And the winner is….
I realize I am systematically alienating all the people that one would think I would need to have a successful film. First it was the theaters, then distributors and now I’m going after Film Festivals. I really know how to make friends. But I have to tell it like I see it.
I have grown weary of talking with filmmakers who have spent their last penny or even worse gone into debt to get into and travel to a film festival to show their film. Wide eyed and hopeful that someone will see their film and either offer them a big distribution deal (we know that’s not gonna happen anymore!) or that the audience will so love it that the theater asks them to show it for a week (Then keeps all the revenues!) What most walk away with is a big bar tab and printing bill (Yes you did print all those flyers and postcards to promote your film) You schmoozed with the other filmmakers and maybe even met a low level D gal. But the truth is in the end can anyone tell me who won Sundance last year? And if you can- well then your just waaay to cool for this blog.
And if you win- well there is a trophy, Right?!! Well mine are all gathering dust on shelves in various places in my house, nothing but a memory of a night that I felt like a big shot, but ultimately got me nowhere.
Ok so after your Ego has been fed- what’s left? Nothing. Film Festivals are money making enterprises and their making money off of your film, so why aren’t you? There are so many film festivals giving out so many prizes it’s an oversaturated market of laurels. Everyone seems to have one on their poster because we all think it means something. But in the end will your audience care? My guess is they haven’t heard of the Seskachewan Valley Independent Film Festival and won’t care that you won the “Most Interesting Film” award. My guess is you probably had to pay for the trophy. Did you get any of the revenues from the tickets sold to your screening? Did anyone pay you for the hours and expenses it took to promote your film at their festival? What did you gain by going?
I’m not suggesting you blow off festivals entirely. Firstly- be discerning- there might be a festival worth going to where you might be able to reach your core audience. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. The truth is these festivals need your film more than you need them. Start with asking for a screening fee – even $200 bucks! Even if you can’t get money from them for showing your film, make sure your getting press, make sure your getting paid to travel to it, make sure you can collect email addresses of the people attending your screenings. Push for the better screening times. Whatever you do, don’t give it away like a catholic school girl on her eighteenth birthday! Your film has value – don’t ever forget that- your investors won’t and believe me they don’t want that ugly glass trophy.