Smarthouse: Six Interview Tips for Filmmakers at Festivals Image

You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your film with critics, journalists, podcasters, bloggers, and other members of the media. And we know it’s only July, but take it from us: the 2019-2020 film festival season will be here before you know it. And if you’re a filmmaker currently submitting to festivals, now’s a great time to prepare for what’s to come. If all goes according to plan, your new flick will world premiere sometime between Toronto (September) and Tribeca (April). When it does, you’ll need to be ready to give a good interview. We know you’ll want to put your best foot forward when being interviewed and the following six tips will help you do it.

“…how to discuss your film with critics, journalists, podcasters, bloggers, and other members of the media.”

1. Make it easy for them 

Press will look for a publicity contact through which to make their interview requests. If you can’t afford to hire a publicist, you have to make sure an open channel exists for media outlets to get in touch with you about your film. And make sure you monitor that email inbox so you don’t miss a request. You don’t want to have an interview opportunity evaporate because you didn’t check your email. 

2. Expect the unexpected

If you get an unexpected call from the press, feel free to ask them if you can call them back, so you have some time to prepare. You aren’t required to be put on the spot, and you can decline the interview altogether if you’d like. Ask for the reporter’s name and contact info, as well as a sense of the topics he or she would like to discuss. Before calling them back, Google their past work and recent articles to see if their outlet is a good fit for your film.

3. Research each outlet 

Before calling them back, consider the audience for the outlet with whom you will be speaking. Is it young adult? Film savvy? Niche-focused? Think about how those groups will respond to your film and identify the points you’d like to make about your work that will resonate with them.  

4. Develop your talking points ahead of time 

What is your film about, and what are its strengths? What are some elements of the moviemaking process that will be of interest to a broad audience? What is compelling about the film or the story behind the film? Come up with two to three simple answers that will help you be clear in your conversation. Personal anecdotes and stories are also helpful ways for the reporter to tell your story, so make this process easy by being prepared to share.

5. Stick with what you know 

If you aren’t sure about a particular date or detail, don’t answer–it’s ok to say you don’t know! Be relaxed and friendly. Occasionally, a reporter will try to get a saucier story by pressing for details, but for the most part, the writer is just as excited about your project as you are and simply wants to find ways to get the most clicks on their interview. Stand your ground and don’t be railroaded into a discussion you’re not comfortable with by an overeager interviewer. 

6. Share, share, share…

If you are fortunate enough to catch the interest of the press, return the favor! Share and re-post the piece, and link to it from your website. Everyone benefits from stories about film, art, and entertainment catching on with a diverse readership, so remember to do your part to keep the momentum building. It’s a feather in your filmmaker cap to have an interview/review out on the web, so do your best to make sure people see it!

Smarthouse Creative is a marketing agency for independent filmmakers. Whether you’re looking for an overall marketing strategy that marries advertising, social media, and publicity, or just a stand-alone digital ad, social media, or PR plan for your indie film, we can help.

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