First off, EPK means Electronic Press Kit. Simply, an EPK is an electronic version of the press kit for the film. It is primarily used by journalists as they gather information for any articles or interviews they create related to your film, but portions of EPKs are even used as Special Features on DVDs. Have you ever seen interviews with actors on the DVD of a film? Those interviews are often part of the Electronic Press Kit.
EPKs are created throughout the filmmaking process. My first exposure to EPKs was on the first film on which I interned in NY. The production coordinator wanted me to make sure to let the ADs (assistant directors) know that the EPK crew would be on set the following day. The ADs coordinate all on-set activity so they needed to be aware of the crew's arrival and know they would need to work with the EPK crew on a schedule for interviews, etc. I gave the coordinator the blank stare and he took the time to explain the EPK and its function.
Once I heard EPK spelled out, I had an immediate understanding but I still wasn't quite sure how EPKs were put together and how important they are to a film's promotion. Thinking about it, I realized that I saw a number of films due to interesting interviews with cast and I've developed a greater affinity for certain projects due to learning more about the whys and the hows of people's involvement on and choices for a project. And right there, from my own experience, I was hooked on the value of an EPK.
Many productions will hire a Unit Publicist who handles the publicity of the production through the shooting of the film. This Unit Publicist will often work with entertainment marketing companies that produce footage for EPKs and DVD extras. That company will send out its own producer and camera crew to conduct the interviews and other special segments that will be used in EPKs and on DVDs as Special Features.
Even though we are indie filmmakers, we need to create our own EPKs for our projects. Whether or not we can afford our own Unit Publicist or entertainment marketing company, we need to film behind-the-scenes footage and conduct interviews and create Special Features. And much of this footage should be done during production of the film. It's more difficult to try to piece an EPK together after filming is over. So take advantage of the film's production and capture some footage for your EPK as you are making your film. EPKs will absolutely help you get your film out to an even greater audience.