There are a lot of things you should do when entering your film into a film festival.
There are also a lot of things not to do. Some of these things will really make the festivals staff angry. Others are just plain dumb.
- Don’t enter your film into a festival that doesn’t have a category for you. Nothing is more annoying for festival judges than to have someone send them a horror film when they only do anime. Make sure that you pay attention to the types of films that they want. Don’t just submit a film for the sake of submitting it.
- Don’t forget to fill out the application properly. Missing information that staff has to run around looking for is more than an annoyance; it can be a reason to drop a film entirely. Read the application guidelines and fill everything out.
- Don’t tell the festival a lot more than they need to know. Someone who sends them a 20 page dissertation on why their film is better than Citizen Kane is just as annoying as someone who forgets to fill everything out. No one needs to know that your film career started when you were four. Just give them what they need.
- Don’t submit films in the wrong format. If they ask for DVDs, don’t send them to a link online. It shows them that you didn’t read their information, so why should they watch your film. It might see like a pain to send a DVD to someone, but if that’s all you need to do get your film into a festival, you’re doing good.
- Don’t forget the submission fee, if any. If you can’t afford the submission, don’t send the film by itself or with some lame note about not being able to pay. Give them a call before you send the film. And don’t beg. Just ask the director or the staff if they offer a fee waiver on some submissions.
- Don’t forget to package your film well. No film festival director should get a DVD that is full of scratches because you were too cheap for a case or a sleeve. Take the time to package your film correctly.
- Don’t forget to mark your film correctly. If they ask that you put your name on everything you send. Make sure that if you’re submitting a DVD, it includes your title and that your name is on it.
- Don’t drive staff crazy with phone calls and questions. There is a really good chance that the person who’s answering the phone doesn’t know whether your film has been viewed or if you might win an award. And even if they do, they aren’t going to tell you.
There are likely 100 more things you shouldn’t do, but this is good place to start. Remember: All filmmakers who are successful are professionals. They might become prima donnas later, but they have to start out respecting others and their time.