“Graduate Filmmakers and the Film Festival Business”

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batori.inCALIFORNIA, FEB 27- Looking at the title of this article may seem like something of a proper dissertation for your BA degree that would be writing in the waning hours of the night at the last minute the day before the paper is due. Sadly no, this is not that kind of article, this article is about being a graduate film student with an ambition to market a film but having no idea how to, or for that matter, what to do when it comes to marketing a film in the film festival circuit.

Imagine for a moment you just got done with your film making degree and you have a handful of completed films just waiting for the world to see your creative talents. But how do you market those films? Naturally you would most likely do that by word of mouth to the immediate people that you know, but that will only get you so far because how many people do you know that will help you further along your career as a visual narrative practitioner? That is where film festivals come in. Getting your films into festivals is basically your ‘calling card’ to the professional film making world showing your storytelling talents in the best way that you can. But how do you go about it? Where do you actually begin looking? And my last question, did your university adequately teach you the film festival business giving you the confidence that you need in order to get your film marketed to the best of your abilities?

Often times, in film making degrees universities (not all) teach you the fundamentals of how to create a film from start to finish, and some Masters level programs teach you a speciality in a certain role, whether that be directing, cinematography or producing. But after your graduate film is all done and dusted does your university teach you the film festival market? Depending on your degree or speciality often times it does not, or if it does not, it is a very hollow and broad lecture taught by someone who knows the business so well that they cannot are not trained to teach students the need to know.

I am not ranting about my own personal experience, but actually making a suggestion about the utter importance of learning how film festivals operate. For students learning film making it is imperative that they take time off from their busy schedules to study the festival way of doing things for it is the festivals that will get your film seen by many. My suggestion to this would be calling some of the lower, to mid level, festivals direct and ask questions. Question asking never hurts and you would be surprised how most places actually will assist students in question answering because let’s face it; we have all been there at one point.

So going into your degree you should be aware what your university teaches you when it comes to making a film. Universities do a spectacular job nurturing fine young film-makers on a yearly basis teaching them everything they need to know about getting it done from script to screen, but for some reason some fall short about the most important aspects of marketing.

Another suggestion to film making students would be to petition your provost or chair of your department about having the university utilize classes in film marketing thus making students even more ready for the professional work that they are getting themselves into. Either that or my challenge to the film festival companies is to go to universities during career week and make you guys known to these students because they are the future in the industry. Being there to answer the questions and making the festival industry more approachable would be the best course of action.

Now I know that there are some festivals out there that do that (and I SALUTE you!), but more often than not they usually do not. If I am old fashioned and this business is actually happening and I am living under a rock please feel to correct me as I will accept the correction, but if I am right, I hope this article has helped open your eyes in regards to this aspect.

Always stay true to the narrative my fellow film making brothers and sisters.

-Daniel Svec

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