Making a great movie is hard, but marketing a movie might be even harder. There are many good movies every year, but there are far fewer well-marketed ones. The list of people (and studios) who market films successfully year after year is a very elite club.
When I began working as a publicist, most American filmmakers weren’t expected to be able to promote his or her own work. Nowadays every filmmaker is expected to be able to shoulder that burden.
How scary this must be for filmmakers. My heart goes out to them. It takes them so long and requires so much sacrifice and dedication to make their movies. They are already up all night and have taken on ridiculous amounts of debt--now they have to learn to sell their stuff too?
It’s tremendously difficult for people with knowledge, experience and contacts to try to find audiences for films. They devote their lives to this. It’s a bit insulting to say that this is something that a filmmaker can manage in their spare time. Why don’t we also ask filmmakers to learn to sing opera or try out for the Olympics?
Making it even worse, through my work I have discovered that many of the best filmmakers are allergic to the idea of selling their films. They don’t want to give quotes that constrict the way people respond to their movies--they want their work to speak for itself. They submit to publicity as a necessary evil and sometimes they won’t even do that.
And sometimes this reluctance means they present their films in ways that scare audiences away.
On the other hand, some artists are skilled in the magic act of playing the media. They have a natural facility for it and even enjoy it. In fact there have been a few people I have worked with who I believe have made movies so they could be in Vanity Fair and get girls, rather than the other way around.
The question in my mind is whether the internet, social media and the glut of movies available widens the chasm that has always existed between filmmakers who have a knack for selling themselves and the ones who can’t (or won’t).
The sad truth is that the best marketers aren’t necessarily the best filmmakers. I would go so far as to say that it is rare when these two talents coincide.
And when the best ones lose, we in the audience lose more.