Which Independent Film Festival

Which Film Festival?

Berlinale Film Festival – East Berlin

This is an important question to the independent film maker.  You can’t possibly submit your film to all the festivals out there.  Some festivals will be more productive for you to attend than others.  If this is your first short film and it’s production value suffers from your non-existent budget and your best friends aren’t the best actors in the world and your story line could use some doctoring and your cinematographer (probably you) could have framed the shots with a little more expertise, you may not want to add your project to the avalanche of DVD submissions at Telluride or Sundance.  You might want to consider your local film festivals, some niche festivals or new festivals that are growing in popularity and garner some experience and recognition at the lower echelons of the festival circuit.  At the Edinburgh International Film Festival this year I listened to a panel of experienced directors, producers and film festival participants explain that if you’ve got something worth competing in the festival circuit, there are some great festivals out there that are not the major big dogs but that in some cases get your film more extensive exposure.  Some of these smaller yet experienced festivals still have a very personal touch and you can (respectfully) contact the people behind the scenes to make yourself known to them and find out what it is they are looking for that year.

Genre Film Festivals

There are some festivals that are solely dedicated to short films, some festivals are dedicated to a specific genre, some festivals have a specific mission or objective.  It wouldn’t sense at all to submit your horror story about a psychopathic cross-dressing serial killer who targets his list of ex-gay lovers in a campaign of lust, greed and revenge, to the Heart of Gold film festival in Australia which “screens short films that are entertaining, funny, thought-provoking, uplifting and present a positive view of the world and humanity.”

Film Festivals and Withoutabox

One of the best resources for the independent film maker to find out about film festivals throughout the world is Withoutabox.com.  Withoutabox is an online resource of a vast number of film festivals their submission deadlines and objectives.  You can set up a “watch list” and receive reminder emails that a certain film festival is approaching.  You can also set Withoutabox up with a festival search criteria that fits your desired festival such as Outside the USA, Start-up Festivals, Established Festivals, Deadlines, Call For Scripts etc.  Withoutabox will have a list of categories of competition and information about the festival.  Most importantly it will have the MISSION & OBJECTIVE section that will tell you what the festival is looking for in their competition.

Why Festivals?

So why go through all this expense and headache of getting your film to a festival?  Why for glory, honor and riches of course.  You spend all this time preparing, shooting, editing, eating, drinking and sleeping your film and now it’s time to show it to more than your friends and family, as well as hear what people really think about it.  The festival can help you accomplish your goal as an independent film maker and move you up the ranks to where it is you want to be.  So where do you want to be.  I as so many young people that say they want to go to film school or get in to film, what do you want to do?  And they don’t have a clue.  There are thousands of jobs you could do from accounting and law, to catering and clean up to acting and producing.  We will talk about some goals of going to “film school” or “getting into film” might be in later blogs.

Written by Shane Kester

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  1. Having worked on sets, I’d say, once you get bitten by the “film bug” you just want to be on set – living the experience!

    And there is nothing like scripting, shooting and producing your own little clip, even if your audience is mainly on YouTube…. There is still the thrill of having “creatively painted with light, camera angle, sound, effects, story line…”

    Filming-making in all its forms – a glorious industry.

    Social Media: Are You Making Global Friends and Followers

  2. H RIGBY says:

    Loved reading about the film festivals and resources to find them! Your experience is a real benefit to others. Also, loved the photo of you and the flags.

  3. Excellent points about how best to approach & utilize the numerous film festivals.

    The Success Secrets

  4. Ellen Egan says:


    I had no idea there were so many festivals. I agree with April that you could develop a great E book for Independant Film Makers.


  5. G.E. Moon II says:

    I had no idea that there were so many different festivals. I’m curious to know how many festivals you attend in a year.

    Yours In Health!

    G.E. Moon II

  6. Jandy Quismundo says:

    Thanks for the tip to check out withoutabox.com. Film Festivals sound like so much fun! I bet you could meet some interesting and cool people, too!


  7. Alec Grebis says:

    Loved the great resource in withoutabox.com It must be so challenging to try to find that opportunity to break through and receive even the slightness recognition that it has to be true passion for the industry that keeps people involved.


  8. I never knew there were genre festivals. The witoutabox tool seems very clever and helpful.

    Sabrina Peterson, NASM CPT, CES
    Corrective Exercise for Every Body

  9. I echo the other comments, I had no idea there were so many film festivals – and such a difference in what the festivals focus on. It’s amazing that independent films ever make it to wider distribution.

    Karen Van Ness

  10. Don Hill says:

    I didn’t realize there was so many different film festivals out there.


  11. Dennis Perry says:

    A difficult maze to wander through for filmmakers. Thank goodness you are here to help them.
    Create The Life of Your Dreams

  12. I cannot believe just how many film festivals there are out there and how strategice one must be. It’s the naiveness of simply seeing the updates on tv and that’s about it.
    You are truly a great resource.
    Jen Battaglino

  13. alam ghafoor says:

    Think you got what it takes to be a cheerleader.


  14. Rae & Mark says:

    It sounds as though deciding which film festival to submit your film to is even harder than deciding which film to make in the first place. :-)

    Rae & Mark

  15. Hi Shane,

    LOVE your pix there smiling with The Flags in East Berlin. I’d love to see you expand on this post and make it into an Ebook for Independent Film Makers. I bet they really REALLY need your practical expertise!

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Christian Dating Expert

  16. Rob Northrup says:

    I had no idea that there are so many of these festivals. I guess it makes sense since there are so many artistic independent filmmakers and they are all looking for their “break”. They can’t go play at the local honky tonk like the aspiring singer or band.

    Seize the Day,
    Survival Rob

    Is Your Family Prepared For A Financial Crisis or Natural Disaster?

  17. kevin hogan says:

    great photo of you with flags!