Presenting Yourself
To Film Festivals

By Elliot Grove 

Raindance Film Festival is open for submissions

Most film festivals only accept films that come by personal recommendation. In order to be seriously considered for a festival you must form a personal contact with one of the festival programmers and convince them that your film will reach an audience. While this may seem a daunting and unfair process, it is, unfortunately, a part of the film festival game.

If you are targeting a specific festival, then it is prudent to find out which individual is programming the specific strand that you want to screen in, and make sure that you speak to and form a personal relationship with that person. When that person screens your film, you want to make sure that you are able to communicate with them after the screening and find out precisely what they felt about your film.

At this point too, one needs to be persuasive, but not desperate. Nothing will turn off a festival programmer quicker than the whiff of desperation surrounding a film project usually manifested by frequesnt telephone calls and email updates.

In order to develop a festival tour, you must do some careful research. Observe what sorts of films a particular festival screen before you submit. Find out who the programmers are, either by calling the festival directly or by looking at their websites. Once you have decided that the festival you are pursuing is appropriate to your marketing plan, request the correct application forms and submit your film.

Raindance Film Festival Open For Submissions

What it Costs

Film festivals usually charge submission fees.

At Raindance the cost is £15 for a short under 15 minutes, plus £1 per minute thereafter.

Larger festivals like Toronto, Sundance and Cannes do not charge a submission fee but may not look at your film on cassette. You need to hire a screening room when the festival director is in town and wait for them to see the film on a cinema screen. This does sound terribly old-fashioned (it is). So the free festival submission really boils down to the cost of duplicating the submission form, and hiring the preview cinema for the screening of your film for upwards of £150 per hour.

Attending a Film Festival

When you get a call or email from a festival offering a screening slot, you will have to make sure that you have a film print, or high quality tape in the required format. Some festivals screen DVD but others do not consider it a professional exhibition format (which it is not). Your film print will need to be shipped to the festival to arrive some days before its first scheduled screening.

If the film print is travelling from outside the EU, then customs forms will need to be completed, and a customs broker hired to clear your film through customs. The festival you are screening at will usually provide you with the necessary paperwork and broker details. Technically, when your film arrives in the UK from outside the EU, it is assessed for value and VAT is charged to the film festival as a temporary importer. Once the film has been screened and returned to the filmmaker, the festival can reclaim the VAT.

Once your print shipment details have been finalised, it is time to think about your own personal plans, and whether or not you wish to travel there as well. If you do, the festival may have low-cost accommodation organised and have preferential rates on airlines.

There are very good reasons to attend festivals, provided you can cope with the financial cost. Not only will you see how your film plays to complete strangers in another dity or country, but while at the festival you will meet other filmmakers,

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About Elliot Grove

Elliot GroveCanadian born Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the
British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007, the Raindance Postgraduate Film Degree in 2011 and Raindance Raw Talent in 2013.

He has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films incuding his latest feature film, Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe. Japan and America.

He has written three books which have become industry standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008),  RAINDANCE PRODUCERS LAB (Focal Press 2013) and 130 PROJECTS TO GET YOU INTO FILMMAKING (Barrons 2009). His first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication next year.

Open University awarded Elliot and Honourary Doctorate for services to film education in 2009.
He is regularly interviewed. Here is an interview for Canadian television


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Presenting Yourself To A Film Festival