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Do Filmmakers Really Need Film Festivals?

There are over 10000 film festivals around the world; most of them require submission fee from the participants to be even able to send their film for a consideration, which obviously doesn’t mean that it is going to make the cut and be screened. Every year new festivals pop up and another close down. Running a film festival is expensive and time-consuming from the point of view of the organisers, and I understand and accept that there needs to be a submission fee.

However, recently I have started wondering how important film festivals are for filmmakers. In the older days, the days before the Internet and VOD platforms, film festivals were ones of very few places where filmmakers could exhibit their work and be discovered.

Nowadays the Internet offers so many opportunities; so why even bother with film festivals? This is the question I started asking myself when I had to pay £110 for submission fees for my 7 minutes short “Dad” only this month (the bill is usually from £100-£150 a month). And this is just the submission fees I can afford; I’m not submitting my film to festivals, which set their early deadline fee to $50 or $60. For a short film, this is pure craziness.

If on average I spend £120 a month on submission fees over a year it will come down to £1440, and that is a budget for another short.

Is the whole process of submitting my film to festivals worth the money, the time, and the effort? Is the entire process slowing me down in building my audience and reaching out to my fans?

Don’t get me wrong, I think film festivals are great places to watch films and maybe network but are they really helping move filmmakers’ careers forward or not so much? To attend a film festival is a pretty expensive venture but that is another story you need to worry about and plan for once your work is accepted.

Of course, there are submission free festivals, which I’m also utilising but that doesn’t mean I think the festivals are the right way to go. With such a fast-paced world, in a year time when the festival circle is over for my film, my short will be already old, and I will have to start all over again marketing and promoting my film to find the right audience. Should I just drop the film festivals altogether and go and reach my audience?

Perhaps today the digital way of communicating with people is a better way to go than film festivals? None of the film festivals I’m submitting my short to is going to share their mailing list with me or help me connect with the audience afterwards.

Yes, a film festival can give awards, and it feels truly great to get some but will that be followed by job offers? Maybe, maybe not.

Building an audience and fan base for our work is what will sustain all our careers over an extended period. In my opinion film festivals became too expensive and offer very little in return to indie filmmakers regarding contacts, contracts and solid networking and promotional opportunities, especially for short films.

To spend £1440 over a year on submission fees for a short film seems not too smart if you think how many FB adverts it could buy or how much that money could help you in adding your film to the VOD digital platforms. Platforms, which could truly help you recoup some of your money, not only keep on spending and spending.

You may be interested in: 

 

$9.99 Film School is full of practical information about filmmaking and film industry that you won’t learn about in a film school. Get instant access to:

  • 89 links to films (narrative and documentaries) distribution companies websites,
  • 95 links to sales agents websites representing feature films (narrative and documentary), 
  • 281 links to film commissions websites 
  • List of 117 short film festivals links
  • List of 82 feature film festival links 
  • Filmmaking E-books
  • Film Production Documents
  • Film Contracts

All I Can Think Of Are Stories…

After a boiling hot weekend (we don’t get many of those in the UK, so I’m not complaining) and a Monday spent in the British Museum, on trains, DLR and in Charlton House, none of the above with any air conditioning, I overheated my body. And I guess my brain, too. Why doesn’t the British Museum have AC I don’t know but the moment I walked in there I was already irritated and felt sick. Even though it was boiling, I didn’t sweat even one drop. Of course, I didn’t realise what was happening until Tuesday morning. At first, I couldn’t move, and I merely thought I was coming down with the flu (every time Little M. finishes school either for a half-term or any other break I seem to be getting sick), but my symptoms were getting more unusual with every passing minute. When I knew it wasn’t the flu, I consulted with my “best friend” Google to clarify my suspicions and yes; I turned out to have had a mild case of the overheated body, for which all my symptoms checked with the google search. Little M. was the bravest boy on earth looking after me and making sure I was drinking enough water.

I was in bed the whole of Tuesday, and the only thing I could think of was writing and stories. I had all those stories planned in my head, and there were good stories. But of course, I couldn’t write anything in my delusional state of mind. I can’t remember any of them (or maybe I was hallucinating) now, but at least I can write a little bit again today. A writer’s life, right?

To purchase my children books and e-books follow this magical link: https://magdaolchawska.com/books-2/

20 Years Later

I moved to London 20 years ago. I just took my A-levels in Poland and didn’t see my future there at all. It was all before the expansion of the EU, before the rise of ultra-right haters and well before this infamous word – Brexit. Now Brexit is looming over all of us, there is no exception at this point and it doesn’t even matter who voted in or out, and who made or is still making shit lots of money on the confusion and general disorder that followed that voting. By the way, one must wonder who would profit the most from the collapse of the EU and NATO.

Anyway, my life is undoubtedly more political than it used to be, much easier than ever and still strongly connected to London.

To celebrate my 20th anniversary here I’ve decided to write “London, My Love Story” poems to honour the city and my life in it. London that I fell in love with, which is mostly gone now and the new exciting beginning that will come after my time in London comes to an end in two or three years (I need to take into consideration Little M.; it’s not only me now so I don’t have a precise date yet).

20 Years Later

I landed on your shores so long ago, I couldn’t see my future where I came from.

The anxiety, nervousness mixed with excitement, is not something I want to forget.

I was young, naive but full of hopes and dreams. 

With time I got used to the noise, the traffic, the people.

I could never be too long away from you. You are like a drug, addictive, abusive, only at times loving.

I lived in so many places all over the city that I can barely remember the rooms, small single beds or the nearby train stations.

I met so many people, had countless lovers and a broken heart a few times.

I fell, picked myself up and moved on.

I treasure and cherish your beauty as much as I hated you at times.

For me, you’ve always been my daily life, my home.

I never thought I was going to stay that long, but love has no logic behind.

I always hoped that our love affair would last until I took my last breath.

But now you are asking for a divorce.

Somehow our future becomes an impossible dream.

Where would I be, where will I go?

New shore, new people, new smells.

New beginnings, perhaps new love affair.

To purchase my children books and e-books follow this magical link: https://magdaolchawska.com/books-2/

My 30 Days Blogging Challenge

 

My 30-day blogging challenge has ended, and I’m happy to report that I haven’t missed even one day. I have learnt a ton and had fun having this daily task: to produce a blog entry every day. In the past, I used to write my blogs for several days, but now I think it is going to change.

What did I learn?

1. I learnt that I really know a lot about filmmaking and 30 blogs in 30 days is not enough time to blog out all the knowledge I carry inside me.

2. I learnt that I could write to short deadlines, even when I’m tired and just want to go to sleep.

3. Music stimulates my creative thinking, even when nothing else seems to be working.

4. I have become a much stronger writer and confident writer.

5. I have become more comfortable with my writing, by sharing my ideas and experience I have had in the indie filmmaking world.

I had fun over the past 30 days. I hope you will find my blogs useful. More is coming. I’m branching out to Medium so follow me there.

My main priority over the coming months will be my $9.99 Film School with monthly updates so head over there to check if this is something you may need.

Checklist of 7 Things You Need Before You Shout “Action”

Before you turn up on the film set you need to go through the pre-production process. Film sets are stressful places and it doesn’t matter if you are making a short or a feature film; you need to be prepared. Check this list to know what you, as a director, need to do before you shout “Action” and the camera starts rolling:

1. Have you done staging with your actors? Do your actors know and feel comfortable doing specific actions or walking over to the place you need them to walk over to? If they don’t feel comfortable, the camera is going to pick that up.

2. Do you know what frame and which lens your DP is going to use? Is this what you want and need? Is this frame going to be consistent with the rest of the visual style you agreed on? In short, set your shot and camera movement if the camera isn’t static.

3. Are your actors on the same page as you are regarding the scene and the characters? Do your actors know what the scene objectives are (if you work with the scene objectives)?

4. Sound – can you hear the actors talking? Is your sound person picking up sounds and noises that will make mixing impossible in the post-production (water running, aeroplane noise, traffic noise)?

5. What do the makeup and costumes look like?

6. Before you say ‘action’, run through the scene with the actors for the technical crew so that everyone knows where the actors are going to be in case the light needs to be adjusted, or lens changed.

7. I know that some directors say that they don’t like looking at the monitor while the scene is playing. I respect that. However, I like my monitor, and I like knowing what is happening in the frame. As a director your responsibility is to know what’s in your frame and what needs to be out, mainly when you work on very tight schedule ‘cos you’re not going to have the luxury to keep re-shooting the same scene over and over again.

Happy Filmmaking

You may be interested in: 

 

$9.99 Film School is full of practical information about filmmaking and film industry that you won’t learn about in a film school. Get instant access to:

  • 89 links to films (narrative and documentaries) distribution companies websites,
  • 95 links to sales agents websites representing feature films (narrative and documentary), 
  • 281 links to film commissions websites 
  • List of 117 short film festivals links
  • List of 82 feature film festival links 
  • Filmmaking E-books
  • Film Production Documents
  • Film Contracts