Helpful tips in sending your film to festivals.

posted Oct 13, 2012, 12:23 PM by Ross Bigley

You worked hard. You sweated and had many sleepless nights completing your film. So what's the first thing you want to do after finishing something that you are so proud of? Do you post it on the internet? NO! Absolutely not.

More and more festivals are making it clear that they will not accept a film if its on Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, or whatever other new site that will be up in the near future. Why? Because the festival wants to be sure that they get an audience to see your film. By having it stream online somewhere it is most likely that your friends and family have seen it. And after they’ve already seen it would they leave the comfort of their home and shell out some hard earned money to see it again? Probably not. And the festival programmer will think most definitely not. So, be patient. Wait. Yes your mother paid for your film but wouldn't she like it all the more surrounded by an audience congratulating you on your achievement? I would think so. Your family can wait.

There are also other points that filmmakers must consider. Points such as “Which festival do I send it to? Well festivals are popping up all over the place and some cities, Milwaukee for instance, has more than one. Last year alone there was us (The Milwaukee Short Film Festival) The 48-Hour Project, Milwaukee Film, The Milwaukee Underground Film Festival, The Horney Goat Film Festival and MARN Kino while out of Milwaukee there are the Wisconsin Film Festival (the best in the state), The Beloit Film Festival, Weyauwega International Film Festival, Driftless and Wildwood. That’s quite a few, isn't it, and I'm sure I'm missing a few.

Most festivals prefer to have premieres, again going back to that that attendance thing. They need to be sure there are enough ticket sales to cover costs. After all nothing is free and putting on events can be pricey. So do your own research to see if your film is right. Festivals do have personalities as you can see by viewing past line ups on their websites. That should help you make a decision on whether your film fits. This goes for submitting your film outside of your area as well. Dont start writing checks to dozens of festivals and get mad that your film didn't get in. There are many reasons why a film doesn't get selected and being bad is only one of them. Theres also that personality thing. Your film just might not fit with how they program their festival.

You might also consider sending a synopsis or stills. Some festivals will not consider a film if they don't have an EPK along with that film. They would just rather not have to keep asking for one from you. Its just another hassle for the festival. The least you could do is send a few lousy stills that you shot with your cell phone while on set.

Here’s another thing to keep in mind. Festival programmers at times don't watch films all the way through. We do, but some don't. If you don't grab someone in the first two minutes that screener is turned off. So don't have the first two minutes of your film be opening credits. Most likely you are making a short not a feature so leave the credits for the end. It will help you out in the future.

And in closing if you really want to do the whole festival thing avoid premiering your film elsewhere. Again, festival programmers like premieres as venues are not cheap. If you’re not going the festival route then go ahead and screen your film outside of a festival. But if you do decide after that screening to then submit your film to your local festival be prepaired to not get a prime spot.

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