Almost all of our independent film clients have questions about the appropriate size of their respective digital advertising budgets. It’s a tough question mainly because there isn’t a simple, one-size-fits-all answer. Of course, it would be great to have unlimited resources but, as I’m sure many of you reading this already know, that is almost never the case when it comes to independent artists.
Viewing entries in
1988: Die Hard premieres in theaters. Nirvana plays their first show. Sub Pop Records forms, and a few hundred video tapes are offered for rental in the back of a record store where George Latsios greets customers with his familiar call of, “Hello, my friend!”
2018: Scarecrow Video celebrates 30 years of being one of the most important film and television resources in the country! The original stock of 600 tapes has grown to over 131,000 titles and isone of the largest publicly available video collections in the world.
This beloved Seattle institution is currently positioning itself to be the leader of making videos relevant in our digital age. Scarecrow established its world-renowned reputation during the video revolution, and is continuing to reinvent itself by undertaking the challenge of how we think about videos.
With a staggering collection of titles nearly three times the number offered by major streaming services that puts them in league with the likes of The American Film Institute and The UCLA Film and Television Archive – they are well positioned to do so.
In honor of their landmark annivesary, Scarecrow is launching a 30th Anniversary 30 Years of Scarecrow Fund Drive. Gifts to this campaign with sow the seeds for Scarecrow’s next 30 years … and beyond.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Major streaming services have a combined total of ~35,000 titles compared to Scarecrow’s 131,000+ titles. The internet, and video-on-demand may offer greater access to all forms of entertainment -- but you still can't find everything on streaming or even close to everything. Not only that, but Scarecrow continues to grow its collection by 3,000- 5,000 titles each year, while many streaming collections are shrinking.
- 80% of Scarecrow’s rarest movies are not held by the Library of Congress.Scarecrow’s collection represents the deep wells of our cultural history spanning over 125 years, and includes many rare, out-of-print, foreign and independent films. Scarecrow is proud to hold films not just about marginalized storytellers, but by them as well, and they hold these works to be of equal importance as Hollywood blockbusters. Unique to Scarecrow is an expansive foreign section – including region coded titles - which represents 129 countries and over 126 languages other than English.
- With over a quarter of US households without internet access, the digital divide persists. This means that physical media, like DVD & Blu-rays, will continue to be produced by most distributors. Scarecrow anticipates that its collection will continue to grow with both new and historical content for the foreseeable future. Further, Scarecrow offers a solution that gives viewers complete control of their experience and the freedom to fully explore their curiosity.
- Scarecrow Video is now a non-profit. By 2014, the collection had grown to become so significant that a non-profit was formed to continue its stewardship. This change in model has allowed Scarecrow to not just remain a Seattle icon, but also to develop unique outreach programs to connect more people with film. Foremost in their mission is that these cultural assets remain accessible for current and future generations.
Team Smarthouse client Seattle Jewish Film Festival, presented by the Stroum Jewish Community Center, is an important part of Seattle’s cultural mosaic, offering a diverse spectrum of films that celebrate Jewish and Israeli life, culture, history, and cinema.
This year, SJFF salutes Israel's 70th birthday. Almost half of this year’s “isREEL Life”-themed festival showcases a prismatic variety of Israeli films, from student productions to award-winning, internationally acclaimed directors like Eran Riklis.
Over 21 special guests are slated to attend the screenings, including directors, actors, producers, musicians, and expert speakers that will introduce films and lead post-film discussions.
The Festival takes place March 10-18 at venues around Seattle and on Mercer Island. SJFF is also extending its reach to the Eastside, April 14-15, at Regal's Cinebarre Issaquah 8, showcasing four additional films.
Seattle’s Opening Night will feature the funny and touching mob caper Maktub by Israeli Director Oded Raz, followed by a delicious Tom Douglas dessert party. Sunday’s Matzoh Momma Brunch Film features Jewish comfort food, klezmer music, the film Land of Milk and Funny, and film subject and comedian Dwight Slade will do a stand-up set.
At the Closing Night Centerpiece on Mercer Island, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and internet pioneer Tiffany Shlain will be honored with SJFF's REEL Difference Award before she presents “Spoken Cinema”—a new, interactive, documentary art form, featuring live narration of her acclaimed films on stage—followed by a closing reception.
SJFF's new Eastside Opening Night kicks off with the illuminating and entertaining documentary Shalom Bollywood, about Indian-Jewish screen legends, and includes a free popcorn and a beverage for ticketholders. The final Eastside film will be Across the Waters: a gripping story of survival and rescue.
Tickets and passes are on sale now! Get yours, and join us for colorful celebration of Jewish and Israeli life, culture, and history.
General admission tickets: $12-$15 | Special events: $20-$25 | 8-packs of discount tickets: $100-$125 | Full passes: $200-$225 | Senior tickets available | SJFF accepts TeenTix
The Memory of Fish, narrated by Lili Taylor, is a documentary portrait of one man and his fight to free a river. It premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2016 and is now available on Amazon Video and DVD, iTunes, Google Play, and coming soon to other platforms. This feature documentary, six years in the making, follows the life story of mill worker-turned conservationist Dick Goin, who dedicated his life to restoring Washington State’s Elwha River by battling for the biggest dam removal project in U.S. history. His goal: bring the salmon home.
Producer/Director Jennifer Galvin, Film Composer Gil Talmi, and Sound Designer Gisela Fulla-Silvestra sat down to talk about their process of merging film, music, and sound for The Memory of Fish at Talmi’s music studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
PART 1: MEETING OF THE MINDS
GIL TALMI: I moved my studio into the Brooklyn Navy Yard almost a decade ago. The space overlooks Manhattan and the East River. The East River is powerful and dirty and Kramer once had a swim in it, which I would personally never do, although the thought usually crosses my mind around mid-August when NY becomes a sweltering schwitz fest.
JENNIFER GALVIN: After working with editor Erin Barnett for a year, who is one of the most talented editors I’ve worked with, getting to the music and sound phase of post-production was very exciting. Gil is a musical mad scientist, and I figured he must really like fish. I absolutely love being in a music studio and I was hopeful the camaraderie would be strong, which it was.
TALMI: For the sound design, Gisela immediately jumped to mind as the natural candidate for the gig. An inspiring and innovative composer and recording artist, I knew she would understand the delicate musicality that the film required both on the music and sound design end. This is not a film where the two need to be in competition with each other, as in so many others films. For this film, all elements needed to share a symbiotic space, as in nature itself.
GISELA FULLA-SILVESTRE: When Gil first approached me to work on this film, I was very excited to work with him. He’s a rare person, talented beyond limits, and generous and light hearted at the same time. And, to work on a story that takes us underwater was even more exciting. When I first talked to Jen, it was very clear how both the underwater world and Dick’s inner psychological reality were so connected, which, to me, made the film very special. So we decided to play a lot with that through sound, creating very sensorial universes. I wanted people to feel the movement of the salmon, their habitat, and create subjective soundscapes to understand Dick’s process, his fight, his ideals, his struggle, his memory.
PART 2: THE MUSIC
GALVIN: I remember that Bowie had just died. After our first spotting session, I offered Gil and Gisela a North Star word for the project: Create. That word perked up all of our ears. It felt like a rare charge and opened an interesting conversation: ‘Nobody ever says that anymore: Create. When do people truly ask us on a production job to just go for it, and give the license to do so openly and freely? Yeah, let's do THAT.’ Soon after, Gil and I also made a pact not to provide each other with any inspirational music sources for what this part fable, part biography, part nature film should sound like. Create!
TALMI: When we all started working together, there was something very inspiring about sitting right next to this vast city river, the East River, while scoring a film about the Elwha River. Both rivers are very different in nature, but it’s as if the water connected us directly to the source. Our creative process had a wonderful flow to it, building on each other’s ideas in a fun and sinuous dance. Jen is one of those courageous directors who really knows how to bring out the very best in everyone. She gently extracts collaborative ideas rather than impose predisposed ideals. I was excited that the Mother-32 came out just in time to be used as the main instrument in the score. I fell in love with it so completely that I had to buy another one (and am seriously contemplating a third). The Mother scoring Mother Nature… how appropriate is that? I love the richness and roundness of the tones it can produce. I was able to create these resonant atmospheres that don’t sound like they are coming from electronic circuits at all, but rather as if recorded down below on a dark and distant riverbed, or deep within the salmon roe, just as life begins to unfold.
GALVIN: I affectionately named the two Mothers ‘The Magic Clam’; when the two are stacked, they look like a clam. Nature, man, and memory were the main compositional themes. Often times Gil constructed transformative solutions by playing tracks backwards and letting instruments reverberate. I just want to live in those lush, long reverbs.
TALMI: For the juxtaposition of man versus nature, I decided to buy a Mandolin and record it alongside the textures of the analog synths. There is something haunting about the two sonic worlds flowing in and out of each other, sometimes clashing and colliding, and then coming back together again.
PART 3: THE SOUND
GALVIN: Gisela’s process was about water from the start, and she took it literally. She jumped into lakes and streams with condom-covered mics. She made recordings that would enhance the sensations of the Elwha River world and help the audience get inside Dick’s mind. Like an alchemist, she transformed basic natural elements into story gold. Wind blowing, fishing lines whirring, seagulls calling, clocks ticking, water rushing, rain falling, leaves blowing – these were the types of sounds used to bend time and re-imagine the river.
FULLA-SILVESTRE: Yeah, I wanted the water to be all around the audience. I even recorded underwater movement in my tub to get the big salmon tail movements and deep bubble sounds to help you feel like you’re there with them. It was really important to keep the sound raw during the whole film. I didn’t want it to sound super stylized. I had to keep the intimacy because this is a story about the life of someone who lived to fight for a noble cause, but he did it without huge fireworks and big words, and mostly through small actions and persistence in his everyday life.
TALMI: I agree. Both sound and music really had to be very gentle in order to not overshadow or drown out the film’s main character. Except for the opening scene, which is more cinematic, most of the music caters much more to the inner world than the outer, whether it’s Dick or the salmon. It’s a kind of gentle meditation on being.
GALVIN: It’s hard to get people to really feel a river. I think the three of us worked hard to help people understand how and why rivers and fish matter through sound and music, just as much as the film does that through visuals. What does man versus nature sound like? What does memory sound like? And what does memory degradation sound like?
FULLA-SILVESTRE: I feel very grateful to have been able to work with Jen and Gil on a film that lights a fire in people and maybe helps them connect to their own memories of being near water. It’s always a treat to be part of something that you actually believe in. And, to be honest, the three of us had a lot of fun in the process, learned how to meditate, ate way too much dark chocolate, and geeked the ungeekable at Gil’s synth temple.
TALMI: The sound design is so beautifully done that I decided to include some of it on the soundtrack. Trying to determine where music ends and sound begins is like trying to decide whether a river’s mouth is its beginning or its end.
MORE ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Jennifer Galvin is producer-director at reelblue, LLC – her independent film production and media company based in New York. Learn more at: www.reelblue.net
Gil Talmi is a film composer with a passion for socially conscious films (and modular synths). Learn more at: www.giltalmi.com
Gisela Fulla-Silvestre is a sound designer and music composer, and now also the proud owner of a Mother-32. Lean more at: www.imdb.com/name/nm4965098/
Team Smarthouse had SO MANY great documentary film clients last year! Since the trend is continuing going into 2018, we wanted to put them all together for you in an easily browseable list so you could check them out yourself.
Here’s an (alphabetical) list of 15 new documentaries you should see:
Adele and Everything After
Directed by Melissa Dowler
A feature-length documentary about a woman with a broken heart, and the service dog who saved her. Marty had a heart condition that used to make her faint every day. Adele was one of the world’s first cardiac alert service dogs and she stopped Marty from fainting at all. They were the perfect team. Adele and Everything After will be available to rent or purchase starting January 30, 2017.
Directed by Nicole Sorchan & Ian Mackenzie
In Amplify Her, three Electronic Dance Music artists battle demons from their painful pasts to emerge as beacons in the global festival scene. Blondtron, Applecat and Lux Moderna overcome isolation, illness, and gender bias to give life to their creativity. Amplify Her is currently playing in theaters; sign up for their newsletter for info on screenings and release dates.
Directed by Leah Warshawski & Todd Soliday
In the last store in a defunct shopping mall, 91-year-old Sonia Warshawski – great-grandmother, businesswoman, and Holocaust survivor – runs the tailor shop she’s owned for more than 30 years. But when she’s served an eviction notice, the specter of retirement prompts Sonia to resist her harrowing past as a refugee and witness to genocide. A poignant story of generational trauma and healing, Big Sonia also offers a laugh-out-loud-funny portrait of the power of love to triumph over bigotry, and the power of truth-telling to heal us all. Big Sonia is currently playing in theaters (the Seattle premiere is February 9 at SIFF)! Follow the Facebook page for news about screenings and release dates.
Directed by Brad Abrahams
Meet the men and women who devote their lives to research, write about, and attempt to find mysterious creatures like Champ the Lake Champlain Lake Monster, Dogmen, Tasmanian Tigers, hairy hominids, and legends of the sea. This documentary film takes an intimate look at a group of true believers who have staked their professional fortunes to the practice of Cryptozoology, or the study of unknown animals. Cryptozoologist is currently in progress! Sign up for their newsletter or follow them on Facebook to stay up-to-date.
Directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy
When was the last time you changed your mind? Traveling from Hawaiian papaya groves, to banana farms in Uganda, to the cornfields of Iowa, Food Evolution wrestles with the emotions and the evidence driving one of the most heated arguments of our time. Enlisting experts and icons of the struggle as well as farmers and scientists from around the world, this bold documentary separates the hype from the science to unravel the debate around food. Food Evolution is available for rent or purchase on several streaming platforms.
Directed by Kate Dandel
Gold Balls is an inspiring family-friendly documentary about five athletes determined to win a national championship in tennis. The catch is, they’re all over age 80! You’ll meet a cranky ex-lawyer, one of Wisconsin’s most eligible bachelors, a romantic naval officer, a 94-year-old comedian, and a charming minister’s son as they barnstorm the country in pursuit of their dream. This engaging documentary will motivate people of every age and stage to pursue their dreams and connect, engage, and share their way to a healthier, happier life. Gold Balls is available on DVD and Amazon Video.
Love and Saucers
Directed by Brad Abrahams
Love and Saucers is the strange story of David Huggins, a 72 year-old Hoboken man who claims to have had a lifetime of encounters with otherworldly beings - including an interspecies romance with an extra-terrestrial woman (with whom he lost his virginity to), and chronicled it all in surreal impressionist paintings. Filmed in an intimate style, the film lets David tell his story, and in turn lets the audience decide what is fact, fiction, and everything in-between. Love and Saucers is available for purchase or rent on DVD and several streaming platforms.
The Memory of Fish
Directed by Jennifer Galvin & Sachi Cunningham
Narrated by Lili Taylor, The Memory of Fish is a moving documentary portrait of one man, the wild salmon he loves, and his fight to free a river. Dick Goin and his family have been fed by the Elwha River's salmon since migrating to Washington's Olympic Peninsula during the Dust Bowl. Dick has never forgotten his debt to the fish — who have been steadily disappearing. A pulp mill worker and master fisherman turned salmon advocate, Dick uses his memories and persistence to battle for the biggest dam removal project in U.S. history. The Memory of Fish was just released on DVD and Amazon Video, and is coming soon to iTunes (preorder available now) and other platforms.
On a Knife Edge
Directed by Jeremy Williams
On a Knife Edge is a father-son story about Guy and George Dull Knife that unfolds over the course of George’s coming-of-age journey. Under his father’s guidance, George becomes an activist and organizer, and begins identifying with the role of traditional Lakota warrior, which he views as his family legacy. He commits himself to the fight for social justice, but struggles with adapting the old ways and his father’s expectations to the modern-day realities of growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Told largely through George’s eyes, the film offers a privileged glimpse into the youngest generation of the American Indian Movement, as well as George’s own evolving notions of Native identity, manhood, and duty. On a Knife Edge is available for screenings; apply to host one on the web site, and follow the Facebook page for release news.
She Started It
Directed by Nora Poggi & Insiyah Saeed
Following five women over two years as they pitch VCs, build teams, bring products to market, fail and start again, She Started It takes viewers on a global roller coaster ride from San Francisco to Mississippi, France, and Vietnam. Through intimate, action-driven storytelling, the film explores the cultural roots of female under-representation in entrepreneurship—including pervasive self-doubt, fear of failure, and risk aversion among young women. She Started It just finished up a theatrical tour, but is still available for screenings. Sign up for their newsletter and watch their Facebook page for release news.
Directed by Ben Stillerman
Taking Stock is a documentary which explores the conflicted connections between business and family, community, and country. The film, directed by Ben Stillerman, follows his father, Clive Stillerman -- a shopkeeper-philosopher from South Africa, and his complicated relationships with his relatives, employees, customers, and friends, as seen through the lens of his family business. Taking Stock just finished a successful Film Festival run and is coming soon to streaming platforms! Sign up for their newsletter and follow on Facebook for news and release dates.
Directed by Michele Mitchell & Nick Louvel
The Uncondemned tells the gripping and world-changing story of a group of young international lawyers and activists who fought to make rape a crime of war, and the Rwandan women who came forward to testify and win justice where there had been none. Up until this point, rape had not been prosecuted as a war crime and was committed with impunity. A courtroom thriller and personal human drama, the film beautifully interweaves the stories of the characters in this odyssey, leading to the trial at an international criminal court -- and the results that changed the world of criminal justice forever. The Uncondemned is still available for screenings; sign up for their newsletter or follow on Facebook for news about release dates. (Psst: Check out our podcast episode with Michele too!)
Verona: The Story of the Everett Massacre
Directed by Denise Ohio
On a fateful November day in 1916, 250 members of the Industrial Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies, aboard the steamship Verona were met at the Everett City Dock by Sheriff Donald McRae and 140 armed deputies. By the time the shooting stopped, four Wobblies were dead and thirty-two wounded, one dying that night. On the dock, one deputy lay dead and seventeen wounded, one who would die the following day. The event would be known as the Everett Massacre. Verona: The story of the Everett Massacre recounts the events leading up to that tragic day. Now available on several streaming platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play & VUDU.
When They Awake
Directed by P.J. Marcellino + Hermon Farahi
For a century, indigenous voices have been absent in the music industry, their identities obscured, their cultures eclipsed. Today, dozens of award-winning musicians come together to reclaim their roots and reaffirm their cultural identities, while a new generation of kids from remote Arctic communities close the circle, setting off on their own path of musical self-discovery. This film interweaves musical genres from roots to rock, from classical to hip-hop, tackling global indigenous issues and themes of youth empowerment, education, inter-cultural dialogue, and environmental degradation. When They Awake is still screening in theaters and is coming soon to streaming services. Follow them on Facebook for info about release dates.
Directed by Mark Titus
Picking up where the 2014 award-winning documentary, The Breach left off, The Wild is a race against time, where the hard-fought-for/hard-won protections for Bristol Bay now seem as fleeting as morning mist. Focused through the lens of Mark Titus’ inherent love for wild salmon, the conflict in Alaska becomes a harbinger to a larger, global question: How do we reconcile human separation from the natural world that sustains us – and if we can change course - how do we save what remains? How do you save what you love? The Wild will premiere soon! Stay tuned to the the Facebook page for updates.
Episode 15: THE UNCONDEMNED by Michele Mitchell
Michele Mitchell (www.filmat11.tv // www.theuncondemned.com)
An award-winning investigative reporter on “NOW with Bill Moyers” (PBS), Mitchell began her broadcasting career as political anchor at CNN Headline News, where she specialized in US politics. At PBS, she developed a reputation for discovering overlooked social justice stories before leaving to start her own company. She was the director/producer/writer/co-executive producer of the groundbreaking “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” A graduate of Northwestern University, Michele wrote sports for the Chicago Tribune while in college, and then began her career on Capitol Hill. She is the author of three books.
In this TAMP episode, Smarthouse Creative's Brad Wilke talks to Michele Mitchell about her experiences as a journalist, filmmaker, and activist at the intersection of human rights and social justice. Michelle and Brad also discuss the inspiration behind the making of Michelle's new documentary, THE UNCONDEMNED, and her use of social media as a tool to engage, maintain and build her audience.
Visit Michele's current project "THE UNCONDEMNED" here; www.theuncondemned.com.
TAMP music by Dude York.
Donovan Janus (www.17hats.com/) is Founder and CEO of 17hats, a Pasadena, CA-based software system that provides small business owners tools, knowledge, and expertise so that they can stay organized, feel confident, and look professional. Mr. Janus is a lifelong entrepreneur, and he and his team at 17hats share a passion for guiding small business owners on their respective journeys.
In this TAMP episode, Donavan talks with Smarthouse Creative's Rachel Green about developing 17hats and the importance of timing, simplicity and social media in building a brand. He describes marketing tips and various grassroots tools and methods used to identify and connect with an audience, "if you define your ideal client and have a clear message, the selling part really happens by itself." -Donovan Janus.
TAMP music by Dude York.
It’s Thanksgiving week (already!?!?) and Team Smarthouse is here for the start of holiday film watching season! We've put together a list of films on our annual holiday watch lists:
THANKSGIVING WEEKEND MUSTS
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
“Those aren’t pillows!” Rachel watches this with her family every year! It's the perfect holiday bonding experience.
Home for the Holidays (1995)
We are ALL Holly Hunter trapped in our parents house for an excruciating Thanksgiving.
Pieces of April (2003)
Charming indie-film magic, starring Katie Holmes who is definitely NOT playing the same character she played in Dawson’s Creek.
Master of None "Thanksgiving" (2017)
We know this isn’t a film, but we need to throw in Master of None Season 2, Episode 8, “Thanksgiving” because it’s PERFECT in every way.
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
Maybe it’s cliché to say you love this Frank Capra heartstring-tugger, but Amie watches this every year and still cries every single time Mr. Gower yells at George. And during the “lasso the moon” scene. And, honestly, AT EVERYTHING.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)
The lesson we learned from this animated classic: if you send an insulting letter to Santa, he’s definitely gonna skip your house Christmas morning. (Ryan still has this recorded on VHS with the original ads!)
Christmas Evil (1980)
Brad’s a big fan of this bad 80’s Christmas horror movie. Pop this thing in your DVD player and MST3K away with friends and family!
Few movies master the art of horror-comedy, but Gremlins NAILS IT. Heads up: if all you remember is how cute Gizmo is, you’ve forgotten the part where Phoebe Cates’ character tells the story about her dad.
Somehow this still seems like a fresh take on A Christmas Carol … even though it’s almost 30 years old. Cranky Bill Murray FOREVER!
Die Hard (1988)
Ain't no party like a Nakatomi Plaza party because a Nakatomi Plaza party don't stop until ALL the machine guns go off.
Batman Returns (1992)
“You know, mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.”
“But a kiss can be even deadlier ... if you mean it.”
Michelle Pfeiffer was, is, and will always be, the most amazing Catwoman EVER.
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
In which Sandra Bullock is somehow adorable even though she lies to an entire family for the whole movie, and Bill Pullman plays the PERFECT man.
Be careful what you wish for … especially if it involves summoning an ancient demon who will punish your entire family.
Smarthouse Films is proud to announce that our Seattle-made surreal film anthology, 13 CHAMBERS, is now available on Amazon Video! 13 CHAMBERS brings 13 women directors together to create 13 short films that explore themes of the uncanny, the supernatural, and the sublime.
This collection of surreal and horror-tinged shorts feature a killer twin, an inter-dimensional time traveler, a doomed magician, and other strange characters that exist within the confines of a decaying building slated for demolition.
13 tales. 13 women. 13 CHAMBERS.
There are about 500 million tweets sent each day, which comes out to approximately 200 billion tweets per year. That's a lot of noise you need to cut through in order to get the word out about your indie film. The good news is that you have a huge potential audience. The bad news is that the vast majority of them don't know (much less care) about your film.
Enter the hashtag.
If you're new to social media and wondering what a "hashtag" is, I encourage you to read this Wikipedia article on the topic. This post isn't meant to be a primer on the basic use (or definition) of a hashtag, but, rather, how you, as a creative entrepreneur, can use them more effectively to promote your project and/or career.
To begin, here are some of the most common film-related hashtags you'll encounter across the three primary social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram):
#indiefilm // #supportindiefilm // #filmmaking // #filmmaker
Incorporating these hashtags into your posts and tweets will immediately focus your audience engagement efforts and help get your content in front of the best/right audience, which is the one that's most interested in hearing what you have to say.
Much like developing a script for production, your social media engagement strategy might start out as more of a rough sketch, becoming more refined over time until, one day, you find yourself speaking directly to your most ardent and engaged supporters. And using the right hashtags is one way to help you get there.
You should have a single hashtag that represents your film/project across all social platforms. Usually, it's your film title...unless your title is generic, in which case you can always add a qualifier such as "film" or "movie." For example, if your film title is #PIRANHACONDA, your hashtag writes itself. But, if your film title is, say, THE RED CHAIR, you might go with something like #RedChairFilm or #RedChairMovie. Hashtags aren't case specific, but sometimes using both upper- and lower-case letters helps increase readability for your intended audience.
Now that you have your primary hashtag, let's dig a little deeper with some free tools and see what else we can do to target your best potential audience.
Our first stop is Hashtagify, a free app that filters Twitter's big data "firehose" and creates real-time reports on which hashtags are trending. It's powerful intelligence that can help you better position your messages and, hopefully, serve them to the people you most want to see them.
First up, we have the hashtag #indiefilm, which is a great general hashtag to include (space permitting) in your post/tweet.
Next, let's look at the correlations and trends for the top four most relevant #indiefilm hashtags, which is a great way to separate the digital wheat (or amaranth, if you're gluten-free) from the chaff.
As it turns out, we're still in a pretty broad audience pool, but, depending on your goal(s), you'll be able to add a second (or even third, if you have room) hashtag to your post/tweet and drill down deeper into your audience pool.
Now, let's say you have some experience on Twitter and you're familiar with and participating in Seed&Spark's bi-weekly #filmcurious tweetchat (which, by the way, is a great example of a hashtag), which will not only expose you and your film to a large (and sympathetic) peer group, but also help you put an even finer point on some of your #indiefilm-related hashtags.
As you can see, you've now expanded your hashtag lexicon to include a few more highly relevant tags, which you can now use to engage an even deeper, and highly engaged, audience pool. At this point, each related hashtag could become the center of its own "data wheel," giving you even more insight into relevant, and cross-sectional, audience pools.
Most people use hashtags on Twitter, but, with the rise of Instagram, it's imperative now for indie filmmakers to maintain a presence there, too. And one of the best, and often easiest, ways to grow that presence is through the effective use of hashtags. And by "effective," we don't mean two hashtags for every five words in your post, but one or two might help supercharge the engagement potential of your post.
Hashtags aren't magic, but they are useful, so find a few that make sense for you and put them to work. Today.