Film festivals are important events for filmmakers. First of all, a film festival is a great opportunity, of course, to show a finished film to a large audience of interested parties. In addition, it is the ideal place to find parties to involve in a film, whatever stage it may be in.
A number of film festivals are organised in the Netherlands, of which the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF), the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) and the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA) are the most important. Internationally speaking, the festivals in Berlin, Cannes and Venice are the major players, but there are also many other national and international festivals. Some focus on a specific genre or theme, or have a programme that only accepts films of a specific length (for example, films shorter than 20 minutes). For example, you have Cinedans in the Netherlands, which is a festival exclusively for dance films that is held annually in the EYE. In addition, you have Cinekid, Go Short, de Roze Filmdagen, Kaboom, Film by The Sea, Movies that Matter, Filmfestival Assen and more. There are also special festivals for student films, such as Sehsüchte in Potsdam and the Poitiers Film Festival.
In addition to screenings for the general public, a number of larger festivals also offer a film market; a platform for prefunding and sales for (co-)producers, international distributors, sales agents and festival programmers. This is the ideal place for filmmakers to expand their international network and make contacts for future projects. However, networking opportunities are also organised by film festivals outside the film market. Examples include, networking events, masterclasses, industry sessions, panel discussions, podcasts with industry insights, talent competitions, awards ceremonies, speed dates and many more.
If a film is selected for a festival, that is very good for the publicity of both the film and its makers. The film is spotlighted and arouses the interest of film producers, sales agents and distributors, as well as programmers from other film festivals. Being selected by a prominent festival is often regarded as a mark of quality. Moreover, a film that participates in a competition stands a chance of winning awards, which will also help the film to become more widely known.
It is important for a producer to determine the festival strategy of a film at an early stage, so that the conditions of the various festivals can be taken into account. All festivals have an entry deadline, which is mostly three months before the festival closes - even earlier in the case of large festivals. In addition, big festivals sometimes demand to have the (world) première of a film. The first step in determining a festival strategy is therefore to decide which festival to target for the international première. You have to wait first for this festival to make its selection before submitting your entry to other festivals.
In addition, it is good to determine which festivals are really worth the effort. For example, you have many small festivals in the United States with high registration costs. You need to ask yourself, therefore, what you will get out of it, because you are not going to cross the ocean for a small festival, where only a small group of cinephiles will see your film. These festivals will often not pay any screening fees. The chance that it will be of any benefit to you, therefore, is small.
- Square eyes can help you with planning a festival strategy.
- Shortfilmdepot is an online registration service for film festivals. You can submit your films via this platform and see which film festivals have approaching deadlines.
- See NL and European Film Promotion can help you with international marketing and publicity.
- FilmFreeway and Festagent are websites where you can find almost all film festivals in the world, both large and small. You can also easily submit your films via FilmFreeway.
- Festhome is a platform where you can search for information about festivals, as well as submit your film to festivals.
Please note: platforms like Shortfilmdepot, FilmFreeway and Festhom function as intermediary between film providers and festivals. They will ask for a fee for their services, mostly for each film submitted.