How to submit a film to lots of festivals (and not get mad)

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How to submit a film to lots of festivals (and not get mad)

Post by slowtiger » 28 Oct 2016, 13:01

So far I've used these 4 submission services:
- shortfilmdepot (reliable)
- reelport (and reelport beta, which is a design nightmare) (reliable)
- festhome (just because of this one festival)
- filmfreeway (spams me with all those submission fee festivals, has nearly no free submissions)

Many festivals still rely on their own submission process, with more or less userfriendly solutions. Some require to create an account first.

With all those services, accounts, and stuff, it's a very good idea to make a list of all this stuff, otherwise you'll be pretty easily overwhelmed and will miss deadlines (happened to me). I made a spreadsheet with fields for:
- festival
- town
- mail (some festivals contact you via mail, try to find this mail again after a month!)
- date of festival
- submission deadline
- date of confirmation, if given
- required screener format: some still want DVDs
- Vimeo link, or service used, or their own service (account name & PW)
- accepted or rejected (I made this bright red/green)
- accepted projection file format (some want DCP & mov/mp4 as backup. One wanted ProRes!)
- language version / subtitles
- post / download / FTP upload
- projection file deadline
- projection file sent
- if USB stick: received after festival (Annecy seems to keep ...)
You'll start with many empty fields, get used to fill in missing information as soon as you'll get it.

You'll need to organize your mail. I have one folder for each festival which accepts my film, one for invitations, one for rejections. A single festival may have a lot of different email addresses.

There's a mostly useful list here:, I recommend to browse festivals and their terms first, then decide which services to use, as only very few festivals use more than one.

Things you should've prepared before submitting or using a submission service:
- a Vimeo link with PW for screening (allow embedding)
- a DCP file - on USB stick or HD (NTFS formatted), and a tested .ZIP file
- a .mov and a .mp4 file
- a link to some file transfer service - I use, free up to 2 GB, and, free up to 50 GB
- 3 images from your film, 1920 x 1080px, as .jpg (set to 300 dpi before, some festivals are quite picky without enough print knowledge)
- 1 image of yourself
- synopsis, one long, one short (.txt file) (- in several languages)
- dialogue list, better .srt file for subtitles
- list of team members and their roles
- director's bio and film list (.txt file) (- in several languages)
- press kit (can be one .pdf, or several files in a .zip)
- addresses of yourself, your producer, your distributor

Things I've learnt about festivals:
- Don't rely on just a message from your film submission service. Even if it tells you your film is accepted, it might never show up in that festival's program.
- Careful when "invited" to a festival by email. In most cases this is a festival which will raise a submission fee. Some will give you a voucher for free submission, if you ask.
- Extra careful for a festival which you haven't submitted to, but are told to be accepted anyway. This particular festival had sent some mails asking for financial support, then suddenly my film was "in", now I'm still waiting for more information, like an adress to send the film to.
- About film submission services: read their ToS very carefully. There are companies out there which disguise as film submission service, but want to broadcast your film online. There are companies out there which disguise as distributor, but will only submit your film to festivals - which I can do myself, and cheaper, thank you. (Article about this, with self-promotion: ... -watchers/)
- Fesival and service web sites submission forms: if they don't work, try at least one different browser (a new one). Some have such a cutting edge design that it will only work on one certain smart phone brand while standing in a tub of lard on Piccadilly Circus at midnight during months without R.
Last edited by slowtiger on 29 Oct 2016, 10:33, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: How to submit a film to lots of festivals (and not get m

Post by schwarzgrau » 28 Oct 2016, 13:09

Thank you. I made an Excel-table with all informations about the festivals I submitted or want to submit too, the last time I had a film to submit. This was incredible handy!
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Re: How to submit a film to lots of festivals (and not get m

Post by Elodie » 29 Oct 2016, 05:37

Thank you for your interesting feedback ! We are submiting Journey through Creativity to different festivals, so this is really helpful, thank you !
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