Filmmakers, directors, producers and screenwriters alike joined at the Marshall House for a “Coffee Talk” on the morning of Nov. 3. They gathered to discuss the ins and outs of film festival circuits with students.
David Paterson (“Love, Lots of It”), Owen Masterson and Christine Anthony (“Grow!”), Bernardo Nascimento (“North Atlantic”), Andres Perez-Duarte (“Galeana No. 8”) and Tyler Kupferer (“The Girl and the Fox”) had much to say about the importance of entering films in festivals.
Film and television professor Michael Chaney opened the conversation by positing the number one reason students should circulate their work, “You owe it to the film.”
Paterson followed by saying, “There’s filmmakers and film doers.” If filmmakers don’t enter a film they’ve created into festivals, Patterson finds himself asking, “Then, what was the point?” At this moment, a filmmaker becomes a film doer, all they can say is “‘Oh, I did a film.’”
Being a film doer is like “creating a cake you can’t eat or share with anyone,” said Paterson.
This led to the next important point: filmmakers must budget for entry fees into film festivals. Most film festivals have them, the exceptions are those festivals held in Europe.
Once the production of the movie is done, a filmmaker’s work is not over. In some ways, it is just beginning. At this point, promotion of the film must begin.
The filmmakers suggested promoting films by:
- Having a website for the film and trailers so that festivals can see it
- Showing up early to festivals where your films are screening
Nascimento stressed the importance of showing up early and networking.
“You need to start captivating people so they will go to your screening,” he said.
But that advice is not useful unless your film actually gets accepted to film festivals.
The filmmakers gave advice on getting accepted into festivals:
- Aim your projects at festivals that specialize in your genre – look at the films that are screening to see if your film is similar to ones that have already been accepted
- Go to regional, smaller film festivals, too. When it comes to film festivals, “Aim high, take low.”
While you have to be smart about which festivals you enter, go for “long-shots,” too. “Don’t tell yourself ‘I can’t get into that festival,’” Masterson advised.
Also keep in mind that some festivals won’t accept films that are posted on the Internet for “public consumption.”
So, don’t post your films on YouTube “right next to the cat that looks like Hitler,” said Paterson. The place where audiences need to see a film is at festivals. “Throw it out there [to festivals] — not that YouTube s***,” said Masterson.
The filmmakers advise not to use festivals as a chance to test your film to see how the audience responds. By the time a film enters the film fest circuit, it should be finished and it should be something you are proud of.Augusta Statz.