The Film Distributors Association (FDA) in the UK has always been nice to film bloggers, inviting them to seasonal film previews of their latest ‘trailer’ (coming soon: ‘Autumn at the Movies’). They have now branched out into digital media training. I joined about 80 or so web-based film commentators at the Odeon Covent Garden on a Saturday morning for some tips into how to make oneself more attractive to the opposite sex, by which I mean film distributors and public relations companies, who hold the keys to ‘red carpet’ access to actors and film personnel and early looks at new movies.
What follows are a few pointers which may be of interest to those thinking of starting a Wordpress account and launching themselves as the next Charlie Lyne, who is something of a role model as an enthusiastic movie fan who ‘takes the Michelangelo out of film publicity’ (not my description).
- See the film you’re supposed to be reviewing. Otherwise it’s a ‘preview’. You could face prosecution if a film review appears under your by-line and it is not your opinion.
- Stay away from spoilers. Don’t give away twists, endings, surprise cameos or the bit at the very end of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY which I missed because I don’t read reviews immediately before seeing a movie. These really annoy film companies. You can however give away the major twist in THE SIXTH SENSE because that is what the speaker did.
- If you are lucky enough to see a film early, always review it in the week of release. Bit of a bummer if you like publishing regularly and you’re short of a review. You could always re-hash an old review for the Home Entertainment crowd.
- If you are invited to a preview, turn up, and wear appropriate attire. No Panama hats unless it is a special anniversary fancy dress screening of THE TAILOR OF PANAMA. Similarly, don’t take your shoes off in a preview theatre. Just don’t. Also, never bring in to the screening more drinks than there are cup holders.
- Always greet the film publicist. No presents or cyber-stalking, but a cheery ‘hello, I’m so-and-so’. They appreciate it and might remember you next time, even if you do shave off your beard (ahem).
- Never turn up to a screening to which you are not invited. I’m not keen on that rule. Three people could have turned up for a screening that you find; the distribution company may be new. But... generally distributors don’t like it.
- Always respond to requests for feedback and always be honest. If you didn’t like it, say so. Publicists don’t like it if they expect a positive review from you and don’t read it.
- Try to be concise. Reviews at 2,000 words plus might be fun to type but rarely a joy to read. Life may be a marathon not a sprint, but you want to write a review that can be read in ten minutes tops.
- Create a professional profile of your best material so film publicists can read it. Probably exclude the bad reviews even though they were so much fun to write.
- Create an identity and tone for your blog that shows what you like and what you’re like. Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm.
- Make the most of film festivals where the usual rules of publishing reviews in the week of release don’t apply.
- If you are interviewing a star, never ask for a selfie, unless they want their picture taken with you, in which case I’d be delighted.
- Finally, don’t bother distributors or publicists who have put you in their ‘poop list’. A well-known company with acronym ‘Don’t Dare Ask’ springs to mind. Still, personnel changes...
As a sweetener, the FDA laid on a preview screening of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS. I can’t tell you a thing about it until the week of release.