You wouldn’t be in the film business if you didn’t have big dreams.
So let’s start with a story that will leave any producer misty eyed. The tale of the independent film that came from nowhere to win one of the industry’s top awards and went on to huge commercial success.
The film we are talking about is Steven Soderbergh’s 1989 film, sex, lies, and videotape.
After winning the audience prize at the Sundance Festival, the low-budget movie by 27-year-old Soderbergh was entered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Out of the blue, it walked off with the festival’s leading gong, the Palme d’Or.
Success in the shape of $24m in box office receipts followed.
More than that, as this article on website indiewire.com explains, the film launched four separate phenomena: the boom in independent films in the 1990s, the growth of the Sundance film festival, the career of Soderbergh and the stellar rise of the Miramax studio. Not bad for a movie written in eight days and shot on a budget of just over $1m.
Of course, not every movie that enters a film festival will enjoy the success of sex, lies, and videotape. But with a bit of planning and a clear idea of what you are looking to achieve, film festivals can be valuable events for producers.
Here are six reasons film producers should attend film festivals:
1. To sell your movie
This is probably the number one reason. Distributors attend festivals to unearth new talent and discover a film they can make money from. Many will only attend high-end or mid-level festivals. You may though be able to persuade them to come to a screening at a smaller festival if you can generate enough of a buzz around your film.
2. To win an award
Who wouldn’t want “award-winning” next to their name on their CV or website profile? It gives you instant credibility and opens doors that would otherwise be closed.
Your best chance is if you enter your film at the most suitable festival. If Cannes or Toronto are out of reach, think about smaller festivals. Some are aimed at specific genres that may be more appropriate: the London Short Film Festival or the Sheffield Doc Fest, for example.
3. To do a Q & A
Many festivals host post-screening Q & As. By getting yourself under the lights on one of these panels you are cementing your position as an expert in your field. Impress enough people and you could get invited to speak at other festivals. This, in turn, will expose you to more people and more opportunities to do the next thing festivals are important for, networking.
4. To network and meet potential investors
Like any other industry, who you know matters. So does being seen in the right places. Shake those essential hands, air-kiss those important cheeks and work the room. Time spent networking is rarely, if ever, wasted. For all you know, that geeky looking kid standing on his own before you took pity on him could be the next Quentin Tarantino or Harvey Weinstein.
5. Get some free press
In other words, have your film reviewed by a newspaper, magazine, website or blogger. A rave review from someone respected could tip the scales in securing that all-important distribution deal.
6. See what other people are up to
It is easy to lose touch with what his happening if you rarely venture away from the office or film set. Going to festivals gives you a flavour of new trends in the industry and the direction in which things are moving. Plus, you might even enjoy it.
To find out more about how Iron Box works with film producers to finance films, please call Raimund Berens on 020 7628 7587 or go to www.ironboxcapital.com.