So you started a movie website and you want to receive free movie screeners like the big boys huh?
Movie screeners are one of the essentials of the movie industry. Many movie reviewers simply do not have the time or the equity to see all the films they would like to watch and review. That is why movie studios and the academy of motion pictures send them screeners of their films to review. If you have ever listened to the Howard Stern show, you have heard him talk about movie screeners he has received before a guest appears on his show so that he could view the film and talk about it with the guest. With movie reviewers, they write about the movie they have received in the mail.
Movie screeners allow you to watch a movie in the quit of your own movie (no commentary from a movie theater crowd) and take notes on the proceedings for your review.
The three key components to obtaining movie screeners are as follows:
1.) A professional-looking website
You wouldn’t go into a job interview looking unprofessional would you? By having a professional looking website before asking for a movie screener, you dramatically improve your chances of receiving one.
2.) Good unique website traffic
If your website gets 50 unique hits per month, do not even waste your time asking the appropriate parties for a movie screener. Remember what was said about contacting the movie industry. If you do not supply them initially (and you should to save yourself some emails), the Film PR Firm or Movie Studio may ask for your monthly page views and uniques. If they are not high enough, say around 100k to 500k per month, they may not even to respond to your request or your email.
There are exceptions though.
If a particular film is looking for publicity and you happen to find the phone and address of one of the film’s PR people and make a cogent request, they might send you one. This is what happened to me with Let the Right One In and resulted in my Let the Right One In Movie Review. That film went on to be listed in my Top Ten Films of 2008.
3.) Posted movie reviews for in-theater movies
You shouldn’t approach any Film PR Firm or Movie Studio for screeners unless you realize what makes a good film critic and your work shows it. Make sure you have a plethora of movie reviews on your website before you make a movie screener request. They are your proof and business card that you actually write and post movie reviews. One tip: making your movie reviews a minimum of 450 words is a good idea. That length trains you to thoroughly discuss your talking points in your movie review (How to Write a Movie Review). From receiving a movie screener standpoint, the person sending you a screener knows that your movie reviews are not facile but thorough and well-thoughtout.
If you write or phone the appropriate parties with a movie screener request, make it clear that you plan on reviewing what they send you. In this regard, you shouldn’t ask for something you have no intention of reviewing. Remember, the Film PR Firm is paying for the shipping of the screener to you, they are incurring cost. The price of the cost is your promise to review what they send you. If you do not, you will must likely never have dealings with them again as they’ll see you as a liar and a waste of valuable and limited resources.
Your mailing address and contact stratagem should be something along the lines of what was outlined in How to Contact a Film Public Relations (PR) Firms. This is not the case if the Film PR Firm or movie studio spontaneously sends you an unsolicited movie screener. Something like this happened to me with Severe Visibility, which resulted in my Severe Visibility Movie Review.
This will most-likely happen if you are a professional and well recognized movie reviewer, like Roger Ebert, you have a big movie website with tons of unique page views, you write movie reviews for a noteworthy periodical like Entertainment Weekly or the New York Times, or your movie website is well indexed, shows up, and is found in multiple search engines.
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