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5 Tips for Filmmakers on How to Navigate the Film Festival World: An IFP Film Week Report

Photo of Paula Bernstein By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire September 20, 2013 at 10:19AM

Sarasota Film Festival director Tom Hall, who has consulted with festival programmers around the world to develop Best Practices for Film Festivals, delivered succinct advice to filmmakers on Thursday during IFP Film Week.
Tom Hall
Tom Hall

Sarasota Film Festival director Tom Hall  delivered succinct advice to filmmakers on Thursday during IFP Film Week.

Hall, who, along with IFP and festivals from around the world, is developing a set of Best Practices for Film Festivals with the goal of greater transparency. 

"One of the things we're pushing for as a group is to come up with a set of standards and practices where you know exactly what you're getting – we can do a much better job as an industry telling you how we operate and what happens with your screening fees," said Hall, who assured the filmmakers that "we're not counting on screening fees to keep our festivals afloat, but we're trying to pay for the actual process of watching 1000 movies in 4 months."

Hall doled out these 5 tips for to filmmakers on how to navigate the film festival world:

1.     Focus on long-term relationships.

If you are programmed in a film festival, think of it as a starting line, not an ending line. We want to be told what you're working on next, who you like, what you need….If we can help you, we will. Festivals want to invest in long-term relationships with filmmakers.

 2.     Be straightforward.

We talk to each other at film festivals, so if you're waiting to hear from another festival, be transparent about what you're doing. Just be straightforward. It's a help to everyone.

 3.     Communicate.

Don't be afraid to talk to festival programmers. Constantly reach out. But don't be annoying. Don't tell me what you had for breakfast. There's a line.

4.     Plan ahead.

I would encourage you to put a physical plan together of where you see your movie going and then aggressively pursue that relationship with all of those festivals. 

5.     It's not over until it's over.

If a festival says they're still looking at your movie, then that's what it means. When the rejection comes, you'll know. Up until that point, generally, things are in play.

This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit: IFP, IFP, Independent Film Week , Film Festival, Sarasota Film Festival

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