Today's seminar with Elhum was centered on film festivals, fitting given how recently we had gone to Riga. The basic stats for this whole business include such facts as there being over 3000 festivals active every year around the world, with 75% started in the last decade, and with the U.S. being the largest market, with 70% of festivals happening there.
Speaking of large, there are what's known as the 'Big 5', the largest festivals and the most influential: Cannes (which happens in May, and is probably the most famous), Toronto (Aug-Sept), Sundance (Jan), Venice (Sept) and Berlin (Feb). These are known as 'A' List festivals, which much like anything else in the media world, means there are the ones that will garner the most attention for you and will ensure a longer lifespan for the film's release with that clout behind it. As for the UK specifically, the main ones are, of course, linked to the big cities: London, Edinburgh, Raindance and East End (over in East London, of course). What also ties these together is there is usually a business sideline to the events as well, in the form of trade shows, where you can network and meet valuable allies to assist in your next production.
Also useful for getting into festivals and making yourself known/being aware of them, are the likes of WeareFilm.co.uk, which includes an enormous directory of all festivals, British Council - Film which offers registration to events, and WithoutaBox, which speeds up the process of registration on a larger scale by sending your information to festivals for you, and not needing to re-enter it constantly for new events. Also important to bear in mind when doing any of this is your film's genre and background, whereby there exist festivals that cater specially to certain type, like Frightfest does for Horror films, or Bird's Eye View does for female directors.
As for the actual roles when setting up the festival, it follows in a manner akin to most large events: most are pretty self-explanatory (Technician, Marketing Manager, Producer) and then more specific to this are jobs like Programmers (whose job it is to examine the different films and then build the selection), the Programme Manager (who oversees this, as well as managing the fees related to submission) and even the Guest Liason (they look after the special guests and chaperone them around). Some of the pro-tips Elhum offered from hers, and other programmers, include the likes of maintaining good manners with festivals, be very clear and concise with your submissions, do your homework on the festivals to optimize your appropriate exposure. And most key, please put your DVDs in proper cases and not just cheap envelopes!
This was a very detailed seminar, and it was rather interesting just seeing how often and how easily mistakes are made and how they can be rectified. Sometimes, as filmmakers, we often look at these sorts of outlets with a mix of contempt and yet incredibly needy-ness for acceptance, so knocking it out of the park with proper conduct is essential.
Today's organisation of choice was Future Shorts, an entity devoted towards promoting blood new short films from young filmmakers since 2011. The grand prize is known as the Future Shorts Audience Award, where the audience is allowed to vote for whatever is their favourite film, and a global community at that, as the website puts it.
What's more, on top of programming these 'pop-up' festivals and awards, they also offer services to help filmmakers, including distribution help as well as use of their own resources, as they own studios of their own. These services include support/help with sound, graphics and editing.