Why Screenwriters Should Attend Film Festivals - Raindance

Let’s suppose you are the type of screenwriter who sits in your sweat pants at home every night eating pizza. You know. The screenwriter who writes and writes blissfully unaware of the brimming humanity swirling at your doorstep. And let’s suppose you are a screenwriter who is actually very, very good.

Why then should you waste your valuable creative writing time by going to a film festival? Here’s why:

1. To meet producers

If you want to sell a script, you don’t need an agent. You need a producer. It’s a producer that will get the money to get your script off the page and onto the screen. And guess what? Producers are very likely to attend the screening of their film at a festival. So hustle to a film festival. Find out which films screening are closest to the script you have written. See the film. Ask the festival team if the producer is at the screening. Start scratchin’ the dirt to see if you can rustle up a meeting – or in film festival lingo – ‘have you time for a drink?’ It’s all about building relationships. Anyone is far more likely to do a deal with someone they know than with a complete stranger.

The film industry is a people industry. It’s not what you know but whom

2. To meet other screenwriters

Yes we know you are shy – you are a screenwriter! Why not overcome the fear of networking and see if you can share a war story or three with any number of the screenwriters attending the festival you are attending. Networking can be fun too, ya know! Just avoid these networking faux pas.

3. Oh yes – to get known as a screenwriter who actually watches movies

In my long tenure here at Raindance I have met many hundreds of filmmakers – and many thousands of wannabees. It has constantly amazed me to meet screenwriters who don’t watch movies. To me it is the uttermost expression of ignorance not to watch movies.  Preferably a screenwriter should watch movies at a film festival on a big screen with other people who love movies. And see how successful the journey from script to screen has been, and why.

4. To pitch

In my many travels this year I’ve been to four continents. I’ve met zillions of producers large and small. Their common complaint is not about raising finance. Producers pretty much all agree that raising money is, simply put, a series of telephone calls.  The common complaint is about the dearth of quality commercially viable scripts. So many directors and producers I know attend festivals to see if they can find new material. So get ready for the impromptu pitch and make sure you know how to sum up your story in a few succinct and clear lines.

5. To keep the Queen happy

Did you know that a screenwriter can claim the costs of attending a film festival back as expenses? That’s right! even the Queen and Her Majesty’s revenue are rooting for you to go to a film festival. They want you to spend money getting and staying there. Because they know that your job is not only to further your career but also to accelerate the velocity of currency in circulation! And remember – attending a film festival is a lot cheaper than some of those expensive yoga retreats I keep hearing about. Need help getting set up for tax and all that stuff? Ping me an email and I will recommend the Raindance accountant. He will set you up fair and square so you can deduct festival expenses.

6. Learn

Festivals like Raindance have learning and discovery panels, masterclasses and discussions. Dah. Be there or be Leicester Square, my friend. Great learning sessions like A Fireside Chat With Tony Kaye, Live!Ammunition! Pitching Competition, Anatomy of a Reel with Gonzalo Maza, and much more of interest to screenwriters. PLUS you can get tooled up on the latest development on Virtual reality. Check out Raindance Film Festival Events.

7. To sell your writing

And oh yes – nearly forgot! The major film festivals like Berlin, Rotterdam and Cannes have sections where literary agents are trying to sell movie rights to their clients’ novels and short stories.

Fade Out

To hone your skills / grow into the screenwriter you’ve always been destined to be – check out our screenwriting training and Raindance Raw Talent – the tiny production outfit that produces a gem of a feature every 14 or 15 months.



Photo Credit David Martinez / BIFA 2018

Few people know more filmmakers and screenwriters than Elliot Grove. Elliot is the founder of Raindance Film Festival (1993) and the British Independent Film Awards (1998). He has produced over 700 hundred short films and five feature films: the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead (2006), Deadly Virtues (2013), AMBER (2017), Love is Thicker Than Water (2018) and the SWSX Grand Jury Prize winner Alice (2019). He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance BREXiT trailer 2019

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

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