19 July 2016

The Rise Of The Film Festival

By Performance
Hand closing clapperboard
When we talk about film festivals do we ever consider what they actually mean to people, or even how different they are to individuals and what the benefits are?

There are many objectives of a film festival for different audiences:

The Filmmaker

Use film festivals as a way of showing their work, gaining recognition and networking and connecting with other filmmakers.

The Film Business Professionals

Use film festivals as a place to network and find new films and partners to work with.

The Film Audience

This group love films and love to get the opportunity to view new and exciting work from all over the world.  They get to view films way before general release and sometimes get to see a film that is never released.

Over time the film festival has changed significantly, although there are still smaller festivals running for 1 –  2 days showing films for free to a small audience, the larger film festival has taken off, with thousands of people attending, giving these festivals a ‘glamourous’ appeal and an opportunity for filmmakers / film business professionals and the film audience to gain more from the events. Bigger festivals = bigger industry opportunities.

As an example, this year’s London Film Festival’s audience saw an attendance of 157,000 (although 4% down on 2015, it was still a huge success). See the figures below:

238 – Fiction and documentary features

16 – World premieres

8 – International premieres

4 – European premiers

11 – Archive films

Another example, to put things into perspective, and to understand the growth within the industry is to remember that the very first Oscars, held in 1929 had 270 attendants, today it see’s hundreds of thousands of attendees and this year had an overall ‘coverage’ of 34.4 million viewers!

How do Film Festivals find their films?

A crucial factor is making a Film Festival work is being able to find the right films to screen and the more the prestigious the festival the more filmmakers will submit their films.  Today, it is more than likely that a film festival will charge a small fee for the film entry to be considered and submissions are made online – 20 years ago, all submissions were handled offline! The fee not only supports the costs incurred by the Film Festival but will determine the serious filmmakers out there.

Generally, Film Festivals will categorise their requirements as follows and filmmakers can submit per category:

  • Drama
  • Documentary
  • Animation
  • Short film
  • Experimental
  • Music video

There is an abundance of information available online for Film Makers looking to submit their films and to research the best film festival for them. We have outlined a few festivals below for consideration (there are also smaller county film festivals that take place throughout the year)