How to get selected for a film festival? Here are the 7 best tips!
Say you’re a (short) filmmaker and you’ve just finished your film. How do you get your film selected for a film festival? What’s the next step? We asked our curators Jip Branten and Mathieu Janssen to give us their 7 best tips on how to get your film selected.
1. Go to film festivals
It may seem so simple, but the best tips are often quite easy to execute. That’s why the best thing you can do is to visit as many film festivals as possible. It’s important to watch films of others, make use of the knowledge offered in the industry programs and network with professionals and other filmmakers.
So, if you ever get selected to a festival: go! And also, if you haven’t got a film selected at a festival (maybe because you haven’t even made a film yet), be sure to go to your regional and national film festivals and see what they have to offer.
2. Get to know film programmer(s)
And while you’re at a film festival, don’t miss out on the networking events. Here, you’ll probably find a lot of film programmers. Not only from that particular festival, but also from other festivals. Get to know as many curators as possible and learn about their preferences. Not so you can make a film solely focused on the preferences of one film programmer – that won’t get you far – but to discover which festival fits you and your work best. And don’t forget to keep in touch with them either. This way, you can reach out to them later on when you’ve finished a film that would fit their profile.
3. Share your experiences with fellow filmmakers
It may not always be a direct way into a festival, but you can still learn a lot from peers. Ask other filmmakers about their way of doing things! You can learn a lot from the way other filmmakers deal with funding, distribution, production and well, basically everything. You can meet them at other film festivals, but you can also check if there are any regional programs to get to know filmmakers closer to home. At what film festival did you get selected? Do you know the film programmers there? What works best for your films to get them selected? Did you use a distributor? The answers to these kinds of questions can be more valuable than reading blogposts or web articles (like this one, sadly) on how to get your film selected.
4. Take submissions into your budget – distribution costs money!
At Go Short we ask for a submission fee. Many other festivals do the same thing. If you’re at the right festival with the right film, it’s always worth to pay a submission fee. Here’s why.
The money received from film submissions is being used to guarantee a safe infrastructure and to make sure the selection committee will handle your film with care once it’s received. Go Short asks a fee of € 10,-, which is not a lot compared to most festivals. (pssst, submit here)
Whether you decide to work with a distributor, or do the submissions yourself – a distribution plan costs money, so make sure to take it in account when you prepare the budget for your film. Especially when you want to submit to festivals in the United States; this can get very expensive!
5. Think about working with a distributor
And then distribution. If you don’t know where to start, a distributor can come in handy. Usually, if you have a good one, this is someone who knows every film festival and knows exactly what type(s) of film festival(s) would be perfect for your film. Obviously they will charge some money, but they also take a lot of work from your hands (including filling out dozens of forms). For a festival, the distributor – if it’s a good one – can also be quality stamp. This doesn’t mean you need a distributor to get selected; films submitted by the director or producer are treated equally.
And last but not least; distributors know their way around in the wild west of premiere statuses.
6. If you distribute the film yourself – do your own research
One thing we can say with absolute certainty is to be extremely careful when you’re working with Film Freeway; it can be a wild place with sketchy festivals, high fees and fake events. That’s why if you go full Indie-mode, we recommend you to research the festival(s) you submit your film to.
For example, create a list of filmmakers whose work you admire and look at what festivals they get selected. The perfect festival for your film might be in there. Oscar-, BAFTA-, and EFA-nominating festivals are always a safe bet, but also festivals that are connected to Short Film Conference or included in the AG Kurzfilm festival agenda are always trustworthy places to submit your film to.
7. Do your own thing
In the end it doesn’t matter how much you try to connect with film festivals and their film programmers if you don’t stay true to yourself. If you try to be something you’re not you’ll lose your authenticity (and we programmers can smell it!). Try to stay loyal to your own visual language. Most programmers will appreciate a bit of experimenting more than perfectly coloring within the lines. And will a 10-minute film have more chance to play at festivals than a 30-minute film? Probably yes; but if you think that your film needs the 30 minutes, we’d still rather see that. So, feed us original perspectives, angles and takes on subjects you care about and go wild! Don’t get distracted, the sky is the limit. Be passionate about what you make and take pride in doing so. In the end, that’s one of the best tips we can give you.
We guarantee you that if you take these tips by heart that it will get much easier to get your film selected for a (short) film festival. Do you know a filmmaker who could learn a thing or two from these tips? Share this article with them!
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