So far I have avoided submitting Date Number One to film festivals because blogs & DIY screenings have offered more than what festivals may be able to offer the film, for the most part. Reviews of the movie at blogs & additional press generated through DIY screenings & $s generated through DIY screenings have helped to keep the start of the distribution project going along at a steady pace since May '06. Some of my big objections to fests have been that: 1) they are a semi-commercial middle person, and can hinder a DIY project from reaching the paying audience (DIY filmmakers can be lead to believe that the response from a fest equals the true value of their movie, and may be discouraged from dealing with the consumers directly if the fest response is negative), 2) fests require a submission fee, for the most part, w/ no guarantee that anyone will actually watch the movie, let alone program it in to the fest, 3) they do not openly pay the filmmakers (some fests do, on the down low, i've heard). But, on the bright side: fests can generate press for your project, they are a good place to network- find future collaborators, and fest play may help with securing a paying audience for your film. Plus there are 100s of festivals (close to 2500 in the US by some counts), playing many of them may be a good way to get the word out about the existence of a film nation wide for a relatively small amount of money & time spent. So, with regards to Date Number One, once the DVD is available for sale from my website in early April, I will submit the film to festivals. The time & money spent on festivals may be recouped from DVD sales that may result from festival exposure.
My DIY Film Festival Project '07
My ideal film festival would be one that: 1) focuses mostly on real indie films (ultra low budget/ no star/high quality movies, with special attention paid to self-distributing filmmakers), 2) pays for filmmaker's travel & room & perhaps some of the food at fest, gives the filmmakers a % of ticket sales from the screening of their films, pays the filmmakers an honorarium (a small but significant fee - perhaps over $100 per day, more a symbolic but useful gesture of appreciation expressed through money than full on pay for appearing at the fest), 3) gets the films a lot of publicity, a big audience, and 4) delivers some excellent movies to the festival goers, stuff that they most likely would not hear about & thus would not get to see otherwise. Many have said that it would be difficult to have indie film fests that provide all that to filmmakers, specially the % of tix sales. I am going to create a film festival myself & see if they are right. I have the feeling that they are not. So, this fall, there will be a new film festival in America, in the DC area, one that focuses on real indie films & gives a % of tix sales & lots of other goodies to filmmakers. More on this fest in the coming weeks. Oh, and there won't be a submission fee to my fest. A well thought out budget, fund raising, community support (including donations & gov grants), advertisers & sponsors, and ticket sales may be able to pay for all the stuff that I want to provide through the fest to both filmmakers & the audience.