Sara Morrison helped out with festival submissions for my last film, and I asked her for some notes on what she found out – bear in mind this is specifically about submitting to festivals and NOT about attending festivals or other areas of the festival experience.
Gone Fishing is a pretty high profile film which was shot on 35mm, and even with that, and dedicated person working on it, we have only managed to enter around 175 festivals so far. Other film makers will work harder than we have done, and enter many more festivals.Even so, this required deep pockets and a huge amount of effort.
So it’s a long haul process for sure. Anyway, here’s what Sara had to say…
3. Apply through WAB (Without A Box) or similar sites where possible as applying to festivals direct can become a nightmare.
4. Always remember to put the tracking number on your screener in the event it becomes separated from the case.
5. Pay attention to each festival’s application checklist – failure to comply with simple requirements can get you disqualified.
6. Do not send press material with initial submissions unless specifically requested to do so; it may be seen as presumptuous and affect your chances of being selected.
7. A covering letter tailored to each festival is generally appreciated especially when you’ve applied through WAB because the process is made easy and that bit of extra effort can go a long way to helping your cause.
8. Keep a record of your contacts for each festival you’ve been accepted into. It’s easy for it all to blur very quickly.
9. Once you’ve been accepted, remember to send your press materials out several weeks in advance of the festival.
10. Be methodical about your research and submission. It’s a marathon and you will quickly become disheartened if you don’t have a ‘method’ or routine to stick to.
Also, there is a video interview with Alex Fazeli here on the blog, a film maker I met a lot on the circuit. I shot it as a bonus for the Gone Fishing online workshop but chose to share with the whole community. Click here to watch.
Onwards and upwards!
Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author