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Arts & Entertainment

Martin Scorsese’s Tips for Promoting Your Film

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Oct 2, 2020 • 2 min read

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Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking

Martin Scorsese was born in 1942 in New York City, and was raised in the neighborhood of Little Italy, which later provided the inspiration for several of his films. In five decades of Hollywood film production, Scorsese has written and directed some of the most classic, lasting, and iconic movies of all time (including a few that are considered the greatest films ever made).

He’s worked with major movie stars like Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day Lewis, and Liza Minnelli. He’s won all the major awards, and received several lifetime achievement awards for his contributions to cinema. Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman (2019) is the most recent of his work to generate buzz.



Martin Scorsese Teaches FilmmakingMartin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking

In 30 lessons, learn the art of film from the director of Goodfellas, The Departed, and Taxi Driver.

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Martin Scorsese’s Tips for Promoting Your Film

Here, Martin Scorsese shares four tips for promoting your film:

  1. Take an Active Role. Martin encourages you to take an active role in your film’s promotion. When Martin made his first films, he did his best to promote them himself, doing interviews and a few television appearances. Once his films were picked up for distribution, their promotional campaigns were designed by others.
  2. Build Around a Key Image. Strong images and an open mindset are essential to film promotion. Several posters were designed for Taxi Driver, but the one that most effectively sold the film featured a simple still from the movie—a shot of Robert De Niro walking up Eighth Avenue. This simple, evocative image embodied the film’s dark and gritty tone and offered an intriguing snapshot without spoiling the movie.
  3. Pair Your Image With a Tagline. The combination of a striking poster image with a clever or evocative tagline can go a long way toward selling your film to the average viewer. Martin paired his Taxi Driver poster image with the tagline, “On every street in every city of this country there’s a nobody who dreams of being somebody. He’s a lonely forgotten man desperate to prove that he’s alive.” This combination of text and visual was integral to selling Taxi Driver to moviegoers.
  4. Try Guerilla Marketing. Sometimes, the most effective film promotion is also the most unconventional. Martin gives the example of 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde. After Bonnie and Clyde was given a bad review in the New York Times, Warren Beatty—who played Clyde and also produced the film—took a print of the film and traveled from town to town, promoting it on every television show that he could book. By embracing the film’s negative attention, Beatty was able to find an innovative way to market his film.

Want to Become a Better Filmmaker?

Whether you’re a budding director, screenwriter, or filmmaker, navigating the movie business requires plenty of practice and a healthy dose of patience. No one knows this better than legendary director Martin Scorsese, whose films have shaped movie history. In Martin Scorsese’s MasterClass on filmmaking, the Oscar winner deconstructs films and breaks down his craft, from storytelling to editing to working with actors.

Want to become a better filmmaker? The MasterClass Annual Membership provides exclusive video lessons from master filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Jodie Foster, Werner Herzog, Spike Lee, and more.

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