Like many passionate artists, filmmakers sometimes forget that it can be more than simply their art that needs to be submitted when they send in their films. It’s important to remember that they are selling more than simply a film, they are selling a package, a personality, and a platform.
Here are 10 things to not do if you are a director or producer submitting a film to a festival.
1. Forget to read the rules
This seems like is should be so easy. Read the rules and regulations for the film festival that you are submitting to. Very often, filmmakers will just sent in their film and never read the rules that govern how the film will be judged, what to submit with their film, or even review what types of films the festival covers.
2. Disappear after submitting your film
If you are going to send in your film, make sure that you are available to answer the phone or emails. The festival may have questions or need further information. Don’t assume that just because you filled out a form that that is everything that they need. Be available to them for questions.
3. Internal strife
Way too often, filmmakers will submit a film then suddenly try to pull it after the schedule is published because they are fighting with a member of their team. Sometimes the person who sent the film in didn’t have the rights or the correct permissions from the rest of the crew. Be a professional and have your ducks in a row before you begin submitting your film.
4. Forget to get music rights
It can be so easy to simply grab some music and use it in your film. The problem is that the people who create the music would like to get paid. If you don’t make sure that the rights are cleared, it is the festival and theater that get the fines and lawsuits. They aren’t going to do that for you, so get it sorted out first.
5. Communicating too much
The festival will call you if they need anything; you don’t need to drive them crazy with calls and emails. Even too many offers to assist can be a pain. Be laid back and professional and you will be fine.
6. Not have a press kit
Your press kit is the foundation that the festival will use to create your marketing and social networking campaign from. If you don’t have a press kit, it shouldn’t be the festivals problem to create one for you. Have a professional press kit in hand when you submit your film.
7. Crappy production stills
Your stills are the images that will be used for all of the print media before, during, and after the festival. Many directors, particularly inexperienced ones, will forget to have quality production stills shot. This is important if you want to have your film be part of the catalogs and commemorative works.
8. Photos of you
You’re a professional. Make sure that you have decent photos of yourself, either in action or at least a professional headshot. You would expect your actors to have something decent to present. You need to have at least that as well.
9. No social network
If you aren’t going to market your film, why should you expect that the festival will. You need to build a massive social network, from the day you start thinking of producing a film until long after it is released.
10. Be a douche
Ok, it sounds a bit harsh, but don’t be rude or ungrateful. You made a film. So did everyone else who is submitting to the festival. Don’t act the fool. If you are the last film shown at 2 am on Tuesday morning, feel blessed that you are on the schedule. If something goes wrong, tough. It happens. No one is trying to sabotage you. In fact, how you handle pressure and problems can be the biggest test of whether someone will hire you or not.
There are problems a hundred more ways that filmmakers can mess up their festival appearances, but these are the biggest. Don’t do these things, be smart, be professional and you will do well.