Creating an internet site for a film - best practices
06 April 2011There are endless options to create an internet site for a film, but it's best to stick to some basic principles regarding the site's logical structure. A a rule of thumb, we advise you to make your movie site simple. A film or a movie is like a product and the internet site built for it is practically a site for one product. In a world where internet site are dedicated to thousands of products, to large companies, to themes, communities, cities or political parties, a site dedicated to a film should be proportional - i.e simple.
We would now relate to other principles which might be a guide when creating a site for your film.
* Menus and sections - the site should contain the following menu or sections as a baseline :
1. Homepage, featuring a video (preferably the film's trailer), SHORT information about the film (could be a tag line) and links (preferably small banners) to follow you and your film in social media sites and a link to purchase the film.
2. About page, with a more detailed description of the film. Could be the text you use for film festivals submissions.
3. Filmmaker's page - about you, the films you made, where you studied (not necessary)and any additional information which might be pertinent. for example, if the film is about disabled children and is based on your own experience as an instructor or therapist, consider adding those details. Also consider the possibility of adding a Director's Statement, n which you explain what made you do this film and how it affected your life etc. People like to read those things - it gives them another perspective on the film.
4. Credits - mention and thank all the people and organizations without which the film could not have been completed.
5. Screenings and Events - let your site visitors know where the next screening is taking place. It is also a good habit to write the history of screenings, especially in film festivals. It makes an impression and adds to the site content. Remember - the richer the content (especially TEXT) - the highest you'll get on search engines. You should also consider adding the option of requesting or organizing a community screening .
6. Galleries - picture and video gallery are not a must but they add to the overall user experience. If you have a video gallery, choose 3-4 scenes from the film. Also consider adding a 1-2 scenes which were not included in the final edit. If there's interview with you as filmmakers- add it to the video gallery. It's a good idea to add the interview to the filmmaker's page. In picture galleries, it's important to add pictures from the production process, either behind the scenes pictures of the protagonists or pictures of you and the crew. Like the director's statement, people like to know more about the film.
7. Press - in addition to what was written about the film in newspapers and magazines, consider adding citations from other sites, especially blogs. Blogs have become in some cases more powerful and influential the traditional media. By 'Press' we also mean of course radio recordings, podcasts and videos of all kinds.
8. Buy the Movie - probably one of the most important pages in your site and might be the reason you created the site in the first place. You can sell DVD's directly from your site, link to other sites who do it for you (Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, FilmBaby etc.) and offer it a few formats (4.7 GB DVD, Blu-ray). quite a new option which is used more and more lately is selling your movie as streaming retals and download to own. We dedicate a different page for a How-To guide to selling your movie.
9. Contact - could be a form or an e-mail or both. A form gives you the opportunity to let people contact directly without giving away your personal e-mail. For some people, it's important.
10. Blog and/forum - those 2 mechanisms are tempting: they are easy to install (technically) and are very powerful, but are very demanding from you as filmmaker. Are you ready to invest 1-2 hours every day or 2 in writing and relating to other people's comments?
11. Guest book - guest books were very popular in the early days of the internet. Now there are more sophisticated ways to interact with your site visitors, but many filmmakers still stick to the old guestbook, maybe because they don't want to really interact with their audience... - A guestbook simply allows people to write their comments or express their feelings, something which usually happens after they have watched your film. In a guestbook you don't develop a conversation but simply leave your note.