Getting Your Film Ready for Festivals

Getting your production film festival ready can sometimes seem a little overwhelming. It can be hard to know what material you may need to really make your production standout. It doesn’t help that different festivals look for different things, and being a filmmaker on a budget means you really have to do your research on where to apply.

In our opinion, it is always best to be overly prepped, just in case you find that one amazing festival that ticks all you production boxes. Below is a rough checklist of everything you might possibly need.

  • Website

Get your production website down! Make sure all information about your production is online and available for anyone to view. This is a great opportunity for you to go into finite detail, where otherwise you might not be able to, on everything about your production. This is fantastic for film festival reviewers to learn more about you, see what PR you’ve done and get a general feel of you as a filmmaker!

  • Production Poster

After the title, this is most likely going to be the first thing festivals see when reviewing your production. Invest a little extra time in this and really make it pop. Make sure it’s reflective of your story and if in doubt, because posters can be tricky to design (especially if it’s not your forte and you’re on an budget), remember that simpler is normally always better.

  • Production Stills

A great way for festivals to get a feel for your show before watching. Choose the production stills that most sum up what your story is about. If its comedy, choose ones that are colourful and portray the characters in possibly “awkward” situations. Selling a zombie film? Lets see those zombies in make up. Choose three to five of your favourites and make sure the photos are good quality.

  • Tag Line

A short, simple sentence that will wet your audience’s appetite and get them wanting to know more!

  • Elevator Pitch

Imagine you have 30 seconds in an elevator with the producer of your dreams. How would you pitch your production in this time that would get them to hand over their business card?

  • Synopsis

Here you can get into a bit more detail, explaining the various obstacles and challenges your protagonist(s) may have to face. Also, make sure to leave this one on a juicy cliffhanger. You want the reader to walk away thinking “How are they going to do that? I need to watch this thing!”

  • Directors Note

Pretty self-explanatory but vital in my opinion. Why is this? Because it allows festivals to learn more about your production’s intent. Here you can discuss how the production came about, what its relevance to their festival is and any behind the scenes information you think to be vital. This is also great to pop up on your website and use for PR. Remember, even though you can probably talk for hours on this topic, keep your document short, precise and ideally no more that 300-350 words.

  • Credits

This is a given, but make sure to have all your cast and crew credits saved in one document to make this easy to copy and paste. Want to take this one step further? Make three. One with everyone involved, one with just the key members (creators, writers, producers, director, leads etc.) and one with any people of note (by this I mean that actor who has a huge YouTube following, or that director who’s film that recently screened at Cannes). Trust us, this will save you oh so much time later on!

  • Press Release

Not a necessity when submitting, but trust us when we say this is important! Ideally, have at least one press release distributed before submitting. However, the minute your production gets accepted into any festival, write a new press release and distribute it immediately (there are loads of free and paid platforms in order to do this), and it will help build buzz and a following around you’re production. Make use out of being on the festival circuit and get as many eyeballs on your production as possible.

We hope this helps and remember, if you thought your production was worth making, there are going to be people out there who think your production is worth watching. Find those people. They’re waiting for you!

Article written by Alexa Berry for The Monthly Film Festival
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17.12.2016
 

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