Contrary to popular opinion, we are firm believers that, Ghana’s film industry is getting better than before. In the past few years, we have seen arguably some of the best films Ghana has produced in a very long time. The industry appeared more buoyant before, obviously because of the visible sales of VHS tapes and VCD’s.
With these mediums almost defunct, sale of films, has mostly been restricted to cinemas and other forms of commercial film screening. It should be of interest to anyone into the business of film making to know how best to market their films so as to utilize our current mediums of sales.
In recent times, marketing of films goes beyond just making flyers and putting up posters around town. Film just like everything under creative arts should be seen as a product with economic value. A such, its success and reception largely depends on how well it is marketed.
Marketing film is not an easy task and like most aspects of showbiz there aren’t any cast-in-stone rules to guarantee its success. That notwithstanding, you still need to have a well-structured roll out that should include various marketing activities and approaches so as to ensure you earn from the film. You basically need to have a plan and a reasonable enough budget to make it work.
When crafting your strategy for marketing films in Ghana, here are 4 key things you need to pay close attention to;
The argument, “quality sells” is true in all aspects of business. Make a good product and people would beat a path to the product. Likewise, make a good film and everyone would want to see it. A quality product goes a long way to do a good percentage of your marketing for you.
Although the idea of a “good film” is quite subjective, some people can tell if a film would be worth their time and money even before they see it. To be able to sell your product, you need to first get your audience’s attention. Quality of the film includes the story itself, the production elements and then packaging, i.e trailers, posters and artworks. It also includes making sure you have the right talents in your film and not just popular faces.
A lot of the time, the cast would only go all out in promoting the film when they have enough confidence in its quality. When they are not confident about how people, especially their fans, would receive the film, they add no enthusiasm to their side of promoting the work. That’s another reason why you need to pay attention to quality. What’s the point in having a product that won’t be marketed by those who contributed in the making of the product.
You can’t compromise on quality and expect marketing to do all the work for you. Even if you are able to force a bad film on to your audience, the quality might not take you any further than your first two screenings. After all, the success of any product also relies on how well it satisfies its buyers.
2. Digital Space
You can sell anything in this day and age once you take advantage of technology and its advancements. Most notable in this case is the internet and social media. Marketing your film on social media doesn’t mean just going on Facebook or Instagram to post artworks of your film and expecting people to be interested enough to want to pay to see it.
Although social media can be the best place to build interest in your film, it could also be the same place to bring your film down. That is, if you don’t have a well thought out approach for it. The entire social media landscape can be broken down in several groups with varying demographics. It helps if you know exactly who you want to reach with your film and then you can use social media to narrow in on your target audience using a well crafted creative approach.
Besides social media there are several film-oriented platforms on the internet you can use to promote your work. Some might cost you money but it would be worth it in the long run. One of such platforms is… IMDb (Internet Movie Database).
Take a thorough look through IMDb and you would find only a handful of Ghanaian film projects listed on there. Same goes for details on actors and directors. Having your film listed on that platform for instance, puts you on a database that is open to the rest of the world. Meaning, anyone anywhere in the world is likely to see your work and can be able to reach out to you if need be.
Maybe the idea of IMDb seems too far fetched for you. Fortunately, we are steadily turning GhMoviefreak into the foremost film platform for the country and in the next few years, we could suffice as Ghana’s IMDb.
3. Involving Your Audience
You can create buzz for your film by engaging and involving your audience in your marketing. Besides, they are the ones the film is made for in the first place. So why not get them to help you in marketing it?
The more your film is talked about, either good or bad, the greater the chances of people wanting to see it. The idea is to create an atmosphere that would subtly draw your audience in to help with the marketing of the film. It’s one thing to fuel genuine buzz or hype and another thing to have a needless publicity stunt that is likely to backfire. Involving your audience can include sparking conversations about the theme or subject matter of the film. You could further propel this by floating a hashtag (#) through social media and encouraging your audience to join the conversation using that hashtag you’ve created.
Involving your audience in your marketing shows that, you do not only respect them but you also genuinely appreciate them buying into your idea/product, which is the film. Even after the premiere night and or after a series of showings, you still need to keep the audience involved by indulging their thoughts and reactions to the film. Either good or bad comments, it would go a long way to help sell your film with the growing conversation about your work. It’s all about ensuring that they have enough reason to want to share the cinematic experience they get from the film with others.
4. Press Junkets
We seem to underrate the importance of Press Junkets in our part of the world. Inviting the right people, especially film aficionados, influential bloggers and pressmen to come have an exclusive first look at your finished film before the official release is all the publicity you might need for it. That is, if you are confident in the quality of your work. The buzz and online chatter about your film after screening it to such a specific group of people would definitely get the attention of several others who are likely to come see your film based on the recommendations they get.
This is basically like sampling the views of industry professionals and gives you the chance to gather constructive first-hand, unfiltered feedback and commentary. Involving purveyors of arts ensures that you get only genuine reactions to your work. And if need be, you could take these feedback and criticism back to the editing bench to properly finish your product before it is officially released.
Of course, this also can’t be successful without a budget at all. Planning and implementing a successful press junket for any film would involve you hosting your guests for at most 3 hours so it should be well thought out and coordinated.
Successfully marketing film, just like any other product or service, isn’t easy. What might work for someone’s film might not necessarily work for yours. You only have to be creative enough about the approaches you decide to use and most importantly be willing to see it through with the adequate financial backing.
After Cinema Sales what else?
We are hoping to share on this platform, in another feature article, some tried and tested present-day distribution channels that Ghanaian filmmakers can use to make money from their films besides physical sales and cinema screenings.