Film Festival Tips
Film Festivals are great places to meet people, to network, to watch the films that you would never usually see otherwise and of course, and most importantly, to get your films viewed by the audience.
The film festival will give you exposure to industry delegates, film lovers and the media. Film Festivals and even more festival awards are a great way to get noticed by “headhunters” looking for the next Scorsese or Tarantino.
However, if you want to take full advantage of the festival circuit, it’s necessary, or at least advisable, to set your goals. You have to ask yourself a fundamental question which is: what do I want to get from submitting my film to this specific film festival or any film festival in general?
– Distribution deal. (distributor, sale agent)
– Exhibition and exposure.
– Media coverage.
– Arrangement for the next movie (it does happen)
– Watching movies.
– Attending parties.
Once you have your goals set it will be much easier to choose festivals which are the best for your film. Identifying the right festivals for your film is hard work. There are a few prestigious festivals that everyone wants to get into such as Berlin, Toronto, Sundance, Cannes but of course very few do, and sometimes it is better to submit your film to specific festivals such as documentary, shorts, horror etc. This way your film can get the right exposure and be seen by the right audience, and it might be easier to find a distributor or a sales agent.
You can start with dividing your list of festivals into four categories (of course it is very personal, and it depends on the films genre and your objectives for the festival circuit):
– Top Film Festivals – internationally recognised festivals (Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, Venice, etc.).
– Major Regional Film Festivals.
– Regional Film Festivals.
– Young/new Film Festivals that have not been around for too long
When it comes to following deadlines, filling in application forms and just keeping track of all the festivals you have submitted the film also, you need to be very well organised. The best is to keep a folder or a notebook where you can keep all the relevant information.
The premier status of your film (we’re not only talking about the world premiere but also the continent, country, region, city etc.) is very important, especially for feature films (shorts not so much. I usually send my shorts to as many festivals as possible). Of course, you won’t be able to premiere your film at every major film festival so you need to carefully select the festivals that you would love your film to be premiered at. And remember, you probably won’t be able to send your feature film to more than one festival within one geographical area so choose carefully which one it is to be.
Before you send your film to the festival, read the RULES & REGULATIONS carefully and make sure that you are sending the right DVD (PAL or NTSC, Region 0, 1, 2) in the correct number of copies and that the DVD works. Include all the information required by the festival on your DVD’s cover (I usually include the short synopsis with a still from the film) such as:
- Format (DVD PAL or DVD NTSC).
- Title of the film and the director’s name.
- Festival’s the film participated in (If many choose the most important ones) or awards if your film has won any. This may be unpopular, but sometimes it is easier to get to the festival if you’ve previously been accepted somewhere else.
- Category of submission (check with the festival’s rules and regulations).
- Running time/duration.
- What the film is shot on.
- Contact email/Phone number.
- Film’s website (if it has one, always recommended).
With each copy of the film, you will have to send the application/submission form (sometimes you fill it in online, and you need to attach your registration number). I also always send a submission letter together with the press kit.