From The Front-lines - Best Practices When Emailing Us About Your Projects: Part 1
Photo Credit: S & A

From The Front-lines - Best Practices When Emailing Us About Your Projects: Part 1


As these come to me, I'll post "Best Practices" entries for filmmakers primarily, who contact us with information about their projects, especially those who are doing so for the first time – a daily occurence, and sometimes en masse.

Keep in mind that (I can't speak for Sergio, Emmanuel, et al) I receive anywhere from 150 to 200 emails daily, and that's no exageration; the vast majority are very much legit; Gmail does a great job of ensuring SPAM emails don't make it to my inbox, so I read practically every email I receive; although there are times when the subject heading alone tells me what the email contains, and whether it's something I need to actually open and read.

The point here is that, I don't have a lot of time to go through every single email thoroughly, and I'm relying on you, the senders, to make receiving your emails as simple and straightforward a process as possible.

Let's help each other out here.

In terms of "Best Practices" when emailing, here are the 3 of many things to consider; these are the most common frustrations I experience in receiving and reading emails alerting me to new film projects.

1. Keep the intro short. No offense at all, but I don't have a lot of time to read your entire history, or life story, how much you love S&A, how long you've been reading, and all the wonderful things we've written, and how moving they were to you, etc, etc, etc. Not that I don't care about your background, or that I don't appreciate the compliments; but what I really want you to get to is, why you're emailing, and what is it you want me to do for you. Just be direct; most of the emails I receive want something from me, which is perfectly ok, given what I do for a living. So, I'm fully expecting that your email is really no different than the countless others I received before yours. Don't dance around the issue/request; just start with something like "Hi Tambay," and jump right into what it is you're emailing about. Keep it short, sweet and simple. It makes my life and job easier. If I then require anything further from you, I'll obviously let you know. But that first email is kind of like your first message to someone you're interested in, whose profile you've read on a dating website you're a member of. That first message is usually succinct, and then if they like what they read and see, and they reply, then the conversation grows.

2. If you're alerting me to a film project, which is often the case, make sure all the vitals are included: Title, director, writer, producer (and any other key crew you think should be mentioned), actors, synopsis, status, and if any are available, media, like a trailer, clips, photos, etc. If you read most posts in which we're anouncing a new project, you'll get an idea of what info we need in order to complete an entry. If I have to email you back, asking for any of these really basic pieces of info, chances are that I might not. If I'm not immediately drawn to what you're selling, AND you omit relevant info, or if I have to go search for any additional info, I get frustrated, especially when it's info that you really should have given me from the get-go. In those case, there's a very good chance that your email will likely get pushed aside, and potentially forgotten. I've got another 149+ to go through. So, be sure all the basics are included. Your first email essentially serves as an ad to me. So think of your email in the same way that you'd think of a trailer, or a poster, and what those two pieces of marketing material usually contain. Or, to use the dating website analogy again –  each member usually has a profile with their vitals so that other members can get an idea of who you are from the information provided. Your profile isn't meant to tell your entire life-story, or for potential mates to get to know you entirely from your single profile. The point is to grab the recipient's attention quickly, with the most basic of information they need to decide whether this is something they want to see, or in my case, know more about, and want to share with S&A readers.

3. On occasion, a filmmaker will direct me to the Facebook page or website they've set up for their project, which is fine too. Just make sure that the above 2 items still apply. Make sure that your project's Facebook page or website has all the vitals, and is in some clean, orderly, sensible structure that makes it all easy to locate. Status especially often gets ignored. I need to know where exactly the project stands, because I need to be able to give readers that information when I write about your film; those who are interested, based on what we write, will want to know things like: when is this coming out? Where can I see it? Etc, etc, etc… so always include your project's status… along with everything else.

That's it… for now anyway. If any others come to me, as I go about my daily S&A work, I'll write about them as well, in future posts. But these 3 are the most common *infractions*, and it was about time I said something.

As I've said before, help me help you.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

© 2023 Shadow & Act. All rights reserved.