In a recent blog, we mentioned some of the problems that students in particular suffer when entering film festivals- namely, the lack of communication on the festival’s side. As we consider ourselves as something like experts on the subject of submitting films, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share our worldly wisdom on the very important subject of festival submisison.
Step 1: Finding out what film festivals are on
There’s a site that I simply cannot recommend enough, called animation-festivals.com. It contains a very near complete list of all the festivals in the world, and they’re searchable by keyword. You can search for ‘Animation,’ and festivals that have their submission deadlines in ‘April’ to get a complete list of more festivals than you ever imagined existed. Some of them charge for submission, so watch out for that, and the information isn’t kept up to date particularly, but it’s still the best resource we’ve come across.
Cannot recommend enough that you keep a list of all the festivals you’ve submitted to, and keep a note if they tell you they’ve received your film, when you should know if you got in, and which ones you’re successful with.
Step 2: Submitting
Somewhere on the festival site (albeit sometimes hidden in a place that no normal person would ever look) there will be a ‘submissions’ link, which will take you either to an online form or to a paper download. The forms all ask for much the same information, but some ask for additional material. When we prepared copies of Death by Scrabble on DVD for festivals, we also prepared a CD with additional material. Some festivals ask for the additional stuff with the submission, some wait until they’ve decided you’ve got in, but all that does is add to your postage costs.
Our additional CD contains a synopsis, a script, a biography/ filmography and photo of the director, credits, screenings and awards and techniques summary, as well as 3 promotional images in good resolution and thumbnail resolution. Not every festival asks for all of this, but it covers everything we’ve ever been asked for, and is much easier than making specific cds for different festivals.
Check and double-check your dvd in as many players as you can get your greasy mitts on. A festival director friend of mine said that about 10% of the films they received didn’t play, and needless to say they did not get accepted!
Step 3: The waiting game
Once you’ve sent your film off, not much left to do but hope and pray! Some festivals you will never hear from again, some will say they’ve got your film and then leave it at that. The politer ones write to tell you if you haven’t made it, but the number of these is disappointingly few in our experience.
When you are successful, some festivals will offer you tickets plus bed and board for the duration, but at the other end of the scale, some of the smaller ones can barely afford to give you a ticket to the screening your own film is in. We recommend going to as many as possible- although watching your own film on the big screen can be painful, opportunities to mingle don’t come much better!
So that’s it. Good luck and we hope to see you at next years Annecy!