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Date Number One & film festivals :: My DIY film festival project

Date Number One & Film Festivals

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.

- Sujewa


David Lowery said…
I think this is a great idea, Sujewa, but if you're planning on offering all you have to offer, I wouldn't rush it - i.e., maybe you should schedule it for this time this year, rather than this coming fall. All the festival programmers I know spend the good part of a year preparing for the week or so that their festival lasts. And since part of their budget is from submissions, you're already one step behind (although I definitely say hooray! for no submission fees), and getting grants and stuff can take a long time. So if you want to make it as good as you're planning, I'd set the wheels in motion now for an event next in spring or summer 2008.
Jay said…
Thanks, Sujewa

My Feature film (90min.) done for $1000, with three crew members is ready to go for your Film fest.
The Sujewa said…
hey mr. david l,

cool, let's see how long it takes to get the fest off the ground. i think i can do an'07 version- 1 large venue, 1 four day weekend perhaps (thu - sun), maybe 10-12 feature films & filmmakers, plus a whole lot of indie film mayhem. that is the plan. we'll see how things come along.

David Lowery said…
10-12 features does make things a bit more doable. I guess I was thinking on a larger scale.
The Sujewa said…
my little fest is not gonna be SXSW anytime soon :)

still, per film, there could be good tix sales if publicity it done very well. the screening venue will hold 250 - 300 people easily.

yeah, starting it small, trying it out, working out the kinks each year & growing it would be the best.

i already know of about 15 films/makers that i want to invite to the fest, a couple have already been invited-more or less - & they are down for it. by mid-april i should have most of the line up, with some room left for people i've never heard of to submit their stuff for the '07 version of the fest.

when you finish a new feature, let me know david. perhaps you'll get to take another trip out to DC!

- sujewa
The Sujewa said…

Sounds good. Send the movie in, check one of the posts above for the mailing address. If not, here it is:

Sujewa Ekanayake
Wild Diner Films
10408 Montgomery Ave
Kensington, MD 20895


- Sujewa

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