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Revising and Marketing my Short Film: How you can too!

Updated: Apr 28

Who am I?

Hello! My name is Kamali and I'm a twenty-six year old independent filmmaker. I write, direct, and edit my own films. I started using the company name Lady K Productions in film school in 2017 and created an LLC in 2019. I graduated from the University of Tampa in 2019 with a BFA in Film and Media Arts.

Being Creative during the Pandemic

I made three short films as an undergrad and this year I decided to do something with two of them. I made a webisode in 2018 called Melatonin about a college girl who takes mysterious pills that give her unexpected side effects. In 2019, I decided to turn the webisode script into a tv pilot episode. I wrote and rewrote for months while getting feedback from script coverage services. I was also applying for graduate school to earn a masters in Film and Television then the pandemic hit and I didn't get into any schools. This turned out to be a blessing because the world was turned upside down and I wasn't comfortable going to another state for school. I stopped writing and started playing the Sims. I found that making up my own stories with my Sims still fueled my creative side. I decided to apply to graduate school again and got into a few schools! Fast forward to 2021.... I took the webisode and made a trailer out of it, entered it into some film festivals and ended up winning awards. It's so cool how just like that, I was an award winning independent filmmaker. It's like I was sitting on gold for three years. You can check out the trailer on my website!

The Melatonin poster with winning laurels and official selections

Inspiration from the Filmmakers Subreddit

My next short film was called "How to get away with Robbery" which was also made in 2018. It's about three maids who must find a way to pay back their crime boss. It was my senior thesis film and people really liked it. I used copyrighted music so I knew I couldn't send it to film festivals. I also knew that I needed to fix the color and I knew nothing about color grading so I just left alone for three years. I joined Reddit in early 2021 and I went to the filmmakers subreddit to be able to read about other people's experience with filmmaking. I saw a post that someone made asking if anyone ever made money from their short film. One of the commentors said that another forum member made a short horror film for $500 and it was making 3-4 thousand dollars a month since being released on Amazon and Film Hub. At the time, I was looking for ways to make passive income and this definitely piqued my interest. I decided to finally make changes to my short film and started by changing the name to Cleaning House because I never felt like the previous title really encompassed the meaning of the film. I just rushed with the title before and since one of my favorite shows is How to get away with Murder, I just changed it to fit my story.

Using Upwork and Fiverr for film logo

Anyway, I decided I needed a film production logo for Lady K Productions and the making of it was a whole fiasco. I found people on Upwork and Fiverr and had them make me a sample logo. I wanted a silhouette of a black lady sitting in a directors chair with box braids as she crosses her legs. I wanted her profile to look similar to me so I sent my pictures. Seems simple enough, but oh boy was I wrong. The first guy I hired used images from Google and gave the silhouette an afro and had her sitting in a computer chair. He wanted three hundred dollars for it and I asked him if he could draw it instead of getting Google images. He told me not to worry and then I never heard from him again. The next guy I hired made the silhouette a giant amazon woman with a tiny head and a ponytail sticking up in the air. It was kind of funny and confusing at the same time. Finally, I was able to find someone who created beautiful long box braids and animated the silhouette crossing her legs. Her profile even looked like mine!

Where to find copyright free music and stock footage

Now it was time to make those changes to Cleaning House. I hired someone to fix the color and the audio. I found new copyright free music on sites like Pond5 and Envato Market. These places have music from as low as $1. The most I paid for a song was around $30. Since the ladies in the film are maids, I wanted to show the outside and inside of some nice homes. When I made the original film, I only had so much time so I kept it simple and filmed most of it in my own house. I later found some nice big homes to film and I edited them into the film. I also found stock footage on Storyblocks and stock photos on Dreamstime for a low price.

How to market your short film

Over five months, I kept coming up with new ideas and adding them. I watched films like Ocean's 8, Hustlers, and The Bling Ring for inspiration. I decided I wanted to release my the film on Vimeo on Demand since users keep 90% of the profits. I made a website for my production company and created accounts on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest to post my work. Yes, even Pinterest! My target audience are females between the ages 18-50 and many are on Pinterest as well. I post teaser trailers and use paid promotion to get more eyes on them. I never post that much on social media, but knew I needed to be everywhere to get enough eyes on my work. I read articles and watched videos on how to market a short film. They said I needed to make a hook-filled trailer so I did. I felt prepared and was slowly gaining followers and views. However, I realized that most people weren't watching the whole trailer so I made another and another until I could get people to watch beyond seven seconds. I took my one minute and thirty-eight second trailer and made it into a whole new twenty-seven second trailer. People started watching beyond seven seconds! It's not easy but with paid promotion I've gotten more eyes on my social media.

Here's what's next

The film is now on YouTube and I'm slowly getting people to watch. I even entered my poster into a film festival and won best poster! I had always thought of making Cleaning House into a feature film and I love movies like Oceans 8 and Oceans 11. As well as shows like Good Girls and Claws which have a similar premise with a group of female friends getting into crime. Now I will expand on my ideas in the short film to write a feature. All in all, if you have something you've been sitting on for years, keep working on it. Who knows, it just might be an award winner.

Check out the Cleaning House trailer!

Me with my certificate for best trailer for Melatonin and best poster for Cleaning House

Check out my social media!


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