For our final Industry Insights of 2013 we invited London-based EPK producer-director Sophia Garrido to explain her job…
BEV: What is an EPK? What is its purpose and how do industry people use it?
SG: EPK stands for Electronic Press Kit. It is a collection of video clips consisting of interviews with the cast and crew of a movie, behind-the-scenes footage (or ‘b-roll’) and a Making Of featurette or two. These clips can be used in all kinds of ways: the interviews and on-set footage could be used by, say, broadcasters if they are running a feature to promote the movie, or the featurettes could be included in the DVD extras. There could even be a pre-release campaign where footage is released online, for example, to create a buzz around the movie.
Can you talk us through what your brief might be?
Unless it’s something like The Hobbit, the brief is usually very simple: a few days on set to film b-roll of key scenes, inteviews with main cast and crew, and to produce a Making Of featurette. It depends on what the producers and the publicist want, but those are usually the three main elements that an EPK producer will deliver.
How much access do you usually get to the material and cast before you arrive on set? Are you there for the entire production? Do you read the script beforehand?
When I start on a production, the first thing I read is the script. I make notes on all the characters and the journey they go on, as well as interesting or relevant scenes to be present at for b-roll. At this point I might also have a think about what the Making Of featurette may cover. With those things in mind, I am usually sent a filming schedule. I cross-reference this with the notes I’ve made on key scenes and the cast involved, then submit a range of possible shooting days to the movie’s publicist/producers. Once the days and interviewees (and of course the money) has all been agreed, I prep my interview questions and check with the publicist/producers that they are happy with what I will be asking. I think it is very rare for an EPK producer to stay on set for an entire production – it would be very expensive for the production anyway – but it is not unheard of. On something as big as Prometheus, they would have had the budget to pay for someone to be on-set every day.
You recently worked on How I Live Now, which must have been a huge production. How does that compare to a lower budget movie, in terms of what’s achievable?
A higher budget production would be able to afford an EPK team for more days than a lo/no-budget production. This will in turn affect what is delivered in the final EPK. A lower budget movie might decide not to have the Making Of featurette, as that would mean fewer days in the edit as well as fewer days on set.
So, as a filmmaker starting out, maybe on a self-funded feature, what aspects of the EPK are essential?
At the very least, you’ll want b-roll of a scene or two and interviews with the main protagonist(s) and the director, ideally. Definitely get a stills photographer for a day or two as well.
How did you get into EPK production? What are the skills needed?
I had worked in TV for nearly ten years before I decided to change course and work in film. In a way, the EPK crew is a kind of TV crew on a film set. When I started out, I did everything myself. I did all the prep, all the filming and all the editing. I think these are definitely good skills to have, even if you end up working in a three-man EPK team. I really believe that having these skills make you a better producer/director.
You can find out more about Sophia’s work here.