So you’ve just received your first acceptance letter as an official selection and you don’t know where to start? No worries. Here’s a simple checklist of things that we’ve learned along the way to have a successful, efficient and effective film festival experience. Congratulations and good luck!
Let Everyone Know!
Get the word out to as many people as you can! Friends, family, people you know in the festival’s city or town. Spread the news on your movie’s Official Site/Facebook Page, and even write a press release for your local press. The more people that attend, the more your movie will make an impact with the festival.
Your Film’s Official Site
This is everything. REMEMBER TO INCLUDE YOUR FILM’S OFFICIAL SITE ON ALL PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL! Movie posters, lobby cards, business cards, EVERYTHING!
Film festival organizers will dress up their theaters and venues with an array of movie posters from their official selections. The legit size you want to make your poster is 26″x39″. It fits in theater poster showcases and makes for great exposure for your movie for festival goers, so make sure you have at least a couple to spare. This should be done professionally by a printing house/promotional items company like AKTIV8 PROMOTIONALS.
Lobby Cards/Post Cards
These are 4″x6″ post cards that festival organizers keep on display throughout their different venues for festival goers. They’re printed on heavy card stock (just like real post cards). On the front is your movie’s main image (it’s usually the same as your movie poster). Make sure your film’s info and showtimes/theater info are located on the reverse side. Print at least 60 to cover different venues at the festival. These are pretty cheap at most printing shops.
You never know who you’ll be meeting, so always keep these handy with you. It should have your name, your film’s name, all of your contact info – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email address, Official Site URL, etc. They don’t have to be the most awesome business cards ever – just complete with your contact info. Print ‘em at home.
Film critics, journalists from well-known publications, and other film festival directors always cover film festivals. Some journalists may want to do a write-up on your film but missed your showing, or festival directors from other fests may consider your movie for their film festival, so keep these handy and pass them out when needed. You can have a ‘Screener’ text watermark displayed during the movie or not, it’s up to you.
Some folks may be moved after watching your film and may sometimes ask for an autograph. Always keep a Sharpie handy.
Trailer/Teaser/Clips on Digital Files and DVD
Always have a few copies of your film’s trailer and teaser along with :30 and :60 clips of your movie on digital file or on a DVD-R. This may come in handy for the press/news coverage that may be covering the festival as well as the festival venues when they promote your film’s showings.
Digital Photos: Production Stills/Directors’ Photos/Movie Stills on CD
Always have some hi-res digital photos on hand for the press. Publications will ask for them, so it would save them a lot of time and get your story out faster!
Your Pitch/Production Notes/Email version
Be prepared to speak about your film at the festival. Prepare for a Q&A session with your film’s audience at the festival with all of the behind-the-scenes info, tech info, and basically just your production notes (how long it took you to make the movie, how you funded the production, questions about the characters in the movie, etc). Also, you’ll be meeting a lot of people in passing, and they’ll all ask about your movie. Be prepared to give them your pitch (two sentences at the most). Have your movie’s production notes on standby as an email draft ready to send in case a journalist requests it by email.
Your Next Project
Be prepared to talk about your next project. This means at least have your pitch down for your next project in case you land a meeting with a distributor, a possible financier or someone that shows interest in working with you on your next project.
Camera/flip cam, etc.
Take some footage of your film festival experience because when it’s all over it’ll be like you just stepped out of a tornado! It will all move so fast and you’ll forget the experience, so come prepared to document your time at the festival. It makes a great archive for your movie that you can add onto the DVD release later.
Throw a Party
If your funds allow, throw a party for your movie audience. A nearby bar, restaurant or a friend’s house will give a great opportunity for you to build more relationships and show your appreciation for your fan base.
Dress for the weather and be sure to bring something suitable for dinner parties, luncheons, etc.
Get to Know Your Point of Contact
All festivals have coordinators, assistant programmers, filmmaker liaison, etc. that will be your point of contact. Get to know these people. They are your insight to the inner workings of the festival, press coverage and programming. They are usually very busy people during fest time, but see if you can take them out for a drink or something and spend some time with them outside of the festival.
Mingle, See Movies, Have Fun
Although attending a festival as an official selection is work, remember to have fun. Take time to attend the filmmaker parties, workshops, see some movies, meet other filmmakers and just have a great time. Not many filmmakers get the opportunity of attending a festival as an official selection, so make the most of it and remember, most importantly, to just relax, be yourself and have fun.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Kel Muna makes up half of the Muña Bros. duo. He is an independent producer, writer and director with over 12 years in the multimedia trenches and a feature film under his belt. Kel graduated as Valedictorian of his film class along with various honors and holds a degree in film from the super-crazy Full Sail School of Film.