Making the most out of film festivals

Film Festivals

Whether you’re an indie filmmaker, student, actor, producer, composer, production designer or just looking to get into the industry, there are several strategies you can take in order to get the most out of your stay.

The first question you must ask yourself is what do I want to get out of this festival? Do you want to sell a short? Find a job? Learn about filmmaking, or find projects to invest in? Once you have a clear idea of what you would like to go home with, your next step is to devise a strategy. Below is a 5-step strategy guide.

Connections

In order to network and make the right connections you must ask yourself these questions. When you meet people you don’t know, presentation is very important. How do you want to leave your mark on them? Do you have a business card or are your details written on the back of your hand? What will they find out about you? What will make them want to stay in touch with you? Are you being honest with them? Do you have something in common, and most importantly can you help each other?

Making connections is important in the entertainment industry but it shouldn’t be considered as a chore. Networking can provide you with key knowledge and newfound friendships that can take your career to the next level. Never underestimate the potential of a connection, even the witty film school student, who may open your mind to new ideas and possibilities.

Meetings

Have you scheduled any meetings? Are you selling a short, documentary or feature film? There is no point spending a fortune going to one of the major festivals like Berlin without at least a partially pre-planned agenda.

If you want to sell your film and need to meet distributors, call them up before you arrive. Find out if they will be attending, where their offices will be, and where to send your film, and if need be, send it ahead of time. Perhaps you are looking for funding for your next feature? Arrange to meet with producers, studios, and production houses to ensure you get that face-to-face contact, which will always bring you more opportunity than a cold call.

Making your mark

Perhaps you have just started out in film school or are curious and want to know more about the industry. Find out what people do. Don’t hesitate to meet people from different fields and to ask them for advice. You will find that most people will always want to give you some insight, as they have had to climb the career ladder themselves.

Have a showreel on you if you have completed some films. Maybe your production company has just finished a music video that has garnered some recognition? Give out some DVDs or (to be cheaper) a youtube link.

Follow ups

After you have left the festival, those all-important follow-ups must be attended to. Gather your business cards and start making a list. Every person you ever meet will always have a meaning in your life, and you should be able to come back to them, even if its in 10 years time.

Create a mailing list for each festival you attend so that you can keep a memory of whom you met. As you grow in your career or gain clients for your new production company, you can keep people updated on your progress.

What did you get out of the festival?

Learning from your first experience can make wonders for round 2. What did you want, and what did you get? Refine your strategy next time round, as you will be able to go further with the new knowledge you have learned from your previous festival experiences.

Where are you in your career since the festival? Have you made the right connections, and have you managed to sell your film or get a role in a movie? If you haven’t attained your goals, this doesn’t mean you have failed. Festivals are great meeting places but may not always provide you with job opportunities. Jobs may come after you have gained certain knowledge from a festival. Remember, a film festival is only once a year, and for a limited time. People who attend festivals also have an agenda, and a time limit, just like you.

Good luck for your next festival trip!

Film Industry Network will be covering major film festivals in the near future, providing you with valuable information on getting the most out of your stay.

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