Submitting to Film Festivals and Where to Start
For the last couple few weeks, we have been submitting Nino’s latest documentary Through The Thick to many different festivals all around the world. We used some of the big submission platforms out there and thought we would share our experiences with you. Read on if you plan to enter your next film into the festival circuit!
If you’ve been following our posts closely, you might remember a couple of months ago Nino released his latest film Through The Thick (here’s his informative PRODUCTION INSIGHTS article on cinema5D). This beautiful short form documentary was made possible thanks to the support of G-Technology and Zeiss, and focuses on the rhino preservation efforts in South Africa. It features stunning imagery thanks to the use of a Phantom Flex 4K high speed camera.
Needless to say, we believe a film like this needs as much exposure as possible. We decided to use some of the big festival platforms out there and, at the same time, report our experience. We hope our findings help save you some time if you want to enter the festival circuit.
Without A Box
With a long, established trajectory, Amazon-owned WithoutABox.com was our first port of call, as Nino had used this platform before for some his other productions in the past. This is a free platform, which allows you to create different profiles for your productions.
You can associate a dedicated Vimeo link for submission as well as upload press kits, which some (but not all) festivals require. Another neat feature is that the credits sections can scan IMDB for your crew members’ names, which helps connect your film to other releases and place it in some sort of professional filmmaking context.
After you’ve filtered out your search using various criteria, the submission process is fairly easy. Clicking the submit button gives you a list of the chosen festival’s various categories and, based on how you categorised your project, gives you an indication of whether your project passes or fails individual entry requirements. You can then add all your submissions to a shopping cart and check out at your convenience.
Film Festival Life
FilmFestivalLife.com offers a great repository, with star ratings for different criteria, and user comments, which is a great tool if you are on a very limited budget and are picky about the festivals you submit to.
The FilmFestivalLife search engine was also very useful to us, as it allows you to localise your search geographically down to individual countries. However, you should keep in mind that this service is not free: each time you submit will cost you depending on the length of your film, unless you subscribe to one of their membership plans.
Another very popular platform is FilmFreeway.com. Although it is very similar to other sites, one aspect that sets it apart is it’s curated lists for different kinds of festivals, such as “xxx” or “xxx”. Their search engine is decent, and although not quite as localised as FilmFestivalLife, you can still narrow it down by region.
I’d have to say that, at least in our experience, this is the platform that served us best. Not to say that it’s head and shoulders above the competition, and some may prefer some of the alternatives… But the combination of a friendly user interface and a comprehensive search engine meant that we spent most of our time on this site in particular.
These are only a few of the many tools available online. Other names you may come across are:
Film Festival Deadlines – where you can register to receive a list of all festivals with deadlines ending within the next 30 days.
FilmFestFinder – this repository gathers user reviews from festivals available on other submission platforms so you can make a more informed decision about where to invest your festival budget.
So no matter what strategy you choose, chances are there is something out there on the interwebz that will make this long and tedious journey of searching and applying to multiple festivals a little easier.