The Film Business

Maximize Your Video for YouTube Success

Increasing video traffic on YouTube

Photo by Adam Freeman

With so many movies on YouTube and other video sites, it’s harder than ever to make sure yours gets a fair viewing. So why not take advantage of YouTube features so that the maximum number of people see your video? Only then can you be sure that it finds the right audience that really connects with your movie.

There are pros and cons to each video sharing site but whichever one you prefer, a lot of the same tips apply if you want to increase the number of people watching your movie.

Start with two big ideas: first, the quote from that great baseball movie Field of Dreams—”build it and they will come”—just doesn’t work on the web. People don’t just stumble across your movie, they won’t seek out quality movies, and the number of hits a movie gets isn’t connected to how great that movie is. Second, you’re pushing this movie of yours because it’s a neat, original movie.

If you have any doubts about whether you should try to create a buzz for your film, ignore them. This is no different from the pre-Oscar campaigns run by the big studios. Just avoid spam-style methods and stay on the right side of YouTube, aiming for as big an audience as you can, legally.


  • Start by making a unique video that’s creative, imaginative or does something new. A movie that has something new to say, or says something in a new way or with a new twist, gets a real chance of scoring a big audience. It’s not enough by itself, but all the steps from here onwards are no help if the basic movie is poor. Most likely you are proud of your film, if a little nervous that people are going to see your prized new work for real.
  • Make sure the movie fits and works well on a small screen. Help your movie survive being compressed for the web. That means: check your screen text is readable on a small web screen and that your shots and editing, colors and lighting all look OK after compression.
  • As you shoot, use social networking sites and messaging (like Twitter) to keep people in the loop about your project. It’s easy to lose interest about a short movie that a friend is making if the last time they told you about it was a few months ago. Simply send emails each week to friends who supported you, film students, people who helped your budget, and people you may have met briefly at screenings, shows, or video industry expos.
  • Stop for a moment and think about whether you want your movie to be a YouTube hit now or maybe later. That’s because if you want it shown in film festivals—online or on Main Street—it needs to be an exclusive for them, not something that people have already seen. The same goes for TV slots.
  • If you are ready, upload the movie to YouTube and your preferred video sites. Some sites take longer than others to complete the process—YouTube is slower to upload at certain peak-usage times, but generally faster than most other sites. Vimeo might crash more often but gives better presentation for your video. Facebook can be a little slower to upload.
  • Then sort out tags and other stuff like thumbnails on YouTube to make the most of the site.
  • Find the right community. Vimeo is especially good at letting you create your own bespoke community that matches your movie. Use this as the core support for your film, with members pushing it heavily in every other site they link in to. You can also create mini-communities within groups, like having your own corner of the Experimental Film community, just for Scottish filmmakers.
  • Keep your email and message campaign about your movie live, even now you have finished editing and are ready to upload it. Ask people to leave feedback, rate the film, and pass it on to friends. Open your campaign with a party—like a regular film premiere—where you give out cards with details about the film and ask everyone to help create a buzz for it.
  • Check out problems you might have with your movie. Will anyone get offended to see themselves on YouTube in your movie? Did you ask and get written permission to use them? Look at YouTube’s Ground Rules for videos, and for how you interact with other people online. Movies that cause offense get flagged up and removed, so check that what seems like a comedy to one person is not offending another.
  • Now you are ready to move on to your overall Web plan. This will help you create one big organic campaign, where every site energizes the others and all traffic moves to and from each site, all the time creating a bigger wave about your movie. The key thing is not to rely solely on one site.

Excerpted from Stand-Out Shorts: Shooting and Sharing Your Films Online by Russell Evans, © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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1 Comment
   Lasandra Tress said on April 5, 2012 at 4:50 am

I together with my friends were checking out the nice hints found on the website then the sudden came up with a terrible suspicion I never thanked you for those tips. All the people had been consequently passionate to read them and have quite simply been taking advantage of these things. Appreciate your genuinely quite thoughtful and also for making a choice on certain important ideas most people are really needing to be aware of. Our honest regret for not expressing appreciation to sooner.

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MasteringFilm, powered by bestselling Routledge authors and industry experts, features tips, advice, articles, video tutorials, interviews, and other resources for aspiring and current filmmakers. No matter what your filmmaking interest is, including directing, screenwriting, postproduction, cinematography, producing, or the film business, MasteringFilm has you covered. You’ll learn from professionals at the forefront of filmmaking, allowing you to take your skills to the next level.