Dragon*Con is one of the biggest comicons in the U.S. It’s the East Coast San Diego comicon, essentially, being in Atlanta. Last year, “Until the End of Everything” played in their Independent Film Festival, and it was a thrill to go to. It was easily ten times bigger than our Phoenix Comicon. This year “Zombie Team Building” got in and plays in September. Man, I sure want to go, but I don’t think I can swing the finances. Sad face.
Film festivals are uniques beasts, one that I found film school teaches you basically nothing about.
There’s a lot of hustle and work to promote your movie, to pack as many people as you can into your screening. Postcards with your movie poster on it is a must. Networking with other filmmakers is also a must. But “comicons” are very different than typical film festivals. With a comicon, the screening room ain’t all that big. The Phoenix Comicon held under a hundred. The Dragon*Con one was bigger and much more cozy.
But, you almost always fill the room, usually because of how small it is, and because there’s already a guaranteed audience. So you get that without any work. However, the film festival is never the big game at a comicon. All the press goes to the dude in the custom Iron Man outfit, and the attention of the organizers goes to the celebrity panel of Stargate Universe or the Buffy Reunion.
The one thing you can do, however, is publicize the movie and try to grow your fan base. But that takes money and help. Big posters, maybe a cardboard display, a street team of zombies (in zombie make up, this is, not indentured slaves. Although they are kinda…) So that means money. A lot of money. For “Until the End of Everything” I spent more money making the T-shirts, posters, postcards, and press kits than I did making the movie itself. And there’s a point, usually after you look at the scant fifty or so people in the audience of your screening, and think about your empty bank account, where you wonder if all the effort is worth it.
I do think it’s worth it, in the long run, but you really have to commit to the big game. You have to spend tons of cash, giving you enough supplies to promote your film at a dozen, or even two dozen film festivals. By then you got a buzz. A growing fan base. But, as of yet, I just don’t have the resources to do that. At this point it’s been a learning process. Preparation for the big game.