Any filmmaker will tell you they want their films “seen.” Now with websites like YouTube and Vimeo being seen is not nearly as hard as it used to.
So why do the number of submissions to film festivals still grow every year and why are there dozens of new festivals popping up all the time? What makes film festivals still important and relavent today?
I think the main reasons are as follows:
– Industry recognition
– Possible Distribution
– Bragging rights
Just because people see your films online doesn't mean necessarily anything. Many people are still looking to run their films up against the best of the best. If your film gets accepted to high profile or competitive festivals that still means something today.
Awards matter. Check out the movie posters from many films, they list the festivals it was screened to and what awards it won. This turns into marketing material to help find a larger audience. This is a way of curating the films. The more people that validate the film adds value for others to watch and a larger audience can be found.
More so for feature films (rather than short films) filmmakers are still trying to find distribution. This is the way movies make their money back while at the same time opening up options for the filmmakers to get hired to shoot additional projects.
Film festivals are packed with directors, producers, actors, writers, distributors, PR, agents and many other industry folks. This means there are people that might be your connection to getting your film sold or it might be a relationship for someone you work with on your next project. This is a place where there is a dense population of people that can be helpful for your career.
In case you are unaware – filmmakers have egos. And nothing is better than to be able to say you are the best. So the more festivals the more awards you can win. Or if you land distribution you have bragging rights. It might be self serving but hey it is still a benefit.
So if you haven't been submitting your films to festivals here is the short list of the top 50. Each festival is listed and the reasons why you might like that festival might be right for you. Check it out and set your budget. Good luck on your festival run.
Feast your eyes on MovieMaker‘s complete list of the 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee in 2014
Ah, those devilish festival entry fees. They never seem like that much—if you’re organized and manage to hit early submission dates, you generally won’t be forking out more than $50 each time you ship your film off to seek its fortune. But pretty soon you’ve raked up significant costs trying to get your baby screened. (Unless you use an third party submission processor, but many festivals don’t accept submissions from them, anyway.)
Hence MovieMaker’s annual list. Once again, we made film festival evaluation as much of a science as possible: Hundreds of festivals around the world were sent a survey encompassing such criteria as travel compensation, value of prizes, acceptance/submissions ratio, alumni relations, press opportunities, distribution and acquisition history, quality of panels, workshops, and parties, and so on. We weighed the answers in a point system (and looked into some helpful testimonials from circuit-weary moviemakers) to arrive at the following 50.
We’ve said it before and it bears repeating—Sundance, Cannes, Berlin, SXSW, Venice, Toronto, Tribeca are not on this list; not because you shouldn’t submit to them (see director Jeremy Saulnier’s article on making Blue Ruin on page 28 of the Spring 2014 issue), but because you don’t necessarily need us spotlighting them. (Of course, the line gets inevitably hazy—we ultimately left out Slamdance, but kept the Los Angeles Film Festival.) These festivals are a little homier, a little edgier, a little more personal—and, we believe, absolutely worth it.
AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL POLAND
Wroclaw, Poland / Oct/ 21-26 2014 / americanfilmfestival.pl/index.do
If you are an American moviemaker looking for international distribution, look no further. AFF, and their accompanying industry event “U.S. in Progress,” is the only film festival in central Europe focusing on U.S.-made films. Submission is entirely free—so we’d say it’s worth the entry fee.
ASHLAND INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL
Ashland, OR / Spring 2015 / ashlandfilm.org
“The best films, the best people, the best time imaginable,” said Lucy Walker (The Crash Reel) of AIFF 2013, and dozens echoed her (seriously—we read their testimonials). The festival does its best to encourage filmmaking, so much so that one attendee said, “Heck, I’ll make a film just to be able to come back!”
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(cover photo credit: snap from MovieMaker)