Independent films exhibit online growth

Thanks to the rise of blogs, dedicated Web sites, and new festivals, independent films are still finding their audience. Inde-pendent film publications are also seeing their audiences move online, says Todd Konrad, online editor and critic for Independent Film Quarterly.

Thanks to the rise of blogs, dedicated Web sites, and new festivals, independent films are still finding their audience. Inde-pendent film publications are also seeing their audiences move online, says Todd Konrad, online editor and critic for Independent Film Quarterly.

"More and more coverage of independent films is heading online, especially with blogs, because films are an art form where everybody has an opinion," he points out.

However, online independent film content usually centers on de-bate, not a thorough criticism of pictures by experienced critics, explains Sharon J. Kahn, a New York-based independent film media consultant.

"The blogging world is giving a lot of opportunities to independent films that weren't there before," she adds. "But [a] lot of that online content tends to more of the back-and-forth dialogue about movies, and doesn't have the same level of quality as the veteran critic, whose knowledge was often able
to put the latest movie into its proper context."

Often, the first time reporters write about independent films is while they are at one of the hundreds of film festivals that take place around the US every year.

"If it's a Morgan Spurlock doing a documentary on looking for [Osama] bin Laden in Afghanistan or something from John Waters, we'll probably write about it during production," explains Brian Clark, publisher of IndieWIRE, one of the leading sites for independent film fanatics, aspiring filmmakers, and film professionals. "But for the most part, we tend to look at festival selection catalogs, and that often becomes the first time we really dig into something."

Danielle Garnier, president of Garnier Public Relations, is currently representing Helix, an independent film shot in Chicago by 20-year-old director Aram Rappaport, starring Alexa Vega of Spy Kids fame. She notes that independent films can be publicized by relating to another film or event.

"If you're going to be on the set, you can [do] local publicity during the filming, and if it's going to be in a film festival; you can get national coverage that way," she says. "But often you still need an angle, such as tying it into some pop culture event or even showing how it relates to another movie to attract the attention of entertainment editors."

Garnier adds that it also helps to tailor media outreach depending on the film genre and the
age of the target audience. "There are Web sites out there that cater to specific genres of cult films and independent films," she adds.

"So you need to build out your DVD database based on the themes they review."

Pitching...Independent films

  • You don't need a star, but you need a hook to get pre-release media interested in an independent film, so look for hooks that tie your client's movie into emerging pop culture trends
  • Film festivals drive much of the independent film business coverage these days, so get your client to enter those that are appropriate and make sure you're on site during the event to guide coverage
  • There are literally millions of films, blogs, and Web sites, so figure out a way to sort them by traffic and make sure you develop relationships with the most influential sites

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