Monday, March 22, 2010

"How to Win Friends and Influence People": The Indie Filmmaker Edition PART 3

A film festival can easily be one of the most exciting times for a filmmaker. All the hard work, time, effort, and money are all put on display for the world to see. A finished product you and your crew get to watch on your Macbooks at home are one thing, the big screen and an audience is a completely different world. One would assume that a filmmaker would attend a film festival and know exactly how to act in the situation, and in my experience, it couldn't be further from the truth.


Film festivals are swimming with reviewers, network opportunities, and a possible fan base. How one acts at a film festival is EXTREMELY important. Regardless if the festival is huge like SXSW or just a local county festival, every single festival counts. Look at films like Colin. It had a budget of 60 dollars and started out at the local festivals, it then gained a cult following and branched out to bigger film festivals and is now one of the most respected indie films as of late. The same could be said for Pathogen, a zombie film made by an 12 year old. Now, if Emily Hagins (writer/director/producer of Pathogen) had shown up to a film festival in a t-shirt, jeans, and acted like an idiot 12 year old, she might not have gotten the respect she received. She was given a grant to finish her film but had she blown off things like festivals and didn't act accordingly, the film may have never gotten out the way it had. People would have spoken less of her film, and more of how she acted. However, Emily acted appropriately and her film was well received. The same cannot be said for every filmmaker.

I've been to countless film festivals and I will be the first to tell you, the way a filmmaker acts DOES influence how I feel about the film. I'll be so distracted by the filmmaker being a total tool or being unprofessional to give the film a fair shot. It's the same feeling reviewers get when they've been hounded for reviews. There have been a few instances where people have approached me and asked what I thought of their film, and I was too distracted by them leaving in the middle of someone else's film or talking about their film during someone else's screaming to even care about their film. You know how they say you never get a second chance to make a first impression? Well....yeah. Here's a few rules to live by.
Dress appropriately. I'm not saying to show up in a suit and tie, but the holes under the armpits are a little less than attractive. You need to be somewhat appropriate or wear a shirt that goes with the theme. I normally don't ever excuse T-Shirts and Jeans to a film fest if YOUR film is showing but I understand there are festivals where it is appropriate. I will say though, I prefer someone who dresses a little nicer than t-shirts because it shows some respect. Plus, you don't know who you're going to run into. I'm pretty sure shaking hands with Robert Ebert in your prized Nightmare on Elm Street shirt isn't going to go over well.

Don't talk shit until you get into your car. You don't know who's around you. You don't know who knows who. You don't know who is listening to your conversation. Talking shit about other people's films that are showing at the same festival as your work is completely uncalled for. If you're a reviewer and NOT showing your film, it's not as bad. If your work is showing too, it makes you sound like an asshole and word will spread fast that you're a shit talker. You need to make a name for yourself in this industry, and Grade A shit talker is not something you want on your resume

SHOW UP ON TIME. There is absolutely no excuse, NONE for showing up late to your own freaking screening. Trust me, regardless of how big the festival is, PEOPLE WILL NOTICE. They will not only talk about how unprofessional it is, but you will draw attention to yourself when the door opens and distracts the audience from YOUR film. If they see you coming in late, showing ZERO respect for your work...why should they care about your film?

Don't only watch your film. Okay, this is a festival to show a ton of different works, at least show face at other films. If you come to a festival to watch your film and nothing else's, you appear EXTREMELY rude. It does set people off and it does get them talking...not in a good way. You don't want to earn a bad reputation, because once it's established, it will be very hard to break.

Schmoozing is not a crime. Don't feel afraid to schmooze! Letting people know who you are is a GOOD thing. If you're that weird anti-social dude in the corner, no one is going to know you're the creator of that genius film everyone is talking about. If people know who you are, it's easier for people to approach you to network. If no one knows you, you're just another face in the crowd. Remember not to harass people though :).

Thank-you for tuning into the third episode of "How to Win Friends and Influence People": The Indie Filmmaker Edition. Come back soon enough for the rest of the guide and you'll be the best repped indie filmmaker in all the land!

2 comment(s):

氣氛 said...


The Film Reel said...

I actually had an experience with a filmmaker, not exactly a small one either, who was a total douche at our table.

There were lots of other people there who we knew from print mags and television and we chatted with them most of the night. This one guy wanted nothing to do with us and seemed like we were just annoying ants.

I still enjoyed his film but it tarnished my opinion of it. His attitude slightly changed how I spoke of his film to my friends.

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