Top ten film festival submission tips

6a00d8341e322053ef010536788364970b-800wiSara 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…

1. Check out each festival’s website for eligibility and appeal before applying – there are thousands of festivals out there and you don’t want to be wasting your time (plus it’s expensive).2. Track your exhibition prints (tapes or Bluray’s or DCPs) carefully to ensure each festival receives one in good time and has a forwarding address / tracking number for sending to the next festival (start a spreadsheet to track these assets).

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.

6a00d8341e322053ef010536cbf8f4970c-800wi If you have any tips to add, drop me a line and I will add them in an update later.

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

One Response to Top ten film festival submission tips

  1. Mark July 26, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    175 festivals wow that sounds like a hideous amount of work let alone money.

    I think you all deserve a pat on the back for the incredible amount of work done. As a contributer and reader of this blog Ive save hundreds of pounds from your tips and guidance. The amount of money I’ve invested IE books courses etc I’ve made back over and over. All this you do for free.

    Most of us wouldnt last five minutes in your chair.

    Well done Chris. It’s sincerely appreciated.

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