Create Your Film Festival Strategy
Now we're going to move on to develop in your film festival strategy and this one is a lot of preconceived ideas about the film festival strategy so I'm going to just sort of give you like the quicks lay of the land who here has been to a film festival as a as a new audience member okay and who has been with him you see not yet has gone to a film festival with their movie or a movie okay, so it's film festivals are community they're exciting usually get to meet the filmmaker it's stuff you can't find everywhere else um if you what to look at the film festival world anyone can start a film festival we could have the to couch film festival right here and we could go toe without a box and sign up it's like four to six thousand dollars and we can say start sending me your movies it's going to cost you and I'm going to make some of that money because I got to pay back my without a box fee and we're going to start looking and then we're going to be our own curation team and we're going to pi...
ck some movies and we're going to show them that we're going to charge people tickets you know, money to come and watch those movies and they were going to pick a winner we're going to couch award winning movie so there is no oversight there's no one there's, no certification process anyone khun started film festival and there eighty, five hundred film festivals in the world, so probably even, you know, growing all the time, but the ones that really stand out the ones that people talk about our sundance, berlin, rotterdam, london can they are amazing festivals, and they launch careers, they change lives sundance I've been fifteen years in a row, there's another film festival, the world like it cannes is also amazing they're all so good even the little film festivals there's one in seattle, outside of seattle called the ellensburg film fest it's tiny two huge arts community and everyone's really passionate about it, there's some amazing film festivals here in california, they're all over the world, they the expectation of the film festival is very different than going to the movie theaters film festivals have the strategy is what festival they're going to go to summer markets, some are not some they all cost money to go to, not very many have the funds and the means to to bring you there. So every first will you go to your to spend money to submit you're going to spend money to travel there, you're gonna need paraphernalia while you're there to hand out and you're going to need your clipboard because you're gonna be collecting e mails while you're there so that you could be building your audience and you're going to hopefully maybe when some awards and meet some other people and share resource is so I am a huge fan of going to the film festival. What I am not a huge fan of is going to every single film festival because there's this myth that the more film festivals you go to, you are increasing the value of your film. You are not increasing the value of your film, at least not in hollywood's eyes. You're actually becoming damaged goods because if you went to sundance and you didn't get picked up and then you went to berlin and you didn't get picked up, so then you go on to london and berlin and rotterdam and can and you're not getting picked up the studio's look at you like what? You're just a little festival, darling, but you are not going to we're not going to spend a dime picking you up and taking you out into the theaters or even in the dvd or online markets because well, first of all, so many people have seen you. Now you've been out there winning all these awards, and but nobody's buying you so something's wrong there. I never knew that I always said the more festival, those little laurels that you could put on your dvd case or on your website like badges of honor I thought it up the value of the film I thought as the years went by or the next year went by, we were just increasing our opportunity and you are not its exact opposite, so I just wanted to put that out there and let people know that also film festivals excuse me out a little bit behind the time in the sense that behind the times they don't want your film available online anywhere they want to know that you're coming with your film and you can't find it anywhere so everyone will buy it take it to come see the film I don't believe that's true, we've done experiments where we've actually had content available online at the same time that it was at the theater and it actually drove more people to the theater to see it because they wanted to meet the filmmaker and they wanted to talk to other people around them about the movie, so I actually think it promotes the movie going audience there are there's sort of ah, you know you're on without a box you'll be able to see based on the date and whether you qualify for certain festivals so pick the festivals were maybe there's a market do you research again talk to people who have might have gone to film festivals and I will say the one thing you should absolutely dio is treat the film festival people every single one of them like gold you never know when the volunteer who wants to collect your ballot or is holding the ballot boxes you're coming out or who's selling you a ticket or your there to pick up your past is the mother of the executive director of the film festival and she's retired and she's helping her son out you never in all of the film programmers talked to each other because, for instance, sundance had twelve thousand submissions they accepted one hundred eighty films all of the programmers watched all these movies the next film festival that's big that's up is there's berlin there's santa barbara you can be sure that when sundance programmers were reading watch watching all of these films they're friends with other programmers and they also are seasonal so they go to other festivals and program they're calling each other, saying this film was amazing you should screen it at your festival we're definitely going to screen it so they talk to each other so you need to show you love to those programmers and everyone at the festival be them best filmmaker because even if your film is like ok and there's another film it's amazing but that filmmaker is not very nice and you are amazing, they're going to say, don't even bother with that one, he is a pain, you won't like him go with her. She is in her film is ok, it's pretty good, but she is the filmmaker that we should be helping like they care about the people too. So while they care about great programming, they also care about the whole package. They want filmmakers who actually care about them that are not walking around entitled and so it's really important to just have that good attitude. So we talked about without a box tangible marketing, you've gotta have something, and I know I have said, oh, postcard, whatever sticker, you gotta have something, even though they're not going to act on it don't rely on it, but you still want to have something I used to go around. I actually met one of my investors because I had some matches that I made it, and it said, strike a revolution, join indie flicks or whatever and it's a good match, and I took him over to france with me, and I was it can, and I'd be on panels during the day and then meetings, and then at night, I would say sort of I was like a mule, and I had all of these bags on me with just things of matches, because smoky filled france, everybody smokes and go around, I'd put matches on tables and I go to the bars night handing boxes of matches, and they loved it and I put him down and this one guy looking thing goes, what is it only goes, do you got a smoke? And I said no, and he said that waved to me on but the woman he was sitting with, she said, oh, what's in deflects, and I said, it's, the netflix of independent film, it is really interesting if you're ever in san francisco, you should call us and I said, okay, and she was a filmmaker, so I called her when I came to san francisco and ended up meeting and whatever and the long story short, he ended up investing in and deflects, and so they do open up conversations at another film called outpatient. It was about it was a psychological thriller, and what we did is we took a pill bottles that we ordered from the pharmacy. Another chicken that anymore and we put labels on him and the doctor was the director and the time that you would the amount of times you would take the prescription was the screening times and we put out towards in them and then we would leave them all over sundance and then we were filming people could see it we think like this and they grab it because they didn't know if it was actually pills and they're not way put on the bottom, you know, like altoids in latin or so something like some sort of mitt those were very popular in fact, our publicist got pulled over because she had a whole huge box of them in a front seat and they thought she was peddling drugs, so that created a little story. I've done other tangible marketing things where I gave out cash on the streets of park city and I wrote on the cash love indy flicks because my grandmother used to give me twenty dollars bills they love grandma and I was handing it to people in there was saying what's this for was it really what do I have to do for it? I didn't expect that response I thought they were going to be happy to take a twenty or two when they saw the two and they had a twenty like tonight to have the two and I'm like, ok, sure great, I'm going to save it for my kid, I'm like, ok that's not going to be viral or get out there, but come up with creative things to do at the festival is an opportunity for you to interact with the audience don't just show your movie group for q and a collect their e mails you've got a film loving audience right there take advantage of that, let them get to know you and more importantly, get to know them. So did you last that's clipboard o and you gotta have a facebook profile pigs so they could find you there they will remember that more than a website, but you need a website too, so I think I already touched on how the film festivals work, you know they like to know that they and save some of your premier status is be creative with your premier status. World premiere u s premiere north american premiere west of the mississippi premiere the southern premiere, the northern hemisphere premiere you could international premier global premiere world premiere you can change it up do the thinking for them they'll say, oh, you know really likes, but we're looking for prayers great I haven't used this premiere helped them think beyond world premier global premier great they just want to know that they're premiering something they want to show their audience that they have ah, premiere on their hands, so be created with the premieres that is a loosey goosey subject and they're willing to play there. It isn't the place to build community where you get to be offline with them there's parties, there's panels, you're going to meet people. I meet the most important people in line for the bathroom or in line for food, so I always go into a place I don't know anyone, and I never I couldn't wait for someone to go with me, so I always go in and I take care of getting something to eat or drink. I always have to go to the bathroom and I meet exactly I mean amazing people there and everyone always says, are you here with the movie? And you get to meet other filmmakers and film makers air really generous with each other they share resource is so go to film, go to film festivals, sleep on couches, be creative and what you share their and have your clipboard go to at least one film festival with his market. And then I would also say that, you know, pick and choose your festivals share information. Oh yeah here's a really important one never submit your film unfinished. People say, oh, but the deadlines here and it's pretty much there and I really love it and when they wouldn't really done they're going to be amazing but they're gonna love this rough cut too don't don't submit it don't submit a rough cut don't even calling beg that you can submit a rough cut unless you've had every single person vetted and you know the festival really well and they could look beyond now if you're just doing a little bit of color correcting that's okay, but don't send it when you still have a few more things you have to do to it like cut cutting wives make sure it's completely there and don't feel like if you don't get into sundance that you're dead in the water because people go to sundance and if twelve thousand people submitted one hundred eighty films got picked up in a good year, thirty five of them found distribution within a couple of months in an ok so so you're ten or twelve found distribution in three or four months and only a handful of them actually got any kind of advance the films that go on to the film festivals from there don't forget remember you got a whole bunch of film festivals from a market standpoint with hollywood you become damaged goods you can become damaged goods if your goal is not to be picked up by hollywood you are not damaged goods you are thriving and you are a festival, darling, and you have a lot to write about and you can now go on toe online platforms and you can use that and you're not in the hollywood system in that world is huge, and it may not be sexy like what we're used to with hollywood, but it's lucrative there's money, it's work, but you have a direct link to it and it's much longer lasting. So, um, and to your information into without a box, and you can do that early on, like, you don't have to go back and add to it, you don't have to just do it when everything's all finished, in fact, it's probably a good idea to go into without a box now and look at all the things that they asked for so that when you're in the filmmaking process, you're actually making you've got your checklist, so you're getting all of those things so that they'll say, oh, do you have any digital assets? It's like, oh, I didn't we got rid of that or, you know, we needed to clear that drive, so I got rid of it it's like, no, you know what? It would have been nice if you had some of that I even save digital assets, such as screen tests between two actors that we couldn't decide between what we had to actresses. And so we kept that we actually used a little bit of that for some digital's just for some promotion. It's like this one or this one will tell you later which one and it just got people engaged. People love that. I used to say, should I send out dvds in a in a jewel case? Or should I do in an envelope one was going to be, you know, forty two cents to send in the other one was like seventy five cents to send and cost more and created more waste. And everyone said the jewel case, it was like, really, like, I could have the r o I would've been so much better if I could have done an envelope, but I put it out there. So now I had to listen to everyone, and I send it out in a jewel case. And then because there are eighty five hundred film festivals, think about the top three think about the top ones you really want to go to, you know, festivals are awesome places, so think about places you might want to go because you're going to pay for yourself to go.