So far The Purgation has made it into two film festivals, and we won best feature for one of them!
I went to college in the Bay Area so I’ll always have a soft spot for the 510 area code. We screened one night at the Bal Theater. And got some local press coverage.
After the screening there was a Q&A.
Unfortunately the Oakland festival didn’t promote a lot, so I had to rely on my Bay Area friend base to fill the audience. This is true for most small festivals. While it’s great to see your film on a big screen, if you want an audience, you’ll have to hustle.
This was my first time submitting to festivals, and to prepare I read Chris Gore’s Ultimate Film Festival Guide. I made a spreadsheet of all the festivals I submitted to (about 20) and organized them into categories (CA, out-ofstate, horror, women directors, Asian American). In retrospect I would’ve saved money by not submitting to the big ones – Sundance, South by Southwest etc. as it really is a long shot that a first-time indie filmmaker will get into one of the top ten film festivals. Especially if your budget is under 100K and you don’t have any name actors in your cast. Lesson learned. But yeah, make sure you budget for festival entry fees which can range from Free to $100. Plus you’ll have to carve out time to write a catchy cover letter and make a press kit that includes a trailer and synopsis. Many of the festivals also required essays and short answer responses … it’s kind of like applying to college, only with a lower acceptance rate. You have a better chance of getting into Harvard than Sundance apparently.
Real talk aside, enjoy every festival you DO get into. Celebrate the small victories and enjoy the applause. We won best feature at the LA Independent Artist Festival. It’s a small affair, but everyone was super-friendly. And laurels looks good on your CV.