Yesterday, I tweeted my frustration about the synopses I’ve been finding in the web for indie films. I decided to use more than the 160 characters of Twitter to vent a little further. The context is that we play a lot of independent films at Emerging Cinemas, and once a month we collect info on those films to use on our web site, on physical calendars that we have printed and on web blasts that are sent out to our affiliated venues. Month after month, we check the official web sites for the individual films, the web sites of the distributors, the IMDB, the web sites of various theater chains and on-line ticketing sites. In almost every case, the same synopsis is used in every location, indicating that it came from some official source (typically either the distributor or the filmmakers). The other thing they have in common is that they all suck. Invariably I find myself re-writing them, trying to make the films sound like something people might actually want to see. Don’t you folks realize that the synopsis is a very important marketing tool? Why do you make all these very compelling, stimulating films sound like work? They are either too academic sounding (particularly the docs), or focus on the disease of the main character or have convoluted point-by-point scene descriptions (this happens then this happens etc.) They include cast names (in parenths) that no one has heard of, which interrupt the flow of whatever plot they are trying to get across. They leave out background info that would be important selling points such as festival awards, prior work by the director, etc. For all of you folks out there who are embracing the idea of DIY distribution, let’s try practicing writing a single paragraph about your film that makes audiences want to buy a ticket. OK. I got that off my chest.
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