Let’s play a game. You’re a new filmmaker with a low budget film. The cast consists of a small group of friends that required several hours of convincing. Your script fell apart throughout filming, was rewritten around four times, and finished without creating a flaw in the plot. After a tedious filming and editing process, you send the feature off to a film festival. Fast forward a few months and you found out that your film has been accepted and will play at the festival. Somehow, it all seems worth it.
Making a film is an incredibly daunting venture and persevering throughout the process is another story in itself. Although intimidating, having a career in the film industry will ultimately result in a rewarding and fulfilling profession. The dynamic and always-changing nature of the business keeps you on your toes and interests you with what you love: movies! Due to the progressing world of entertainment, film festivals encapsulate the exciting charm of the industry and bring it to the big screen, no matter how small a picture is.
Going back to your life as a rooky filmmaker, being picked up by a festival will be one of the highlights in your movie-making debut. Not only does it save your movie from becoming a home video in your parent’s collection, rather it gives your film a larger audience with different perspectives, experiences, and emotions. Branching out to a vast community of other filmmakers who may have the same views as you.
Of course, there is the success story. The low budget, indie film that blew up at a film festival and gathered buzz as it did the festival tour, eventually getting picked up by a studio. Contrary to common knowledge, several Academy Award winners premiered at a festival and went on the fast track to Hollywood fame. Shout out to “Slumdog Millionaire” for taking the world by storm with their runaway hit that exposed an alternate view of India, kick-started Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto’s careers, and cleaned up at the Oscars (eight awards overall); possibly the most known sleeper hit of the decade.
“… We had passion and we had belief, and our film shows that if you have those two things, truly anything is possible.”
– Christian Colson, Producer (Slumdog Millionaire, 2008)
Although the festival experience is exhilarating for the filmmakers and cast, festival-goers generate the excitement and success behind the movies. Spending copious amounts to see their favourite director, actor, or potential Oscar winner produces the buzz needed to push a movie forward to the next stages of production. In addition, the limited screenings encourage anticipation for a film’s theatric release, and in some cases become the reason for a movie’s theatric release. Festivals ultimately become the perfect hub for filmmakers to get audience opinions and where film buffs come to fill their entertainment needs; a full circle indeed.
After a packed week or two of attending movie premieres, unethical morning screenings, and networking events, a film festival seems like the perfect experience for a new wave filmmaker like your hypothetical self. Potentially having a festival hit, socializing with others in your field, and reaching out to a wider range of people who can provide feedback appears as the ultimate exposure you and your film need. Even if you’re just attending as a moviegoer, it’s the perfect opportunity to watch that foreign documentary no one has heard of… yet. It’s where the stars collide. It’s where film buffs unite. It’s where films go to thrive.