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Film PR Experts share advice on Promoting your Film
26 Mar 2021 : News Desk
IFTA PR Event
Yesterday, Thursday 25th March, the Irish Film & Television Academy, in association with Polymath PR presented a unique panel discussion on how to market and promote your film.

Moderated by Polymath PR Founder Tom Brumpton the event focused  on the practicalities of building a story AROUND your film -  how to get it to reach a wider international audience, how to build your and your film’s profiles, how film festivals play an important role in that, and how to get ready for an awards push.

The Panel of industry leaders shared their insights and experience in promoting feature films and short films at home and internationally, to audiences, indsutry decision makers, trades, festivals and on to Oscar glory. 

Panellists included leading Irish Film Publicity expert Kate Bowe (Kate Bowe Communications), Entertainment Publicist Catherine Lyn Scott (London Flair PR, Los Angeles), Journalist and Festival Consultant, Wendy Mitchell (Screen International), Katie McCullough (Founder and Strategist, Festival Formula Ltd.) and Vincent Lambe (Filmmaker, Detainment).

The panel gave advice on topics including Marketing yourself AND your Film, the importance of building relationships, the importance of industry trades and festivals, and what notto do. A core piece of advice that all on the panel agreed with was the importance of having good assets such as a good synopsis, multiple good images (and having a set photographer) and having a trailer, even for shorts. Kate Bowe of Kate Bowe Communications outlined the importance of assets.

  “You can knock yourself out of contention without good assets. Don’t send in 186kb images. You need good hi-res images. A director’s statement or an artist’s statement and a good synopsis are vital. Also I know shorts are short but if you can have a small clip ready that really makes a huge difference.”

This was echoed by journalist and festival consultant Wendy Mitchell who outlined the importance of assets in dealing with Trades as well as festivals, and also outlined the importance of knowing who you are pitching to in the trades.

 “Firstly it’s about  knowing what we do and importantly  what we do not do. Screen doesn’t cover shorts anymore for example. People email me asking me to review their film. It takes 5 minutes of googling to realise I am not a critic. I don’t review. Also, with Screen I am the Nordic correspondent so pitching me a French film won’t work. Also like Kate said, photography is so important, set photography is vital. We wanted to put Under the Skin (Johnathan Glazer, 2013) on the cover and there was a very good and arty, but blurry image. We couldn’t use it. The cost of a set photographer for a day would have got them the cover of Screen. They didn’t have that. Also don’t send the same press release to everyone. A good publicist knows that you tailor it for each person you are sending it to.”

On awards campaigns, host Tom Brumpton pointed towards the importance of looking at existing campaigns and taking note of how long a process it can be.

“ I would encourage anyone who is embarking on an awards run to look at something like Another Round. People have been talking about that film for a long time. It’s been at festivals and in the trades and discussed for well over a year now. It’s a long process and it’s really worth looking at the timeframe something like that takes.”

Oscar- nominated Irish Director Vincent Lambe (Detainment)spoke about the importance of visibility and having a PR person at hand.

“When I started thinking about pushing Detainment for Oscar qualification, I thought no one would have seen it or heard of it. But then Catherine (London Flair PR, Los Angeles) took it on and it was a real eye-opener into the work of publicists and how it is rolled out. There were interviews, articles, and reviews [all good]. The biggest turning point however was the SKY News interview. Detainment was only at the longlist stage and we needed the publicity but then they introduced it as a film “hotly tipped for an Oscar.” After the interview I asked Catherine (Lyn Scott, who promoted Detainment)if it was “hotly tipped” and she said “it is now.”

The Panel also discussed Covid and the impact that had, outlining the importance of virtual festivals during lockdown, as sales agents, distributors, stakeholders and more are all watching.

Katie McCulllough of Festival Formula outlined how Covid had helped festivals develop new strategies:

“People panicked when SXSW cancelled. Now Asian festivals were cancelling before that but it was SXSW that really hit us in the West and we knew that festivals were in for a rough ride. What it meant for festivals though was huge and it showed their resilience, it allowed people to try and to fail with ideas. Festivals that didn’t have an industry component now could because you could now afford to do a masterclass without flying someone in for potentially thousands of euros."

Catherine Lyn Scot of London Flair pointed out how it has made interviews and visibility easier through the growth of virtual technology:  

“Covid has changed a lot. And a lot of it is positive. People are more accepting of virtual instead of in-person interviews. You can do so, so many more interviews now because people are ok without you physically being there.”

The Panelists on the Day included:

Catherine Lyn Scott –  VP London Flair PR

Catherine Lyn Scott is a director level entertainment publicist with over 14 years of experience in the US/UK and has a proven success rate. She originally founded the entertainment publicity company London Flair PR. Heading international Award Season campaigns Scott helped clients achieve 3 Academy Awards, 14 Nominations, and 4 BAFTA nominations. Catherine has led successful campaigns for celebrities starring in TV series, film premieres, and also created publicity for multiple film festivals. As a company director, she has managed a team of international publicists.

She  is known for her work on Oscar-Winning Live action short films such as Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton’s The Silent Child (Winner: Best Live Action Short 2018), Kristóf Deák’s Sing (Winner Best Live Action Short 2017)  and Benjamin Cleary’s Stutterer (Winner Best Live Action Short 2016) as well as Oscar-nominated films such as  Meryam Joobeur and Maria Gracia Turgeon’s Brotherhood  and Yves Piat’s Nefta Football Club (Both Oscar nominated shorts 2020),  Marianne Farley and Marie-Hélène Panisset’s Marguerite, Jeremy Comte and Maria Gracia Turgeon’s Fauve, Rodrigo Sorogoyen and María del Puy Alvarado’s Madre and Vincent Lambe’s Detainment (All Oscar Nominated for Best Live Action Short 2019)

Wendy Mitchell – Screen International

Wendy Mitchell is a journalist, moderator and film festival consultant. She is a contributing editor at Screen International (where she previously served as editor in chief) and is the editorof the European Film Academy’s Close-up magazine.

She is a delegate for the San Sebastian International Film Festival, a consultant for the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Zurich Film Festival and Zurich Summit, Connext by Flanders Image, Goteborg’s Nordic Film Market and TV Drama Vision. She also serves as a speaker/mentor at the ICO’s Developing Your Film Festival course and EAVE’s Marketing Workshop. In the US, she previously worked on staff at Entertainment Weekly, indieWIRE, Time Inc and Rolling Stone.

Kate Bowe – Kate Bowe Communications

Bowe Communications is one of Ireland’s leading entertainment PR companies with a speciality in film. They have handled the unit publicity for some of the most high-profile shoots in Ireland such as King Arthur, Veronica Guerin and The Last Duel and the theatrical release of films such as The Twilight Saga, Twelve Years a Slave and Knives Out. They also manage national film festival publicity along with corporate comms. Kate produced the award-winning short film “A Woman’s Hair” and is a board member of Women in Film & Television (Ire).

Katie McCullough – Founder and Strategist, Festival Formula Ltd.

Katie McCullough is the founder of Festival Formula Ltd, a consultancy company focusing on filmmakers covering festival strategy. Katie is also a key spokesperson on festival issues with coverage in The Hollywood Reporter and Screen Daily regarding suspect and fraudulent film festivals. She also created the Filmmaker Lounge in partnership with Film Festival Alliance – an online space for programmers and filmmakers to discuss their roles as a regular webinar format, guests have included Tribeca, Slamdance, Heartland Film, PÖFF Shorts, and many more.

To date in the sixteen years that she has been working, she’s hosted workshops and seminars for a broad range of audiences including: Encounters Film Festival, Shooting People, East End Film Festival, Independent Cinema Office, Cork Film Festival, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, BFI Flare, Glasgow Short Film Festival, LOCO London Comedy Film Festival, Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, FilmFest Dresden, and many training events at the BFI Southbank.

Vincent Lambe  - Filmmaker, Detainment

Vincent Lambe is an Oscar-nominated director and producer from Ireland. He is a graduate of the National Film School of Ireland and has worked with a wide range of companies and broadcasters. He is a double winner of the Cannes Young Director Award, where his film Detainment received a standing ovation, and he has won awards at several international film festivals including the Odense International Film Festival, the Krakow Film Festival, the Woods Hole International Film Festival and a Rising Star Award from Irish Screen America.

Tom Brumpton – Polymath PR (Moderator)

Since starting Polymath in 2009 Tom has been nominated for three awards, received a Certificate of Recognition from The Recording Academy for my work on the Grammy winning album Strictly Roots, and has  been a member of the British Independent Film Awards and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, among other institutions.

Tom has participated in and chaired discussions for AMPAS, BAFTA Crews, BFI, BBC Introducing, NAMM and others. He  regularly hosts panels that aim to educate creatives on how to get the most out of their brands and how best to promote their own work.





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