To the uninitiated, the film festival circuit can be an intimidating thing. Here are 5 quick tips, maybe obvious ones, that will ease the process of festival submission.
As this article we just posted makes clear, it’s just about time for a heavy succession of major film festival submission dates. So we decided to ask a bunch of filmmakers and film festival programmers to wax on their experiences so we could tell you what to do and not do when it comes to trying to get your film into a festival. We know some of it sounds kind of obvious, but from what we’ve been told — there’s a whole lot of filmmakers who don’t abide it. So listen up:
1. Know what your film is, and where it belongs. Not every film is the right fit for SXSW, or Berlin, or Sundance. Yes, for a lucky few they end up in all three festivals (but clearly we don’t all have a “Boyhood” in the can), but for most your film — short or feature — is gonna be extremely lucky to come close to getting into one. So if you aren’t quite at a level of filmmaking that is going to be able to contend with the big guns (yet!), don’t waste your time and money and emotional well being getting in over your head. There’s dozens and dozens of festivals that while, yes, might not give you the level of exposure that Sundance might, they will give your work a showcase and give you an opportunity to grow as a filmmaker through the experience, giving you some internal notes to take forward into your next move.
2. Lower your expectations. Sort of in the same line of thinking, you need to not let the kind of rejection that can easily, easily come with submitting to film festivals get you down. Festivals like Sundance or SXSW often get well over 10,000 submissions — over half of them almost always shorts. They only show a small fraction. The odds are against you, and you have to accept that. Sometimes filmmakers make quite a few films that don’t end up getting shown anywhere, so expecting your going to get in somewhere big on your first try is just setting yourself up for stress, sweat and tears.
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