The 8 Steps on How to Get a Movie Studio Film Critic Screening Invitation are arduous tasks and can initiate a long campaign, especially if you have a small website. For the big boys, its no problem. You always read in their posts how they just came from this “film screening” or that, how they saw a movie a week ago yet its being released this coming Friday. You read that and you think: Why can’t I see these movies early too? I write as well as they do.
Before asking that question ask this one: Do the movie studios holding those press screenings even know you exist? Have you ever contacted them?
If you answered no to both of these questions you are not alone. It is tough to know where to begin, what to do, what the procedure and criteria are for making “first contact”.
I went through this process and continue to go through this process, working my way up as my site grows.
I have some insights from a recent experience I had that I would like to share with you, insights that I believe will help you get on some of those advanced press screening lists.
The End Game
I recently got an invitation to a major movie studio press screening for a yet unreleased comedy starring Ben Stiller. It was a long road to get that invite.
Having a small movie/TV website (by small I mean under 500K pageviews per month), you get no respect from major movie studios. They only want to deal with the big websites (500K – 1 Million and up pageviews per month).
Getting to “The End Game” was not easy or quick.
I got on the mailing list of the art home division of a major movie company three years ago. If I remember correctly, I was writing for another website, granting me access to their press releases. I contacted one of the people on the press release via email and was placed on their press email list. I think that is how it happened.
About a month ago it dawned on me to ask the art house representative for an introduction to someone on the mainstream release side of the company as well as their home entertainment division. The art house representative complied with both my requests.
I asked to be introduced to a mainstream representative to attend their pres screeenings and particpate in their press junkets for their films.
I asked to be introduced to a home entertainment representative so that I could secure product (DVDs and Blu-rays) for publicity giveaways.
Next began a month and half of shenanigans I have never had to endure before, except when negotiating with advertisers.
The mainstream representative asked for our site numbers: monthly pageviews and unique pageviews. I supplied him with the Google Analytics for both numbers.
I received no reply to my email.
I emailed the mainstream representative about being allowed into press screening/junkets for their company.
I received no reply to my email.
I emailed the art house representative.
I got a reply from the mainstream representative the same day to my press screening/junkets query.
On and on this type of back and forth went between me, the mainstream representative, and the art house representative, my frustation building. Then the topper: a major motion picture was released through the mainstream division, a film the mainstream representative and I had spoke of previously, and my site received no advanced film critic screening information about it.
I was irritated and upset: All I was asking for was notification of those events and invites. In addition, it had been a mouth of going back and back fourth. The mainstream representative couldn’t claim ignorance, though he tried: “Critic screenings were held this Tuesday. You didn’t get an invitation?”
I emailed the mainstream representative about how it was impossible that he sent an invitation that I did not receive. I went on to insinuate that he never sent one in the first place.
I received no reply to my email.
What I should have done
As the representative for my website , I should have known better and kept a level head. I am the ambassador, the liason, and the editor-in-chief all rolled up into one.
1.) I should have waited until I cooled off before replying.
2.) I should not have let emotion cloud reason and judgement.
3.) I should have looked at the mainstream representative’s “oversight” as a bump in the road toward my goal.
Three weeks later I asked the art house representative to be introduced to a new mainstream representative without saying anything detrogratory about the previous one. I knew it would get back to him and make him look bad to his peers and boss. That wouldn’t help my cause.
Telling the Truth
In the email I sent the art house representative, I explained my passion as a film critic and sighted a hyperlinked movie review, a 1600 word review for one of their current releases.
I ask to be introduced to a new contact person at X.
I ask so that I may receive invitations to press screenings and junkets for X films in NYC/LA. I ask so that I and/or my colleagues at F may attend and participate.
I do not seek admittance to X film critic screenings to aggrandize myself and see a free movie. I seek admittance because I love writing film/TV reviews and I love being an editor-in-chief.
My film reviews typically range from 700-1400 words each. That is not hyperbole, that is passion e.g. my review for D.
All we ask is that X sends us emails/notices for upcoming screenings and junkets in NYC/LA.
All we ask is to be introduced to a new contact person at X.
Thank you for your time and for your continued patience.
The art house representative forwarded my message to three new mainstream representatives at the movie studio that day.
Three days later I received an email from the first mainstream representative. The email was an invite to a press screening to their next major release for a colleague and myself.
How I Achieved this: 8 Steps
Instead of reading between the lines of “The Saga”, “What I should have done”, and “Telling the Truth”, here is how I did it:
1.) I found the PR email address for the movie studio, introduced my website, and asked (heed the information in this post: How to Contact Film Public Relations (PR) Firms. It applies here) to be added to their film critic press mailing list. Look under “Press Contact” or “Contact” on a movie studio’s website for information about press inquiries or press mailing list inquiries.
2.) I asked a contact person from the mailing list emails to introduce me to another representative in a different branch of their company. I got a referral from a trusted source, a fellow employee.
3.) I never gave up. I was persistent.
4.) I showed them my writing ability with an in-depth, published example that followed this coda: How to Write a Movie Review and these tips: 7 Movie Review Writing Mistakes a Film Critic Should Avoid.
5.) I never bad mouthed one employee to another, even when frustrated.
6.) A form of the business strategy “Little Big Horn” was employed. The art house representative sent my last email to three other mainstream representatives, most-likely peers in the first mainstream representative’s office. All four probably asked him what was going on? He may have been surrounded by questions. It was probably easier to acquiesce to my request than to endure more scrutiny.
Those were the 6 steps from my recent experience but there are two others that you must be aware of.
7.) You need to have a professional looking website. The movie studio representative is bound to go to your website to check it out. They need to be met by a classy, singular establishment, not a free theme that they have seen before. I have spoken about this before here: How to Contact Film Public Relations (PR) Firms and here: Profitable Tips on How to Increase Website Revenue: 2011 Income Report.
8. ) You need to have good pageviews and unique pageviews. Unique pageviews may be more important that regular pageviews because they indicate that new people are visiting your website, not the regular clientele returning for more. I was able to overcome this obstacle with points 3.) and 4.).
This was a small victory. What will make it a big victory, fruitful, and worth all the effort put into it is if the mainstream branch continues to send me and my website press screening invitations.
A question for discussion:
- Have you had similar experiences with movie studio representatives?
Please feel free to share them below.