Tips For Submitting To Film Festivals

You’ve made a fantastic movie, now what do you do with it? Festivals! Send it to as many film festivals as you possibly can and hopefully one of them accepts it. Then you film screens, someone loves it and distributes it for you, and you become rich. Easy right? Well, no, unfortunately it’s not quite that easy. Your business brain must come into play the moment you have that final cut in your hands. You have to make a solid plan with what you’re going to do with your finished product. However, submitting to film festivals is a great start. Here are some tips for doing just that! Check out our Filmmaking Resources page for a list of festivals that you can receive discounts to just for being a FilmLocal member!

1. Use a Spreadsheet

If you’re going to be submitting to lots of festivals, you have to keep track of them all. Do so by whatever means you’re most comfortable with. You could use Excel, Sheets, or even just a piece of paper. The whole point of this is to have a record you can refer back to in the future. As soon as you submit to a particular festival you should immediately update your spreadsheet so you don’t forget. Write down information like: how much it cost, if you got accepted, when the screening is, when the deadline is, name, location, and anything else you think might come in handy at a future date. This is also extremely useful if you’re going to write off any of these submissions.

2. FilmFreeway and EPK

Now that Withoutabox is officially closing all you need to do is have a FilmFreeway account and you’ll be good to go with your submission process. Be sure to have this account made and ready before you dive into submitting so there’s no delays. Along with your account being made, create your electronic press kit (or EPK) too. This will save you valuable time during the process as you will have everything prepped and ready instead of scrambling to complete it before a festival deadline. Your EPK should include: a short synopsis, long synopsis, tag ling, any press, bios, trailer, awards, poster, contact info, and BTS stills. Really try to sell your film with your EPK.

3. Budget

Most filmmakers don’t consider how expensive film festivals can really be. It can sneaks up on you if you’re not careful (another reason why you should check out our member discounts). Set a budget and pick your festivals accordingly. It may seem cheap at first, $30 here, $30 there, but it adds up fast. Don’t bank on winning all of the award money either. Pick the festivals you think you’re film will do the best in and really gun for them. It helps if you budgeted your submission expenses all the way back in pre-production.

4. Contact Any Festival Programmers You Know

This industry really is all about networking and who you know. If you’ve met a festival programmer in the past, now is the time to contact them. Try to be as genuine as can be and don’t simply use said person to get ahead. Establish relationships and maintain them constantly throughout your career. You never know who might be able to help you in the future!

5. Rejection, rejection, rejection

No one gets into every festival that they submit to. I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re not going to be the exception. Rejection is a huge part of this industry and you’re going to have to find some way to deal with it. It sucks at first, but who knows, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. If a festival gives you some feedback for your work, take note. A industry professional reviewed your movie and offered their professional opinion on how it can be improved. Do not take this lightly. Be happy if you only get a couple screenings and fight for more when your next movie comes around.

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