I get asked this question a lot when it comes to Romance in NYC our Short Film shot entirely on the iPhone 6 is, “When can we see it?” So I figured I would explain how the festival circuit works in a bit more detail for those who may not be aware.
The allure of the Laurels is real!
To have these on your films poster is not only a badge of pride, it shows you made it through hundreds of other films to be selected to be screened at a venue that has a limited space. It shows your work is being acknowledged and enjoyed. It is the equivalent of a gallery showing for a photographer. You are taking up limited time slots in a festivals very tight schedule.
Submitting to a film festival feels a lot like college applications but when you get denied from one it is much more of a moral hit due to the content being your creation, your baby, your “artistic vision”. Which also makes a win so much more rewarding.
When you decide to submit to film festivals with any film you basically become a very good reader of fine print and expert secretary and this is why:
Each film festival has its own rules for submission.
- Some festivals only accept World Premiere’s, meaning it has never been shown anywhere else or at any other festival. This means, if you wish to submit to this festival, you have to arrange the other festivals around it in a way that if you do get accepted to one it won’t show or premiere prior to the World Premiere one.
- Format for showing
- Length (in our case we fell into short, which can be defined as under 60 minutes, under 30, under 5 etc. It is pretty different per festival)
- EVERY festival has ONE major rule: The film cannot be viewable online to be considered as a selection for the festival.
- Some festivals have festival winner categories and some are just there to help screen your work and give it great exposure. You can be selected for screening at some festivals but not selected as a winner. Either way being selected in an honor because of the amount of submission each festival gets ever year.
This applies to every type of traditional festival, but because Romance in NYC was filmed using a mobile device this opened up other avenues for us as well. We decided to make our first round of submissions through tradition festivals even thought we used a mobile device to film it. We used the mobile device for many creative reasons, but the story is the ultimate selling point for any film and we felt the story came across well enough to run the traditional circuit so to say. But because we used a new medium as well we didn’t want to limit ourselves:
Online film festivals are growing exponentially, especially since we created a film on a mobile device, there were many other options open to us. Mobile Film is a very new medium still, but the opportunities it creates for emerging filmmakers to be seen in an otherwise hard to break into field is amazing. Many very prominent film makers and judges are joining the ranks of mobile film festivals around the world. The exposure this can create for your hard work is enormous and should not be overlooked! Just because it isn’t Sundance, doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely beneficial and prestigious to submit to anymore.
However, many online mobile festivals require a copy of the film to be posted to their website if it is selected. That would disqualify you from all of the above festivals you worked so hard to strategically pick and schedule, with the hope you are selected. Not to mention negate an entry fees, that adds up quickly, if you choose multiple festivals to submit to.
What we were able to do in our situation was to reach out to the festivals management we were interested in and ask them if we could send them a private screener of the entire short film and if selected have the trailer posted online instead of the full film to allow us to finish our festival circuit before a full online release to the public. Many mobile festivals are accommodating of this since they too understand the process of submissions and the varying rules and guidelines. Check with your festivals before hand. Off the top of my head the ones that were extremely helpful in this regard were the Mobil Film Festival San Diego, Cinephone, The Original iPhone Film Festival, and iPhoneFF.com.
It is very important to make sure your festival submissions do not conflict with one another. So keep a good calendar of submission dates, selection dates, and screening dates.
You should not just submit to every festival out there, I mean you can if you want, but it is better to get their history, length they have been running(which is a great factor in seeing if it is an established organization), and see if your films subject matter and story align with previous festival winners/selections. This will help you to create a very targeted approach to submissions in what can be a very overwhelming pool of festivals.
I hired Joanna Cabello to help with this process. She does this for a living and is very familiar with festivals and can help to create PressKits, contacting festival organizers on your behalf, and make it so you are not just submitting blindly. We have worked on many films together so I trusted her without hesitance. I highly suggest her services!
So now you have submitted to festivals, now what?
Well this is the tell tale of hurry up and wait. You cannot influence the judges opinions of your piece obviously, but what you can do is continue your marketting campaign to build buzz around your film, even if it hasn’t been released yet. For us Romance in NYC has been getting a lot of media attention lately from our trailer and behind the scenes footage we timed with the upcoming festival circuit we chose:
This is extremely important to a successful circuit run, keeping the hype alive. As well you are building a following of people who, if you are selected for a festival, will want to show up to see and support your hard work and film at the screenings. You don’t want your film to just sit in the ether and die. We started our film via Kickstarter which was a great way to engage and build a community, this still applied after it is over and your film has been finished and submitted.
You can release teasers, behind the scenes, and promotional material as long as you don’t show the entire film.
So this is a general breakdown of the process when it comes to film festivals and ultimately the answer to “When can we see it?” is, if you are lucky enough to make it into one of the festivals you submitted to, the festivals themselves!
We just got accepted as an Official Selection for New Filmmakers of New York 2015:
This means you can now tell your engaged audience and followers the venue, when it will screen, and invite them all to come and have a first look at the film in all its glory.
New Filmmakers New York
Wednesday, April 15 – Courthouse Theater @ Anthology
6:00 PM Short Film Program
Chantal Massuh-Fox GIRLS CLUB (2014, 4 minutes, video)
Lauren Muller AURA (2015, 10 minutes, video)
David Steven Simon DANTE AND BEATRICE: A FAMILY FILM (2014, 20 minutes, video)
Joseph Minion AIRPORT 2012 (2014, 22 minutes, video)
Tristan Pope ROMANCE IN NYC (2014, 18 minutes, video)
So we hope to continue sharing this film through festival selections until we are done with the circuit and make it available for everyone via online or DVD distribution. With a short such as ours I suggest online and DVDs being a special perk for those who want a physical copy.
Hopefully this clears up some of the questions and look forward to see you all at the screenings!