How do you get your movie get into the Cannes Film Festival and does it matter if you don’t?
It’s taken blood, sweat & tears to get the movie made – what would a festival play do for you:
- Film festivals will give you a platform and showcase the film and your talent.
- 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 noticed by the industry.
The Cannes Film Festival
Since 1946, the Cannes Film Festival has showcased movies from around the world and simultaneously has a film market attended by global filmmakers, distributors, sales companies and the public.
Alongside Venice and Berlin is it one of the ‘big three’ markets of the year. There are several sections to this market including:
- The Official Selection – the main event.
- In Competition – the prize for the Palm d’Or.
- Un Certain Regard – original, international cultural movies.
- Out of Competition – showcasing movies that are not up for the main prize.
- Shorts – a selection of top short films.
- Cannes Classics – each year, movies from previous years are showcased.
- Marche du Film – the busiest film market in the world.
- How do you get your movie into Cannes ?
- If it does get in, 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 (if you’re speaking to a sales agent, they 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.
TIPS WHEN APPLYING TO FILM FESTIVALS:
Be prepared for a lot of “thanks but no thanks” responses.
- Festivals have hundreds of submissions for each strand of the festival and programmers can be overwhelmed by the amount of films they need to view.
- A pass does not mean your film has no audience – it means it doesn’t suit this particular festival.
- 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?
How do you get your movie into Cannes:
When applying to a festival, check the submission process / their online criteria.
- How do you get your movie into Cannes :
- 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?
- Does your movie fit – look at previous line-ups.
- 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
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!
IF YOU DIDN’T GET IN
- There are other festivals and other ways to reach filmgoers.
- We live in an online world and can reach our audience directly.
- There are online film festivals – Film Freeway – Top Shorts and The Monthly Film Festival
- Build your brand identity and contact your audience via social platforms.