The ARKOFF Formula, Part 4: 'Tell the World about Your Picture!'
'The ARKOFF Formula' was a model B-movie mogul Samuel Z. Arkoff (1918-2001) designed all his films around. This old post by Bill Cunningham brought this paradigm to my attention, and it has great value for microcinema filmmakers. This is another part in a series of articles elaborating on this formula. Also see Part 1, 'Action Them 'til They're Dizzy', Part 2, 'Revolutionary Scenes Get Talked of', Part 3, 'Kill Colorfully and Often, Part 5, Fantasy is what Audiences Spend Money for' and Part 6, 'Foreplay is as important in Dramaturgy as in Bed'.
'O' is for Orate
There is a little confusion about what Arkoff meant by this. A couple of sources on the internet state that 'Orate' referred to filling your script with colorful speeches and dialogue. The interview that Bill Cunningham refers to clearly shows that Arkoff was talking about promoting and marketing your movie. I go with Bill on this one, not only because his source is better, but because I find it hard to believe that Arkoff would care about the quality of the spoken word. He was concerned about the spectacle much more than quality. He presold his films based on concepts, not great writing.
Get a Website
First and foremost, a website will be necessary to profile your movie and its talent, as well as setup a place to eventually purchase your movie. This can be the hub where you can direct anyone interested in what you are doing. Settle on a title first, so you can register a domain name that states the name of your movie. If it's taken, slapping the word 'movie' on the end seems to work well (as in filmflapmovie.com). Any and all press you generate should lead to this location, which will link to many other outlets of promotion. If you want to self-distribute, this will be the place to sell your DVD and/or digital download.
Start a Blog
Before you write one word of your screenplay, start blogging about your movie. This will act as a living record of your film from start to finish. The more consistently you blog, the more readers you will draw in, garnering that much more attention for your project. Post photos, video clips, script excerpts, and anything else you feel helps to archive the process. Blogs can be started for free, and have great potential for promotion. For a ton of information on running a successful blog, check out sites such as Problogger and Copyblogger. Make sure your website links to your blog (and vice versa), which should always have the most current info and can act as a 'news' link.
Put your Movie on Social Networks
Sites such as MySpace and Facebook are hugely trafficked social networks, and can draw lots of eyeballs if you put the effort in. Since they involved gathering "friends" this will take time, but when your friends start telling other friends about your movie, a viral effect is created with only positive effects. This is another fine place to put your trailer, photos or anything else that will spark interest. For a good example, check out the MySpace page for Lance Weiler's film, Head Trauma, which has over 1800 friends.
Create Some Merchandise
Even before your film is done being shot, making some physical merch can help push interest. I suggest designing at least one T-shirt, a hat, and a poster. You can slap a clever line of dialogue on the shirt and hat, but you might want to get an artist for the poster. Whatever you choose, make it good, and make sure your web address is on everything. If you're lucky these items will be popular, instilling a desire for fans to become walking billboards. You can go through an online company to make your stuff, but check local companies first. The more money in your pocket, the better.
All these things should be tied to your website, and they should all link to each other. If you are really brave you could also implement a countdown timer marks the time left to the internet premiere! Get your DVD done before this time expires, and you could be preselling your movie even before it's "available" to the rest of the world. The key is that the world of internet film promotion is still the Wild West, wide open to trying new and exciting techniques. I plan on implementing these myself, and hope to follow others who are blazing the trail as you read this.