Film festivals offer a great way to get your movie seen on the big screen in front of a living audience. I mean, it’s enough to make you lose some sleep with excitement. I remember one of our earliest festivals. We were invited to some private party in a fancy hotel in Hollywood. There were a few celebrities and respected indie filmmakers milling about.
But what was really odd, was the fact that most everyone approached our director and myself and introduced themselves in an overly friendly way. What we didn’t realize that night was – we were about to win an award!!!
The next night, we arrived on the FOX Studio Lot – that’s where they had the award ceremony. I can remember how exciting it was when they called our name and we claimed the award with flash bulbs going off in our eyes. It was totally surreal and amazing. After that, we had about a two week open door to submit our spec screenplays to various agents and managers.
But getting into the festival, winning the award and creating professional relationships was a result of careful planning. First we had to make the movie. After that, we had to submit our movie to a festival appropriate for our material – and gain acceptance. After that, various judges had to watch the movie and make judgments.
What I’m saying is, the stars have to align just right to get into a festival and win an award. But assuming you want to potentially experience an awesome audience reaction to your movie and also, make friends with like minded filmmakers – here are some actions/tips:
- Submit to film festivals. I’ve had some success with withoutabox — Do your research. What festivals usually feature your type of movie? Is the festival good for awards, meeting distribution folks or simply somewhere you can get free beer? Watch out for festivals that try have a reputation of not treating filmmakers very well.
- Make sure you network your way around the festivals. The judges are supposed to be impartial. But they are human and often attend the parties. Make sure you are nice to everyone… And make sure you “sell” your film to anyone who will listen.
- If you are contacted by an acquisition executive, good for you. If not, consider getting a good sales rep for your movie. If one of these professionals approaches you, make sure you do your homework. Watch out for people who try to charge you up front. There are a few good companies that do this… But for the most part, if an agency or a sales rep offers to represent your movie, they usually take a profit on the back end.
Obviously navigating the festival circuit is pretty broad. So if you would like more information specific to the crazy world of film festivals, you should check out the following guide: Chris Gore’s Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide Fouth Edition: The Essential Companion for Filmmakers and Festival-Goers