Film Festival’s Memo to Filmmakers

By Greg Pak
Over the years, I’ve worked in various capacities for a number of film festivals. So as a companion piece to the Memo to Festival Organizers, here’s a Memo to Filmmakers, from a Festival Organizer. Just a few pointers (including some advice I should take more often myself):

  1. Provide all the information and materials requested on the entry forms.
    Design of websites and programs begins as soon as films are selected for the festival — so having complete synopses, biographies, contact info, and production stills is critical. Filmmakers who provide this material promptly also gain an added advantage — their stills are more likely to be used in key festival art and posters.

  2. Read all the emails and correspondence you receive from the festival!
    Filmmakers are usually notified weeks in advance about ticket policies, etcetera. But there’s always a last minute rush with angry filmmakers outraged about certain ticket policies. Reading all the notes the festival sends will help filmmakers avoid these kinds of scenes.

  3. Deliver your print on time.
    Festivals ask for prints to be sent early so that projectionists have adequate time to check everything out and prepare each screening. When a filmmaker brings a print to the screening at the very last minute, it increases the chances that the film will be projected improperly — with sound levels too high or too low or out of focus. Which no one likes.

  4. Respect the festival’s policies.
    If the festival tells you that you’ll get four comp tickets to your program, don’t send an email to a hundred of your friends telling them that they can get into the screening for free (I’ve actually seen a filmmaker do this). The chaos which ensues won’t endear you to the festival or to your friends.

  5. Communicate!
    Like filmmakers, festival organizers love getting feedback from an appreciative audience. If you like the way things have gone at the festival, tell the organizers! Or if you have had problems, give them constructive feedback (at the right time). They’ll appreciate the compliments and consider the recommendations more seriously than you might imagine.

  6. Don’t badmouth festivals for rejecting your film.
    Most festivals get ten to a hundred times more films than they can program. Many, many good films end up not playing at any given festival. It’s a subjective, aesthetic process, much like casting a film. Now you can badmouth a festival if it cashes your 50 dollar entry fee, rejects your film, and never bothers to send you a letter or email. But don’t badmouth it just for rejecting your film. Instead, send your film out to other festivals — it’ll eventually find its audience.