As an indie filmmaker it often feels like you're juggling multiple roles. This is, of course, true. When you start out you don't have the benefit of a Hollywood sized crew. You don't have access to a 1st AD, Gaffa, Spark, Key Grip or Best Boy. Let alone have any idea what these roles actually mean. It's important then to plan and try to factor everything into your filmmaking process. In this blog I want to briefly talk about something that is often forgotton by indie filmmakers but it's very important when your film is complete and you're trying to get the attention of film festivals. I'm talking about your film's poster.
So why is the poster important? Your poster is possibly the reason someone might watch your film. It has to say enough about the genre, tone and narrative to entice your audience. How many times have you seen a poster in a cinema foyer or online or on the tube and thought - 'that looks great'? If you're entering festivals then they're going to request a poster. A clear, professional and intriguing poster can help set your project apart. Even going one step further, let's say you're accepted into your dream festival. You're still going to want to print of post cards to take along to promote your film's screening.
If you're streaming straight online then a poster can still help as your thumbnail for social media. There are A LOT of things for people to watch out there. Dangling this delicious carrot can help get you more hits.
If you have your script, locations, cast etc then it's a great idea to think about your poster at this early stage. Do you know what it's going to look like? Do you have some examples of posters you like? Onset, nowadays, it's always good to have someone taking photos. Behind the scenes shots are not only great for online promotion but having an SLR handy to shoot some high res images of scene set ups is also great. These high quality images will come in very useful for your poster design.
It's important to have a look at what posters already exist. You'll see that specific genres will have similar/reoccuring traits. You don't want people to watch your film expecting a romantic comedy and have to sit through your sick, twisted horror film.
I have been lucky enough to work with the same graphic design for my last three projects. Anyone an learn PhotoShop and I'd recommend giving the design a go yourself. However I use the same person because we have a great collaborative relationship and importantly I know he has a great eye for design. It's one thing knowing how to use software but it's completely different having the skill/ability to create something beautiful.
All my graphic designer started off with was a still image of the man, the dog and chair on the beach. I sent him an early edit of the film so he had an idea of the tone/style that I had adopted whilst shooting. We then spent several months going back and forth via email until we were both happy with the design. You can see the creative progression below:
I have included some other posters from my previous films to give you an idea of the differences between genre and styles. Can you guess the genres?
In conclusion your film poster can be a valuable weapon in your film's arsenal. It can certainly help to spread the word, whichever pathway you choose to showcase your work afterwards.