Obviously most people who attend film festivals think they’re amazing. I mean, what’s not to love about them? You typically get to spend a long weekend (or longer) doing nothing but watching great new films, discovering new voices, interacting with filmmakers and actors during Q&A sessions.
Those in favor of film festivals…
For filmmakers, the feeling is usually mutual. They have an opportunity to have their work viewed by an enthusiastic audience, answer questions about their process, and perhaps find a distributor for their film. For many filmmakers showing and touring their work on the film festival circuit is a dream come true.
“I don’t really expect much from my life. So when I heard my films are premiering in film festival circuits I was glad of course but I thought it was lucky accident.”—Takeshi Kitano, actor, director of Outrage & The Blind Swordsman: Zatochi
The less than enthusiastic…
But then there are other filmmakers who don’t take such a sunny approach to the film festival circuit. Certain filmmakers believe that the entrance fees and travel expenses involved with the festival circuit are a waste of resources, particularly regarding larger festivals such as Toronto, SXSW, or Sundance where there are literally hundreds of films being screened and the filmmaker is fighting for the least bit of attention from both the audiences and potential distributors.
But film festivals are so much more than just finding a distributor. There are usually vast career and educational opportunities, as well as being able to network with other filmmakers, actors, potential investors, industry professionals, and fans.
Over the next several weeks I’ll be speaking with filmmakers and screenwriters who’ve participated in festivals such as Fantastic Fest, SXSW, Sundance, and others to get their perspectives of the festival circuit and both the positive and negative aspects of the process of submitting films as well as taking part in the various different aspects of the film festival experience.