With films from the first graduating class of the Murray Center starting to enter the public sphere and be accepted into film festivals, the center and its alumni have officialy entered the distribution and festival circuit.
Though I’m a current Murray Center student myself, I’ve been working for a distribution company for more than a year now and interned at a company that hosts three film festivals a year on top of weekly screenings. These professional experiences have allowed me to learn a little bit of insight on film marketing, distribution and the nuts and bolts of programming.
We work in a saturate marketplace for films and content, so it can feel daunting to try to get anyone watching your film. Here are some fast, easy tips to help you get as many eyes on your film as possible.
Put it online (duh)
The most obvious route to getting the most people to see your film is to just put it online. Upload it to Vimeo or YouTube. Share the link on all your social media pages and ask your friends and family to do so as well—you already have whole networks of people at your fingertips–use ‘em! Also, don’t be afraid to tag your videos and make them easy to find – that way your film can gain a life among other cinephiles. Keep in mind this could affect your ability to get into festivals though, as many festivals want films that haven’t been seen before—at least in their region—so a film that’s had a life online may not be of interest.
Student film festivals/Student categories of professional festivals
There is a huge variety of festivals around the world just geared towards students. The best way to find these festivals is through festival submission services and good old Google. First, look up different film schools– they are usually the ones hosting these events on their campuses and many are open to students from around the world.
Sign up for WithoutABox and FilmFreeway
Most festivals will ask you to submit your film through one of these services. When preparing your film for entry, try to make your project forms as detailed as possible so programmers’ jobs are easier. You can search for different types of festivals and narrow down results by location, cost, and deadline. Also, these services send you weekly emails with upcoming deadlines and new festivals so you don’t have to do a lot of basic research on your own. This is a simple way to find out about deadlines.
If you organize everything you need to submit your film, filling out forms will be that much easier. Generally, you should have on hand a document with all the film’s technical specifications, credit information, and synopses/loglines. You should also have three or four stills from your film, a short director biography and headshot, and, if you have one, a press kit. The less you or your distributer have to worry about gathering for each form, the better and faster you can submit to festivals.
Think before your submit
While there is probably something to be said for submitting your films to as many places as possible, submission fees can make this an impossible and expensive idea. Consider where you want your film to play, such as whether it fits into “themed” film festivals that center around certain identities or genres? Do you want to save your film to premiere at a place like SXSW? Also PLEASE double check what each festival’s guidelines are and see if your film even qualifies for the festival – some restrictions include runtime, genre, or even age of filmmaker.