NYWIFT Success Story: ‘In Montauk’ and the Value of PR

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Lukas Hassel and Nina Kaczorowski in a scene from In Montauk, written and directed by NYWIFT member Kim Cummings. Photo by Aja Nisenson.

Independent filmmaking on a micro-budget is a lonely business. People come and go throughout the process. As the filmmaker, you’re the only constant day in and day out. It’s not that you don’t want a team of people at all times — the reality is you can’t afford it.

I was lucky; I had a terrific support network while producing my first feature film, In Montauk. But when it came to distribution, none of us had a clue. Plus, the film market has been in constant flux for the last few years. I attended a few distribution panels with filmmakers discussing how they get their films out to audiences. The general consensus: Find your niche, build your social network, and use word-of-mouth to get your film out there. Easier said than done.

After speaking to a few sales agents who wanted enormous upfront fees to sell my film, I realized that I needed to expand my own network of contacts in the industry. That’s when I started to get more involved in New York Women in Film and Television.

I’d been a NYWIFT member for years and made a few connections, but I hadn’t been a very active member. So, I starting attending events and asked other members how I could contribute to the organization. I decided to join NYWIFT’s Communications Committee, where I found more than I expected.

Through my work on the committee, I met a wonderful film publicist, NYWIFT member Margarita Cortes of MSophia PR. We struck up a conversation at one of the meetings, and I invited her to the NYWIFT screening of my film (an opportunity offered to members). Not only did she come to the screening, but several other committee members attended as well.

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Kim Cummings being interviewed on her film In Montauk and the need for more women-helmed content in Hollywood for Arise On Screen.

After talking with Cortes, I knew that I wanted to work with her. She patiently explained the PR process to me and set my expectations while championing my film. We started planning a DVD release of the film. She worked tirelessly to build my social media presence and secure interviews and reviews, including terrific articles in local papers on Long Island (where my film is set), an interview on the Los Angeles blog Living Out Loud, and most recently, a video interview for Arise On Screen.

Bringing my film to the public has been an amazing experience that’s taught me a lot (like hiring an experienced publicist earlier in the process). My work with NYWIFT has provided me with a community of smart, enthusiastic women that I look up to and draw support and encouragement from. I look forward to doing the same for them.

KIM CUMMINGS

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