Film Industry Tips

Film Festival Submissions – I’ve Submitted, Now What?

film festival submissions

What are your next moves inside the festival market?

“Submission Limbo”. Chances are you’ve been clever about your submissions, taken your time and picked a few film festivals you feel are worthy of the film festival submissions fee and, I’m sure, some, if not all of these film festivals you’d love to be a part of.

If you have done your research properly, then it is highly likely that one of the festivals you have submitted to is one of our Lift-Off Film Festivals. If you have, thank you for doing so. We believe that indie film needs to be seen by more people around the world, so by having your submission, not only do you stand the overall chance of getting your film screened in our network, you have also donated to our continuing mission of getting more and more people interested in indie cinema, thank you.

Film Festival Submissions. A tortured affair.

So, the blue ‘in consideration’ dot is now hovering over a couple of your Withoutabox submission statuses. Your FilmFreeway profile is showing a few “undecided” listings. Scary, exciting, wired, exposing; the emotions are all there in some form. If you had a submission budget and that is now spent, you need to make a note of the notification dates of each of the festival submissions and log out of your preferred submissions partner, at least for a few weeks. It makes perfect sense to keep abreast of new posts and news from the festival sites, cruse Vimeo looking for possible inspiration, take a guy or a girl out for dinner, trying your hardest not to allow your conversation to run back to your film, but if you’re anything like me, when I submit to festivals, that limbo stage is a bit of a tortured affair.

The key thing to do in this situation, is to relax. This is technically the end of the films production stage. Give it a few weeks before you start to market the film, and remember to return to work “on it”, only when you’re truly ready to do so. Ambitious and determined people need time to relax and regroup. It doesn’t have to be a vacation, or a sunny holiday abroad, but a bit of silence after such a noisy time in making this film could well make all the difference. You absolutely owe it to yourself and to your creativity to chill.

Film Festival Submissions. Rest, rest, rest.

It is at this stage that ideas land in your mind, these could be funky ways to extend the marketing to your target audiences at your prospective festivals, or a really awesome story for your next project. Allow those microchips to cool down.

Film Festival Submissions. Still a few beans in the can?

If you still have budget for festival screenings, please please please, do not carpet bomb your submissions. Film festivals hate the “generic submission”.

Multiple submissions do spread, and increase, your chances, in a numbers-game sense, but don’t do it flippantly, get a hunch, do your research and submit wise. The aim at this level should be to build your experience, extend your love of cinema on to more and more people, and help to inspire them, sharing your art-form and allowing you to grow as a filmmaker. This is the beauty of indie cinema. We really hope that that your goals match this too, if they do then you’ve come to the right place.

Our goal is to maximise attendance, featuring audiences who have never been to a truly indie showcase before and talk about it for months to come. We want to be large enough, so that our rewards don’t just open doors as they do right now, but smash them down for the people who create the films that we showcase, launching careers and building a legacy that supports the talent within the art in every way possible.

Help us to make an Official Selection at a Lift-Off Film Festival, something absolutely outstanding, and awesome for everyone involved in that project…

My last and final recommendation is for you to watch more indie cinema. REAL indie film. Please! Realistically, you are entering a marketplace where many filmmakers are not engaging beyond the showpiece of their own work. The story is different in indie music, the indie gaming industry, indie/fringe theatre – in these areas the peers and co-creators make the market as audience members, they support their own existence by watching/listening/enjoying/reviewing the work of others. This must be done more by indie filmmakers like yourself and others.

Please go to more film festivals, when you next get a Netflix watch something you’ve never heard of before. Engage in the medium, it needs to happen. It’s a big task but if all indie filmmakers gave some of their attention to towards the output of their peers, and purchased the work in a fair environment, them REAL indie film will start to have it’s own market, and that can’t be a bad thing – that can’t be a bad thing for anyone.