Saving Money on the Film Festival Circuit: 10 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Submissions Budget

One of the most popular pages on this site is the list of film festivals that have categories without entry fees. I understand why that is – it's tempting to think that you could have a successful festival run without paying hundreds of dollars to get your film in front of programmers.

Unfortunately, there are very few fee-free fests that will be right for your film.

Either they're only looking for niche content . . . 

. . . or they only offer free submissions to particular kinds of filmmakers . . .

. . . or they're just the wrong kind of festival to help you achieve your goals for your movie.

As a result, telling yourself that you will only submit to festivals without fees isn't a sound strategy.

The good news is that there are ways to reduce the amount of money you'll spend  on festival submissions fees while still submitting to the fests that are right for your film – not just the ones that are free.

Below I list the ten ways you can spend less and make your submissions dollar more effective (which should mean you spend less overall).  

You can get the full explanation of each tactic in my latest free tip sheet, 10 Simple Secrets for Saving Money on Film Festival Submissions

  1. Don’t treat festivals as an afterthought when creating your film's budget.
  2. Make sure your film is done. Really done. (Test screenings will help.)
  3. Think it through. (Set some goals, and do the research!)
  4. Submit early. (You could submit to twice as many fests this way.)
  5. Look for bargains. (I'll tell you how.)
  6. Network at festivals to find visiting programmers looking for films like yours.
  7. When you ask for discounts from a film festival, offer something they want when in return. (Like a film that speaks directly to their audience, or the promise of cast/crew in attendance.)
  8. Turn yesterday's festival success into today's festival invitations.
  9. Put your marketing house in order. (A great web site tells festivals you'll be a good marketing partner.)
  10. Decide ahead of time when you're going to stop paying to submit. 

Ready to dive in and save a bundle? Download the tip sheet now (it's a free PDF) with the big button below.