Above: AVPA Film Department Students vote for their favorite "12 Years a Slave" poster.
In April 2015, the Young Filmmakers had the honor of having two guest speakers prominent in film marketing share their experience of selling the award winning film, “Twelve Years a Slave.” Valerie Van Galder who worked for New Regency Productions at the time partnered with Fox Searchlight Pictures leading to her work with Michelle Hooper amongst other team members. They shared the process of marketing the film from the beginning, when there was anxiety over how well it would sell, to the end where the film became so acclaimed that it launched the careers of many prominent actors today. Screening the film in Atlanta and witnessing the reaction there, they then started screening the film all over the country, which then led to the release of featurettes at film festivals over the summer. Explaining the power of featurettes and trailers as influencing the perception of the film to be more relatable and relevant, the actual film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival with the whole cast making an appearance. From then on the film gained steam and eventually made it to where it is now, with actress Lupita Nyong’o now a prominent face in the Industry. Later on in the campaign, they released a public domain book, where the original cover art of the book was replaced with a screen shot from the film. What was noted as especially helpful was having Q&A’s with actors at the end of each screening, where the audience had the opportunity to ask the cast questions about the film. The highlight though was when Van Galder brought out all the poster options and had the AVPA students vote on the best poster to promote the film. After showing the actual poster they chose she explained why that particular poster was used and how it was finally chosen: At the very end they called director Steve McQueen and asked him to choose one! At the close of this fantastic workshop, Ms. Van Galder and Ms. Hooper let the students take home the extra posters. Thanks so much to these competent and established marketing executives and the Young Storytellers Foundation who helped bring these esteemed guests to our classroom!
Below Left: One of the posters originally considered for the film, "12 Years a Slave"
Below Right: Valerie Van Galder holds up the poster that was finally chosen to promote the film, "12 Years a Slave."