Festival Deadlines: don't wait!


So let's talk a bit about festivals. I've applied to 42 so far, heard back from about 10 of them, got into 3 so far. Does that make me an expert? No, but i've already learned stuff i didn't know before!!

I've been submitting my film on burned dvds that i've made on some crappy consumer software. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I had set a deadline to my sound engineer to have a "festival-ready" audio mix by June 1st. That meant that everything that made a sound would have a sound and the dialogue, score, and soundfx tracks would be mixed to the right levels. Rob delivered that 2 days early to me (nice, rob!) so I was able to fire off about a dozen festival applications that had to be post-marked by a June 1st deadline.

In the following weeks, I'd meet with Rob and we'd tweak the soundfx track. Sometimes I wanted to change the type of noise a droid made, other times Rob would have added more Foley effects of gear rustling or boots walking. So for nearly every week of June, I'd get updated tracks on my ftp server from Rob which I would then use to burn an updated DVD for that week's festival deadlines. I figured as long as I made the deadline, my film would get its due consideration- I mean I was paying $20-50 per application!

Well now I'm not tooo sure about that assumption. As the ding letters started to come in, some basically implied the festival program had been filled up before all films could be considered. This obviously makes sense if they've received so many films during the submission process, but it annoys me to think that all the films sent in during the tail end of the window never had a chance and were just extra money coming in. I don't know if I'd go so far as to argue that - i dunno - they close the window early if they've made decisions or force themselves not to decide what goes in until they've seen everything.

The bottom line for me I guess was and is to just send my stuff in early. So I stopped waiting for the newest soundfx track and burned DVDs for the outstanding dozen festivals i still had waiting for me. And ya know, that was what my plan originally was- to use that June 1st deadline version to submit to festivals upon the reasoning that no festival would ding me just because of a sound effect! I just basically forgot about that (deployment) strategy part when I started to hear newer and cooler versions of the soundfx!! Anyways, lesson learned for me (for you too?).

btw, i'll get that Festival Watch section up soon. It's getting hard for me to keep track of all the festival notifications even with Withoutabox.com helping me!



it does seem to be logical that if you apply late to a festival you're fighting an uphill battle. we've taken the same strategy.

it makes sense. obviously they have to start making preliminary choices (especially for those that have submission deadlines close to the actual event). that means they must be making decisions as they go, which means that if you're submitting late, you can't just be good, you have to be better.

if my film is only as good as another already tentatively programmed, then mine won't be. it's just easier to leave the one already vetted and kick mine back.

so we decided to only submit to early deadlines if at all possible.


I think that's a good idea. just to clarify: i applied within their window, just not early. I didn't mean to suggest that i applied after the deadline if anyone understood it that way. But i think i'll apply your way from now on unless its a festival I'm really interested in and have only just learned about it. I guess i thought it'd be like applying to colleges, but then these are festivals not accredited universities!

Who Am I and why in the world...
...am i doing this?? I ask myself this all the freaking time but the conclusion is always the same- I don't know why, all I know is that I just must, must, must make this film...

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