Every year, the independent film industry puts on a wide range of events that showcase up-and-coming indie films, shorts, and other cinematic pieces. You’ve probably heard of festivals like Cannes, Sundance, and Tribeca that top the list of festivals that every producer wishes they could break into. However, most filmmakers have to forge their careers through years of networking and outreach, working diligently to get their projects featured in front of the correct audiences. For many young producers and moviemakers, regional independent film festivals are the ticket to developing a buzz about your film, creating a backbone of exposure, and finding an engaged audience that actually “gets” your work. Learn how you can really make a splash on the indie festival circuit with the following…
Showcasing Your Genius
So you’ve just finished your film – after long hours and lots of work, everything managed to click from financing to editing and you’re overjoyed to showcase your finished product. The problem is no matter how brilliant you think your film is, you have to continually prove that your spark of genius is worth the audience’s time. The industry itself is chock full of other bright-eyed filmmakers and producers moving about in their circles, trying to make noise about their own projects.
It’s imperative to cut through the noise by creating your own dissonant, divergent noise. Your film has a particular voice and narrative; you also need to have a strong voice and narrative as the filmmaker. This means you must develop a following on social media, getting people emotionally excited and invested in your project long before production starts. Places like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are platforms where you can share visually-engaging posts that showcase every little thing about the film itself, from behind-the-scenes action to casting.
Once you have a following online, you need to connect with your audience in person: at the film festivals themselves. While the bigger festivals are all about being seen, the local circuit is more about connection. Smaller indie festivals foster more accessibility between audiences and filmmakers – it’s common to share a drink with an audience member, industry suit, or fellow filmmaker in the crowd that could help your film along. Be an extrovert that is open and visible to the audience so they can see and appreciate the man or woman behind the camera.
Take Advantage of the Community
You will find a lot of people passionate about film on the indie circuit – they live and breathe the very medium of art. Festivals are the perfect place to network and meet new people; learn to engage everyone from fans, to fellow filmmakers, to potential collaborators with openness and honesty. You will also have the golden chance to interact with sales agents and distribution professionals that you’ve been so eager to convince, giving them an insight into your production world.
Independent film festivals are the perfect place to nurture the community that supports your endeavors – the same community that can boost you and your film into much larger, more profitable conversations. The independent film community is and always will be a jumping-off point for a lot of talented actors, producers, and filmmakers that springboard into the spotlight with great momentum and exposure. While it is exhausting, it is important to remain outgoing and social while meeting people from all walks of life that want to talk about your film – this is your shot!
The film industry is changing at a incredibly rapid rate – that means indie film festivals are on the cutting edge of what’s new and interesting. With so many different festivals segmented by genre, niche market, or highlight, it is imperative to submit your film to the festivals that best tailored to its style and target audience. Refine a circuit of festivals that will not only put your film in front of the best audience possible, but also push your film forward amongst like-minded people mired in the love of film itself.
All in all, there’s incredible value in the indie film festival circuit. There are opportunities to broaden your audience exposure, premier new concepts and techniques and most importantly, develop a calling card for yourself as a filmmaker. At this stage, it’s up to your people skills to network the best outlets of exposure for your art. Not every film you debut on the circuit will make waves, but exposure and buzz in these circles can be the best thing for a young filmmaker’s career.
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