The Seed&Spark Blog

10 Things A Filmmaker Should Do At A Festival

June 12, 2015

• Paula Elias

1. Make friends.  
Festivals are fun and one of the best things about them is that you get to spend time with other people who love film. These people are your tribe. The people you meet could be the same people who work on your next project, help fund it or just spread the word. It’s like a convention for film lovers, so relax and have a good time. Meet as many people as you can— all kinds of people—and get their cards. Make notes on the card about where you met them and something brief about what you talked about. When you get home, take the time to compile it all into a document that you will add to. Reconnect with the people you got the closest to by email or on social media to solidify your connection. It’s all about who you know. You hear that adage  all the time and there is no place where it is truer than in film.
2. Bring business cards.
Because these people are your tribe, they are also some of the people who will be most supportive of you and your projects, personally and professionally. But in the crazy hubbub of a festival it is easy to forget whom we met. So make and bring your own cards and be sure to put your name, your film, social media information, and your film’s official site on them so that people can engage with you. Keep the back of the card blank and white so that you can jot down your personal contact information for people you really want to connect with. 
3. Make Lobby Cards.
Bring or send the festival Lobby Cards ahead of you (postcards printed on card stock with a still from your film, synopsis and times your film is showing). Add your social media information so fans can support your film. This is a great way to promote your film and screening times throughout the festival and create a bigger audience. Keep some with you to give to people you meet. 
4. Use Social Media.
Post on your social media and on the festival’s social media about the fact that you will be attending the festival. Make it easy for your fans to spread the word. 
5. Get Press.
Connect with the festival director or the hospitality team before the festival to let them know you are willing to talk to the press. Make an FAQ sheet about you and your film so that you can be prepared to answer questions if you do get interviewed. You can also craft a press release and give it to the festival to make it easy for them to get press for you and your film. If they don’t have a press system in place, ask them if you can reach out yourself and then connect with the local press and get them your release. 
6. Be Ready To Talk About Your Next Project.
One of the first questions people will ask you is “what’s next?” This is the perfect time to get support and press for your project. Put together a little 30 second elevator speech about your next project to get people excited. 
7. See Films.
Go see other filmmakers’ films. It’s a great way to support them and they are often there in person so you can get to know them too. What comes around goes around and they will often reciprocate. 
8. Connect.
Get to know the festival organizers. The festival world is a small one and we talk to each other. If one festival has a good experience with a filmmaker they are more likely to recommend them and their film to other festivals. 
9. Document.
Take pictures and/or videos and post them. Tag the festival. It’s a good way to boost your presence on social media and the festival always appreciates it. 
10. Get to Know the Local Scene.
Every community has something unique about it. Talk to people and find out what it is.  If you get a chance to visit before your screening, letting the audience know what special about the community will make you a surefire hit with the locals. 


Paula Elias

Paula Elias is a writer and speaker with extensive expertise on the gender inequities facing women in film and almost twenty years of experience in working with film festivals. She is the founder of the Citizen Jane Summit, a conference on gender parity n



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