What a year it is has been for my jump into the indie film-making pool. Sure, we actually shot the film in 2014, but it was 2015 that I became acquainted with the Film Festival circuit - intimately. As I like to do with most things, I thought I'd share my experience for other filmmakers out there who may be venturing into this world with a few observations and tips.
I started this journey by using both Without a Box and Film Freeway to submit my film to festivals. I don't want to say the amount I submitted to because it was a HUGE amount. (Thankfully we had raised funds for this on our crowd-funding endeavor.)
2015, we ended up as part of festivals with MOTHER in Boston, LA, Houston, Portland Oregon, East Lansing Michigan, Indiana, Golden Door at Jersey City, Hoboken Film Festival, Nevada, Maverick Movie Awards and a few others. A little over a dozen places which for a first time filmmaker was AMAZING. But yes, the % versus those we entered...very small.
1) I quickly decided to only enter those that would allow for online submissions. Burning and sending DVDS gets costly & you still may not get in. It's going to be 2016 - places should accept online at this point.
2) Printing postcards,posters,
marketing materials for every festival you attend can be a high cost and very little return (for short films). Yes, feature films attempting to get distribution...it makes sense. For me, it didn't.
3) Some festivals treat short films like the ugly step children of the film/Cinderella world...do your homework on this and just know that many people are there for the feature films. (Don't let it get you down too much.)
4) Some festivals are amazing and treat all filmmakers equally. You almost feel embarrassed by the accolades.
5) Being able to attend all the festivals is a pipe dream unless you are extremely wealthy and do not have a day job.
6) I was advised to only submit to those you intend to attend. They say it's all about the networking. I may have sucked a little at this part.
7) People get to see your work; people outside of your cast/crew/circle of friends. It's wonderful when you hear your film has touched the life of someone in the audience: treasure that moment!
8) Talking about a year old film/project can become daunting because for you - it happened so long ago. Keep in mind it's fresh and new to those seeing it at the festival so try & keep up the enthusiasm for it even though you may have moved on.
9) Speaking of moving on...everyone wants to know what you're working on now/next. It doesn't matter that your film may have won an award at the festival you attend...to many, you're only as good as what's coming up NEXT. (I wanted to say I was busy promoting MOTHER and have several other jobs outside of film...instead, I said I was writing a screenplay: partly true. It's just not finished yet.)
10) No matter what happens, how many accept you, if you win or not - just enjoy the experience! You created a freakin' movie and for that...you should be proud!
I can't thank all of the festivals enough that liked our work and invited us to be a part of their events. I had an amazing cast, crew, support system and though I'm not certain when I'll do this again...I'm looking forward to whatever 2016 has in store!