by Lynnette Porter.
“Question me an answer, if you please. I will answer with a question, clear and bright!” This lyric by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for 1973’s Lost Horizon echoes game show host Alex Trebek’s perhaps more familiar Jeopardy! instruction, “Answer in the form of a question.” Asking questions, providing answers, and then formulating more questions based on those answers is more than basic communication—it’s an effective marketing strategy for independent films.
When audiences and filmmakers can ask questions of each other and discuss a film, everyone wins. Distributors and indie filmmakers have learned this lesson well, as evidenced by a growing number of Q&A sessions held during film festivals or, ever more frequently, after screenings at neighborhood theaters.
The competition for moviegoers’ dollars is fiercer than ever in a tight global economy, and the gap between “big” and “small” films’ promotional budgets continues to widen. Studio-backed blockbusters have the money for promotion across all media and the clout to get onto multiple screens at cineplexes almost anywhere in the world. “Big” films generate lots of publicity during preproduction and filming, as well as in release.
The public knows months in advance which films they likely will see; recent Super Bowl commercials for The Avengers, for example, ensured that a high percentage of the game’s television audience—not only millions in the US but worldwide via satellite or Internet—received an impressive first glimpse of the Marvel characters coming to theaters this summer.
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