Creating a Film Site Best Practices

Kobi Shely

There are endless options to create an internet site for a film, but it’s best to stick to some basic principles regarding the site’s logical structure. As a rule of thumb, I advise you to make your film site simple.

I recommend 10 sections which are a good structure for creating a site for your film.

Menus and sections – the site should contain the following menu or sections as a baseline:

1. Homepage – Place your trailer / VOD player, always at the top of the page on your home page. The player should be embedded at an optimum size of at least 640×392. Below the player, include SHORT information about the film (could be a tagline) any laurels from festivals you’ve won, and links (preferably small banners) to follow you and your film on social media sites.

Note: The still image you choose for your trailer is one of the most important marketing tools for your film. Think about it as your key art, or film poster – if you choose a random image, most chances are that it won’t attract enough attention, but choosing the right image can make a huge difference. This image will serve your film later on when people will share the player on their Facebook and other social media channels, this is where the player stands on its own. So filmmakers, don’t be lazy, take your time and choose that kick ass image!

Also consider adding a short description where to rent or buy your film (iTunes, Netflix and so on) I recommend using all distribution tools available for you, a combination of TVOD player, and online stores like iTunes and Amazon should be mentioned on your home page. See the complete list of TVOD (Transactional Video On Demand) platforms available for filmmakers.

2. About pagewith a more detailed description of the film. Could be the synopsis you use for film festivals submissions.

3. Filmmakers page – about you, your crew, the films you made, and any additional information that might be pertinent. For example, if your documentary is about a certain disability, and is based on your own experience as an instructor or therapist, consider adding those details. Also consider the possibility of adding a Director’s Statement, in which you explain what made you produce this film, and how it affected your life etc. People like to read personal experiences – it gives them another perspective on the film and you as a filmmaker.

4. Email Sign up and social bar- This is super important, the most effective way to build and communicate with your audience should be your email list. 25% of those who open your email will perform one “call to action”: Buy the film, or share it with their friends.
Include a social bar with FB, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social channel you think would work for you. The aim is to get people to share. Sharing is caring, but sharing is also exposure.

5. Screenings and Events – let your site visitors know where the next screening is taking place. It is also a good habit to include the history of screenings, especially in film festivals. It makes an impression and adds to the site content. Remember – the richer the content (especially TEXT) – the highest you’ll get on search engines. This is, of course, important if you use Theatres on demand platforms like Tugg.

6. Galleries – Picture and video gallery used to be essential. There’s an issue with images, they slow down your site, and SEO engines result diminishing. You could simply direct your fans to your Facebook page where they can see yours behind the scenes images. On the other hand, they add to the overall user experience. If you have a video gallery, choose 3-4 scenes from the film. Also, consider adding a 1-2 scenes which were not included in the final edit. If there’s an interview with you as the filmmaker- add it to the video gallery. It’s a good idea to add the interview to the filmmaker’s page. If you are using YouTube for any of these video clips, make sure you add link annotations on the video so people watching on YouTube can immediately click and go back to your website. You should also consider making some of these videos exclusively available to people who sign up to your mailing list

7. Press – in addition to what was written about the film in newspapers and magazines, consider adding citations from other sites, especially blogs. Blogs have become in some cases more powerful and influential than the traditional media. By ‘Press’ I also mean of course audio recordings, podcasts, and videos of all kinds. Add a link to download your Presskit PDF.

8. Buy the Movie – In addition to your homepage, you should add another tab dedicated for your film’s shop. This is probably one of the most important pages on your site and might be the reason you created the site in the first place. Consider adding a “Watch Now” tab instead of shop, here you should offer all options how to buy your film, streaming, DVD (If anyone uses those things) and more products like T-shirts and posters if you’re thinking of offering them to your audience.

9. Contact – could be a form or an e-mail or both. A form gives you the opportunity to let your fans and the press to contact directly without giving away your personal e-mail. For some people, it’s important. Consider adding a pop up sign up plugin.

10. Blog and/or forum – those 2 mechanisms are easy to install (technically) and are very powerful, you should invest in writing and relating to other people’s comments whenever you have an exciting event to announce.

I’ve hand picked a few film sites as a good reference:

Bikes Vs Cars
Diving Into The Unknown
Other People’s Children
En quête de sens
Camp B
Somewhere To Disappear

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