The Basics of a Film Festival

Film Festivals are a great avenue for getting your film out there. I have been to many film festivals in my day and there is one thing that is the same at all of them. There are film enthusiasts there who talk about films. This is what you want, people talking about you and your film and getting the word out there that others need to see your film. If you win an award, EVEN BETTER, because then you have an advertising platform to build upon.

What does it cost to enter my film?

Keep in mind that most festivals are not free. While there are some free festivals, and you should enter those, most festivals cost anywhere from $25 to $50 to submit your film. It is a good idea to build this into your movie budget as a marketing line item so that you will have enough money left to make submissions.


Film submission in a festival is not a guaranteed showing at the festival. Submitting a film is just like submitting for college. You send a check and a resume - in this case a film, and hope for admission. If you don’t get into your first festival, all is not lost. I have been turned down for many festivals and still also been accepted to many with the same film.

The Submission Process

On most counts this process is very easy. Basically you look up the festival you want to submit to online and download their form for submission. After you fill out the form and your submission check you will be asked to mail those with a copy or copies of your film. Note that there is a due date on all of these festivals so make yourself a calendar to keep up with each one so you will know when to enter.


Make sure you read the submission form carefully. There is usually a specific format that each festival will require your film to be on. Submitting the wrong format will automatically guarantee that your film will not get seen so read this section carefully.

The Filmmaker Parties

At each festival you attend as a filmmaker there will be a series of parties that you can go to and meet other filmmakers. Everyone there is  interested in films and what is going on at the festival. These parties are important as this is your cheapest form of marketing and creating buzz. Go to them and promote your film!


Remember there is a time to party and a time to work. If you want to get noticed the Filmmaker Parties, for you, should be working the crowd, not lining up the next round of shots with your favorite actress.

What’s next?

So you went to your first festival and didn’t win anything and worse - no one came up to distribute your film. What do you do now? DON’T GIVE UP! It is highly unlikely that anyone is going to receive recognition at their first festival. Just be glad you got in. Keep entering festivals because the more you enter, the better chance you have of someone eventually seeing your film.

Sundance and making diamonds out of coal

Everyone and their
Mom has heard of Sundance and every filmmaker thinks that they will submit their film to Sundance and it will get recognized and they will get a movie deal. While this is a possibility, it is not a reality. Films get picked up from all sorts of festivals; don’t let Sundance be your main objective of film bliss because you may be disappointed. There are many films that show at Sundance that don’t even get picked up there but may later get noticed at another festival.


It takes a thick skin to have your movie critiqued by all the viewers at festivals. Be sure to listen and take mental notes on what you may need to tweak. Don’t be stuck to one vision if it is not working.

Content sponsored and created by Studio Smithy, Inc. A Film and Commercial Production Company.

Studio Smithy, Inc. is a Commercial, Film, Direct Response, Production Services, Product Shot and Television Production Company