Getting your film reviewed would seem like a simple process at the outset. The hard part is done; making the film. But getting your film reviewed is more than just getting an opinion on it, unless you don’t mind leaving it up to the trolls who inhabit IMDb. As a reviewer I’m going to give you some insight into the mind of the reviewer that you can use to increase the chances of getting your film reviewed, and possibly in a more favorable light (i.e. don’t piss off the person about to review your film by making it difficult for them).
The one thing right up front that will get your film reviewed more often, and frankly this is the only thing that matters, is making it easier for a reviewer to review your film. I’m not suggesting that you go out on a limb or jump through hoops, and I have done more than that to review a film, but the more work a reviewer has to do to get information on your film and the people involved is that much more that is likely to turn them off from reviewing it.
I think a lot of indie film creatives can learn from actor Timothy J. Cox. There may be others but he is the only one I know of who sends out screener emails of the films he’s been in, and there are a lot, with most of the information a reviewer needs to review a film. This explains why there are so many reviews of his films on indie film review sites. He is not called “the hardest working actor in indie films” just for the number of films he’s been in, but also for the work he does in promoting and supporting indie film. Not meaning to turn this into an advert for Tim, but if you want to promote your film, put him in it; not only are you hiring a fantastic actor but you are effectively getting a one-man promotion agency with him.
I have mentioned this in a previous post, but this is such a necessary ingredient I can’t say it enough: as much as filmmakers want people to see their work, writers want people to read their work. A reviewer is a writer, plain and simple. They have a blog they want people to visit. To accomplish this they post links on social media sites to their reviews of films. They don’t have millions of followers on social media so they depend on the sharing system to get more visitors to their blogs. This means being able to tag others in their tweets and Facebook posts.
Tagging on Facebook or Twitter is effectively a shoutout to someone who may share your post and therefore your link to your blog, not only getting more readers but also likely getting new followers. Want to make sure a link to a review of your film never gets posted again? Ignore them when they post a link to their review of your film in the first place. I don’t like beating a corpse, and I’m far from alone in this. If I post a link to a review with several of the particulars tagged in it and it gets ignored, it’s not going to be posted again.
Now this is out of my field, but when cast and crew participate in social sharing it not only improves your promotion it improves your chances of being reviewed due to social media word of mouth. It’s a contentious point I’ve heard (more appropriately read) some filmmakers make about taking an actor’s social media status into consideration for hiring. Though I don’t personally agree with that kind of qualifier, I’m not a filmmaker, and those films in which cast and crew take an interest in their online promotion do better at reaching out to others.
Where screeners are concerned, a downloadable screener, for me, is preferred though many reviewers are happy with streaming. If you have it on Vimeo, that can downloaded, even if you don’t have downloading enabled. One of the reasons I prefer to download is so I can get screencaps; I can’t get screencaps from streaming. Of course if you have your film watermarked or with screener texts, that kills the chance of screencaps. In that case I’ll try to find a trailer to download and I can get screencaps from that. YouTube is harder to download from anymore. Facebook is an option for screeners and trailers; though a higher quality screener is always nice, all one really needs at a minimum is a 360p screener.
I do prefer to do my own screencaps just to be different in what I’m using as images for my reviews compared to other reviews. Though as reviewers we all eventually get an eye for “money shots”, and even though we may not have the exact same shot, we basically captured the same moment.
Posters are definitely helpful for reviewers as a good poster provides a quick attention grabber for social media. A well timed screencap or poster grabs attention, and social media defaults to sharing the first image in a review, so as a reviewer I want to have a poster or “money shot” as that first image. Though there are those rare filmmakers who don’t use posters (Matt, we need to have a serious talk about this), and sometimes I just don’t feel the poster grabs attention, so in these cases I’ll make my own poster for a review. No, I don’t offer a poster making service.
In looking at the film listings we are getting on this site, you’ll notice that these things I’m talking about are largely integrated into those listings. We have set up this site for you to be able to have a place where you can create a simple resource page for your film that offers reviewers and others the most basic information they will need for a review. Main cast, properly spelled, a summary, links to websites and IMDb pages, all important links to social media lacking on most every website, plus a trailer if you have one, a poster and stills.
There is no book on getting more and better reviews for your film. That’s what we’re essentially writing with this website.
By the way, you can reach Timothy J. Cox on Twitter, Facebook or his Website. Being since I talked about him so much as his work has been what helped springboard some of what is going into this website, I at least owe him the links. Just tell him I was talking real bad about him. 😉