Chapter 86 – Learning from Justin Simien
by Leesa Dean
So while I’m still caught up writing, I’m also starting to focus a bit on promo, or, at least, getting a promo blueprint under way.
Justin started out as a publicist and worked for 8 years doing that at Paramount Pictures as well as a few other places in Hollywood. He actually specialized in online promo and social media campaigns.
One of things he initially did was, start a twitter account for Dear White People to not only test out script lines but create a sort of movement, which was really really smart. It’s actually the first thing you’re supposed to do before trying to break a show (something I learned after the fact): create a significant, active social media presence. Preferably, these days, on Twitter and Instagram.
He then used the money from his tax return, about $2,000, to do a concept trailer. Or, as he said, a trailer for a film that didn’t exist yet, to drum up interest. It did. Aside from having a fair size cast/crew who all promoted it, the audience he already had built on twitter supported it.
It was enough to get some interest and start taking meetings. But nothing went smoothly. He pretty much got soundly rejected. But while he described those rejections as “devastating”, he plowed ahead, ultimately did crowdfunding and got other financing in place. It didn’t happen right away. It took a number of years. But it happened.
Dear White People won at Sundance. A lofty achievement for a truly homegrown film that took about 8-10 to get made.
Listening to him speak with educational and REALLY inspiring! Thanks, Justin.
Next week – all the dirt on the two holiday parties I’m attending: One at YouTube NYC and one at Collective Digital Studios (home of The Annoying Orange, among other hit YT shows).