Got the "I'm not in Sundance this year...again" blues? Well, here's an attempt to perk you up by pointing you towards festivals that are possible - and don't require a sales agent or big name producer to get you in.
I'm sure you've all been watching coverage of Sundance and drooling at the thought of having a film play there. I know that I'd love to screen at Sundance. Alas, the competition is intense and most of the slots are filled with films brought to programmers from distributors, producers, stars, sales agents, financiers, etc. In other words, people with money, power and connections - which probably doesn't describe you (or me, for that matter).
If you're going to make a microbudget feature that you want to get on the festival circuit, you need to have a different strategy and approach than a big film - just as much as you need to have a different approach to filmmaking, to genre, etc. in order to make a film that has hope of success.
With that in mind I'm going to interview some festival directors and programmers in the coming weeks to give you a taste of some of the smaller festivals out there that you should consider submitting to.
In this video I spoke with Anthony Pedone, the founder and executive director of the Victoria Texas Indie Film Festival. Anthony is a funny, foul-mouthed guy with a very big heart and big ambitions. He's also a filmmaker himself and has a film on the festival circuit called An American In Texas that I helped to story edit. And they're in negotiations with a digital aggregator on a distribution agreement. So, he knows the ropes from multiple sides.
There's lots of great takeaways in this interview worth noting, including:
1) VTXIFF isn't just a festival but also is focused on filmmaker community building. To that end they have an affiliated program called Film Exchange, which provides support and access to high quality gear for filmmakers who come to their festival.
2) Building a community of returning filmmakers has been important to building the festival and making it a place to which people want to return. As a microbudget filmmaker, developing long term relationships with filmmakers from around the country and around the world is super-important.
3) Know what you're submitting to. We talk a little bit in the interview how I didn't submit my film Fucking My Way Back Home to VTXIFF, even though my first film screened there, I was on the jury one year and helped program for another. Why? Because Victoria is a smaller community in an overall conservative state and not really a great place for a film with our name and the content within it. Knowing this is useful in both the positive and negative sense - negative in the sense of not submitting your festivals that are clearly not a good fit for your film (for instance, we've put some focus on submitting to underground film festivals and to socially oriented film festivals - like social justice, human rights, etc). Think about your niche - whether it's shot in the mountains or is about LGBTQ life or immigrant life or being a modern cowboy and use that to increase your chances of being programmed, especially if you don't have direct links to programmers.
4) If you're looking for somewhere to submit your film and you're running out of festival budget, Anthony provides a discount code that you can use on filmfreeway.com to submit your short or feature length for FREE to VTXIFF. But you only have till mid-February.
PS: Check out my microbudget sci-fi comedy, A Brand New You, on Amazon for streaming or rental. Feel free to send me your thoughts - and don't forget to leave a review!
Amazon US - http://a.co/bUV7uMJ
Amazon UK - http://amzn.eu/0Z3XgKW
Amazon Japan - http://amzn.asia/2Q68u1b
Amazon Germany - https://www.amazon.de/dp/B072N1GYSZ
Vimeo - https://vimeo.com/ondemand/abrandnewyou
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