Press Kits to Die for
By Danny Draven
Press kits are promotional booklets for a film to be submitted to the festival with your entry form, or upon their request. It’s like a sales brochure promoting and informing people about your project. This can be done as a traditional hard copy press kit, or an electronic press kit (also known as an EPK), or both. EPKs are a popular and preferred method when submitting online—using a popular service like withoutabox.com—but I always do both. The hard copy and EPK version from my films always contain the following:
- COVER SHEET – This should contain the title logo, production company, director, writer, star actors (if any), and contact information for you or the person representing your film.
- ONE-SHEET ARTWORK – You need to have artwork for your film, even if it’s only temporary. This is crucial, especially in the horror genre.
- SYNOPSIS – This should be one concise description of the plot of your film and should be no longer than one page.
- CAST & CREW INFORMATION – You should list your lead actors and include their mini-biography and a brief filmography. For the crew you should include the producer, director, writer, cinematographer, makeup FX artist, composer, and any other notable person with credits worth mentioning. This should only be one-page, and don’t be modest!
- STATEMENT OF THE DIRECTOR – The director’s statement is a short statement where you explain why you made the film and your vision, but this is usually optional.
- NEWS & MEDIA COVERAGE – You should include any news, press, or reviews for your film and always highlight the best first.
- TECHNICAL INFORMATION – This is a technical description of your film and should include things such as: shooting format (35mm, 16mm, digital), aspect ratio (16×9, 4×3), sound format (5.1, stereo), running time, language, and MPAA rating if applicable.
- PRODUCTION STILL PHOTOS –These can be color or B&W images and should be professionally shot.
- PRODUCTION NOTES – Anything you feel is noteworthy about the production you should mention in this section. If you are telling the story about how you shot the ending of your film on your uncle’s farm during a tornado then that is not worth mentioning!
- TRAILER DVD & ONLINE VERSION –You must have a trailer ready for your film before you submit. I always have a separate DVD and an online version.
The items you should include may be different from film to film, so you should always check with the festival and review their guidelines before submitting. It’s important to present this kit in the most professional way possible and always check for grammatical errors and spelling. You only get one chance to impress, so don’t be modest, but don’t be pretentious either and claim your film is “the most disturbing film ever made”, or “the next chapter in horror”, or other hackneyed phrases. Leave that to your distributor.
Excerpted from The Filmmaker’s Book of the Dead: How to Make Your Own Heart-Racing Horror Movie, by Danny Draveng. © 2010 Taylor & Francis Group LLC. All rights reserved.
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