The film industry has had to adapt to new rules for publicizing movies in the wake of COVID, Prodigy Public Relations owner Erik Bright tells Doug Simon.
One example he gives is this year's Sundance Film Festival, which had to cancel its physical events and move to a virtual format. "Fortunately, for the last year the major festivals have been executing virtual festivals successfully," Bright says. "So, it wasn't a hard transition."
Prodigy represented several pictures at Sundance. One of them was Dual—a film starring Karen Gillan from Guardians of the Galaxy and Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad—which made its world premiere in the featival's U.S. narrative competition.
Bright says that every film he promotes requires a different strategy to create awreness. "When we have high profile films like this, when it was a physical festival, we tended to not show it in advance to anyone because there is enough interest based on the cast," Bright says. "Now I think it's important with the virtual level to get it seen as much as possible."
He also discusses how changes in viewer habits are altering the rules. "I think PR and marketing have become more important than ever because there's so many titles on a Netflix or an Amazon Prime that you need someone to help cut through the noise."
The shift to home viewing has also changed the whole idea of what "box office" means and how distributor deals happen. Bright stresses the importance of film festivals for getting those deals done. "The film festival primarily is to introduce the movie to not just a consumer but probably primarily to the distributors out there who would then acquire the movie and then put it out through the various channels."
Film festivals are a big focus for Prodigy, Bright says. "We represent the San Diego Film Festival, the San Diego International Film Festival, as well as the DTLA Film Festival, which is downtown LA. And obviously in the last two years there's been a disruption in the normal way we do business."
But handling that disruption is key for entertainment PR pros, he says. "I think the movie business is always changing based on technology, and if you can kind of stay on your toes, you do well."
Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]