Acquisitions executives attend film festivals hoping to find a diamond in the rough – the new voice and vision for the future. Getting your movie into a film festival increases your chances of being seen by the industry.
Sales Agents and Submitting a Movie to a Film Festival
As mentioned in a previous blog “What does A Sales Agent do in Film“, one of their roles is getting your movie into a film festival.
Sales companies attend the many markets and festivals around the world.
Just some of the festivals regularly attended by sales agents are:
Sundance; Berlin; Rotterdam; MIP; Karlovy Vary; Cannes; Dinard; Venice; Toronto; AFM …
Therefore … a sales agent is a good point of entry to getting your movie into a film festival and into the marketplace for distribution – helping to get extra attention / public awareness for your film.
They know the programmers; the sections; the right type of festival for the film and understand the submissions process.
Sales agents understand what type of film you have; where the potential distributor might be; how the festival will create a buzz around the movie.
Do you know which ‘slot’ is good for your movie? It’s not always obvious that a 10 day festival has better time slots than others (& a sales agent will know those dates).
One weekend may get all the ‘buzz’, another screening slot may be when distributors have left – not great if you’re looking to sell the film.
The sales agent will let buyers know when your film is screening – and ask them to save the date.
Trades – the market trades (Variety, ScreenDaily, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline etc) have daily editions read by all attendees at film festivals. Sales agents will market your film within those trades; festival screenings will be listed too.
If you don’t have a sales agent, one site to check out to place your film is www.thefilmfestivaldoctor.com
Sundance Film Festival – January 2019
it’s January 2019 and Sundance Film Festival is almost upon us. This festival has been running since 1985 when it was set up by Robert Redford as a non-profit organisation dedicated to discovering, supporting & inspiring independent film, media and theatre. It’s been hugely successful in providing a platform for new, exciting filmmakers – giving them a voice and a platform for the US and rest of the world.
Tips when applying to film festivals:
Don’t send your film to a festival until it’s ready – this may sound obvious, but in the rush to meet the entry deadline you may be tempted to get the movie out too soon i.e. get the sound, music, colour, mix and grade right.
As with my previous advice on scripts, you don’t get a second chance at a first impression – make sure the movie is as good as it can be.
Screen your movie to others before submitting. When you are close to a project it is difficult to get perspective. As well as your friends & family (who will be biased) get as many viewers from the industry to take a look and be honest with you. These people go to markets / festivals and screen movies all the time.
Is there an overriding problem / theme – if so, can it be fixed before you take the film further?
Ask for advice re which festivals to approach i.e. is this a SXSW or Cannes movie? Is it neither – should it be at a specialist festival i.e. documentary (Sheffield) or horror (Sitges) festival?
When applying to a festival, check the submission process / their online criteria.
Look at the entry dates – when can you submit; what’s the cut off point for submission – will your film be ready for these dates.
There are some free festivals; there are festivals who’ll waive the fee if you ask … however, most festivals charge fees – check their websites. Also, fees may vary dependent upon how close you are to the deadline.
What material requirements do you have to provide e.g. delivery format; length; supporting materials; press packs; website; stills; cast & crew info etc
The selection process – programmers are looking to place films sometimes across 10 days and 12 hour slots. There are multiple places where your film could be placed – as well as genres; sections. Where does your movie fit?
Be willing to go to festivals, talk on panels, take part in audience Q&As – useful now and for the future.
This is the beginning of your career and the relationships you make at festivals are as important as the screening itself. Meet with and get to know the programmers, sales agents and distributors – so you know who to talk to for your next movie!