LOOK AT WHAT FESTIVALS HAVE programmed in the past TO FIND A FIT FOR YOUR WORK”
films, documentaries, international features, or genre-specific work. Do your research on the festival’s typical programme, reputation, opportunities
for networking and its location. CC: Look at what festivals have
programmed in the past to find a good fit. Some have specific programming strands related to themes like sports, the environment or experimental work. Sometimes it’s less concrete. If there are films similar to yours that have had successful lives at festivals and beyond – and whose trajectory you would like to emulate – see who supported them early on. OB: Consider the festival's audience. A receptive audience aligned with your film's target demographic can work wonders for your film. PH: Have you made a deadpan comedy shot in black & white? Or a call-to-arms documentary about an activist subject? Find recent films in your ballpark and look up which festivals they might have played. This should give you an idea of who might be interested. OB: Reviews from other filmmakers on submission platforms can provide valuable insights into the festival's standing and the way that it supports contributors. Be vigilant – there can be disreputable festivals among the many excellent ones.
Def: Rejection is an inherent aspect of applying for anything. What advice would you give someone who’s had their submission rejected? CC: We prefer to say that a film was invited or not invited. Rejected carries an implication of failure – the reality is, films are not invited for reasons outside of your control as the submitter. PH: Programming a festival is hard and requires factoring in not just the subjective tastes of the programmers, but the objective realities of your film. There are a million reasons a film may or may not make it into the programme – sometimes it merely means it wasn’t right for the festival in that year. OB: Rejection from a festival does not necessarily denote a lack of quality. My advice would be to try not to take
it personally and remember different festivals are looking for distinct things. We have certainly passed on films that have gone on to win awards at other festivals. Keep applying, refining and creating – persistence is key. CC: It’s important to maintain a good relationship with the festival for future work, and if a programmer has reached out personally to compliment your film even if it’s not invited – believe them! Cultivate that relationship. Often, we programme future work from creators whose first submissions we didn’t invite. OB: Despite the competitive nature of the selection process, we are constantly inspired by the breadth and quality of films we receive – and are proud to provide a platform for innovative filmmakers from all walks of life.
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