Sunday, October 30, 2011

3 DIY Strategies for Promoting Films and Actors

Enjoying my cup of morning tea and researching online strategies for promoting my work.  Here are a few I’ve come across that sound promising:

Post and include a Photo Spread: Remembering that the Internet is visual, one DIY strategy for promoting films and film events (premieres, screenings, film festivals etc.) is to write a quick summary (1-2 paragraphs) for your blog, website, and/or Facebook page and illustrate it with as many photos/screenshots as possible, complete with identifying captions and tags. Photos tell your story far better than words.  Post them to your blog or website immediately, but wait to post (and link) to Facebook until Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. in the time zone where most of your market is likely to be found (EST for New York, PST for Los Angeles, for example.)

Why 9:30?  Social media research has shown that people log-in to Facebook as soon as they get their morning coffee and settle in.  The next best times are 11:30 a.m. (just before they go to lunch) and 5:30 p.m. (before they leave work for the day.)  Wednesdays are best for having others see and share your post because they’ve caught up on their workload and aren’t yet making plans for the weekend.

If you have a sufficient following on Twitter, also tweet a promotion to direct people to your posting.

Issue a News Release via Email:  Once you’ve posted the summary and photos, consider other media opportunities at longer-lead-time film industry publications, websites, e-newsletters and acting/producing blogs.

Turn your summary into a one-page, post-event news release – written third-person; putting the Who, What, Where, Why, When and How in the first paragraph; adding an interesting quote in paragraph 2; and at the end giving a contact number and email address for obtaining more information (you can find effective news release formats on the Web.)

Target editors and reporters at media specializing in acting, independent film, documentaries, etc.  If your original post was to a blog, website or other public site, be sure to include a link so editors and reporters can see and download the photos.

Even if it doesn’t generate a story right out of the box, putting your name or production company name in front of the media on a regular basis will develop name recognition and make you and your work known in media circles over time.

Videotape an Interview:  Get in the habit of videotaping brief interviews with your director, prominent actor, or screenwriter at your event (premier, festival screening) or onset during filming.  Or have someone tape you if your aim is to promote yourself.  You don’t need expensive equipment.  Even a Flip Ultra camera will do and comes with simple editing software that can help you quickly put together an Internet-ready video.

Remember that the key to a good interview is to draw up your 3-4 questions in advance and let the person you’ll be taping have a look.  It helps people focus and gives them time to remember and include interesting anecdotes. If you are the one being taped, consider your audience and how you want to come across on camera.  Look at actor interviews online and study those you think are most effective.

When shooting, have the person look just to the side of the camera rather than straight at the camera (you know the drill.)  Post the edited tape to your YouTube/Vimeo Channel, then link/embed the video in your website and blog and in posts to Facebook, Twitter, etc.  If it turned out especially good, consider writing a 2-sentence intro and emailing it to industry media and other professionals you know in the business.

Employing this strategy gives you a video interview that is easily accessed and shared, and potentially much more attractive than one generated by a reporter—even if it carries a bit less cachet—because you control the message.

I like these and they're do-able.

Now, time to feed the dog.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Tip for Learning Lines

Getting your lines down cold for a film or play involves a lot more work than one would think.  You can go over the script with your scene partner, but unless the two of you go through life joined at the hip he or she is not often available when you are.  Bringing in a friend or significant other to read the lines with you can be problematic because (a) ho hum, they're not invested in the outcome and have other things to do and (b) they're likely to give you a flat read in any case.

The usual way.
Alternatively you can highlight your lines on the page and hold the script at your side for quick  reference as you memorize, or hide sections of the script with your hand as you learn them, or record the scene partner's lines and flip back and forth in the script as you flub your own.  It's frustrating and a slow slog.

Here's a tip I learned from an actor in Los Angeles that has proved very effective for me, doesn't require a partner or script in hand, and goes anywhere.  Here's what you do:  read (act) the entire scene into a hand-held voice recorder.  Read your scene partner's lines loudly and with whatever emotion and pacing you think is appropriate.  When you get to your own lines in the scene, read them at a whisper.

Later - driving to the day job, walking down the street, making dinner, whenever you have a moment alone - pull out the recorder, play the scene back, and speak your lines in a normal tone and with feeling.  If you blank or get a line wrong, the correct whispered line is right there for immediate reference.

It works like a charm and has cut the time it takes for me to learn lines by at least half. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

At the Thrill Spy FF screening of Commitment...

I am astonishingly wide awake this morning despite just four hours of sleep.  Rich Volin's thriller short Commitment screened at the Thrill Spy Film Festival last night.  I hadn't yet seen the final cut and was incredibly pleased at the great job he did with it.  Co-stars Lee Ordeman and Altorro Black were in the audience, as was Rich and his lovely wife and my husband who took me to dinner afterwards at Restaurant 701 for an early celebration of our eighth anniversary.  A fine evening.  I basked in the glow. I drank way too much champagne.  As I said, I'm astonishingly wide awake this morning!
Lee Ordeman, Writer/Director Rich Volin, Producer Monica Mingo, me, Altorro Black

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Building an Acting Website

After almost two years of having an acting website I built myself from a simple Yahoo template, I’m finally working with a web designer to construct a custom site and very excited at the prospect. First, of course, I had to find the designer, a task that not only involves searching for someone who has talent and is priced within your budget but also a person who has a personality and sense of design that complements your own.  An effective working relationship is all about chemistry.

Happily, I belong to two online acting forums so getting recommendations was as simple as shooting out an email saying, “Hey, I need a web designer!”   Some of those recommended were commercial design firms, others were individuals doing it as a side business.  (Those designers below marked with an asterisk were recommended by more than one actor, so if you’re considering a custom site their samples may give you some design ideas.)

I then sent all of the designers a mock-up of what I kind of had in mind (above) and a detailed description of how I wanted each tab to function.  I used to think with vendors that if I really “spelled it out” I’d be limiting the person’s creativity and insulting them as a professional, but that thought only led me and the respective vendor down many a blind alley.  So I now go in with a core idea of what I want, but remain open to suggestions.

After I heard back from everyone (noting how long it took each to respond) I looked at all of the samples and finally decided on Los Angeles web designer Shannon MacMillan.   Being an actress herself she seemed attuned to what an acting website should look and feel like.  In terms of pricing, she was about in the middle.  She also understood my desire to keep the site (as she puts it on one of her own samples) “minimalist, hip, and inviting.”  Looking at her samples I had additional thoughts on the design, so by the end of the year everyone will see how it actually turned out.

One final thought: be sure than any animation programs used on your site are viewable on IPads and other Apple products.  You don't want to build a fancy site and then find that half your casting people can't view it.   Also, if you're not yet ready for a custom site, you can build a fairly sophisticated site for free by using the templates at WIX.  An actress friend used it to create her site and it's really quite good. Check it out at

Web Designers:

Shannon MacMillan:

Dennis Baker:

Nate Barlow:
Samples at:

Natasha Chernyavskaya


T.C. Gunter: Dabeka Inc.

Derek Houck:
Samples at:

Justin Kropp:
The SoJK Design Studio

Jordan Callier:

*Clay Teunis:
Tunarelli Sound and Design
Samples at:

Tim Kenney Marketing

Swood Media: