One of the biggest takeaways from the Film Bazaar is that a filmmaker’s job doesn’t end at making the film. If you’re an independent filmmaker, you also have to look for funding, potential partners and ways to enter festivals where people can see your film. There are numerous film festivals across the globe. Which one fits your movie and how does one get into them? A session at this year, Bazaar gave filmmakers easy, practical and crucial tips on how to navigate this world. The panel comprised Nashen Moody (Director, Sydney Film Festival), Marten Rabarts (Festival Director, New Zealand International Film Festival), Hussain Currimbhoy (Artistic director, Red Sea International Film Festival) and Christina Marouda (Founder, Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles). Here are the key takeaways from their session.
- Study the history of reputed film festivals and look at what sort of films they screen. It’s important to understand the taste of every festival. The taste is defined by the people programming for them and so it keeps changing. You need to keep tracking this. Get in touch with filmmakers who’ve screened their films at these festivals and ask them how it helped them. Don’t skip this legwork.
- When people like a film you’ve made, they immediately google you. It helps to have a basic website with a little story about you, the making of the film and images.
- Keep your emails short and polite. Programmers have a lot to watch. Don’t spam them. If you’ve got their contacts from an industry guide then read up on them and target your emails to the relevant people. Don’t mass send emails. It’s annoying.
- Independent films are made on a tight budget but try and spare a small amount for a good poster. It’s the first thing people see of your movie and a good poster goes a long way.
- You need to exploit all opportunities to get your film visibility. If you have a well-known actor in your film, take them along for the festival. Try to get the festival to fly them down. Make them available for interviews.
- Try to work with the PR of the festival. Create a buzz on social media to reach out to the Indian communities of a place. If you’re at a festival like Toronto where there’s a lot going on, invest in a good publicist. Same with Berlin and Cannes. Locarno and Rotterdam are quieter festivals.
- Don’t be fixated on only the major festivals like Cannes. There are others too that may be good for your film. Maybe they provide better opportunities to meet people from the industry and potential producers. Therefore, sometimes in waiting for the big festivals, you miss out on many smaller opportunities.
(In association with NFDC’s Film Bazaar)