The Night Shift: Selling the flick schtick

The Night Shift is the production diary of Fighting Owl Film's new independent supernatural-adventure-comedy of the same name currently in "post" in Mobile, AL. Over the course of the next several weeks and months, you'll get an insider's peek at what it's like for filmmakers to craft a new entry of paranormal pop culture from Erin Lilley, a producer and actress on the film.

Selling the new flick schtick

We have got to sell this thing. I keep thinking, "Wouldn't it be nice if we had someone whose sole job was to find distribution for this blasted movie?" Then I realize, "Oh, wait. That's me."

Well, it's not my sole job. I do have my day job as a voiceover artist, and my weekend job as a church singer, but when I'm not at either of those places, my mission - whether I choose to accept it or not - is to sell this movie. Anybody care to tell me how?

Now, mind you, the film's still being edited. The score is still being written, the special effects haven't been added, the sound is still rough ... in other words, it's not done, yet. I have a sizzle reel, and hope to have a rough cut soon. Until then, I'm doing prep work. I know I've mentioned a couple times I've been putting together press kits. I thought I might fill you in on what's going into those kits, in case any of you are thinking of getting into DIY indie filmmaking.

For starters, we're using very thick, expensive-looking folders. Thomas and I looked into getting embossed folders, and realized quickly that that wasn't going to happen. Four bucks per folder is a bit excessive.

Instead, we took a trip to the craft store and bought an embosser, ink and powder, then had a stamp made with the film's logo. I'm embossing the black folders myself, with a raised silver logo, and they look amazing.

The kit, itself, is just a lot of paperwork. First off, there's a cover letter, addressed to either whomever requested the information, or in the case of cold solicitations, the head of acquisitions. It explains who we are, a little about the movie, and what we would like to do with the film (sell it!).

Behind the cover letter is a synopsis of the movie. That's pretty much the blurb that you'd see on the back of a DVD cover. Next, are the specs (what it was shot on, running time, etc.), then a list of principal cast and crew. There, we have headshots and short bios for each person (much like the ones in theatre programs), to give the interested party a little insight into our backgrounds and experience.

The next page is a sampling of reviews for the short film, festivals where it's screened, and a list of all the online and print media that have covered the making of the feature. Yes, we have kept up with all of it. It's that kind of support that shows that people want to see this movie, and you have no idea how much we appreciate that you do.

Finally, we have a few script excerpts, though those might be nixed once we have a rough cut of the feature to include in the kits. All of this, along with a DVD of the sizzle reel (or rough cut, eventually) and some carefully selected production photos, goes into the folder. Then, as sort of the icing on the cake, we're enclosing a postcard copy of the poster.

Currently, I'm spending my down time with a highlighter and a copy of The Filmmaker's Guide to Distribution: Hollywood Distribution Directory 2010. It's only the size of War and Peace. I wonder if Thomas will let me hire my little brother as an intern? He's 12; it's about time he earned his keep. Oh well, wish me luck!

In the meantime, you can follow The Night Shift at You can check out the poster, trailer, cast and crew, and some fun downloads. Heck, if you like, you can even be our friend on Facebook and Twitter (@NightShiftMovie), where you can follow more of the progress of the movie.