Top Tips for Getting your Films into Festivals
This week Met Film School students and graduates were invited to a masterclass on film festivals by former chair of the BFI London Film FestivalSandra Hebron and London Short Film Festival Director Philip Ilson.
With some 800 short films and 3 feature films made at our school last year alone, we know that film festival selection is often an ambition for filmmakers looking for their first step into the industry. As figureheads on the biggest UK film festivals, we were able to get Sandra and Philip’s expertise on the world of festivals.
Why are Film Festivals Important?
- As a Filmmaker: Attending festivals is vital to your profession- “the more films you see” Sandra notes, “the more of a context you can get of what is already being made”. This way you can work on producing films that are creatively different and something new for the audiences of the festival.
- Networking: Festivals are also a great way to launch yourself as a filmmaker and network with like-minded individuals. You never know, you could end up meeting your future producer/ distributor/ collaborator! “Everyone is looking for the next-big-thing” adds Philip, “so a profile and visibility at these events is important.”
- Industry: At many of the film festivals around the world there are opportunities to attend industry-focused events which could be pivotal to your current and future projects. For example, the BFI London Film Festival recently introduced the Film London Production Finance Market (PFM) event which helps to foster financing relationships between UK industry professionals and their International counterparts.
Top tips for aspiring filmmakers:
- Choose the right festival for you: Think carefully about what you’re looking to get out of the festival experience, then ask yourselves the following: What festival is going to be most useful to you? Is your film eligible for this event? Will you be finished in time for the festival? Does it have the reach that you want, and does your film fit in with the feel of the festival?
- Have a Festival Strategy:It’s good practice to have a festival strategy. Some festivals demand a UK premiere of all films shown, whilst some are looking for a London premiere or do not allow you to you to screen online before the festival. You need to read the terms and conditions carefully and work around them, thinking carefully about what your priorities are.
- Think about the reach you want for your film: Not all films are going to get screened at Cannes- be realistic about your film’s prospects and choose the festivals carefully. Consider the audience for your film and where it would work best. Here are some popular examples: International Festivals: Clarmont-Ferrand (short), Berlinale, London Film Festival,National Festivals: Edinburgh Film Festival, Sheffield, Encounters Regional Festivals: Cambridge, Leeds, Glasgow.
- Give them what they ask for: This may seem really obvious but sometimes mistakes are made! Read the submission regulations closely and make sure to submit it in time, following the formats stated on the festival website.
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