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10 Potentially Inappropriate Tips For Surviving Long Stretches On The Film Festival Circuit

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire November 19, 2012 at 1:28PM

Whether you're a film journalist, filmmaker, programmer or distributor, you likely experience a time of the year where it feels like you practically live on the film festival circuit.
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6. Be seriously careful with international phone charges. "Oh, I'm just call home for like one minute" or "I'll just send one text" or "I'm just gonna turn my data for a second to check my e-mails and upload an Instagram" are thoughts you will most definitely regret. Especially if you make these seemingly harmless singular acts a recurring habit (I'll admit personally to seeing said habit turn into a four-figure monthly cell phone bill once). Look into travel plans you can add on to your service, and be savvy about using wifi on your phone whenever you can.

7. See the sights! Not every waking moment at a film festival needs to be devoted to it. Especially when you've flown so many hours to a potentially interesting new city and culture. So there's no need to feel guilty if you decide to blow off responsibility one day and go off and explore what there is to be offered, particularly toward the end of a festival when things may have slowed down (At Sundance? Spend an afternoon on the slopes. In Cannes? Go to the beach! Spending a week in Toronto? Uh... ).  Some smaller festivals even encourage this of their guests and might offer discounts for various tourist attractions (if you ever get to the Reykjavik International Film Festival, they offer a free trip to the holy grail of examples for any accredited guest).

Iceland's Blue Lagoon spa, where you could potentially head to relax in between sessions at the Talent Lab.
Iceland's Blue Lagoon spa, where you could potentially head to relax in between sessions at the Talent Lab.

8. Find a local pool or spa. Kill two birds with one stone (#5 and #7 on this list) by venturing out to a local pool or spa, swimming a few laps and/or steaming off a few days of festival exhaustion. Either activity can truly wash away whatever damage consistent open bar exploitation and sleep deprivation has done to your face and soul. If you're on the European film festival circuit in particular, pools and spas are abundant and cheap if you do a little research and find the ones that aren't tourist traps. This also becomes a great way to get a sense of how local folks interact with each other, and learn about the remarkably varied rules of bathing culture in different countries (though if you take issue to public nudity, I'd do a little extra research first depending on where you are).

9. Don't network to "network." Network to make real friends! The truly glory of the film festival circuit lies in its ability to create a real sense of community, no matter what your purpose at the festival is. Essentially, you're spending a week or so constantly interacting with the same people over and over, which creates a real opportunity to go from strangers to BFFs before the closing night party ends. And while there may very well be a strictly professional opportunity to network amidst the downright summer camp-esque vibe that the best festivals can mirror, try not to go about it just to get a few new e-mail addresses on your contact list. For one, people can sense that insincerity and are going to be unlikely to help you in whatever it is you might want in the future anyway. And more over, where's the fun in that? A new friend can be the most meaningful thing you leave a festival with, and can create a further sense of community if you ever get to meet up on the circuit again.

10.  Find a film festival girl/boyfriend. Taking the previous tip to a whole other level, this may or may not be kosher depending on your relationship status and isn't particularly easy to find. But if you can pull it off: The film festival boy/girlfriend offers one of the greatest existing forms of a romantic relationship. And I don't mean just hooking up with someone once or twice over the course of a festival. I mean utilizing the intimacy of a film festival to essentially create this mini, temporary version of a committed relationship. For 7 or 10 or whatever amount of days, you get this person that exists only the often idyllic bubble that is a film festival. You can go to screenings together, rely on each other for various schedule reminders, and make head to that local pool or spa hand in hand. Resisting the temptation to continue it beyond the festival's end might be difficult, though believe me: What happens at a film festival should probably just stay there.

This article is related to: Festivals, Filmmaker Toolkit: Festivals, Filmmaker Toolkit







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