Film festivals are a great way of networking and showcasing your material to the public. Each year hundreds and thousands of films are submitted to film festivals and only a small number are selected for the program. Sounds difficult, doesn't it? Well there are easier ways to get your film into festivals and I'm about to give you some top tips...
1. Make a Film
I don't need to explain this part but for any beginners who have never made a film, you can check out other film related how to guides on how to make a film and how to go from amateur to pro and so on.
Once you've made a film and you feel confident about it, do not submit it straight away! Many young film makers test the waters and submit their films straight to festivals without any quality control. Because film festivals can only add a small selection of films, any errors or bad production quality will automatically get your film rejected. The best way to avoid this is to review your film and get others to review and critique your film, then fix and polish your film from those comments. Make sure plenty of people have seen it first, and given you the opportunity to make any changes.
2. Choose Wisely
This may be one of the best ways to guarantee your film being accepted into festivals. There are thousands of film festivals throughout the year, all around the world and each one is different to the other. Sites such as withoutabox.com, filmfestivals.com and filmfreeway.com, have lists of thousands of different festivals you can choose from. However, it's important is to choose wisely.
You don't want to go for the big ones like Cannes or Venice because you're guaranteed to get rejected if you're not incredibly experienced. Play smart and do your research. Find a local film festival in your town. There are loads of independent festivals which specialise in different genres and themes which you can submit your film to. If your film features themes suitable to the festival's theme then you'll have a good chance of getting it screened.
3. Have a Budget
So your film is amazing and you want to guarantee success by applying and submitting to all these film festivals you've found. If you play it smart and submit to at least hundred festivals surely 10 will accept your film. And that would be an achievement, if it didn't land you in massive debt! Film festivals aren't cheap, most submission fees range from around £20 to £50 depending on the festival and the length of the film. Small festivals are usually cheaper or free to enter whereas more well-known festivals like Cannes, Venice and Sundance can range up to £80 for a short film submission.
It is very important to remember that when you submit your film to a festival you are not always guaranteed acceptence. This may be due to many factors like lack of space in the programme, quality control, competition with over films and so on. So always expect rejections because you'll get a lot of those on the way. But it also means you've wasted a lot of money on submission. You could literally spend about £10,000 submitting your film worldwide.
Set yourself a budget. This will help you plan and find suitable festivals you could possibly get accepted.
There are also free festivals you can submit your films to. Filmfestivalsecrets.com and freefilmfestivals.org have a list of free festivals you can submit to.
At this point, you're prepared to tackle the competition and hopefully get yourself a few awards. But there are a few things to remember...
- Make your film unique - it'll make it stand out if there is something new and original
- Market your film well – if your marketing is strong then you will get the word out, and festivals may come to you!
- Take things one step at a time – if this is the first time going through the festival route, take your time and do it properly, my best advice would be to submit to one or two festivals at a time
- Don't stop – you shouldn't be put off resubmitting new films to the same festival if your first try is rejected. You'll build your reputation in that community and possibly award a few awards each year.
So there you have it. You're ready to take on other film makers in the world and just maybe, grab a job in Hollywood. The biggest benefits to being shown at film festivals are recognition and networking. When I say networking I mean you get to meet and learn from other film makers and also spend time with VIP's and potential investors who have seen your film and may invest in your next project, so look out for those and keep a strong connection with those important people because they may help you become the next Steve Spielberg.
Image courtesy of Jim Linwood