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You've created your short film, so what next?

Looking for away to promote your short film? Rob Munday delves into various effective methods of promoting, distributing, and maximizing the impact of your filmmaking.

Alfie Barker on set of Hanging On
Photo Credit: Hanging On | Cosmosquare Films, Directed by Alfie Barker & Still by Anastasia Arsentyeva.

Alfie Barker’s short film Hanging On played a number of festivals, including BFI London, Sheff Doc Fest & Encounters, before being released online, where it was selected for Short of the Week and as a Vimeo Staff Pick.

You've created your short film, so what next?

After meticulously blending the sound, refining the colour grade, and incorporating the credits, your short film has reached completion. However, if you believe this marks the culmination of your efforts, think again. There's still much to be done to secure an audience for your film. With all the hard work that’s gone into your production, it would be a shame to stumble at the final hurdle. In this article, we aim to share the crucial next steps filmmakers must take after completing.

Plan a Distribution Strategy

To get your film in front of an engaged audience, a strategy for its distribution is going to be vital. Two immediate avenues can be pursued to achieve this: film festivals and online platforms.

Film Festivals

Participating in a reputable film festival, where your short film can be showcased to an enthusiastic audience, marks a crucial milestone in a filmmaker's journey. However, given the financial constraints faced by many filmmakers, it becomes imperative to adopt a practical strategy when submitting to festivals. The emphasis here is on being "realistic" and avoiding unnecessary expenditure of time and money by assessing whether your film aligns with a festival's preferences by delving into their past selections and curatorial approach. After establishing your budget for submissions, you can commence the process of creating a festival list, prioritising them based on prestige and premiere requirements (as some top-tier festivals require premieres). If your film faces rejections from your top-priority festivals, it may be prudent to shift focus to the second-tier events at that point, or start thinking about an online release. It's important not to be too disheartened if your film is declined, as various factors could have influenced that decision.

Online Platforms

While festivals can offer a dedicated and devoted audience for your short, opting for an online release can extend its reach to a broader and more expansive audience. Whether you plan to unveil your film online after a festival run, or prefer an immediate internet release, collaborating with a release partner is the most effective way to connect with an eager audience. Trusted entities, ranging from major news organisations like The New York Times, to specialised short film platforms like Short of the Week, have honed their practices over years. They boast dedicated viewerships passionate about short films, alleviating the burden of finding/building one yourself from your responsibilities. The majority of online platforms welcome submissions, so submit early and, again, do your research. Whoever you choose to launch with (and often it’s advisable to release with more than one partner for wider exposure), just be sure to read any terms and conditions you have to sign, to ensure you know exactly what you’re agreeing to.

Sam Baron TDH
Photo Credit: Tall Dark and Handsome | Directed by Sam Baron & Still by Lara Cornell

When Sam Baron decided to release his latest short film Tall Dark and Handsome online he partnered with Directors Notes and Short of the Week to ensure his film was seen by a wide audience.

Create an Online Presence for your Short Film

The moment you begin work on your short film, you’ll want to think about creating an online presence, so you can start to build an audience for your project. You have a number of options available at your disposal:

Social Media - The various social platforms provide an effective method for keeping followers updated with the progress of your production. Start sharing updates as early as possible and keep posting throughout the creation of your short, it’s important to be consistent. 

Website - Setting up a dedicated page for your short film on your personal website gives fans an easy access point to your work. Be sure to include a synopsis, images, festival acceptances and more.

YouTube/Vimeo - Video listing sites, YouTube & Vimeo, provide another easy avenue for building a fanbase online. As you’ll likely use one of these platforms for your online release, it’s a strategic move to build a presence and following as early as possible.

Film Listing Sites - Sites like Letterboxd and IMDB can be a useful resource for both filmmakers and film enthusiasts. As a filmmaker listing your work provides an opportunity for an audience to find out more about a production and leave reviews.

Have your next project ready to pitch

Whether your short film navigates the festival circuit or finds its way to online platforms, new opportunities will hopefully be on the horizon. As you look to advance your filmmaking career, it’s always important to have future projects ready to pitch to any new contacts you make. So flesh out those ideas and provide compelling reasons for supporting this new work, or that opportunity may pass you by.