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What in the World is Festival Strategy? Like For Real!

As the first post of the year after many conversations with friends and other filmmakers, one thing became clear with the passing of 2018.

No one knows what it is that I do, save for the ones in the industry who work in sales, distribution and marketing that is. What I do is non existent in the grassroots filmmaking world, and a dying art in the indie world. If it isn't attached to a sales/distribution or big time production company no one cares. The point to festivals is to open up opportunities of gaining attention from a distributor who lives in another country.

Making a horror film in Toronto only to play in Toronto horror film festivals lowers it selling outside of Canada. What if you tried to sell outside North America with no attention to international film festivals. I have never met a distributor who even looked at a film without it playing in a big enough festival in their country first much less buy it.

Film festivals are another way to internationally advertise without having to actually do all the work. Once you're in a festival the first thing they ask for is an EPK and that includes a trailer which goes up on their website. It could also be in their local newspaper for their communities to read.

When you have someone who is prepared to focus on maximizing the exposure of your film, they are a part of the team. As someone into festivals, the global list of them is large and it keeps growing. This also means there is a master list of all the deadlines and submission details. There would also be a list of programmers broken down into what genre film they select and the festival director. It includes all submission forms and a list of online screeners and who's watching. There is also keeping track of festival invitations, media exposure and listed reports producers need so they know what's going on. This doesn't even include film markets, that's a whole other list of things and another topic.

On the marketing side, it would consist of an electronic press kit. This includes film posters, trailers, proof reading press releases and making sure laurels are attained. Sometimes it can lead to keeping the website up to date and engaging on social media channels available. The least is a 2 year investment devoted to the festival circuit. This is why it's so important to not only have the money (either for submissions, or plane tickets to attend) but also the time.

Still stumped on the details? Email me right now at

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