to see them and that’s why filmmakers must be supported and encouraged to seek exhibition opportunities.   Between festivals, public screenings and online platforms there a many opportunities to connect your film to an appreciative audience.

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