Film Festivals: Should filmmakers bother with them?

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  • July 28, 2015

What are the purported purpose of festivals? Supposedly they’re interested in independent film and art, and all kinds of nice things. Is that really true?

Just ask yourself this. When was the last time you heard about some new writer or director being discovered by a film festival? When? I can’t remember anybody being discovered just because they sent in their great film. Almost any film that is chosen or featured by almost any festival of any repute is one that already has backing, either financial or star power.

I put up a picture of Sundance up there, but I’m not really picking on Sundance. All festivals are the same. The new ones may act like they care about the festivals, but they all want to be Sundance. And they all want to cater to Brad Pitt and Tarantino, and not Bill and Joe Shmoe. Just look at the picture above. What does it say underneath the sign? It says Southwest.com. That’s the customer of Sundance. The filmmaker is not the customer. And that’s the customer every other smaller festival that wants to be big wants. The filmmaker is the tool.




So what does that mean? The way Sundance makes money is through sponsorships from companies like Southwest. The way companies like Southwest become interested in sponsoring is when they see the likes of Brad Pitt. They are interested in star power. They’re not interested because a bunch of unknown filmmakers are attending.

And that is the goal of every film festival out there. To make more money through sponsorships. And that’s why they’re looking for stars, and not story.

So as an unknown indie filmmaker, should you really be interested in Sundance or it’s ilk? I think it’s a waste of time. Sundance will take your submission fee. And all you will get out of it is the death of hope.

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