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Film Festival Strategies and Submissions: A Guide for Indie Filmmakers

Film festivals are an important platform for indie filmmakers to showcase their work, gain recognition, and secure distribution deals. As an indie filmmaker in London, submitting your film to film festivals can be a daunting task, especially with so many festivals out there. However, with the right strategy and approach, you can increase your chances of getting selected and make the most out of the festival experience.

In this blog post, we will provide some tips and insights on film festival strategies and submissions that can be useful for indie filmmakers in London.

1. Research and Choose the Right Festivals

The first step in a successful film festival submission strategy is to research and choose the right festivals for your film. Not all festivals are created equal, and each festival has its own unique criteria and focus. Some festivals specialize in particular genres, while others focus on regional or international films. It's important to choose festivals that are a good fit for your film and that align with your goals.

One way to research film festivals is to use online directories such as FilmFreeway. These directories allow you to search for festivals based on various criteria, such as location, genre, submission fee, and deadline. You can also read reviews and ratings from other filmmakers who have submitted their films to those festivals.

It's important to consider the festival's reputation, history, and previous selections when making your decision. Look for festivals that have a good track record of selecting films similar to yours, and that have a reputation for being filmmaker-friendly. You can also consider attending the festivals in person to network and gain industry exposure.

2. Follow the Submission Guidelines

Once you have chosen the festivals you want to submit to, it's important to carefully read and follow the submission guidelines. Each festival has its own submission requirements, and failure to meet those requirements can result in your film being disqualified.

Common submission requirements include the length of the film, the format, the submission fee, and the deadline. Make sure you submit your film in the correct format and that it meets the festival's technical requirements. Submitting a high-quality screener can also increase your chances of getting selected.

3. Create a Compelling Submission Package

To stand out from the competition, it's important to create a compelling submission package that showcases your film and your filmmaking skills. Your submission package should include a synopsis, a trailer, stills from the film, and a cover letter.

The cover letter is particularly important, as it's your chance to introduce yourself and your film to the festival. Keep your cover letter brief and to the point, and make sure you highlight the unique aspects of your film and what makes it stand out.

4. Leverage Networking Opportunities

Attending film festivals can provide invaluable networking opportunities for indie filmmakers. Networking with other filmmakers, industry professionals, and festival programmers can help you gain exposure, make connections, and potentially secure distribution deals.

When attending festivals, make sure you have business cards, flyers, and other promotional materials to hand out to potential collaborators and industry professionals. Don't be afraid to strike up conversations with other filmmakers or attend networking events and parties.

5. Submit to Film Critics and Bloggers

In addition to submitting your film to film festivals, it's also a good idea to submit your film to film critics and bloggers. Film critics and bloggers can provide valuable reviews and publicity for your film, which can help attract more attention and potentially lead to more festival selections and distribution deals.

To find film critics and bloggers, you can use online directories such as CineCircle or FilmBlogsAreUs. You can also search for film critics and bloggers on social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram.

When submitting to film critics and bloggers, make sure you read their submission guidelines and follow them carefully. You can also personalize your submission by highlighting why you think their platform is a good fit for your film and what you hope to gain from the review.

6. Consider Self-Distribution

While getting selected by a film festival can be a great achievement, it doesn't guarantee distribution or commercial success. As an indie filmmaker, it's important to consider self-distribution as a viable option for getting your film in front of audiences.

Self-distribution involves taking control of the distribution process and leveraging online platforms to reach audiences. There are various self-distribution platforms available, such as Vimeo On Demand, Amazon Prime Video Direct, and iTunes.

To learn more about self-distribution, you can read our blog post on "How to Self-Distribute a Feature Film."


Submitting your film to film festivals can be a challenging but rewarding experience for indie filmmakers. By following these tips and strategies, you can increase your chances of getting selected, gain exposure, and potentially secure distribution deals.

Remember to research and choose the right festivals, follow the submission guidelines, create a compelling submission package, leverage networking opportunities, submit to film critics and bloggers, and consider self-distribution as a viable option.

To learn more about finding film critics and bloggers, streaming platforms, film distribution, and self-distribution, you can read our blog posts on How to Find Film Critics and Bloggers to Review Your Indie Film, 106 Streaming Platforms to Sell Your Film, How Do I Get My Film Distributed, and How to Self-Distribute a Feature Film.

We hope this guide has been helpful and wish you the best of luck with your film festival submissions and beyond.

We hope that you enjoyed this blog and found it useful. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions - we'd love to hear from you!

If you are looking for my guidance and advice on film distribution and funding we have a series of courses on funding and distributing your film online which you can browse using the links below:

Feature Film Funding & Distribution Course - 14+ hour of video tutorials will guide you through the entire process of funding and distributing your film. It will go through a variety of methods and strategies including crowdfunding, private investors, product placement, online distribution, cinema released and much much more!

Feature Film Producing Course - 4+ hours of video tutorials teaching you how to fund and distribute a feature film with a budget between 50-500k.

Online Film Distribution Course - 4+ hours of video tutorials teaching you how to self-distribute a feature film online.

Finally you can also take a look at our upcoming online and in-person London-based events here.

1 Comment

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