Filmmaker's Checklist: The Festival Season Edition

‘Tis the season to be filming, la-la-la-la-la…..

Well, it’s either time to start filming, or time to start preparing your films for festivals as deadlines are looming and we don’t want to miss those early-bird discounts! So, we’re going to press pause on the filmmaking tips for this week, and focus on what you need to do to be in with the best chance of being selected at the festivals you apply to. Your favourite Raindance duo, Kat and Dusan, are here to swiftly guide you through the essential steps of film submission and what you need to do to prepare for festival season.

Set Up Your Profile on Film Submission Platforms

Whether its through Film Freeway, WithoutABox or a protected Vimeo link, whatever platform the festival requires, make sure you send it to them in that format with all of your details filled in.

CHECK Before You Submit! (Then check again…)

Make sure you fill in all the required information otherwise your film may not even reach the pre-selectors if your profile is incomplete. It’s a pain to try and chase up extra information from one or two filmmakers, but imagine if every film did the same and then you have to try and get information from hundreds of filmmakers. Make your film easy to select by giving programmers every reason to pick your film over another. Also, the last thing you want is to have your information printed wrongly in programmes and on websites…

Know Your Festivals

Make sure you’ve researched the festivals you’re submitting to and how your film might fit into their programme. It’ll save you a lot of money and won’t take you too much time – even just a quick google is worth doing. Also make sure you have read all the rules and regulations of the festival you’re submitting to. Goes without saying, but hey, we’re saying it anyway.

Make Your Press Kit

A strong press kit can make your film look more professional and, more importantly, marketable. If you have already supplied materials and thought about your marketing strategy, it’s much easier for distributors to pick up your film when it’s ready to be sold.

Get Your Social Media in Order & Build Your Brand

Make sure you have handles for your film on social media platforms and have already gained a following that will make audiences and buyers take you seriously. Use your social media to keep fans and audiences up to date with what you’re doing and what’s happening with your creative projects. Sell yourself as a product that collaborators would want to work with and you social media can be key in helping find and fund new projects. Whether its for yourself or for the film, make sure you’ve got a clear brand and ‘look’ for your film. Everything from font-style to poster style and colour scheme. If this is cohesive across all media then audiences will be able to recognise it across platforms and get a sense of what you/your film is about.

Select Stills That Sell Your Film

Make sure you have a handful of high-quality stills that you can send across to festivals and across social media, so that your film is instantly recognisable and consistent across all platforms.

Ensure You Have Chain of Title Paperwork & Music Rights

Without all of these, even if selected for exhibition, your film could be scuppered by your inability to provide the paperwork and proof of rights before screening. If you’re using music that you haven’t secured the correct rights to, your film won’t be screened. Period. As the consequences will fall on the venue and the festival – so make sure you don’t get blacklisted by getting these in order before you submit!

Make Yourself Professional and Easily Reachable

Creating social media accounts or websites means it’s easy for festivals to contact you. If your email is something like ‘’, it’s not easy for festivals to know who that refers to (even though that is probably the best email I’ve ever seen.) Make sure your email signatures have the right contact details, as with your profiles on film hosting platforms. Make the email address is easily recognisable and you have the same details across all platforms.

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Still need help getting into the Film industry? Worry not, you can get some great tips and first-hand advice at our Breaking Into The Film Industry evening class.



Kathryn is an MA graduate in Film and Television from The University of Bristol. After moving from the depths of the countryside, Kathryn has swapped fields for filmmaking and has recently worked as a Production Assistant for Baby Cow. Kathryn continues to make informative (read: hilarious) videos with fellow Raindancer Dusan, and hopes to pursue a career in the film industry to financially support her cat.

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