Film markets are helpful industry events where filmmakers connect with industry heavy-hitters. Connections are made and deals are secured, while most in attendance hope to get their films funded or distributed or both. Parties are plentiful among the multitude of meetings held throughout.
5 Things Filmmakers Need To Know Before Attending Film Markets
Over the years, I have screened and negotiated distribution at such events. And while there are few rules to film markets, I can offer five important things to know before arriving to get the most out of it.
1. Prepare. When it comes to film markets, you never know what can happen. And it’s best to be ready for any opportunity that may arise to help get the deal you know you’ve been dreaming about. But what does that mean? While you may think preparation is a no-brainer, it is WAY easier said than done.
Who is on the industry list of those attending? And among those, whom do you want to talk to and why? Do your homework. Know who you want to talk to and be prepared for them specifically. Have your business cards ready and a pen (or phone) handy for any notes or important info you need to jot down in a hurry.
2. Come With Swag For Your Film. True story. I was one of the only filmmakers who brought promo pens to the Palm Springs Shortfest market. Not only did many people mention they had heard of my film (I wasn’t screening) but I started to notice everyone from the staff to media, filmmakers to industry, were using my pens. It doesn’t take a lot of money to create memorable swag that people can take away with them and perhaps use to look up your film or you. Be creative and think outside the box. Bring something others aren’t so you stand out.
3. Attend The Networking Events. You have heard those stories of film deals being made over a drink at a party. Film markets are excellent places for this to happen. Social events are plentiful at these industry functions. Libations flow and skewers of shrimp and chicken are passed around. Outside the work venue, people are more likely to let their hair down and be more social. Take advantage of the excellent opportunities these events offer. BUT remember, you have to be willing to do the legwork and get yourself out there first.
4. Pace Yourself. It’s easy to arrive at a market and want to talk to everyone you can get yourself in front of but beware that less can sometimes be more. Nobody likes to be ambushed so it’s a good rule of thumb to leave that off your list of things to do. Respect those you want to approach and look for the right time rather than wasting your chance when the moment just isn’t right.
5. Have Fun. I mean this seriously. Film markets can be overwhelming and hectic and worrisome for filmmakers and that is completely understandable, as the odds to raise money or get distribution are slim and a steep hill to conquer, but one thing I’ve learned along the way is to make sure to allow myself the chance to be in the moment and enjoy it. Think about it. You’re at a film market with YOUR FILM, whether it’s a script or a finished cut, so be happy about it and spring from that confidence and passion when seeking to make deals. You may be surprised how that ends up helping you.
Armed with knowledge learned on many production jobs, Christina Parisi began making films in 2006. Her short films have played at film festivals throughout the world and can be found on Amazon and GaiaTV. Christina spends her time working as a script analyst and writing her personal blog, Life As I Know It.