Film Festivals

Hey, I recently finished post production for my first feature film. The entire thing was made for $6,000 and I'm just looking to find some festivals that cater to films my size / budget. I've already been submitting to some in NY on WOB and FilmFreeway. Basically asking if anyone knows of festivals that are worth the submission fee and will treat a small film like mine the right way, rather than just push it aside because it's a lower budget movie.

Ingrid Jean-Baptiste

Read about Chelsea Film Festival and see if it fits you or not

Jim Defalco

Thanks, just checked them out, seems like a fine festival but my film is a small romantic comedy and I don't think it is on par with their Global Issues theme.

Vitaly Kozlov

What you are trying to accomplish? Exposure or get some sales? Small festivals do not mean much and SAs and distributors do not go there. To get into big festivals is like to win a lottery. 99 percent your film has a low production value, few locations, no names. If you start to look for SAs... With all the above package it will be an uphill battle to get them interested. So your own realistic option - DIY. Get your hands dirty.

Jim Defalco

My film is super small with no name actors. From non partial industry people I've shown it to, they've said it looks like it has very good production value. We shot it at probably 10 or so different locations. It is a small film, but we made sure to make it look great, we shot at some beautiful and iconic locations around Manhattan and Eastern Long Island.

My main goal with the film is exposure. I dont figure this film will find any distribution. After the festival circuit I plan on either self distributing, or posting it on Amazon Video Direct.

With the budget and everything being so low, the film is kind of serving as a barometer for my skills. If I'm able to make a competent entertaining film with no crew and $6,000 in eleven days,. Imagine if I had an actual budget and crew.

Vitaly Kozlov

Jim, if you just looked for exposure mission accomplished. Get good reviews and eye balls on platforms, self promote it though the social media and your website. And start putting the funding together for your next feature. My suggestion your next aim should be 100K ULB SAG feature film. Make sure you have a compelling, authentic story. And it doesn't have to be yours. Tons of materials are around but be very selective. Don't start with dramas and especially with romantic comedies. They are heavily cast driven and don't sell in the market place. Stick to genre films: action, thrillers, horror, fantasies. If you want a possible ROI plan on including at least two B level actors, budget for those guys should be around 50 percent of your total budget but not less than 30-40K each and not more than schedule F - 65K. Good luck.

Ali Ashoori

Hello Jim We can have cooperation togethers but at the first I must watch your film and then if it had the potentials of the festivals I can work on it. If you interested please drop me an email aliashoori@cinepeace.co

Jo Henriquez

Dances with Films -- they're all about supporting first time indie filmmakers.

Vitaly Kozlov

Dances with Films are more for moral support and dreaming. They are just like stage 32 with the "welcomes and good lucks". There is a a very slim chance that any of the distributors/SA and acquisition people would go to festivals like Dances with Films for business. They go to Tier 1 festivals for that. So if you are serious about breaking in and you are looking for any recoupment, you should try to go there, and if its not gonna happen and probably it will not, because it's like winning a lottery nowadays, your second bet is to get SA on board and start selling the territories and placing it on VOD platforms. My two cents.

Jo Henriquez

Vitaly Kozlov - fair point. That moral support is valuable though. (if you can get into a Tier 1 festival, by all means, but if you don't, a tier 2 or 3 festival can still add value). Especially if you win an award at a festival like DWF or equivalent, that's something you can sell. You should get a Sales Agent regardless, and you'll be much more likely to get a good Sales Agent, and your Sales Agent will be much more likely to get better distribution for your film if you have Official Selections (and preferably awards) from festivals, even if tier 2 or 3 -- versus having nothing to show at all. If you don't have name talent or any other salable elements, then you'll need to build it. Take it all with a grain of salt of course, but I'm speaking from experience -- I've had a film at DWF, won the Industry Choice Award there and got it distributed. The key take away is: think of how you're going to add value and make your film salable to distributor by using these festivals.

Vitaly Kozlov

Unfortunately Jo you are wrong. And I am speaking from my 25 plus years of working in the industry as a distributor. Nobody cares including the buyers about wins at the Tier 2 and Tier 3 festivals. That value is only in the minds of the filmmakers. Genre and names that is a force and what sales in the market. Re: "you should get a SA regardless". Yes, you might get a SA but are you going to see the money in the end? If you have a genre and names at least you might see MG if you experienced enough to get it.

Jo Henriquez

Jim, you'll have to decide for yourself! I can't argue with Vitaly's years of experience. All I can say is I've gotten films sold this way, and it's probably not the first time you'll hear contradicting opinions. It's up to you to decide which route feels right for you and your particular circumstances.

Vitaly Kozlov

Yep, follow your heart or your brain. At least you will have something to celebrate with or to blame on.

Jim Defalco

Hey Jo and Vitaly, thanks for your responses. I've submitted to a bunch of festivals, most known the Austin Film Festival. I contacted festivals (you'd call them tier one festivals) I was interested in and asked questions about the festival and if a film as small as mine would fare well in their festivals. I got some great responses from most, like Slamdance (They cater to first time filmmakers w films under $1 million budget. and Austin Film Festival (They don't care about budget at all, they're a story first festival)
I also have a solid connection with a producer / investor . He produces / invests in all types of films, direct to dvd movies with older action stars, to found footage horror movies with no name casts. I sent him a copy of my film yesterday. He is someone who is a money only producer who doesn't care about any of the logistics of filming, just gives the money and waits to see the final product. Nothing is certain but he is a good connection and can help the film or with my next project. I also sent the film to some other connections who could help. Nothing is certain, but leave no stone unturned.
If festivals and my connections don't pan out, I plan on self distributing the film through Amazon Video Direct. The film cost $6,000 so getting a recoup on expenses would be great, but not something I'm worrying about just yet.
I am currently in pre production for another project in the meantime as well, and hope to have that finished over the Summer.
If you both want, take a look at the trailer for the film, it's on my page.

Thanks again for the insight!

Vitaly Kozlov

Hey Jim, I would like to know the producer who is just a money bag. If he is in my budget range it might work nicely for both of us. I have full packages ready to go. If you introduce me to him I will look at your material and would give you my opinion. You scratch my back I will scratch yours approach. PM me if you are interested.

Kasha Slavner

I have the same question - I've just finished my first feature documentary and am trying to get waivers for festivals - some have been great about it and so nothing to lose there but it's where the entry fee is over $25 USD which is way too expensive for me since I just graduated high school and have no income. My total budget for festival fees is $500. - less 40% when I exchange from Canadian. So far my film has screened at the United Nations and Sarasota Film Festival and got standing ovations but my question is - how can I get this on the radar of the bigger festivals? http://www.thesunrisestoryteller.com

Vitaly Kozlov

Kasha you have to crawl and climb like anybody else. Find more money. Hint: friends and family! Your best bet! And submit to big festivals. If you are good and lucky they might select you. If not try again and again. That is the process of every filmmaker. Good luck.

Kasha Slavner

Thanks Vitaly but I tapped out my friends and family and even strangers with 3 crowdsource funding campaigns already so I'll just keep plugging away like I have been and try to get more interest in the film. So far the filmmakers who've seen it like it. Going to get their testimonials on the website soon.

Christine Albrecht

We (the Zurich Film Festival) are currently open for submissions! You may be interested in our competition sections (fiction and doc), which consist of 1st, 2nd and 3rd films by their directors.
http://zff.com/en/industry/film-submission/

We'd be happy if you submitted your film at our festival!

Let me know if you have any questions.

Jim Defalco

Hey Christine, that sounds great, and I'd love to submit. I have to ask if it is at all possible for a submission fee waiver or discount code of any kind. If not, don't worry about it.

Christine Albrecht

Hi Jim,
I'm sorry for the delayed reply, I tried to message you directly, but I'm not sure the message was sent...
While we absolutely understand the challenges of a constrained budget, the submission process is set up as such that the submission fee is an established requirement integral to the process. Payment in full is necessary for the completion of the transaction that enables us to process each submission.
We are therefore not able to offer a waiver for the submission fee at this time.

We are however very interested in your film and look forward to your submission!

Mike Messier

I have started my own festival with very modest entry fees, specifically for films 11 minutes and under in a variety of new and traditional genres: https://filmfreeway.com/festival/AvaloniaFestival

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