Festival Applications: Bare bones or souped up?

20-07

So there's this ongoing debate about whether or not you should include promotional packaging like fliers, postcards, slick dvd packaging with your festival application to improve your chances. Many festivals actually explicitly say that "your submission will be judged on the quality of your film, not your marketing materials," meaning don't try to butter them up with cool packaging!

But then there are some directors, whose films have done well at festivals, that swear by the exact opposite saying that including that marketing material helped their film do so well. Still others have gone so far as to claim that it actually will hurt your chances as screeners get annoyed. (Remember that Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin thought he'd get at least a B+ on his book report because he had a shiney plastic cover for his paper? OK- I'm old).

so i don't know which one is true but so far, my submissions have been plain DVDs bought from Office Depot with the film's name/info written neatly with a black Sharpie pen. The rest of the application content is whatever Withoutabox.com sends in for me electronically (they cover all the required content like film synopsis, actor/director bios, etc). I think the film's done well considering and the only thing I think I've done wrong (and have stopped doing) is submitting my film on or close to the deadline dates.

I thought I'd bring this up because people have been debating it a lot on the boards and people have strong, "proven" opinions about their application strategies. For me, it'll probably still be DVDs and a Sharpie mainly because I don't want to swallow the cost of a nicely burned and packaged DVD that only screeners will ever see...maybe a postcard tho ;)

mc

i'm with you.

great discussion! i think you may be right especially about how it could even backfire if your production quality of the film is nowhere near as good as the packaging (kinda like p0rn).

by the way, Chris, that's a great blog entry!

apparently not

last november i went to a panel at afm entitled 'everything you want to know about film festivals.' i blogged about it here: afm + film festivals.

the advice given about packaging was: don't bother with the trappings. specifically matt dentler of sxsw said all he wants to do is go home, open up a package, pull out a one-off dvd, put it in the dvd player and sit back and hopefully enjoy a good film. any care packages are ignored and given to the volunteers.

here's about all that fancy packaging will get you: my friend was one of the three judges this year for the comiccon film festival (which is actually going on the same weekend as the action on film festival). he said that he received a package of about 10 dvds at a time to review. the ones with cool packaging and a nice looking cover usually got looked at first.

but that was it. apparently that packaging rarely if ever corresponded to a film being good or memorable - and in the end he had to watch all 10, comment on and rate them and then send them back for 10 more. so ultimately it has no impact.

in fact, given the above, one could argue that if you create an impression on the reviewer with your artwork and then don't live up to that, it'll work against you. better to let them form their own opinions simply from the movie itself.

one other thing...

it seems obvious, but it's just that I know other directors who have won their divisions and they are so positive that it's the way to go to send in cool packaging and stuff... oh well i'm just more comfortable with my own way...

Who Am I and why in the world...
...am i doing this?? I ask myself this all the freaking time but the conclusion is always the same- I don't know why, all I know is that I just must, must, must make this film...

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