Looks like you are a new visitor to this site. Hello!

Welcome to Hope For Film! Come participate in the discussion, and I encourage you to enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe. It's free! And easy! If you have any suggestions on how to improve this website or suggestions for topics please don't hesitate to write in to any of the blogs.

You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

(If you keep getting this message, you probably have cookies turned off.)

September 26 at 8:15am

Twenty Tips For Packaging Your Project Successfully

By Ted Hope


Wondering what’s needed for packaging?

Producing requires that you look beyond your own projects and looks at how you build it better for everybody. I frankly don’t have respect for producers who only work on their projects. I want to know they give back to the community in general.  That does not have much to do with packaging frankly, but it is why I write this blog.

To that end, I want to share with you my thoughts on how to package your film in such a way that your film will gather momentum, get made, and succeed in the marketplace.  I have come up with twenty  points.  I wanted to know what I forgot, so I hope you add to the list.

  1. Recognize what you are doing when you package a project.  You package a project because you want to finance or sell your film.  You put actors in it not just for the creative enhancement, but also for the financial benefit.  If you fail to make the movie or to use the actors well, you devalue them in the market place.  That’s a HUGE risk for them.  It’s not true that if an actor attaches herself to the project and it doesn’t get made, no harm is done.  Attaching an actor exposes them to the marketplace — and kind of checks their value.  If a project an actor attaches himself to does not get made, it appears that buyers are not interested in them (because they presume that audiences does not value them).  By attaching actors to your project, you are risking their career.  Do not even approach them, until you are can demonstrate to everyone around them that is not the case.
  2. Develop a positive reputation for consistently delivering films of quality and acclaim.  It may sound like a Catch 22, but if you want to make movies, you have to make movies (or work with people who do).  If you want to work with the best, you have to demonstrate you are one of them.  The best way to get a script read is to have been associated with other great scripts.  The work you do today is really work you are doing for tomorrow; it’s all part of the chain.  If you develop a positive reputation things will go better for you than if you develop something to the contrary.  That common sense somehow has not stopped the business from being filled with jerks and hot air, but if employed (common sense that is), it will pave the way towards easier packaging.
  3. Respect agents and their time.  Don’t harass them.  It is an art learning how to get things done and move things ahead, without annoying people.  Actors and agents have 1000s of submissions.  And that’s just every day.  You want to learn how to make everyone want to take your calls.  Balance calls with emails.  Recognize that they have staff meetings on Mondays.  Recognize that weekend reads are generally fully decided by Thursday.  Don’t expect top agents to read your script until covering agents and junior agents have already raved about them.  Do you homework.  Prepare.  Be ready before you act.
  4. Build relationships.  What you do today, helps you tomorrow — even if you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  Strong relationships with agents and managers  – and actors — are the best thing you can do for packaging your project — even when you don’t yet have the project you are going to be packaging.  You want to make the agents want to work with you.
  5. Finish your script.  Get it under 115 pages.  Hell, get it under 110.  Or even shorter.  70 is the new 80.  Don’t fudge the standard conventions.  Fix the punctuation.  Make sure the emotional beats resonate.  Make sure the moments of the characters’ transformation are clear.  Make it a fun and easy read.  You get one chance.  Don’t fuck it up.  Once you know you are done, you still should cut another 10%.
  6. Enhance your project beyond your script.  A good script is not enough.  When you submit a script for consideration, you need to have more than a script ready. Your director should write a personal letter to the actor in advance.  Ditto on her director’s statement. You should create an image book, mood reel, or anything that will further enhance the clarity of the creative vision.  Make sure your team makes sense for this project.  Know whom your other cast ideas are. Scout.  Budget. Storyboard.  Build the transmedia extensions.  Whatever it takes and then do some more.
  7. Build respect & knowledge about your team.  This is most crucial about your director but it can equally hold true about your other collaborators.  If your director is not known, it is your job to get her known.  There is no excuse for not having prior work to show.  These days a short can be made for next to nothing. Why will talent’s gatekeeper let them work with your director?  Demonstrate their talent.  Get endorsements from festivals and other tastemakers. Help your directors build a presence in social media. If you want an actor to commit to your project, you need to give them as many reasons as possible.
  8. Have money, or at least make it plausible that you will.  No one is going to attach themselves if they don’t think the movie will get made.  Financing is key to this, but it is not the only thing.  Your track record, or your team’s track record goes a long way.  If you don’t have one, attach someone that does before you approach talent.  Don’t claim you are going to make something for more than seems reasonable for the subject matter and your level of experience — they won’t believe you will ever get it done.  Having sales agency or talent agency representation can help in this regard, as it shows that proven entities believe their is business to be had, but this too is sort of a Catch-22 — for them to get behind it, they want to have cast attached, generally speaking.  One of the reason the industry is filled with charlatans, is that they serve the purpose of standing in the for the money.  By claiming they will back your project, the fakers give you time to find the real money (if you are so lucky).
  9. Build consensus around the project in advance.  Don’t start at the top.  Build support.  Package a team.  If you are a new filmmaker, bring someone with experience on early.  Submit your project to script labs and other support mechanisms that lend your project credibility.  Find passionate advocates for your work and use them.
  10. Offer roles actors want.  Actors like characters who transform over the course of the film. They like their characters to influence the action.  Actors like to work with other actors that they admire — it can’t just be their role that is good.
  11. Make it personal.  If you can get to an actor on a personal (i.e. non-business) all the better.  That is, all the better, but know that the agent is going to hate you and want to destroy you.  Why would an agent ever want their client to do something that they can earn a percentage on AND has the likelihood of diminishing their value if not ruining their career.  That said, because following the rules takes a considerable amount of time, I would probably always move to cast another actor’s friends than hold out for the unlikely dream.
  12. Do your research.  Is the actor even available?  Do they like, or want to work with,  the other people attached to the project?  Will they be willing to travel where you are shooting?  Why would they like to do the role?
  13. Be prepared to answer all questions, particularly what the deal is.  Take the time to construct a couple of deals in advance, depending on how the negotiations go.  Know when you want to shoot, for how long, and where.  Know what you can provide the talent in the way of amenities.
  14. Patience.  Stars are busy people.  Their agents, managers, lawyers might be even busier.  If you are an indie producer, you are probably the busiest.  You know how you hate to be pushed? Well, think of that when you want to push.  Anyone you have heard of and want will probably take six weeks to get back to you.  On one movie of mine it took the actor a year; we actually had cast the role once, but the day her agent got back to me was the day the other actress fell out.  Be honest about the time you have with the agent, and then be prepared to increase it.  It is a good sign if they ask for more time — it means someone’s read it and likes it, so bite your lip and wait some more.
  15. Urgency.  The best thing you can do is have a start date.  Well make that: the best thing you can do is have a start date eight weeks out from now — if you want to attract high caliber talent at a reasonable rate.  Of course that means you have already financed your project, so really now you are casting for quality or enhanced sales.  Still, without a start date, how do you create urgency?  Why do you need to create urgency?  What is the call to action?  If it is not urgent, how do you get them to focus.  
  16. Inevitability.  Inevitability is urgency’s cousin.  Or sister. Brother?  Whatever it is, create that feeling around your project.  Inevitability, or a feeling something like it, makes things happen, and happen better.  How do you package that feeling around your film?  Most of the points on this list are about making your project feel inevitable.  The fuller something is, the realer it is.  You need to reveal the weapons in your arsenal.  Use everything you have to make it look likely to happen.  Have confidence, and instill it in others.
  17. Have something for everyone.  You have a series of audiences to engage with: collaborators, buyers, festivals, journalists, audiences, participants.  The people you bring into create the work with, will bring their own relationships and sizzle.  Many producers stop packaging when they get their actor who can bring the money.  You also need the one that brings security — often an ancillary deal in a foreign territory; an actor on a prominent television show can help here.  You need actors who will get stories on different news platforms; rediscoveries (actors who were once stars) and hot up&comers (younger actors) help a lot in this regard.  It helps to fortify foreign value by casting a foreign star from a difficult or large territory.  Actors from different media can also expand your reach, i.e. bloggers, comedians, porn stars, youtube stars.  Get the picture?
  18. Package in a way that helps others connect the dots.  Actors get typecast because audiences grow accustomed to seeing them in a particular type of film and feel betrayed when they broaden their range.  Marketing gets difficult when you cast a comedian in a thriller.  The same is true for directors that have developed reputations.  If you are thinking outside the box, you need to figure out a pathway to lead others outside the box.  You can get to far ahead of the parade that the audience forgets you are leading them.
  19. Make it an event.  Movies a dime a dozen with no call to action to get the f up and off the couch.  Movies are not rare.  We have a grand abundance of them that we will never catch up to.  You need your  film to leap to the top of everyone’s queue.  You must make your film an event.  Mickey Rourke playing Mickey Rourke The Wrestler in The Wrestler was an event.  Someone’s return to the screen or their last role motivates an audience.  In direct contradiction to my prior point, sometimes an actor doing what they haven’t is an event: Adam Sandler in Punchdrunk Love is an event, but not in Reign Over Me.  Transmedia and other extensions of a story world has the potential to do this.  I rushed to see The Master on 70mm (and was not disappointed).  Secret Cinema in the UK does this well.  We think of a lot of this as marketing, but I see early collaborations with key creatives as packaging too.
  20. Process & strategy.  This list is an attempt to help identify all that can be done to package a movie.  Once you have identified everything, you have to both figure out how and when to do each stage.  When I have built my materials that demonstrate the creative vision of the project, and I feel I have a firm understanding of the business potential for the project, and I feel my script is as good as I am going to be able to get it, I alert the agencies that we will be in town soon.  I send it all to them and set meetings.  They need to have a face to face with your director if they are going to endorse the project.  I know the whole packaging process is going to be a long haul.  I try to figure out things I can do along the way to keep it fresh, reinvent it.  Once something gets stale, you must transform it.



  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print


leave a comment
  1. Audrey Ewell / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Great list. One thing to add: don’t forget music as a packaging element. Or for that matter animation, if your film has that, or any other creative elements that a third party brings to the film. If you have a connection to a band or musician that people get excited about, that gives a great new angle for marketing and provides an at-a-glance way to 1) convey the tone of the film 2) offer event opportunities or maybe even make the film feel like an event 3) reach and create interest for a secondary audience that might not be interested in the story, subject etc. And don’t forget the cool factor – actors (and many others) care about that – if you are connected to cool people, that coolness transfers to you, and then to them. People want to be involved with hip projects and hip people. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It may seem like an intangible, but it also opens doors to a more personal connection. It’s much easier to connect for instance, over a shared love of a band, then over deal points. And every creative aspect of a film carries the same potential. But music hits home in a way that few other things can match. Oh – and it’s usually super expensive if attempted after the fact, so best to make music and other audience-expanding and potentially bankable creative elements part of the plan going in. That’s 2 cents right there.

  2. Ted Hope / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Thanks Audrey. You are 1000% right on!

  3. Martin Donovan / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Great point Audrey but it’s important to know that if the musical artist’s profile is high (a good thing) his or her (their) management may not be amenable to you using the music to promote your project. Even a close personal relationship with the artist may not make a difference with some high profile management companies repping high profile artists. In the end what counts is working with people whose work you respect – your project will be better for it no matter what.

  4. Adam Cohen / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Thank you for this great list. Well thought out and very thorough.

    I would also add that you should start building your audience now. You can never have too many people interested in your project and start early in a way that keeps your audience engaged. This of course adds value to your project to those that may want to get involved.

    Crowd sourcing is one way but just having a measurable audience prior to the films completion is equally important.

  5. @milesmaker / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I would simply add that a high profile musician or band or one with a fanbase similar to your film’s fanbase is a big plus–so to avoid the management issues above, I would seek music that speaks to your film’s themes and value statements that have not yet been published; the songs the labels didn’t select for the album; the songs the Artist maintains sole control of. Announcing a score/soundtrack featuring previously unreleased material is newsworthy too.

  6. @milesmaker / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Timing is everything, and every project needs careful consideration in this regard. Having said this, exactly WHEN to begin is an important decision in the Best interest of your IP–to avoid a negative perception if your project doesn’t tout noteworthy momentum with an air of inevitability over time. That’s like a screenplay collecting dust the studios don’t wanna read anymore because it isn’t hot, it’s just not. For this reason I prefer to share my development process with soft impressions in my own social feed(s) and won’t establish a standalone presence for the project until the likelihood of it being made is significant. Nothing is for certain, but false starts can damage a brand.

  7. Audrey Ewell / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    True about managers, Martin. My film partner Aaron Aites and I come from a music-oriented background, we used to run a label, he’s in a current band that records and tours, and our first film together was a music doc, so we have as many if not more connections (actually, friends) in that world as we have in film. Music is a core building blocks of our films, and we give it a higher priority than seems common. But yes, managers are a force to be reckoned with once you’re talking about a band at a certain level of mainstream appeal. Another option is to work with a label and use tracks from several artists. For instance, Drag City has gotten involved in several recent films, Trash Humpers and Dragonslayer, so there’s another possibility there in involving labels from the word go (who presumably can help on the publishing side if using pre-released tracks). it only works for some films of course, but it’s another tool to have in the kit.

    (We met, by the way, at your Collaborator screening at Goldcrest – congrats on your and Ted’s success in getting that out.)

  8. Audrey Ewell / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Definitely agree. On Until The Light Takes Us (music doc), we used pre-existing tracks for much of the film, but also asked our friend Jay Lesser of LSR/Matmos to score some sections – and one of the first questions we ever got at a festival Q & A was how we managed to get new music from Jay in the film. It’s all just about working with music and musicians that fit the film, but then also recognizing the different upsides. Especially as musicians are having a hell of a time actually making money form their work. A good friend in a high profile band tours 10 out of 12 months. And it’s not because he loves it so much. He’s rather see his daughter more, you know? So I think there’s a lot of upside for everone in working with musicians as part of the core team.

  9. Jeff Kramer / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Stephen… All on the list… 1 through 20 are necessary and professional components. I would add that unwavering commitment, also known as persistence are omnipotent. Very well done!

  10. youtube.com/watch?v=A-BNEAdRPZY / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker whoo had beenn doing a little homework oon this.
    And he in fact rdered me lunch simply becauae I discovered it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks foor the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending time to talkk about this issue hesre
    on your internet site.

  11. Sandy Drumheller / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a blog website? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear idea

  12. browse page / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I just want to mention I am just beginner to blogging and site-building and definitely loved you’re web site. Probably I’m planning to bookmark your blog post . You surely come with fantastic articles. With thanks for sharing with us your website page.

  13. learn more / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I simply want to say I am just newbie to blogging and site-building and absolutely savored your web site. Almost certainly I’m want to bookmark your blog post . You definitely come with fabulous well written articles. Thanks for revealing your website page.

  14. continue reading / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I just want to say I’m all new to blogging and seriously enjoyed you’re web blog. Most likely I’m want to bookmark your blog . You actually have superb posts. With thanks for sharing your webpage.

  15. check content / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I simply want to tell you that I am new to blogs and really enjoyed this page. Most likely I’m going to bookmark your blog . You definitely have exceptional articles. Thanks for sharing with us your blog site.

  16. go to link / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I just want to say I am new to blogging and site-building and really liked this website. Most likely I’m planning to bookmark your site . You certainly come with impressive writings. With thanks for sharing with us your web-site.

  17. good link / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I just want to tell you that I’m new to blogs and absolutely liked your web site. Almost certainly I’m want to bookmark your blog post . You amazingly have wonderful writings. Thanks a bunch for sharing with us your website.

  18. browse website / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I simply want to mention I’m very new to weblog and definitely enjoyed this blog. Very likely I’m want to bookmark your website . You really have excellent stories. Appreciate it for sharing your web site.

  19. continue reading / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I just want to mention I’m very new to weblog and absolutely liked this blog. Most likely I’m likely to bookmark your website . You absolutely come with remarkable articles and reviews. Thanks a lot for sharing with us your webpage.

  20. follow this page / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I just want to mention I am just new to blogs and absolutely loved you’re web page. More than likely I’m going to bookmark your website . You surely come with superb stories. Thanks a lot for sharing your web site.

  21. discover more / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I simply want to say I’m very new to weblog and definitely liked your blog site. More than likely I’m going to bookmark your blog . You really come with tremendous article content. Appreciate it for sharing your blog site.

  22. browse link / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I simply want to tell you that I am all new to blogging and site-building and definitely enjoyed you’re web blog. Probably I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You definitely have fantastic posts. Many thanks for sharing with us your webpage.

  23. great article / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I just want to mention I’m very new to blogging and site-building and truly loved you’re website. Likely I’m planning to bookmark your website . You actually come with fabulous article content. Many thanks for sharing your web site.

  24. follow this link / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I just want to tell you that I am all new to blogs and seriously enjoyed your website. More than likely I’m likely to bookmark your blog . You amazingly have incredible articles and reviews. Kudos for revealing your website.

  25. Fidel Egas Grijalva / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Hello , nada mas que agregar gracias totales

  26. www.actionenergy.com.pl / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch since I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

  27. Herschel Laggan / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Do you have any video of that? I’d love to find out more details.t2015wiqp…

  28. led sign rental trailer / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I’m happy! Seriously useful weblog post correct here my buddie. I just desired to comment & say maintain up the outstanding work. I’ve bookmarked your web site right now and I’ll come back to read more soon my friend! Moreover good designs on the page layout, it is genuinely simple for the eye.

  29. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn’t disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, but I genuinely thought you would have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you can fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

  30. Cruz Alfonzo / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I genuinely enjoy looking at on this site, it has fantastic posts . “Wealth and children are the adornment of life.” by Koran.

  31. Shyla Rabuck / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I dugg some of you post as I cerebrated they were very beneficial extremely helpful

  32. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I found this during my hunt for something relating to this.

  33. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    That is a very good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise information… Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

  34. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    You’re so awesome! I don’t suppose I’ve truly read through anything like that before. So good to discover someone with some original thoughts on this subject. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  35. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I do think that you ought to write more about this subject, it may not be a taboo matter but generally people do not discuss such issues. To the next! Kind regards!!

  36. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Great site you have got here.. It’s hard to find good quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

  37. padi idc gili trawangan / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Hmm is anyone else experiencing difficulties with the images on this weblog loading? I’m trying to locate out if its a problem on my finish or if it’s the blog. Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

  38. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Everything is very open with a precise description of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your website is useful. Many thanks for sharing!

  39. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    This is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very precise information… Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

  40. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written much better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I most certainly will send this information to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a great read. Thank you for sharing!

  41. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Great site you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  42. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    After going over a handful of the blog posts on your site, I truly like your technique of blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my web site as well and let me know how you feel.

  43. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me. Thank you!

  44. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Great article. I will be dealing with some of these issues as well..

  45. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    This is the perfect web site for anyone who really wants to understand this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject that’s been discussed for ages. Great stuff, just wonderful!

  46. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy I found this in my search for something relating to this.

  47. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    I’m very pleased to discover this web site. I need to to thank you for ones time for this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you book marked to check out new things in your blog.

  48. NaomiMock_5 / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    In quale modo mostrato anche nella sezione incontri occasionali,
    sul nostro sito abbiamo ricercato il miglior sito online di incontri che abbia
    per iscritte il maggior numero abbassare ragazze mature italiane in cerca di divertimento mediante uomini maggiormente giovani.

  49. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    This is the perfect webpage for anybody who really wants to understand this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a topic that’s been written about for many years. Great stuff, just great!

  50. www / Sep 26 at 8:15am

    Next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won’t disappoint me just as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, nonetheless I really thought you’d have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you could fix if you weren’t too busy searching for attention.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Filmonomics: Thinking in Casts Part 2 | Truly Free Film
Leave a Comment

This site could not have been built without the help and insight of Michael Morgenstern. My thanks go out to him.

Help save indie film and give this guy a job in web design or film!