The Film Festival Circuit

The last film festival I attended this year was the Edinburgh International Film Festival.  Some of the greatest films were premiers at EIFF including, Dr. Zhivago, Taxi Driver, Blade Runner, Back to the Future, Pulp Fiction and E.T. to name a few.  I’ve made an effort to hit more of the major film festivals in Europe and learn the ropes at each one.  I run across a lot of people that want to do the “film festival circuit” and ask me a lot of good questions and I’m going to answer some of them.YouTube Preview Image

For those of you out there that have heard of the “film festival circuit,” you may catch yourself at some point actually asking, “what is the festival circuit?”  You hear independent film makers say they are going to do the “film festival circuit” with their film but most don’t really understand the process and what it entails.  Most independent film makers think that they will send their finished films to Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes, Venice or a myriad of other top festivals without realizing one thing… they are very hard to get into.  Not just on the basis of merit, because I’ve know a lot of great films that didn’t get accepted for one reason or another that still rose to high acclaim.  There are more reasons why your film might not be accepted to a film festival than there are differing opinions in the world.  Your film could be rejected because it’s not as good as you think it is or it didn’t fit into this years theme or out of the 100,000 plus entries they could only accept 10 entries in your category (dismal odds for anyone).

When contemplating the “film festival circuit,” most independent film makers do not take into consideration the high cost involved with submitting a film.  Just to submit a short film to Sundance you will have to pay between $30-$75 plus shipping.  To submit a feature film it will cost between $40-$100 plus shipping.  Other festivals can cost much more.  If you’re going to do the “film festival circuit,” how many festivals did you plan on submitting to?  Ten festival will run you between $300-$1,000 plus shipping just to see if you can get in.  Thirty submission will run you between $900-$3,000 plus shipping.  This is already exceeds the budgets of most short films. 

Submissions are usually accepted on simple DVD or video formats but if you are accepted to the festival there are usually rules about the medium shown at the festival.  It’s changing, but most of the top festivals still only accept actual celluloid films, especially for the feature catagories.  If they do accept other formats you will probably have to pay for transfers to DigiBeta, HD Cam or 35mm film at an additional cost that you need to be prepared for.  And if your film is going to a foreign festival, you’ll have to pay for translation and subtitling into that language.

Once you get accepted to a festival are you going to attend?  A few days in Park City or Berlin is going to cost you several thousand dollars or more.

You want your film to be seen by more than just your family and friends and film festivals are a great place to celebrate your accomplishment.  The independent film maker needs to always be prepared with a “promotion” budget to do the “film festival circuit.” 

In a follow up article I’ll discuss some of the options for the independent film maker when it comes to which festivals to submit to.  Sometimes bigger isn’t better and some festivals will only accept your film if it is a premier showing in a certain category.  All these tips will help you plan a more successful “film festival circuit.” 

Written by Shane Kester
 

The Hobbit – Directed by Shane Kester

Producer Peter Jackson with his director Guillermo del Toro

Now let me tell you right from the start that I’m no Lord of the Rings geek.  I mean I don’t speak any Quenya or Sindarin (Elvish dialects) or anything like that.  Although, now that you mention it, I do remember some Elvish words from the movie like “friend” and “light” because they were used repetitively but… oh gee-wiz… I am a Lord of the Rings geek!

So anyway, I’ve been following the goings on of Middle Earth from time to time excitedly awaiting The Hobbit movies to start rolling onto our screens.  It’s been a long and convoluted road.  First Peter Jackson was not involved in the project and then he was, but Guillermo del Toro will be directing, yadda, yadda, yadda. 

Now, two years into preproduction, del Toro has now stepped down from the director’s chair.  He told TheOneRing.Net that he wouldn’t direct The Hobbit part 1 due out in 2012.  But he does plan to continue helping with the script.  It sounds to me like this project is fraught with more real life peril than the story.  The financial woes of MGM have caused delays in full scale production and del Toro is anxious to get onto other projects that he had to put on hold for the past two years to do The Hobbit.  Who thinks that Peter Jackson will end up directing, please raise your hands?

Producer Peter Jackson with his director Shane Kester

I’m honestly a Del Toro fan and I love his style, but I remember feeling a little apprehensive about him directing the Hobbit because I feared his style would go over the line for me.  It’s probably an unwarranted fear but I relished the au natural feel of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and didn’t want it to go too far into the fanciful. 

With the vacancy left open by del Toro, I would like to officially submit my candidacy for the job.  Peter Jackson, please contact me and let me know when I should arrive in New Zealand for the interview and to set up my new office… or take over del Toro’s old one, I’m flexible.

.

Red Carpet and After Party

 

This is a short video of some of the night life at the  Cannes Film Festival 2010.  It’s great fun when the sun goes down in the Riviera but even while you’re having fun you should be working it!

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger – Woody Allen?

In this video I show you a glimps of what goes on at the Cannes Film Festival 2010.

 

Review of “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger”
writen and directed by Woody Allen


by Shane Kester | Published: May 28, 2010

I had the wonderful privilege of acquiring an invitation to the new Woody Allen movie opening at the Cannes Film Festival 2010.  And since it’s not due out until late September I thought I’d give you a quick review of what I thought of “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.”  And before I begin, I have to tell you that I am a Woody Allen fan and make no qualms about being biased.

The film speaks from a very pessimistic point of view on the longevity of marital relationships, because in “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” relationships come cheap.  The story revolves around five couples (I had to take about 5 minutes to sketch a type of “cheating family tree” to come to that number.  It actually goes beyond that number but I think I’m safe to say that the story predominantly revolves around five couples and their interrelations) and of course one fortune teller who gets to say the title of the movie in her dialogue. 

Now let me see if I can get it straight for you:  Helena (Gemma Jones) has been dumped by her husband Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) after 40 years of marriage to persue a more meaningful lifestyle, complete with a new batchelor’s pad and sports car.  Their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) sends her mother to a friend pretending to be a fortune teller to help her deal with the divorce.  Sally is married to a writter, Roy (Josh Brolin) with one sucessful novel to his name and has been rewriting his new book for years too unsure of himself to finish it.  He becomes infatuated by the beautiful young woman (Freida Pinto) living in the building directly across the street from him and through his creepy voyeurism happens to successfully seduce the woman into a relationship even though she is to be married in a couple of months time.  Roy’s wife Sally gives into the flirtacious invitations and becomes romantically drawn to her art gallery boss Greg (Antonio Banderas).  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Sally’s mother and father both find new love.  Alfie finds himself a lovely blond bomshell prostitue named Charmaine (Lucy Punch) to loore into marriage with promises of a life of luxury that he cannot afford while Helena finds solis in a gentleman who’s wife has recently passed away and is into fortune telling, seances and the occult.  I think I’ll have to stop myself there because, trust me, I could keep going on about the guy in a coma and Sally’s best friend having an afair with the guy she wants to have affair with but I think that’s just going to confuse things more.

The actors were a tribute to their characters.  Gemma Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Antonio Benderas were tremendous as usual.  It was refreshing to watch and listen to Lucy Punch in her interview at Cannes and see that she isn’t anything like her stereotypical bimbo character at all. 

Freida Pinto (Slum Dog Millionaire) was beautiful as Dia, the woman across the street but her relationship with Josh Brolin’s character was a bit too much for me.  Freida Pinto is young, beautiful and dainty while Josh Brolin is not.  It was like watching someone handling a flower wearing a catcher’s mit.  Or I could just be jealous, who knows.

If you like Woody Allen flavored movies you will not be disappointed.  The story moves along at a good clip not leaving you much time to analyze the characters predicaments before they get into an even worse predicament.  The movie ends without a resolution in site for any of the characters leaving you exiting the theater thinking about how the fiasco will eventually work out.  It was a clever movie with a dark theme that was cheerfully executed… a Woody Allen movie for sure.

Marché du Film (Film Market) Cannes Film Festival 2010

In this video I take you inside the Marché du Film 2010 to give you a taste of what is going on.  Dozens and dozens of booths with thousands of movie rights changing hands (hopefully changing hands) and vying for attention.  The first time I walked this floor I felt a deep sense of futility.  I could see so much of why it’s so important to start the buzz about your film before you even start shooting.  Hopefully you will get the attention of one of these brokers and get them to market your film and sell it here at Cannes, Berlin or one of the US film markets.  But if they do take on your film you have to remember that they probably have dozens (maybe hundreds) of other films that were produced with a bigger budget and better known stars than yours to market.  Your film can so easily be lost in the mire but this is where your creativity, tenacity and schmoozing skills come into play to market your film.  Get to know people and impress them, help them if you can and get them to help you in some way to promote you and your film.

Cannes Film Festival 2010 an Exclusive Event

The Cannes Film Festival is an unusual festival because “The Festival de Cannes is exclusively reserved to film industry professionals,” to quote the Festival-Cannes web site.  So how do you know if you’re accredited?

FILM PROFESSIONAL CLASSIFICATION

Because the Festival de Cannes is exclusively reserved for film industry professionals, if you do not belong to one of the categories below, your request will not be taken into consideration.

  • · Civil service, embassies
  • · Artistic Agent
  • · Press agent
  • · Writer, director, composer
  • · Lawyer, jurist
  • · Film library, archive, restoration
  • · Actor
  • · Film commission
  • · Distribution
  • · Film school
  • · Film music publishing
  • · Financial institution
  • · Exhibitor
  • · Film festival
  • · Technical industries
  • · Press/media: non journalists
  • · Press/media: journalists
  • · Production
  • · Film Publicist
  • · Film technician
  • · Video, DVD, VOD

Now don’t think that by telling them you are one of those things that they will let you in.  You have to prove your accreditation.  If you are a film student or film maker thee are ways for you to qualify for attendance.  Go to the Festival-Cannes web site for more information.