Taking your video project to festival is an excellent way to establish your credentials as a video producer, to get to know others in the filmmaking community and, of course, to flex your creative muscles. Whether you’re a corporate videographer or an experimental filmmaker, the festival experience will help you make better video.
In the Credits
Screening your short or feature film at a festival is one way to bolster your CV. Even screening at smaller local festivals can solidify your expertise in the minds of potential clients or employers. Festivals are also one of the primary ways video producers earn their first IMDB credits, further establishing them as industry professionals.
Whether you hope to attract the business of brides-to-be or get hired onto a Hollywood film crew, having your work publically recognized as exceptional will give you a leg up — bonus points if your film takes home an award. Those “Official Selection” and “Audience Choice” laurels can look really nice on your website or in the trailer promoting the release of your next short.
Aside from impressing people outside of the filmmaking community, screening you work at a film festival also gives you a chance to mingle with the movers and shakers within it. Local film festivals and competitions especially provide excellent opportunities to make connections with other people making film and video in your area. This is a great way to network for new opportunities or get to know potential cast and crew for future projects.
To make the most of your festival experience, be sure to attend as many of your screening times as you can, make yourself available for questions from the audience and save time for any after-hours mixers with other festival participants.
The self-promotion and networking festivals make possible is incredibly valuable, but festivals can also provide fuel for the creative side of your brain. If you plan from the start to submit to a festival, you’ll subconsciously hold the entire process to a higher standard. You’ll also be subject to any rules or restrictions your target festival places on submissions — not to mention the submission deadline. That alone may give you the motivation you need to keep your production chugging along on schedule.
While more rules may sound like a detriment to creativity, it often ends up being the opposite — working within established limits forces you to find creative solutions where less interesting storytelling techniques might have otherwise sufficed. For an even tougher challenge, seek out 24-hour film competitions and see what kind of story you can tell with a single day for planning, production and post.
One Last Perk
Of course, there’s one more benefit we haven’t mentioned yet: the thrill of seeing your story on the silver screen alongside an engaged audience. More than screening a finished project for a client or uploading a video to YouTube, seeing your work in the physical space of the theater provides a unique satisfaction and sense of achievement. Maybe it’s the cultural and historical significance of the Hollywood premiere, but there is something about the theater setting and the presence of an audience that just can’t be beat. For these reasons and more, all video producers should aim, at least once, to screen their work at a film festival.