Thursday, April 17, 2008

Film Festivals = $$$/AF Tip of the Day

I have gotten a few emails from filmmakers lately about film festivals. Some filmmakers seem to think that if a film festival cashes your check that usually means you've been accepted. Let me address film festivals for a moment.

The deal with most Film Festivals is that they will always cash your check, and that doesn't mean they have to show your movie. It is assumed with all film festivals that your movie may or may not get programmed. I know of very few festivals that show everything that they receive. I am not a big fan of most film fests and here's why. We raise the money to make our films, we sweat and work our asses off to make them and then we have to pay money to have them screened or worse yet, rejected because someone somewhere didn't like them.

Film Festivals can be big business. I wonder how many entries film festivals get at say $40 a submission. If you figure that Sundance gets anywhere from 12,000 - 14,000 entries a year and they only show maybe 120 – 150 films, I can't remember how much they charge, but they are raking in a fortune. And then they get sponsorships and big companies giving them money so they can flash their logo everywhere. Sundance is the extreme.

Many film festivals will tell you that the money they get from filmmakers barely covers their over head, which may be true at smaller festivals. But think about how many large festivals there are and look at what they show. They like to show big "independent" movies with stars so they can attract sponsors and crowds which mean money.

This is not the case with all film festivals. Some of them are run by people who truly care and want to discover new and interesting films and filmmakers. I even know a few festival programmers that will give feedback on your movies, if you want it. (These are truly far and few, but they are out there.) I love smaller film festivals because they truly are about supporting and encouraging new voices.

Just remember that whenever you submit to a festival, they don't have to show your movie, but they will always cash your check.

And now, your AF Tip of the Day.

An old editing rule: If you can't solve it, dissolve it!

- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)


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