learn what Festival Programmers will think About Your Film – Without Going Broke

Chris Holland, author of Film Festival Secrets

Chris Holland, author of Film Festival Secrets

Over the last 11 years I worked with 200+ film festival organizers to understand which kinds of films work (and which don't) on the festival circuit. 

For less than what it typically costs to submit to a couple of film festivals, you can avoid mistakes that would cost a lot more.

"Christopher's feedback was honest, thorough and practical. He provides a wealth of information at a very good price. His knowledge of the festival world is clearly excellent. His festival shortlist would have taken me countless hours of googling - worth the price on its own.” 

- Craig D. Foster, Overtime

Craig Foster

You know what? screw Guesswork.

Making a movie is hard enough. Imagine how much easier life would be if you could submit to festivals without feeling like you’re throwing your work (and your wallet) into a black hole.

Maybe you've heard that "you have to know someone" to get your film played at film festivals. While that may not be strictly true, it's a fact that connections help. So does a working knowledge of the way film fests work. I've got both, and I do my best work when I use my expertise and my network to help filmmakers make sense of the festival circuit. 

Work with me and – hey, look at that. Now you know someone in the film festival biz.

Because I’ll be on your team, that means:

  • you can make informed decisions about your festival path
  • you’ll have a clear idea of the possible consequences of those decisions
  • you’ll waste less time worrying about things you can’t control and more time fixing the things you can
  • you’ll have someone (me) who can help you recognize opportunities for your film and take advantage of them
  • you can present a professional face to the film industry, even if this your first time around.

 

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You want to work with me because . . .

  • You want honest, constructive criticism that doesn't cross the line. If your film isn't up to festival standards, I'll tell you so without being mean. I may have some ideas about your film that could make it more attractive to film festivals, but at the end of the day, it's your art. I respect that.
     
  • You don’t feel like you know the complexities of the festival submissions process.  I've been on staff at four film festivals, two of them Academy-accredited. I've held (almost) every job there is at a film festival – from box office to operations to marketing to programming. I also worked at a distribution company, where I worked hand in hand with more than 200 different festivals (yes, including Sundance) to market films to audiences. As if that weren't enough, I've worked with more than 300 filmmakers, shepherding their projects onto the festival scene. I've been in the film industry for 20 years and specializing in festivals for the last 11. Simply put, there are only a handful of people on the planet who know as much about film festivals as I do
     
  • You don’t even know which questions you should be asking. There's a lot to know about the festival circuit, and it's a fair bet you don't know most of it.  That's where I come in – I'll make sure you avoid the usual rookie mistakes.
     
  • There are some things I do that you can't pay for.  Because I know a great number of festival programmers, I'm in a natural position to recommend movies to them. However I only do that when I know for a fact that a film and a festival are a good match – and that the programmer in question wants to hear from me. My reputation is my most important asset, so endorsing a film is something I do only when it feels right – and then, it's free of charge. (Everything else is priced reasonably.) 
     
  • You want to work with someone who doesn't make promises he can't keep. The fact is, no one can guarantee that you'll play at a particular festival or that your film will play festivals at all. What I can promise is that you'll understand the reasons why your film might be struggling on the festival circuit, and the things you can do to give your work the best festival run possible. 

Do you need specific film festival help that isn't covered by one of the services listed here? 

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“I knew I needed help with my festival strategy, but I wanted help specific to my film.”

Pamela Corkey

My new short film, Showstopper, hit a few brick walls when I submitted it to festivals. My previous film played Slamdance and other fests but those festivals didn't seem interested in Showstopper

When I first encountered Chris' site and learned about his services, I was worried that a festival strategy consultation would be insubstantial or cookie-cutter, or worse – that it wouldn't help. I knew going in that Showstopper was different from other short films (it's funny, but in a dark and weird way), and I didn't know if Chris could help me connect my film to festivals that would understand it. There was nothing but positive stuff about him out on the interwebs, though, so I gave it a shot.

Chris' feedback was clear and thorough, and very personalized – nothing cookie-cutter about it. He knows his stuff inside and out, and gave me an objective perspective on my film (that was positive!) that really helped me understand where my film and I stood on the film festival landscape. Best of all, Chris was incredibly supportive. He's a solid guy, and his encouragement gave me a much-needed burst of confidence.

My film has since gotten into 3 festivals and won an award, and I'm submitting to more. I'm not sure it would have happened without his help.

Pamela Corkey
Showstopper

 

“We loved the feeling that Chris had our film's best interests at heart.”

Joshua Tanner

When we finished making our genre short The Landing, we knew we had a great film but we didn't know where it fit on the festival landscape. We knew we wanted a fresh point of view from someone who intrinsically knows the festival world inside and out. We also wanted an American perspective on the film, which was an Australian production masquerading as an American one.

Once we started working with Christopher, we got the feeling that he really wanted to find the best angle for marketing our film, probing it in a deeper way than we had ourselves as the filmmakers. I was initially unsure whether we should approach genre fests early in our festival run. With his knowledge of the industry and our film's strengths, however, Chris steered us towards prestigious genre festivals in addition to traditional fests. Consequently the film's world premiere will be at Sitges in Spain, one of the best genre festivals on the planet.

Christopher's continued advice after our initial consultation has been critical to our understanding of the politics and etiquette of film festivals and their premiere requirements. With our launch at Sitges and subsequent acceptances at the Austin and Warsaw Film Festivals, my team is feeling confident that we have a fantastic festival run ahead of us.

 

Josh Tanner
The Landing