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Film festivals have long been the established route for the indie filmmaker to gain peer recognition and set up an indie film distribution deal. Some get their start and go on to be successful, household names in the world of cinema by earning prestigious awards from festivals like Sundance, SXSW, Cannes, and Tribeca. But, it’s a complicated process to get from wrapping up an indie film production to that big pay-off with dividends and attention. This article will shed some light on the part of the journey post-edit, with hitting the circuit and how to apply for film festivals.

Applying Is An Artform In Itself

Proper festival application is as much an art as film making. Indie films are scrupulously judged from the beginning of the process to to the end, so making sure your film is all the way through post production and is publish ready is imperative. You should also carefully read the specific application rules and requirements of each festival you’re applying for; each festival is slightly different, and some will have entry fees or specific requirements you will need to fulfill. Also, ensure the content, subject matter, and theme of your film are in line with that of the festival; this is because certain festivals are aiming for specific topics or themes, so make sure that your film is appropriate for them before applying. 

Apply Early And To Everywhere

Applying early to every film festival you can has a lot of advantages. The most prestigious, like Sundance, only has a 1% acceptance rate, and some indie filmmakers decide to forgo even trying to apply. However, an early submission gets your film looked at before the inevitable wave of other films hits the judge’s eyes. If multiple applicants have similarities in premise, guess which one they’re likely to remember?

Application fees can also be less in many cases when getting in before the Early Bird Deadline. Prices just to get your film considered range from twenty dollars and up, and that will get more expensive the later you submit. Being early also has an inherent benefit because the way judges schedule a festival lineup means it’s easier to do so as soon as possible, and your late entry might not sway them to change it at the last minute.

Acceptance And Follow Up

It’s ok to open up the champagne from acceptance alone, but you need to follow up to keep the steam going. Especially if you hope to land an indie film distribution deal, ensuring crowds sit in the theater to watch it will be an essential factor for investors. Do some community outreach, network at the festival itself, and run exposure campaigns on your social media before the festival. For many indie filmmakers, the festival might feel like the end of a long journey, but in reality, it’s only the beginning; making sure you keep your momentum going after a good festival run will be a significant deciding factor in the future of your film.

Film Highway is a streaming service devoted to helping indie filmmakers get recognition and earn revenue for their art. Become a partner with others passionate about this medium at FilmHighway.com