His Travel Film Posters Helped Boost Great Audience Attendance
By Dale Johnson
Following up on Doug Jones’ fascinating story of promoting a declining film series in California, I decided to make my own publicity attempt.
I had finished my new film on Alaska about three months ago, and while sitting in an auditorium waiting to show it one evening, I thought to myself that there were probably more people in this town who would be interested in seeing the film—if only they knew about it.
Back home, I began to think of making a poster that would give some sense of the content and nature of the film. I would design, print, and offer a poster (or posters) to each Exhibitor (Sponsor) who would agree to place copies in locations where they might be noticed.
It is an 11 x 17 inch poster, printed on heavy paper, and cost a bit over a dollar a copy to have it printed with the proper quality. I have paid for the printing and shipping myself, as an experiment to see if it could indeed generate additional interest and increased attendance where used. I figured I'd gamble on a modest run of 50 posters to test the idea.
In each of my arrival letters to Exhibitors, I've described the poster and made an offer to supply a limited number at no cost to them. I even enclosed a sample of the poster printed on a sheet of regular typing paper so that the content would be known.
Finding a proper mailer turned out to be a small challenge. I finally found a round mailer, four inches in diameter and 12 inches long for .75¢ each. But...it cost $6 to mail the thing! Five dollars and ninety-five cents for parcel post, and $6 for priority mail. This would be quite expensive, although it will be amortized somewhat because some Exhibitors are requesting and receiving multiple copies of the poster. So it won’t cost $6 for every poster mailed out.
So far several Exhibitors have requested copies. One Sponsor wanted a dozen, another requested only one. I sent her two. I haven’t made offers to any Exhibitors of my March and April shows. Still some learning to do here.
A copy of the poster shows a what’s being offered. Ralph Franklin has opined that the name of the Filmmaker should be the most prominent text on such a poster. On one level I agree. The more impressive and important the travel filmmaker, the more credence extended to the event of the film presentation itself.
In this case, I’ve tried to base the appeal on the film program and its contents, rather than on the Filmmaker who will be a complete unknown to virtually every potential ticket buyer. Having said that, however, increasing the stature and importance of the Filmmaker must have a positive effect in attracting attention to the program.