I make films, photographs and electronic music. I build electronic musical instruments

Going The Film Festival Route

Finished the film. Now what?

I finished my film “I Want To Believe” in January. I then decided to submit my film to film festivals. Initially that took quite some time as I didn’t plan on submitting the film to festivals and I didn’t prepare any marketing related content. I had to create that as I went along. I learned a lot from that.

Still from my short film I Want To Believe

The film festival route

Getting your film into festivals is not easy. There is a lot of competition. The more popular film festivals will probably receive hundreds if not thousands of entries. Your film has to be better than most other entries to get in. Here are a couple of things I learned.

Prepare your marketing material ahead of time

Start creating your marketing material during production. Plan time for taking behind the scenes pictures and production stills into your shooting schedule. For example, I had a lot of behind the scenes video and photographs but I forgot to take production stills. So, I had to use frame grabs from the actual film which are always of lesser quality.

During post production you should create content like a short and long synopsis of the film, director’s statement, production notes, etc. This is all information that is needed by festivals so it makes your life a lot easier when you have prepared all this beforehand.

Do your research

Research the film festival you want to submit to. Did they select the kind of films you’re making? If not, think twice of submitting as your film would probably not fit into the programming. I made that mistake as the first couple of film festivals I submitted to (and was rejected fairly quick) were more general festivals and my film is a sci-fi/fantastic film which did not fit in with the genre of films they were looking for.

Submit early

It generally saves on submission fees and arguably raises your changes of getting selected if your film is any good.

Use film festival submission websites

Use festival submission websites like FilmFreeway or Festhome or Withoutabox to submit your film quick and easy. I like FilmFreeway and Festhome best as they are very easy to use and their prices are very reasonably.

You will get a lot of rejections

This can be frustrating but it’s just a fact of life. I think, with all the submission sites nowadays, film festivals get a lot more entries then they used to. It is just so much easier to digitally submit your film. No more sending DVD’s in the post and hoping they get delivered in time and in one piece.

A rejection by one film festival doesn’t necessarily mean your film is no good. It could be your film didn’t fit in with the rest of the films in the programming or there just wasn’t enough time to screen all the films they wanted to. If your film is rejected write a polite short e-mail asking for more information about why your film didn’t make it into the program. You probably won’t hear any response on that from the larger festivals but I have received feedback from some festivals. However, there are film festivals that specifically state that they will not give details about why films are rejected so please read the information about the festival and act accordingly.