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Masterclass: How to get screened

Masterclass: How to get screened

Getting your short film screened at a film festival is a great opportunity for any filmmaker. It allows you to showcase your work to a wider audience, get noticed by industry professionals, and build valuable connections. It’s an achievement that can launch your career to new heights. But let’s face it, the process of submitting your work can be challenging and intimidating. That’s why we’ve got the insider scoop on how to get your film noticed, navigate the festival circuit, and select the right festivals to submit to.  

Industry filmmakers and experts Mardou Jacobs, Mathieu Janssen, Douwe Dijkstra, and Rita Barbosa delve into the enormous world of film festivals and share their thoughts, experiences, and knowledge on selecting films, working with(out) distributors, and submitting to film festivals.  

Choosing the right time and festival 

How to select the right festivals to submit your film to? When to submit a film? Valuable questions which could influence one’s experience with a festival immensely. There is a great importance in finding the right festivals, the ones that align with your film’s style and message. The festivals that will care for your film.  

As a filmmaker who has traveled to more festivals, Douwe shares that there could be a hierarchy within the film festivals that include features and shorts, with features taking priority. Local and smaller festivals would be a perfect starting point for an aspiring filmmaker. As Rita acknowledges, “Smaller festivals are open to more experimental films. There your short film will get the attention and care it deserves.” 

And don’t rush your film. Taking the time needed to make a film is of utmost importance. “Find your own voice,” advices Douwe, “don’t tailor your film to what you think will get you selected.” “As a filmmaker, one should make a film that feels right for them and not necessarily please the selection committee or the chosen festivals” adds Mathieu, who is a part of the selection committee and program department at Go Short. 

What about fake festivals? 

The global film festival landscape has expanded exponentially, with an ever-increasing number and variety of film festivals. However, amidst this growth, it is important to be cautious as not all festivals are legitimate. Some aim to fraudulently obtain entry fees, while others make empty promises, providing little value for filmmakers’ time and money. These deceptive festivals often use platforms like FilmFreeway, offering false recognition and prizes while lacking credibility. A fake film festival is a deceptive event that preys on filmmakers’ aspirations by offering false opportunities and exploiting their trust, ultimately leading to disappointment and financial loss. 

Differentiating fake festivals from legitimate ones could be hard sometimes but is always a must do. The number of fake festivals can be overwhelming and intimidating. The fake festivals often promise great exposure and opportunities that seem too good to be true. Therefore, being wary of scams and researching the festival’s reputation and history before submitting a film is a step that shouldn’t be overlooked and in fact, is crucial. 

Do you want to read more about fake festivals? Click here to read our article on fake festivals. 

It can be challenging to find the right festival for your film. Create a list of filmmakers whose work you admire and look at what festivals they got selected. The perfect festival for your film might be in there. Oscar-, BAFTA-, and EFA-nominating festivals are always a safe bet. Or check out the list of festivals that are connected to Short Film Conference to find trustworthy places to submit your film to. 

And the distribution, of course 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, working with a distributor can be a great option. A good distributor can provide valuable guidance and expertise, helping you to identify the film festivals that are the best fit for your work. While it’s true that working with a distributor will typically come with a cost, they can also take on a significant amount of work on your behalf, such as handling the logistics of filling out numerous application forms.  

This, however, doesn’t mean that films submitted by the director or producer themselves are not treated equally as the ones submitted with the help of a distributor. Working and submitting alone or distributing with someone else that doesn’t work with a distributor could also be the way to go. “Learn from each other. It is very valuable to learn how to distribute on your own,” advices Douwe.  

Overall, it’s essential for filmmakers to find the balance between working alone and with others in the industry. Whether working with a distributor or building personal relationships with festivals, it’s crucial to keep the film’s vision and integrity at the forefront and find partners who share that vision. 

Having your short film screened at a festival is a challenging but rewarding process. The key is to do your research, find the festivals that are the right fit for your film, and build meaningful relationships with industry professionals. By following these tips and being true to your creative vision, you can increase your chances of getting your film noticed and taking your career to the next level. 

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