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Marketing Your Short

filmmaking guide

Marketing Your Short

A breakdown of the marketing lifecycle of a short film.

The first questions to ask yourself before deciding how to market your short (or low budget feature) are: who are your audience and what do you want to achieve with your film? See our Filmmaking Guide: why make a short film? to help you decide in the case of shorts. You may have considered these questions at the early stages of development but even so, it's a good idea once you've made your film to ask them again as your objectives might have changed.

Once you've considered these questions, there are a number of different routes that you can take to market your short. Below is a step-by-step outline of a more traditional marketing route/lifecycle of a short film that you can use as rough guidance. However there are no hard-and-fast rules as to which steps should go first. The decision is ultimately a personal one and should be based upon you, your research, the nature of your film and what you want to get out of the process. For instance, some shorts start off online where as others hold off for a year or so until they've done the festival circuit.

Step 1: Cast & Crew/Industry Screenings

The first thing you will want to do when you have finished your film, is to organise a cast & crew screening of the finished film. See the section on Cast & Crew/Industry Screenings in our Filmmaking Guide: Screenings

Step 2: Prepare a Press & Publicity Kit

Before you start sending your short out to the industry, festivals, distributors etc you'll need to prepare your press & publicity materials. Such as press kit, stills & postcards, tapes, website, DVD showreel & prints. For more information, see our Filmmaking Guide: Press & Publicity Materials

Step 3: Press and Industry Promotion

Send your film to the right people and publications for PR / talent spotting e.g. TV and Commissioners, Advertising Agencies, production company Producers and Directors' reps.

One way to find these contacts is to use websites such as Shots magazine (for the advertising and creative industries).

Once you've sent your film to these people, call them to make sure they actually watch it and ask for their feedback or ‘advice' on it. Follow up emails are easier to ignore / forget, but email is a good back up if you can't get their number. NB - whilst it is good to ask for feedback, be careful not to pester.

Step 4: Festivals & Awards

If you're looking for accolade, submit your short to A-list festivals and awards. For advice on doing the festival circuit and awards see our Filmmaking Guide: Festivals & Awards

For further information and links to some of the A-list/Major festivals in the UK and internationally, see our Related Links: Festivals - Major Festivals

Specialist or smaller festivals can be a great way of reaching the audience your film was intended for but if you're desperate to get your film into A-list festivals be careful about submitting to specialist festivals too early on, as some bigger festivals still require premieres. For further information and links to some specialist festivals in the UK , see our Related Links: Festivals - Specialist Festivals

You may also want to take your film to a festival market e.g. Toronto Short film festival, Clermont Ferrand short film festival, and hand out DVD screeners of the film to short film buyers, to encourage buying interest and hype around your film. Full lists of buyers can be found on the Clermont Ferrand delegate service or on the Mip TV online database (these are both subscription services, which you have to pay for).

For a list of other film markets see our Filmmaking Guide: Television - Film Markets

Step 5: Get a Distributor, Agent or Self-distribute

A distributor can help market and generate sales for your film and a talent agent can help represent you as a filmmaker. Alternatively you may feel you'd like to retain all the rights to your film, in which case you may wish to go it alone and self-distribute your short.

For advice on distribution, including distribution deals, sales and self-distribution see our Filmmaking Guide: Distribution

For advice on getting a talent agent, see our Filmmaking Guide: Getting a talent agent

For links to distributors and talent agents see our Related Links: Exhibition and Distribution - Shorts.

Step 6: Cinema, TV, DVD, Screenings & Online

New platforms for exposing and exhibiting your short are arising all the time. If you're looking for television and DVD sales etc. then it's a good idea to discuss this with your sales agent/distributor first to work out a strategy. If you're self-distributing, then seek advice before signing any contracts and don't forget to negotiate. Online/free screenings can be great for exposure, but if it is commercial profit that you are seeking, it might be best to go for sales first. Although nothing is set in stone in this area.


For more information on getting your film broadcast, see our Filmmaking Guide: Television. For links to channels that show shorts, see our Related Links: Recommended Watching - Television


For more information on showing your film online, see our filmmaking guide: online. For links to websites that show shorts online, see our Related Links: Recommended Watching


For more information on showing your film theatrically and at screenings, see our Filmmaking Guide: Screenings & Cinema. For links to regional and national exhibitors, see our Related Links: Exhibition and Distribution - Shorts


For more information on showing your short on DVD, see our Filmmaking Guide: DVD. For links to short film DVD labels, see our Related Links: Recommended Watching - DVD

Step 7: Plan your next project

Industry contacts that you meet at film festivals and industry events will want to know what your next project is, so it's a good idea to start working on your next project whilst your marketing your short.

Other Resources

See also the masterclass on the Channel Four After Dark website where members of the industry discuss how to promote your short.

Related Guides

Before embarking on exhibiting and distributing your film, make sure you have all the rights and clearances to do so, for more information see our Legal Guide: Rights & Clearances Checklist as well as our Legal Guide: Publicising Your Short

For links to some feature film exhibitors and distributors, see our Related Links: Exhibition and Distribution - Features

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