We are deep into film festival submission time here at Raindance. We are really fortunate to have become known as Britain’s largest and oldest independent film festival which attracts films from the four corners of the world. Filmmakers choose Raindance Film Festival because of our reputation for helping filmmakers progress in their careers, and for throwing damn good parties!
Put yourself in the shoes of one of our overworked festival programmers. They’ve seen your film, and now they want to find out a little bit more about you and about the film. Here are ten things you should include on your film’s website:
1. The director’s name and bio
Duh – sounds simple I know – but many filmmakers don’t make this clear, or easy to find on their websites. And make sure that there is a good solid bio.
2. Running time
Make sure you include the entire running time from the first sound plop to the last frame of the credits.
3. External links
We need to be able to see who else is looking at your film. List what other festivals your film has played in, and what other reviews you have received already. If you’re too early in your film’s career for any reviews, at least list the IMDb link, as well as your social media proof. Festivals like to include these links on their web pages too.
The more detail in this section the better. It makes the festival’s job just that little bit easier.
4. Key cast and crew bios
It should be easy for someone to look at your website and see who was in it and who worked on it. Each key person should be listed with their name, and then with their job or role on the film. For example, I would include the heads of department, as well as principal cast.
After each person’s name write their previous experience. If they don’t have any previous experience, write ‘previously a star of fringe theater’ or write ‘debut film’. You might want to exclude them altogether from your list of key cast and crew, although their name will still appear in the credits list.
In the first year of Raindance we screened What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – the first public screening of a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The press kit for that film had pages and pages on Johnny Depp but just two lines on DiCaprio.
Also include for each name anyone famous they have worked with, and any relevant awards. Festivals scour new films looking for PR hooks.
Every year at Raindance we hunt and hunt for good publicity stills for the films we want to screen. Make sure that you provide a selection of stills. Remember that a good still has action in it. And don’t forget that a good still is both landscape and portrait – to suit the different catalogue or website formats.
6. Film Trailer
A decent trailer of your film is a big plus. It gives the festival something to use in their marketing of the film. It also gives acquisition executives something to watch – and based on your trailer they will decide whether it is worth the effort to attend your festival screening.
A good trailer should relay the emotion of the film, as well as give the viewer an inkling of what the film is about. In other words, it needs to intrigue.
Here is a trailer made for a film we produced in 2014 – a trailer that resulted in sales to over a dozen territories, and has been watched nearly 200,000 times.
7. Film synopsis
Of course any decent festival will watch your film and then write, as we do at Raindance, a 200-300 word review for their film festival catalogue and website. Why leave it to chance? Write three different reviews for your film: 100 words, 200 words and 300 words. Each synopsis should write the story of your film in a different way.
8. Film Production notes
There will have been many times during the making of your film when you will have persevered under moments of extreme crises and managed, somehow to get your film made. Tell us about them! And remember, festivals are always looking for a PR hook.
9. About you
You are the filmmaker. Tell us about you – where you came from, and where you hope to end up as a filmmaker. Don’t be shy. Remember that self-promotion is a fine art. Get really good at it. And most importantly, tell us why you made this film. We are all looking for inspiration and perhaps your inspiration will inspire others.
10. Your next project
You’ve made a film – congratulations. We love your film – but do tell us what is next on the horizon. Film festivals love it when filmmakers return with a new project. Tease us with your plans for your next project.
What have I missed? Please enter your comments in the comments box below. That way we can all learn from each other.