SUBMISSION TIPS FROM A FEST DIRECTOR

Last week I posted a submission tip each day from Festival Director Dan Springen. Now you can check them all out in one post, plus a few bonus tips I added in myself. Remember, submissions end July 1st!

1. Don’t over-package your submission. If it becomes frustrating to tear open your package for a programmer then you’ve set the stage for possible disaster. Wrapping your package in layers of packing tape; Bad Idea! Three or four sizes of envelopes packed inside each other; Bad Idea! We shouldn’t need scissors and a razor blade to watch your film.

2. Furthermore, don’t under-package. If you are sending promotional material along with your submission DON’T stuff everything into an envelope that just fits the DVD. When it is torn open, the media can be damaged.

3. If you have been accepted to other festivals or have had great reviews, awards, etc. let us know. Send a postcard along with your film that has quotes & laurels or mention it in your filmmaker’s statement. This excites the programmers to know that other people have also found the film to be worthy of programming.

4. But don’t send another DVD full of press material. I understand that you believe so strongly in the film that there is no way it won’t be programmed and therefore the festival will obviously need these items. The disc will end up in the recycle bin as soon as it is taken out of the package. We have very limited space and programmers have enough to keep track of. Don’t make their jobs any harder. 

5. Research - Find out what type of films normally play at a particular festival that you are submitting to. For example, we have screened experimental films in the past but we tend to favor more traditional narratives for the most part. This doesn’t mean your 16mm silent B & W art piece will not get into OFF, just that it has to be something really special that will blow us away. There are some festivals that only want certain genres, some with length or premiere requirements, some that only want art, peace or nature films and some that only care about stars. Don’t waste money on a festival that wouldn’t program you if Tom Cruise were the star. Or unless Tom Cruise were the star.

6. If you are from outside of the United States, do not send PAL SCEENERS of your film. Some programmers have the ability to view NTSC and PAL but some do not and your film may be overlooked if it is not in the correct format. We will contact a filmmaker if there are any issues with playback but some festivals do not. It is best to just make Region Free discs for submission purposes. Check the WAB listing for submission guidelines for each festival because it does vary.

7. Send a cover letter. It shows that you care about your film and the festival. Do not tell your life story; just a few words about the film and your excitement about submitting to the particular festival. Perhaps a single anecdote to intrigue the programmer before playing your film. This is also sometimes called a “Filmmaker’s Statement” and it is a great way to stand out.

8. The length of your short has a lot to do with programming. A 3-minute short that holds your attention and has great production value is much easier to program than one over 30 minutes that does the same thing. This is not to say we don’t program 30 - 50 minute shorts. In fact, we already accepted several this year but they are harder to fit in a proper screening schedule. In other words, if your film is longer than 30 minutes it needs to be DAMN GOOD. 

9. Make sure that your short film doesn’t have extended head credits. Nothing is worse than seeing 5 minutes of credits on a 10-minute film. My suggestion is to get right to the action unless you have big names in your film that require opening credits.

10. Unless your film is submitted 100% electronically, be sure to label your envelope and all of your materials with your WAB number and category. ie. 8121 - SS (student Short). This makes it much easier for us to keep track of your film successfully.

BONUS TIPS

* If you submit your film, don’t forget to actually send us the film and/or your payment. We will send out a reminder to get your materials submitted but not all festivals will be so nice.

* If you want to keep track of your WAB submission, make sure it is marked In Consideration so that you know we received your film. If your entry status on WAB doesn’t change a few weeks after submitting, be sure to follow up with us regarding your submission.

* We highly encourage interacting with us & other festivals on social media. We usually can’t tell you if your film is accepted / rejected because our programming isn’t completed until the end of summer but we love to chat. 

* Don’t be afraid to contact a festival. If you have any questions, want to check on your submission or just want to introduce yourself, please do. We want to hear from you!

SUBMIT NOW AT http://bit.ly/send2OFF