19. The Festival Circuit
Over the past few years, the number of film festivals has exploded. Today, you can find film festivals playing everywhere from college campuses to small and big towns. But, in reality, there are only a few that really matter. Sundance, Toronto, South by Southwest, Cannes, Tribeca and Berlin International Film Festival are the big players. This is where you are going to find the distributors, buyers and film critics necessary in helping you to make a deal.
Of course, the number one reason why you as an independent producer and filmmaker spend the time and the money exhibiting your film in festivals is for a distribution deal. It used to be that if you were accepted as an Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival, you were practically guaranteed a distribution deal. That’s not true any longer. Today excellent films that play at Sundance are being bypassed. There are no longer guarantees that playing the festival circuit will get you to the Promised Land. Today, you just have to think of it as one tool to get your film noticed.
The big festivals are very difficult if not impossible to get into. You will need a big time actor or a director who has a good reputation. If you are lucky to get into a big festival, you might be assigned a 9:00 a.m. showing—not exactly the best time. This could kill your movie. On the other hand, small or mid-size festivals could feature your film on an opening night allowing you to make a big splash.