Summer might be slow season for many of my industry colleagues, but right around now is actually crunch time at the Toronto International Film Festival for its various planning committees and programmers.
If you’re already a subscriber to TIFF’s YouTube channel, then you’ll have been keeping abreast of their latest clip cuts with yesterday marking the release of TIFF’s official 2012 “trailer,” which you can view here (duration: 1m51s).
Their tagline? None other than a catchy: “Where indie meets epic,” a valiant (and heretofore mega-successful) attempt by TIFF’s festival organizers to brand their fest as a keen purveyor of suave indie darlings boasting loads of indie street cred while still maintaining their status as one of the top five Tier One festivals on the Big Blue Ball. I admit as a local boy – born, raised, and now resident following a longish sortve absence – I’m rather biased. Oh well, that’s what blogging’s for! And my verdict? Loved the hell out of it, though I think you will too. Why?
Well, the piece is slickly edited and gives you a rather accurate impression of what being on the ground at TIFF is like. You get plenty of glimpses inside its marquee venue – the TIFF Bell Lightbox – and gain a feel for how large the awaiting crowds can be, the sorts of A-List personalities who show, and a measure of the total professionalism the TIFF staff and volunteers exude to make the week and a half of festivities everything it purports to be.
But more relevant to our indie scene, what are the lessons we can derive for our own purposes? Is there anything an indie can learn from a juggernaut undertaking like TIFF?
On the subject of trailers I’ve already written quite a lot, though I suspect no indie will have considered lacing up a trailer for one of their live events.
Sure, they’ll have trailers and teasers for their actual film or documentary – hopefully assembled by an outfit divorced from their primary editor, and I’ve explained why before – but they likely won’t have considered doing up an actual trailer for the series of live events they plan on organizing in the future as part of their DIY release strategy.
Following in TIFF’s footsteps indies should consider assembling a sizzle reel of:
- crowd reactions/”vox pops” from the events they’ve previously organized: to give prospective new attendees a sense of what’s in the works for the current event. Editing should be slick and professional with lots of movement and soundtrack that gets people out of their chairs and dancing in the aisles. The key to keep in mind here is relentless high energy.
- past celebrity appearances: if any A-Listers (purely local celebrities carry an equal amount of clout, by the way) have shown or spoken before at any of your events, consider showing glimpses of them during the trailer’s playback. There is no better PR for your works, transcending the efforts of perhaps five publicists running around the floor like chickens without heads trying to engage your audience. Trust me.
- catchy tag lines or slogans: so you’ve enjoyed a measure of success with your live event strategy? What about bundling several of the past events into a cohesive global theme? Don’t treat every live event like a stand-alone “start up.” Instead, always have the word series firmly in mind. The kind of stuff you can sew together into a consistent narrative. Sell the package, not the individual bits.
I assure you, almost none of the famous indies and practically none of your close colleagues will have attempted this. By just taking these tentative first steps you’ll already be playing in a different league. And because it’s unique, it will become a conversation piece and share-worthy. See how all of this works? Win-win-win.
Good luck editing!
Adam Daniel Mezei, PMD | Producer of Marketing and Distribution
Indie Audience Engagement Services for Independent Feature Films and Documentaries
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