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Is there a way of knowing if your film is good enough for certain film festivals?

We are just finishing post on our last short film. The plan is to then take it to film festivals, in order to network and hopefully find some investors for a feature (already written) based on the short.

But competition is so high with many of the big festivals, I really don't want to waste my own money if we don't have a chance.

What are your thoughts on the festival circuit?

Can anyone recommend any festivals in the comedy drama genre?

Our film is a 17 minute British comedy drama, set in Wales, 1992. About a young boy living in a remote hippy community and his search for a TV.

Thank you
Miro

  • Hi Miro

    I personally found it didn't work for me but if you have dare I say it a more 'conventional film' with a 'name' it may suit programing better for certain festivals. Also it's handy to know people in that circuit especially programmers.

    But if you are after exposure try getting it online on via Vimeo, Shorts of the week, Nowness etc which would could generate a buzz and therefore have programmers approaching you to show it.

    Other users may have other ideas. Good luck

    S

    7 months ago
  • Hi Miro - I watched your trailer for "Hank", which looks pretty decent. And you say that got into festivals, so your follow-up would probably get selected too.

    The concept sounds appealing, and good comedy/drama always goes down well with programmers as an antidote to all that heavy stuff they get! Don't forget that festivals have limited time slots, so other things being equal, shorter films stand more chance.

    Having a couple of selections won't do any harm when you approach producers. All the more so if they are from BAFTA-approved festivals - firstly, because that's a more valuable laurel; secondly, because those are the festivals producers are more likely to attend.

    It's set in Wales, so try Welsh festivals. And look for explicitly comedy festivals.

    If you want to make use of the hive mind of SP, as Simon did, how about putting it on Vimeo, password protected (so no-one can say it's been freely available online). Then invite SP members to contact you if they can help, give them the password, and see what they say. I'd be happy to give an opinion.

    Good luck!

    7 months ago
    • Thanks Glyn.

      Good idea. We are just finishing the grading and then i’ll get the link over to you.

      Appreciate the offer, thanks.

      7 months ago
  • If you are trying to attract investment for a feature based on the short, then it makes sense to push the short as much as you can, which includes trying to get it into festivals. BAFTA festivals attract a certain kudos, but are very difficult to get into from open submission. However, like Glyn says, genre festivals could be part of your strategy. Getting it in to comedy festivals helps you connect with your target audience and gives credibility to your project for potential investors.

    My advice would be to search for comedy festivals on Film Freeway, read the reviews, check how long the festivals have been running, check festival websites and twitter pages, and this will give you a good perspective on what is out there and how significant each genre festival is.

    All this will take time and effort, but if you've gone to so much effort to make the film in the first place you don't want to slacken off at the promo stage.

    Best of luck Miro!

    7 months ago
  • Thanks Mark, good advice.

    7 months ago
  • We're shooting in September to extend the trailers of my story for festivals. Hopefully Oscar and BAFTA sanctioned festivals. The advice I've received across the board is to keep it to ten minutes. As an example, Sundance has 60 slots for shorts, out of roughly 1500 submissions. I've talked about this before referencing Damien Chazelle's Whiplash proof which was 15 minutes long and won Sundance. But Chazelle had a major agent and viable Hollywood star in the film upon submission. The programmers can say all they want that it doesn't matter. They're full of shit with that rhetoric. It does matter. The push and who pushes it to programming matters, at least for the major sanctioned festivals.

    We're working on how our proof is going to be pushed and by whom.

    As Glyn said, the fact that you have a comedy may help your situation with your length.

    Bottom line answer to your question, my opinion is that a serious plan has to be in place to get a short programmed at a major sanctioned festival. Have mentors look at your final cut and give you brutal feedback. If it's a good response then you can be pretty sure it's good enough. But the quality of the push is 50% of the game. Chazelle is doing pretty well these days.

    There is nothing more valuable in the creative arts than getting true honest feedback from someone that has been there and done that in that particular industry. Hopefully you can find that group of people.

    Good Luck,

    George

    7 months ago
  • Hi George, good advice about trying to keep a short film to around 10 minutes (if possible). Your point about honest feedback is really important; most friends and family don't want to rock the boat when it comes to feedback so you need dispassionate, considered advice from trusted sources.

    The only thing I would add is that the statistics for major festivals are worse than you suggest. At least 8,000 shorts get submitted to Sundance - giving filmmakers a 0.74% chance.
    nofilmschool.com/2015/01/sundance-progra...

    That's assuming it's a level playing field, which it isn't. Even popular UK festivals like Aesthetica get over 3,000 short entries each year.

    7 months ago
  • Thanks George/Mark

    Again, good advice. I’m currently doing more research on the smaller festivals as I think being realistic, we won’t get into the the top tier.

    Good points about honest feedback. I witnessed that with our last film ‘Hank’ as we had a feedback session at a Liftoff festival. It was a real eye opener, quite brutal but very rewarding.

    I’ll post the film on here for some feedback, once finished.

    Thanks

    7 months ago
  • My advise re festivals, pick between twenty and fifty of the most prestigious film festivals in the USA and around the world and hit as many as you can. Cannes is very expensive to submit too and with several thousands going for the ten competitive slots, that and Sundance are the two hardest film festivals to get your film selected for, people often mistakenly wait half a year or more before making other submissions so they think that they will have a better chance at Cannes or Sundance selection and while it is true that festivals like to discover and be the first or at least early screener of a new film, a world premiere is thankfully not a requirement for a short film, but waiting to May next year is such a waste of time when you really need to be showing this right now as soon as possible Also remember that next year, the Cannes selectors are also being pressured to select as many female directors as male directors which was an imbalance that has to be fixed, so while this is great for new women directors since women direct less than fifteen per cent of the films submitted, it also at the same time racks up, even more, the odds of a film directed by a man being selected. Use the money that you would waste on submitting to Cannes & Sundance to pay for the submission costs to about ten other highly prestigious film festival or more. I've personally found that if you do not attend in person with a team to rally an audience and also generate buzz around and promote and talk up your film at a festival you have little chance of winning anything at it, so ask yourself what festivals can you make it too easily with a team of at least three or more supporters and afford to stay for several days to promote your film? What is your nearest important film festival that you know it will be easier to get into and attend with dozens of the cast and crew attending to promote their film? It is better to win some awards and build on that than just experience the pain of not getting selected for example, personally I made a really good independent feature with Des my brother a few years ago "Egression" in the style of the multi-award winning at Cannes directors the Dardenne brothers, we entered it into the top fifteen most important festival around the world including Cannes, Venice, Tokyo, Berlin, Toronto, Sundance etc, at a cost of just over £2000 and sat back and waited, we sadly didn't make the cut to get into any of them. The film was a year on peoples radar and yet we hadn't shown it anywhere, it looked bad and we blew the films festival chances with our failed strategy, as our cast and crew had moved onto other projects and weren't keen anymore to help promote it. Released a Rom Com feature about a decade ago and really struggled to get it into any festivals since the cast were all unknows at the time, Luke Goss had only just started his acting career, which though he really did incredibly well since, was not enough to cut it at the time. I suggest selling your short to shorts TV in the US and you'll get around $200 dollars, I know a ridiculous amount of money but its non-exclusive and means that by putting it out there to potentially be able to reach millions of viewers in hundreds of countries, you can if you want too, build a following of supporters for another project, possible crowdfunding opportunities and if you go for the hit every film festival going option to win as many awards and laurels as you can, laurels around your film poster will help people to make the right choice to view your film as oppose to passing right over it for something they heard off or with a name in it they know.

    I'm really very sorry if the above advice comes across as a bit blunt or brutal but after making hundreds of failed festival submissions I now have improved my selection approval rating to more than one in ten and it's getting harder every year. If you need to persuade anyone on your team that I know what I am talking about tell them to go to www.ukfilm.co/ and click on my "AWARDS" page there.

    Hope that something in the above may be of use to you, the very best of luck with your submissions.

    Ray Brady
    www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/

    PS Sorry about my poor grammer and any typos as I type fast and rarely have the time to edit or spellcheck if I am to have the time to post an answer

    7 months ago
  • Ray - thanks for a great post! Not everyone is so upfront about their festival strategy, especially when things don't work out as planned. I've checked out your awards, well done. Looks like we are both on the festival circuit at the moment, I may PM you at some point to pick your brains if that's ok?

    7 months ago
  • Ray is effectively confirming some of what I was saying in that one's push to major festivals requires a professional level of effort. Showing up in person with a team, the stars of the film (unknown or not), most likely a real industry publicist, and a major push at the festival itself. Of course this comes with a significant cost that someone has to pay. Not for the faint of heart or dreamers. Unfortunately, the money question has to be answered.

    7 months ago
  • My maxim:

    Making a good film (inclusive of development, writing, funding, good casting, production and completing post-production) is only half the battle of making a film, getting distribution and reviews that find the film a wide global audience is the hardest part of the filmmaking process!

    Sadly there are dozens of great films made every year that no one has heard of that do not receive any form of distribution whatsoever.

    7 months ago
  • Thanks guys. Again lots of really interesting and valuable feedback. Appreciate your responses, thanks.

    7 months ago
  • Some horn-tooting which might be useful...

    We (Shiny) promote awards & events and we offer written critiques, ie actionable feedback, from professionals in the industry, as part of the submission fee.
    There are other organisations out there who do similar. I know Short of the Week offer a review service, and I think Booooooom do too.
    If you're interested in this route, check out who is doing the review. Everyone has an opinion but some are more reputable/ useful than others.

    A good review can be quoted in your publicity, to help open doors. A bad review should help you decide whether your film needs more work.

    Shiny specialises in videos under 5 minutes (all genres), so we're not an option for you, but am pretty certain SotW defines their shorts as under 20 mins.

    Good luck.

    7 months ago
  • I've had a pretty disillusioning festival attempt this year with my film Buddy Goes To Nollywood. Here's the trailer (link found on the website), which I'm not especially happy with but I don't think that's held it back necessarily.

    www.buddy-goes-to-nollywood.com

    All of my big targets have rejected the film, Sheffield, BFI, TIFF, IDFA. But it has been accepted into a small festival, Atlanta Docufest. I have a few more decisions pending but I don't hold out much hope that the big ones will go for it.

    The reason I'm attempting to get into festivals is ultimately to attract distribution. I've DP'd a narrative feature that got into Fright Fest and got distribution, DVD release, VOD etc and is at least being seen by a decent audience, whether it makes any/much money is a different matter.

    I can't attend Atlanta because I'm traveling - so is it worth losing the "international premier" or "US premier" status for a small festival that I can't attend?

    I feel like it's very much a bird in the hand and that I should have it shown at Atlanta and then target a few more smaller/middle sized festivals so I can at least show distributors that it has a few laurels etc.

    I'm fairly sceptical about festival submissions but the advent of Vimeo stats has made me even more skeptical. Now we have the stats of whether anyone has watched the film or not and how many times... I can say for sure that IDFA watched it only once and knowing that festivals have pre screeners, I'd expect my film to be judged by more than just one pre screener, who watched it once (they also apparently watched ALL of the credit sequence right until the last second...). So my cynical side says nobody watched it at all.

    Anyway, any thoughts or advice is very welcome, also a critique of the trailer would be useful.

    If anyone wants to watch the whole film then I'll happily give them a link and would welcome comments.

    Best wishes,

    Michael

    7 months ago