A press kit is an essential part of any film’s production plan. Like a storyboard or line budget, it’s a behind-the-scenes necessity. And when done right, it can make all the difference in how the press, film festivals, theaters - and ultimately the audience - talk about your movie.
I don't think I've mentioned this here before, but I write a monthly column on upcoming movies for kids (particularly those showing in Austin, TX) for a web site called Slackerwood. Here's my column (titled Eenie Meenie Miney Movies) for November 2011.
I'll start mentioning these here when they go live just for a bit of cross-promotional fun, but since this is the first time I've done this, I'd like to talk for a second about local film blogs. If you poke around Slackerwood you'll notice that it homes in on the Austin audience. Like most other movie blogs it has the usual assortment of reviews and news, but if you live in Austin, it's an invaluable resource for what to see in town. Since not every town has the same special screenings, finding a local film blog in your area is a great way to discover new things to see. As a filmmaker, your own local film blog can be a great ally - note the special attention Slackerwood pays to local productions and talent at festivals, both near and far. Recruiting local film blogger to support your film is a great way to raise awareness of your film in your own neighborhood, even when you're screening elsewhere.
Local film & event bloggers are also a great resource when you're headed out of town. If you have a festival screening in a new town, Google around the town's name and use phrases like "local events" or "film blog" to zero in on likely suspects. Then fire off a friendly, personal email to introduce yourself and provide the writer(s) with the details of your film's screening and a short synopsis and/or link to your trailer. It's up to you whether you want to offer an advance screener, but I definitely recommend it. Why? Because like the local TV news, the local film bloggers may not mean much to you but they definitely have the ears and eyes of the local audience. When you're trying to put butts in seats, that's help that you want.
OK, enough of that. If you have kids and want to know what family films you'll be taking them to over the Thanksgiving weekend (hint: Muppets!), check out the latest Eenie Meenie Miney Movies.
But film criticism, at least meaning the elite cultural institution pioneered by Manny Farber, James Agee and Pauline Kael, had a nice 50- or 60-year run, and is now a thing of the past. My opinion about whether that's a good thing or a bad thing isn't interesting to anyone, least of all me. Writing about movies requires no particular expertise or training, and as we've learned over the past decade, any idiot with an Internet connection can and will do it. Will there continue to be a market for those who can do it better than others? Probably, ultimately, over the long haul. I don't know. It depends what you mean by "better."
At the very beginning of my writing career, I learned one thing: Film criticism is a kind of performance, an adjunct form of entertainment. If it isn't funny and lively and engaging, it isn't anything at all.