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June 02, 2008



Very insightful points, AJ. 2008 has been my first experience of touring multiple festivals, and so much of what you say here rings true.

Steve Hyde

..nice of you to take the time to share these insights AJ. Your blog is a great resource. Hope to see you at Silverdocs.

Bob Alexander

Hi AJ -- (Flattery first: this is a great blog and full of tremendous resources. I spent one whole evening just doing the links!)

I think it is amusing that the posts over at Green Cine expect festivals to share ticket prices with filmmakers. Festivals barely break-even, and typically ticket prices are between 30 and 40 percent of their total budgets. (The rest of the festival budgets come from sponsors like IndiePix.)

Why are festivals important? Because they represent the collective judgment of the independent film community. A film that has been in several festivals and won some awards has, as you know, been screened and judged worthy by several panels and further reviewed by awards judges. That process represents the view of the independent film community better than any other process today -- in terms of what's good.

If you want what's "popular", B-Side will help you with that. But if you want what the community thinks is good film, the festival judgment is reliable.

The fact that those films don't get distribution has zero to do with how well festivals do their job. It only has to do with how poorly would-be distribution companies do theirs!


Tons of info in this article and site. I'm gonna drink it up like a milkshake. I drink it up!

Matt Agnello

Good commentary on the advantages and pitfalls of festivals, and plenty of information I've never really heard about yet. I have yet to submit a film to a festival, but I'll be using your list of criteria to decide whether it's worth it and if I'm submitting for the right reason. It sounds to me that festivals should, as Bob Alexander said, be a place for the community to judge film, not necessarily a marketplace. It's great to be a distribution center, but it sounds like in the future festivals will play a smaller role in that and will eventually get back to their roots as celebrations and contests of film.

Erica Ginsberg

AJ, this is a very helpful article -- especially for first or second-time doc filmmakers and festival programmers. As someone who both advises filmmakers and also programs a small (and very low-budget) community film festival, I will make sure to share these valuable insights with both.

Tony Porfilio


This is my first year in submitting a film that we truly believe in, to film festivals - and it is head-spinning. I am glad I found your article - well written and with lots of great info - Thank YOU!

Hope to see you all at the festivals and you can check out our super-natural thriller: Cycle of Fear (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSy9eI6T-tQ)



Nice and helpful article! I wish I would have read this prior to starting out on the festival circuit with my short films. Although I have now realized I probably don't have the stomach to do the whole festival circuit again. It's too nerve wracking and I'm not very good at kissing up to festival programmers.

On the other hand, now I am working in film sales and acquisitions and I love it. I wrote a short article with advice on how to get distribution for your independent film.

You can check it out here:

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