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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Most people have heard of Sundance.  And many are familiar with Cannes and maybe the Toronto Film Festival.  A good amount of indie darlings come out of these festivals.  And while they are fantastic for bringing original and thought provoking films to the screen, they are populated with movie stars and firmly established filmmakers.  What about the smaller films with people you’ve never heard of? But I digress; I’m not here to talk about the politics behind the larger film festivals.  I’m here to talk about why you should support the smaller film festivals near you.

There are hundreds of festivals around the United States all year long.  Your state has them.  And usually has several.  Not familiar with film festivals?  Here’s a basic breakdown:

It Starts With an Idea
Many people dream of making films.  Whether it’s writing them, acting in them, directing them etc.  Nowadays it’s fairly easy to make your own film. It starts with a decent script then a team is put together.  Usually with very limited funds, they’ll shoot a short film (under 50 minutes) or a feature film (over 50 minutes.)

Submission Time
Because it’s nearly impossible to get your film distributed without any stars in it or without a well-known filmmaker (not to mention if it’s not a feature length film), filmmakers were having a hard time getting their films seen by the general public.  Thankfully, that’s what film festivals are for.  With thousands of choices all over the world, you can submit your completed film to whomever you choose and as many as your wallet will let you.  It costs anywhere from $35-$85 per festival entry. Once submitted, a panel will choose the films to be selected.  To give you an idea, the Seattle International Film Festival (the largest in the country) receives over 6,000 film submissions.  They chose around 240 to accept.  It’s fiercely competitive. 

Screening Time
Once the filmmakers are accepted into a film festival, they’re film will be screened in front of an audience.  Usually the festivals run for a week or so, depending on how big they are.  If you have a short film, it can be grouped with other short films.  Tickets are generally pretty inexpensive ($10-$16) for individual screenings or you can purchase an all-access pass that gets you into all of it.

What Now?
Depending on what kind of film was made (short vs. feature), if it’s a hit the film can get distribution.  Or many filmmakers use the festival as a launching pad for a next project.  Having your film screen at one of the larger festivals can bring big time notoriety.

Why Should You Go?
Aside from the fact that most fantastic and successful filmmakers started from humble beginnings, supporting local indie films means supporting originality, art, passion, gumption and good ol’ fashioned hard work.  If just a quarter of the unknown filmmakers got a break from the festivals it means less of a chance of the craptastic studio films invading our movie theaters. Plus, you’re supporting your town too by attending a local event.  Viva La Indie Film!

About the Author:
Lisa Coronado is a content writer for CoolBlueWeb.

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