Film Makers Q and A at Festivals and Top Ten Tips For A Great Session!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is a list of ten top tips for doing festival Q and A’s for your film…

1. Be nervous. You may naturally be on the edge of your seat, but if you are not, just GET NERVOUS. Audiences will warm to you if they feel you are a little terrified.

2. Thank the audience for coming and see your movie, and remind them that this a very special screening for you as it is…the premiere, this country’s premiere, the first time you’ve seen it with such a big audience, etc.

3. Camp it up! Not that I’m saying that you should say “fiddlesticks” every third word, but your cultural heritage is part of what makes you and your film interesting.

4. If you are really bold, as you climb onto the stage to introduce the film, trip up and stumble.

5. When doing the Q&A session, kick off as soon as you can. Ask the organisers to start as soon as the credits roll by dipping the music and bringing the house lights up. You don’t want to let any of the audience leave as the credits are rolling.

6. Don’t be an artist. There’s no greater way to bore an audience stupid than to reflect on the naval-staring you performed during the ‘conceptualisation of your allegorical story of the inner child’s journey from the womb to the grave… blah blah blah’, BORING! Tell them a funny story.

7. If an audience doesn’t start asking questions, launch yourself into some entertaining anecdotal but relevant story.

8. Have a list of questions and give it to the organisers who can sit in the audience. They can then ask questions to which you have amazingly good and amusing answers.

9. Keep answers short and sweet. If you have inexperienced actors with you, beware, they may ramble.

10. Ask audiences to tell their friends about the next screening, remembering to give them times, dates and venues. Also, tell them you’ll be in the bar outside should anyone want to chat. It’s a good way to get free drinks and sometimes a free dinner.

New_cover_2007I pulled this list from my book The Guerilla Film Makers Movie Blueprint, an A to Z of practical film making techniques, strategies and templates. There is more information on the book here… (and you can buy signed copies direct from me here).

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

3 Responses to Film Makers Q and A at Festivals and Top Ten Tips For A Great Session!

  1. Karen June 8, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    Interesting perspective. Thanks for posting.

    Having been on both sides of the fence (ie in the audience and presenting), I’d warn that it is very easy for the ‘quaint’, slip shod act to turn into real slip-shoddery. Part of the reason audiences leave Q&As (if you listen to them chatting at the bar afterwards) is because they’re used to bumbling film buffs who are going to joke (in low voices) amongst themselves, play ‘get pass the mike/who’s answering what/drop the mike’, not invite interaction, panic about questions and deflect, navel gaze, shuffle their feet distractingly and generally not going to present them with a professional package. Looking too nervous can also suggest you’re ashamed of your movie because it comes across as expecting to be lynched.

    Audiences want character, but they also want decent insights, interesting presentations and proper communication – something that’ll enthuse them, fan boy or not. Buddy G (of Combat Shock) is a great example of how to do it in a relaxed and easy way.

    The ones who’d stay anyway are the already converted – additional customers (who might otherwise buy the merch) have gone for a pint.

    I think it’s like comedy-piano rule: never attempt playing badly unless you can play badly well. Else you do just look inept.

  2. Sheri Candler June 8, 2010 at 3:03 pm #

    thanks so much for joining us in Panama City, FL. I agree, more festivals should use Skype. It isn’t hard to set up, we have used it before and it usually works great. People were really excited to talk to the filmmakers and I hope you guys got something out of it too.

  3. Josh June 8, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    Yes, thanks for staying up late to skype with us! I enjoyed the film very much.

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