Think of your publicist as your film’s defender. They are responsible for keeping the information of your film—its story, cast, crew, and potential drama—under wraps until you’re ready to pull the trigger. That being said, it floors us that some films are still leaving a publicist out of the picture. Let’s just get this out there: You should be bringing in a publicist in pre-production. Now let’s dive into why.
Bringing in a publicist in pre-production is crucial to the success of your film.
1.) It’s hella important to have a publicity meeting in pre-pro.
Although you may feel like you’ve thought of everything concerning your film, there will always be something you miss. Unfortunately, most of the time the piece that gets overlooked is the film’s communication strategy. We’ve seen filmmakers time and time again miss opportunities to create buzz for their projects. If you’re going to generate some earned media, you’ve got to put aside some cash to get a publicist on your film in pre-pro ASAP.
A publicist is able to look at a film and plan communication for every stage of filming. You’ll also be saving yourself a headache by having them privy to all the project’s caveats before you hit any roadblocks, which newsflash: you will hit roadblocks. Here are a few of things a publicist is thinking about when starting a new project:
• How do we create engaging Deal and Attached Director announcements?
• Are there any organizations that would be interested in this film that we could partner with?
• How are we capturing the story of production?
• What media outlets will be the best fit for this project and its story?
In a way, these kinds of questions and evaluation help a publicist decide how to position the film. Part of the success of the film is related to identifying the target audience for it and understanding where and how that audience consumes media. With all of that considered, a publicist will be brainstorming opportunities to make those connections as soon as they’ve been signed onto a project. That kind of insight? Invaluable.
2.) YOU PUT WHAT ON IMDb!?
Ugh, IMDb (For you non-film folks who think we might be talking in some form of text slang, we’re referring to the Internet Movie Database.) The site is a great tool when cast announcements are being drafted—and anyone can edit a film or person’s page. But honestly, there is nothing quite as frustrating as seeing the movie and its stars listed for the whole world to see unbenounced to the production team. Cue the sigh and the slow headshake, friends. Now, when a publicist is in your corner they’re able to 1.) Have a PR meeting with your crew and talent and let them know when it’s appropriate to start posting set information online. That includes selfies with cast and crew. 2) Your publicist can also keep tabs on what information is currently out in the open and 3.) respond or react to it if necessary. Letting a trained professional monitor and share the controlled message around your film in an organized fashion is your best bet to get the publicity response you want. And it makes your distributors really happy too.
On set is the best place to grab behind-the-scenes stories, but make sure you're doing it right.
3.) Get in on the action with behind-the-scenes content
If you’re choosing to go publicist-free until post, you’re making a huge mistake. Waiting until post means that you’ve missed out on the great content that could have been collected for behind-the-scenes tidbits, photos, and videos. Those stories can only be uncovered during pre-pro and production. And they’re important because let’s face it: who doesn’t love feeling like an insider?
When you bring a publicist in during pre-pro, one of the first discussions you should have is how your film will approach everything dubbed “behind-the-scenes.” This means having a crystal clear understanding of who or what shouldn’t be photographed or referenced. After those do’s and don’ts have been clearly defined, then a publicist and photographer can work together to capture the film’s on-set story, emphasizing the look, feel, and themes the film will bring to audiences. Your publicist will make sure you get your must-have assets as well as your nice-to-haves.
When it comes to getting the on-set photography, bringing in any-old photographer is not going to cut it. In most cases, having someone other than your publicist hire a photographer does not go well. Although we all know a photographer </air quotes>, there is a skill to capturing the story that’s going on off camera.
Most publicists have lists of creative contacts that they can bring in just for behind-the-scenes. The reason publicists cultivate these relationships is because they are consistently impressed with the caliber of work they’re receiving. When it comes to photography or other publicity assets, you need to be objective and keep personal relationships out of the mix. You’ll thank us later.
4.) Set Leaks
Although this may sound more like legal mumbo-jumbo, these publicity policies directly impact your film’s future success. If someone—God forbid—decided to share uncensored information or pictures pertaining to your film, you could be dealing with a slew of problems. The best thing to do is to have someone (A PUBLICIST) join you in those crucial first meetings to go over what can and can’t be shared ahead of the film. For a publicist to have all of the pieces of the puzzle with access or insight to cast and crew’s contracts empowers them to resolve issues before they start. This will also help you avoid talent or crew unintentionally or intentionally leaking or posting spoilers. No one likes to be spoiled.
Knowing your film and its audience can be the difference between successful publicity or communication that falls flat.
5.) Know Your Film, Know Your Audience, Find Your Outlet
As much as you need to think about what you don’t want leaked, you should also be thinking about who you don’t want covering your film. This doesn’t fall as much into the set leaks category, but it does bring up a good thought process on how your film’s coverage affects people’s perception of it. We all know that there are some media outlets that can turn your film’s ant hills into mountains that generate bad PR for you and your project. Bringing a publicist in allows you to hand off the responsibility of finding, researching, and pitching appropriate media outlets. Seriously, don’t you have enough on your plate already?
Although this isn’t everything that needs to be discussed in pre-pro with regard to publicity, this gives you a pretty nice snippet of why a publicist should be a part of your team, as well as what they should be asking. Interested in getting some publicity guidance for you project? Let’s talk.