How to Submit Your Film to a Film Festival

By G.R. Claveria

Things Needed

  • Copy of completed film (screener)
  • Specific film festival information
  • Festival entry form
  • Press kit materials
  • Entry fee

Once you have a completed short or feature film, it is important to find an audience to view your masterpiece. Submitting the film to the right film festivals is often a key to successfully finding an audience for your work. The following are basic tips on how to effectively submit your movie to a film festival.

Understanding Your Film and The Film Festival

Find out if your film and the film festival are a good match for each other. Research other films that have been previously accepted to the festival of your choice. Search through imdb.com or Withoutabox.com to see a complete listing of various film festivals. This will give you a good idea of the types of films the festival selects. For example, if you made a feature-length kids' film, you should not submit your film to the horror film festival ShockFilmFest.

Follow all guidelines of the film festival precisely. It may be surprising for outsiders to learn how many incorrect applications festivals receive. It is not only unprofessional to submit incorrect applications; it can also cause the film festival committee to think that you have no respect for the submission process. This in turn can cause you to be overlooked during the selection period.

Present all materials professionally. Make sure that you submit the correct format needed for each film festival. Properly label each screener copy. Make sure the screener copy is functioning. Attach a press kit that includes the completed festival forms, payments, tracking numbers, a return postcard with proper postage, and a cover letter.

Just like a job interview, make sure you submit a cover letter highlighting reasons why your film will be well suited for that particular film festival. This is your opportunity to briefly inform the festival judges of pertinent information about your film, such as potential local interest, cast and crew attendance, and any awards or accolades your film has received.

Make sure everything is properly packaged before you mail it. DVDs can come loose from their plastic mountings during shipping and become damaged, so take care to pack them securely. If you have not received any correspondence from the festival by stated festival deadlines, it reasonable to contact the film festival organizers to check the status of your film. Most important, be patient.

Tip

Apply early for the festival. Be organized and keep track of the dates that you sent your film, the deadlines, and any forms of correspondence. Save money by sending the submission via regular mail.

Warning

Don't submit your film in the wrong category. Don't pester the film festival organizers. Don't draw attention to flaws in your film.

About the Author

G.R. Claveria is a national award-winning multi-media producer who has been teaching at the college level for more than eight years. As a writer/producer/director, Claveria has accumulated more than two dozen awards, including a Senatorial Citation recognizing his writings by Ohio State Senator Tom Roberts.