Hello and welcome to the Monday Morning Marketing Podcast.I'm Esther.
And I'm Melanie.
And today we're joined by Alexandra Pedro, freelancemarketer, and we're talking about marketing for film festivals. Welcome,Alexandra.
Hi. Hi. Thank you for having me Esther and Melanie.
You're very welcome. So film festivals. Okay. We've talkedabout marketing on this podcast. Obviously, it's called The Monday MorningMarketing Podcast. But why specifically film festivals?
Well, I've always loved art and I've loved books and filmsfor as long as I can remember. So when a film festival reached out and wantedto collaborate with me, I was very happy to do it. And from then on, I've justbeen working with some festivals a lot. So when you wanted to know what topic Iwanted to talk about, I guess film festivals was on the top of my mind becauseit's what I like doing the most.
One of the things we've discovered, certainly since we'vebeen in business and on the podcast, is when you niche down, it actually makesyour life a lot easier and you get known for doing one thing really well, whichis sadly something myself and Esther haven't done.
I like the variety. I don't think I could just go to onesingle thing unless it's Cannes Film Festival. Are we talking Cannes FilmFestival?
No, I'm not at the level yet. It's more independent filmfestival. But I definitely agree that if you niche down to, let's say, filmfestivals, the same milestones happen in every cycle of the film festival. Soyou get used to writing the notification emails, the call for entry socialmedia posts. And you just do the same things over and over again, just withdifferent brands and with different messages. So that's useful. That makes iteasier. But I'm on the same boat as you. I'm niche down into arts and culture,even though film festivals is the big bulk, because I like the variety as well.
So now you've niche down because it's so niche. Is it difficultto isolate and engage your audience?
Film festivals, we have a lot of speaking to filmmakers,especially. I'm in independent film festivals, and we speak mostly toindependent filmmakers. So I do see the same names over and over again. It is abit it's a smaller audience, for sure. Yeah. But it's different even from myvarious film festivals. We have different audiences for each of the festivals.So I'm not quite sure if I understand the question, but I still feel like theaudience is broad enough that it's still interesting to do the job andmessaging can still be diverse.
Yeah, no, I think because you said it was even interestingthat you have niche down within niching down, so that it's not like, do you gowith one specific genre of film festivals, or is it inside the film festivalare there lots of different genres of movies? Is it one language? Do you haveto send out your publications or your tweets or your posts in differentlanguages to attract the different people, what all would be involved, evenjust in that one sector.
We have the independent film festival and we have the bigfilm festivals that are supported by all sorts of organisations and even thegovernment. So I mostly work with independent film festivals. I then work withindependent filmmakers and independent screenwriters as well. So that's a nichewithin the niche. But in terms of genre, I work with film festivals from allsorts of genres. There's comedy, there's horror, there are thematic filmfestivals like the Courage Film festival, that's just about films aboutcourage, stories of courage, and then the film arts festival, that is justabout films about arts and artists. So I still talk about all sorts of themes,even just within film festivals, because each film festival will have its owntheme or its own genre. But I'm not niche into just one kind.
An independent film festival is more than likely recommendedyou or comes across some work you've done before. How do you onboard them? Whatkind of questions do you ask them to bring them into your as a customer?
The first step that I do is just taking a look at theironline presence, where they are doing online, where they are receiving theirsubmissions, the different platforms that they are using to see if I amfamiliar with them or if I need to become familiar with them. And then I have acall with them just to make sure that what I've seen is accurate and see if Ididn't miss anything and ask them what they need from me, what they are lookingfor and based on that, based on their pain points then I will suggest what wecan do together. And it usually goes in one of two ways. One of them is morethe set up and optimisation, the branding, the strategy. So making sure that weare ready to move forward. And then the other is the ongoing actions of gettingtheir social media up to date, updating their website with new informationabout each film festival or each edition of the film festival and just sendingemails as well, writing and sending the emails to the filmmakers. So, yeah,there are those two areas that we can work on and it depends on where thefestival is.
So you say there about where the festival is. Obviously,over the last couple of years, COVID sort of took away all our liberties andfreedoms and we couldn't really go to a physical film festival. So how did thathave to (hate this word) "pivot" at that time?
Well, my film festivals, the film festivals that I workwith, they just remained in person. They were very adamant to not go online.And there are a few film festivals like that. They just decided to wait untilit was possible. And that was a big challenge for the whole organisation andmarketing as well, because you were always receiving emails and messages andcomments asking, "when is it going to happen"? Because people didn'tknow they were very lost and we were lost as well because it was from one weekto the other. You thought you could have the film festival running the next week,but then the rules changed and you had to wait another month. So it was verychallenging. And there were films that was like that just took it day by day,week by week. But then there were also the ones that pivoted, and I listened toa podcast by you, an episode about webinars and the challenge of just movingeverything online. And there were a lot of film festivals that just movedonline.
Bonus points for listening to us!
The film festivals that I work with decided to remain inperson because they are very small screenings and they wanted to still havetheir sense of community for the filmmakers. They wanted the filmmakers to goto a live audience to see their film on the screen in person. So that's why wedecided not to go digitally, though. I have nothing against digital filmfestivals.
But like you say, it must have been a real struggle to sortof be keeping up with the news and keeping up with the regional and local andnational and being able to tell people, yes, it's definitely on tomorrow orit's definitely not on tomorrow. Like you said, getting all those emails fromdifferent people and going, is it on? You know everybody's wanting to help andcontribute and go and watch these independent films to them be not allowed to.It must be heartbreaking, especially for the people who've made the films.
Yeah, the filmmakers then not being able to attend thefestival as well. Like, even if the festival, if we managed to have it onbecause the flights may not be coming then from that specific country, theywere not able to attend. So there were still some filmmakers just couldn'tattend their screening even though they wanted to.
I suppose, like lots of other businesses, it was horriblyaffected by the fact that people couldn't be in person anymore. Or was it oneof those special niches that actually benefited from having an online presencefor their festivals? I'd love to hear your feedback on that.
From my experience specifically, I don't think it hasbenefited the film festivals that I work for also, because the filmmakers haveless means since the pandemic started, because everything just stopped therefor a moment. While the film festivals maybe were adapting and less films werebeing made, less people seemed to be buying their films, so they had less moneyas well to invest in submitting to film festivals, to page film festivals. Sofor us, we just saw a decline in submissions and a decline in people that cameto attend, obviously, because the in person screenings were in person. So forus specifically, there weren't many positives from the pandemic, unfortunately,and we are still seeing the consequences now. Obviously, more problems havearrived since then. So it's not just a pandemic now, but we're still seeing aslow submission era compared to pre-pandemic.
Yeah. And well, do you think that because the people thatyou work with, the festivals that you work with, had that online presence ofsending out the emails and of the marketing that they were doing that helped tokeep them afloat for afterwards? Because I'm sure there were some that justcompletely went "well we'll see you when we can".
Of course, I saw that in seeing other film festivals that Idon't work with, I've seen that as well. That many film festivals justdisappeared, just didn't update anyone. The film festivals that I work withstill received a lot of complaints about us not communicating enough. But yeah,I think that the fact that we kept updating social media like monthly or asmuch as we had news to share, because at some point you're just repeatingyourself over and over again because there's nothing new to say. And sendingthe emails for the filmmakers, I think that helped us stay afloat. And I thinknow we don't have any pending for. I work with six film festivals and there areno pending screenings now, finally. But yeah, when there were pendingscreenings then we were always updating them that "it's not yet, we'll letyou know".
So when I think film festivals, I tend to think they'requite niche events. They tend to run alongside something that's quiteexpensive, like auctions. I suppose it's because of Cannes, to be honest. In mymind, it seems like quite a unique and high ticket event. So does that meanthat you tend to get a better rate for it because of all the things that goalongside the events? Maybe it's more corporates, more large bodies thatcontact you, or is it the small person who is setting something up in theirback garden over the summer or something?
Yeah, I don't know if I want to, but I haven't reached thatmarket of film festivals alongside auction, so I cannot speak about that. Butthe film festivals that I work with, they are more like the second option that yousaid there the person who just loves film and wants to create a film festivalfor filmmakers and film lovers and they just put a film festival together. It'sa bit further along, but it's more that idea, that core concept. The ones thatI work with are mostly on small independent movie theatres. Is that how you sayit? And also in like pubs, bars that have a second bigger room and they hostthe screening in that bigger room. So it's more a feeling of just peoplegetting together. One of the people I work with, they say it's like watching afilm in a big living room and it's the feeling that you get you have your beeror you have your popcorn and you're watching an independent film you've neverheard of before with the people from your neighbourhood, it's more thatfeeling. So it's more independent, I guess.
So amateur passion projects.
Well, when you are six years doing something, I don't knowif you can still call yourself amateur.
No, I mean the films, not you.
I wasn't meaning me either. But the films I'd say some ofthem yes, and some of them no. So there's a mix because anyone can submit thefilms. And from my experience from the festival, for example, if it's theCourage Film Festival, the point is, does this story talk about courage? So foryou to portray a story about courage, you don't have to have a big production.You can have a very strong story that is shown in a more amateur way, in a morelow cost way. So that could win when compared to a big production that doesn'thave such a strong story. So you end up with a range of selections from filmsthat are very high quality, very well produced, to films that are more likepassion projects. You say amateur that have a stronger message or have a strongerimagery, but it's not as high production as the others.
And how do people get in touch with the film festivals? Isit through you? Is it through the festival itself? Do they contact you saythey're going to look up Courage Film Festival now and they want to submittheir story or their movie about it? Are there official channels that they haveto go through? Are there specific criteria they have to meet? What exactly goesinto it all? Do you get to be part of the choosing panel of who gets to beshown on the day?
That would be cool. Could you do that as well?
I've done that for screenplays because I write creatively aswell. So I'm kind of suited from the panel for screenplays, but not for filmsbecause I'm not a filmmaker and I have not studied that at all. But in terms ofthe submissions, mostly, I work with a platform called Film Freeway, and it's aplatform where filmmakers and screen writers go to submit their films to avariety of film festivals, from those big film festivals that you are talkingabout to the small Pub festival as well. So from there you can submit eitherfor free or you have to pay, depending on the festival. And you can also dowaivers for the filmmakers. So they can also submit for free and sometimes throughthat platform or they need to email you saying I cannot submit because in mycountry I cannot for some reason pay for it or something is going on that youcannot submit. And if they email that information to the festival, they willsometimes open an exception for that person. Some festivals that I work withopen a whole bunch of exceptions if needed because the world is so vast andthere are so many limitations for filmmakers trying to submit. So, yeah, thereare a variety of ways that people can submit. There are also similar platformsto Film Freeway, but country specific. For example, in China, they havedifferent platforms. So you need to sometimes be in several platforms at thesame time as well. So for me specifically, I am mostly on the solving problemson social media with people messaging me, saying I need to submit, but I can'ton Film Freeway, what do I do? And then I redirect them to the team on emailand then the team on email carries on with submission.
God, certainly sounds like you've got quite a deliverysystem there, the way you collaborate and work with others. Now, I must ask,have you ever been a part of an independent film that we may have heard of thatrecognised or won awards or somebody that we now know as a famous actor oractress that you were involved with maybe a couple of years ago?
No, I don't think you know, I've worked with selected films,for example, commercial from Boss or the selected independent films fromIreland as well. But if you are not in the industry, I don't think you knowthem. Not yet, anyway. I've been working with most of my film festivals forfour to five years now. So maybe in five to ten years you hear about thesepeople, but not yet.
Wow. It's been absolutely fascinating to learn more aboutmarketing for film festivals and what's included and what's involved and thefact that you're working with six different ones. That's just amazing. I reallyhope that you get to travel as well to all these different festivals and get tosee them all. That would be amazing, too.
And talking of travel... Honestly, the segway was there foryou.
It's Monday morning. What do you expect? Digital nomad. Yes.You're currently joining us from Portugal, but with large ties to Ireland andother countries in Europe from what you were saying earlier as well about theBerlin Film Festival. And so that's Germany covered, Ireland covered, Portugalcovered. We were talking before recording. And you also speak Spanish, so thatmust be Spain covered, too. I mean, any country that you don't cover?
Well, mostly the film festivals I work with are in Germanyand Spain, though I've worked with film festivals in Portugal and othercountries as well. But yeah, I'm from Portugal and I'm currently on a triparound Europe and I'm just working along it just digitally. But that's the wayI've always worked because most of my clients are not in Ireland. And eventhose that are I've never spoken with them in person. I've only spoken with themdigitally. So it's just carrying on the same way. The only difference is thatnow I really need to pay attention to Internet connection because sometimes youare in Pico in Spain or whatever and you really don't have good connectionmakes it very hard to record podcasts like you.
You're saying that Ireland has good internet connection?
I'm sorry. I'm devastated by that comment.
I know the struggle. Okay. Your house used to have yeah noargument.
I can't really do much if your hotel in the middle of themountain and doesn't have internet connection makes it a bit I guess that'severy digital Nomad challenge.
Well, if people were wanting to get in contact with youbecause they want their independent film festival promoted or they want you torun their email campaigns or whatever for it, how would they get in touch withyou?
I say the best way is to go to apmarketing.ie and just checkwhat I'm about what I can offer them, see if it applies to them and then if itdoes just you go to the next steps button and there's an area there for them toemail or book a call with me and then we can have a chat and see where wealign. I'm always ready for a chat.
Yeah. You don't lose anything with a chat.
Thank you very much for joining us today, Alexandra and wehope that all the films can be viewed on time from now on and that there are nomore delays and everything. Thanks very much.
Thank you so much for having me.
Oh, I better say bye too. Bye.
Yeah you'd better.