Second installment in our weekly series of interviews with creatives, innovators, and small business owners focusing on the power of digital marketing & social media for their businesses. We interviewed Lynnaire MacDonald (founder and head publicist for Film Sprites PR, a publicity consultancy which specializes in film). Lynnaire hails all the way from New Zealand and shared wonderful insights into leveraging the power of social media marketing for indie films:
You specialize in PR for the indie film industry - how did you end up working in the entertainment industry?
All my life I have had two passions: writing and film. For years, I had wanted to work in film, but it seemed like a pipe dream. When the Lord of the Rings trilogy was released, it fired up my imagination...but I chose to heed the call of working in the film industry and instead went into a teaching degree (which I didn't finish). Many years down the track and with a Bachelor of History behind me, the devastating earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011 hit. Like many people in Christchurch, I was affected badly to the point where I lost a lot of joy in my life. One July evening I was coaxed into going to the cinema, and the film I saw was so inspiring that it was like an epiphany. I knew that I had to go after my dreams. Subsequently I obtained a Certificate in Public Relations and Business Communications and began networking, but ironically I didn't want to work for myself! Everything changed in 2014 when after networking with independent filmmakers primarily via Twitter I sent out a single tweet, asking if there were any filmmakers in need of publicity and digital marketing. The response was overwhelming and the first incarnation of Film Sprites PR was born. Eventually I'd love to be head-hunted for a studio or distribution company in NZ or the UK, but we'll see!
Film marketing for indie films - what are some of the key challenges and how do you overcome these?
One of the advantages of the digital age is also a bit of a catch 22- indie filmmakers now have the ability to self-distribute via various streaming options and cut out the middle man, but because of this ability it means there are indies being released frequently. How does a viewer choose one indie over another, or watch an indie over the latest Marvel release? Just as with the days prior to blogs, websites and podcasts, you find what's newsworthy about the film. What makes it stand out? Each film has a special mix that can be leveraged to make journalists want to review or feature the film, and have audiences watching it. It's also vital to build an audience very early on in production (pre-production if possible). Blockbuster films have the advantage of having a built-in audience based on the genre of the film, and the actors and director. For instance, I know I would absolutely be front and centre at a film with Tilda Swinton in it, because she's fantastic. So marketing of indies (especially low-budget indies) is a marathon, not a sprint.
When looking at the holistic digital marketing mix for the film marketing industry which digital channel or method would you say has the most success and why?
So many people think that Facebook is a great platform for their indie film, but over the past few years and with the change in algorithms it's been harder and harder to have organic visibility and engagement with people who have liked your film's Facebook page. I've found Twitter to be a consistently effective channel; especially in terms of being able to engage one-on-one with audiences. It also helps that there is a passionate community of independent film fans on Twitter who will actively engage with indie filmmakers and re-tweet. Instagram is also useful, especially for films that have a younger demographic. My own marketing mix tends to be all three platforms, with careful monitoring and evaluation throughout a film's marketing campaign to see what's working and what isn't, and adjusting it accordingly.