Saturday, March 8, 2014

Build Your Movie Website

Movie Website
A movie website should typically have just enough information to explain what the movie is about and intrigue people to want to see it.  This is where sales agents and distributors will go to get an idea of how marketable your film is.  It is where you audience and crowd-funders will go to find out who is on the cast, what the roles are, what the story is, and who the people are who are making it.  It's where prospective talent and crew will come to see what the roles are and what is involved with making the film.  There are a few basic elements you should have (basically a pitch deck).
  1. The logline
  2. A trailer, concept trailer, or poster art
  3. A five minutes scenes reel of key scenes if you want to attract sales agents or distributors
  4. An about page with film story summary, a pitch with a comparison to a similar film, and the director and key team bios
  5. A director's statement and writer's statement
  6. Characterizations or bios of the main characters in the film
  7. A contact form so people can get in touch
  8. An email sign up form so people can subscribe to your newsletter, but more importantly, so you can amass a list of emails to send out notices to, for things like your crowdfunding campaign
  9. Links to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest
  10. If the film is completed, a reviews page with testimonials and reviews
  11. A store to sell the DVDs, Blu-rays or digital downloads if available.
You can look at other film sites to get an idea.  But you have to think about what you need for your film, depending on what stage you're in.  If in development, you need to attract crew or cast.  If you're self distributing you don't need to attract sales agents or distributors. 

No matter if you build the site yourself or hire someone, you need to work out this stuff in advance.  You should decide how many page you want, what goes on each page and which one is first.  It's typical to have the poster or trailer on the front page along with a logline, and maybe a short summary.  You want to intrigue people to look through the rest of your site.  

For posters on a webpage, it may be better to use a horizontal format instead of typical poster vertical, because webpages are horizontal.  However, if the poster is on a page with other material it may make sense to have it vertical with the other material next to it.  You can hire designers or graphic artists to decide this stuff for you and design it.  For early stages of development you can use concept art, which might include obscure images that don't clearly show faces if the cast isn't attached yet.  You could get royalty free images form various web services that provide it.  You can also get royalty free greenscreen and other video clips that you can use to create a concept trailer.  You could use gaming software to do the same thing.

You have to decide if you want to build it yourself or of you want to pay for someone to do it, and how much you can afford.  If you go with online free software, like Blogger or WordPress, you can do those yourself or likely hire someone fairly cheaply to do that, since very little programming, if any is required.  There are also some free flash website builder web services around. 
Blog sites like WordPress and Blogger are useful because you can incorporate a blog as a news page.  They are also very maintainable and you can easily pass them on to a new designer or webmaster as needed. These sites also have built in widgets and plugins for things like social media links, like buttons, RSS feeds, and many more.  These sites also let you post links to your RSS news feed and comment feed.

  You should incorporate social feed links like these with image buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and RSS.  This can be programmed with simple HTML in a text widget.

Pinterest is great for sharing picture book ideas for your film, especially useful to cast, wardrobe and makeup.

You should have an email blast server like MailChimp, which has a free level.  MailChimp has a widget plugin that places an email signup form on a WordPress site.  They also have one for Facebook pages.  They also provide the HTML for you to place into a text widget.  MailChimp also has an RSS feature that schedules an email blast every time you add a new post to your blog.

Google Translate offers text for you to place into a text widget so that visitors can choose to auto translate your entire website.  They also have a WordPress plugin.  Considering that the foreign film market is huge, this is important.

With blogger sites you don't have to use the blog page as the front page.  You can create additional pages for all the items listed above and put whichever one you like up front, such as a trailer or poster.  You are also able to have a page menu item display a different website, either by jumping to that site or possibly in a frame inside a page on your site.

You can create custom RSS feeds for topics other than your website blog.  Delicious has this feature.  You sign up to Delicious and then you can save other website URLs to your Delicious feed with tags.  Lets say you want to have a feed for 4K.  Every time you come across a website or article that you want in your feed, you save it to Delicious and tag it with 4K.  Then when you want to send that feed to others or display it in a widget, you get that RSS feed URL for that tag from Delicious.
On Delicious you choose the TOOLS link at the bottom and then the RSS link, which explains how to create the RSS feed link.

My 4K link is  You simply place this link inside an RSS widget in WordPress, Blogger or your own feed reader.  A feed reader is sort of like email.  You install one on your computer.  You subscribe to a feed like this one.  Then every time a new item is added to the feed it pops up at the bottom of the screen of whoever subscribes to it.

The cost for a website builder is typically around $1500.  But this can vary based on what platform you use, how many pages, and how complex and customized you want to get.  The big studio sites usually use complex flash programming. You can do your own free web builder site or blog site.

Actor Website using ASP.Net and JavaScript
I build my own sites using ASP.Net with frames that display pages and WordPress blogs as news feeds.  I would not suggest ASP.Net.  It is overkill for this purpose.  But I'm used to it and can do some interesting things incorporating frames and JavaScript. Simple blog sites are much easier and faster. Here are some examples of sites I have done with WordPress and Blogger.

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