We are asked this question often. Most recently while attending the New York State International Film Festival in Albany, we were asked during an on-camera interview by TimeWarner Cable, “What is the benefit of showing your short at a film festival?”
This festival, in its inaugural year is a great example of why we submit our short films to festivals, and why we try to attend as many as we can. The first reason was evident during the Q&A that followed the screening of our film, ‘The Taking of Ezra Bodine’. It was clear the film resonated with several of the audience members, who loved the work of the actors Bill Sage (We Are What We Are, Hap & Leonard) Adan Inteuz & Lance R. Marshall (The Demon Deep in Oklahoma, RSVP) as well as the story itself also written/directed by Lance R. Marshall. Each of us as filmmakers are tasked with finding our audience. When your film falls into a specific genre, it can make this process easier, though still a huge undertaking. There are numerous festivals specific to genre such as Horror, Comedy or Animation. But what if your film is not easily categorized? Then the process of finding your audience becomes more difficult. After answering numerous questions, about the film and our other work, from the audience, we were greeted outside the theater by more questions from attendees.
THIS….this is exactly why we try so hard to attend in person. We had found more people who are interested in the type of films we create. We had found our audience. As we attend each festival, our audience grows. By doing this, each time we release a new film, we have a larger fan base to share our work with.
So you’ve found your audience! Great! What other benefits are there? Glad you asked. These festivals are not just attended by film watchers, but as expected, are attended also by filmmakers.
While attending the Portland Film Festival with our short film ‘The Demon Deep in Oklahoma’, we met Martin Melnick, a Portland filmmaker who enjoyed our film and was interested in working together. That led to him directing our latest short film ‘Mickey the Leaf’. We’ve also met amazing filmmakers who inspire us to continue working towards our goals, such as Patrick Brice, who we met while attending the Nevada City Film Festival in California also with our short film ‘The Demon Deep in Oklahoma’. Patrick was screening his film ‘Creep’ which he shot with indie filmmaker Mark Duplass, which he followed up with the indie hit ‘The Overnight’ starring Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche. The Brooklyn Film Festival was also a hot-bed of talented filmmakers whom we stay connected with to this day.
Being a filmmaker is not a one-person job, it’s not a 10-person job, its 100’s of people. Because you need more than just an amazing cast and crew. You need the support of other filmmakers, either through their advice or by being inspired by their work. Another great benefit of festivals are the connections you make with festival organizers, who often are eager to continue to screen your future films. This has been the case with the organizers of the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival who have always been such great supporters of our films.
So why submit your short film to festivals? The question is, why wouldn’t you? Your job as a filmmaker is to create art, your next step is to get your art out to the world. Festivals provide the perfect opportunity to meet the people necessary to make that happen, which is your audience, other filmmakers and the festival organizers themselves.
Making a film is an amazing achievement. Don’t fall short (pun intended) by not promoting your film.
Hope we meet you all on the festival trail soon!