Film Festival Prep

You’re an independent filmmaker and after many months or even years of work, your baby…your film…is almost ready to meet the world. Now the work of shopping it to film festivals and getting it into exhibition shape begins. What improvements will give you the biggest bang for your buck? What kind of deliverables will you need to submit and exhibit your film?

Henninger Media Services has helped a number of filmmakers get their films ready for festivals. These great articles (see links below) help outline the festival process from start to finish, including picking the right festivals for your film and attracting the attention of the festival programmer.

So how can we help? This quote, from the Videomaker article, spells it out quite clearly:

While many festivals say they accept a work-in-progress, don’t waste your money sending rough cuts and early edits. Unless you know the festival programmer or director, you need to send a highly polished, color corrected edit complete with audio cleanup and sweetening.”

 A quote in the IndieWire article touches on the same thing:

“My advice would be don’t send your film until it’s ready…It doesn’t have to have gone through complete post, but make sure you are telling the story the way you want to tell it in the form that you want to tell it and that it is very clear. Send us the best cut you can.”

We can provide color correction, sound design and mix either before submission to festivals or once the film has been accepted but before deliverables are due for exhibition. While giving the film attention in these areas before submission will likely increase your chances of acceptance, we understand that it’s not always feasible, either due to budget concerns or timing issues. You may instead choose a hybrid approach, tackling problematic or particularly important scenes before submission and working on the rest after acceptance. Keep in mind that if you think your film could benefit from a pass through our color and/or sound departments, you will need to budget time for these processes. Specifically, you’ll need to budget time for the actual color and sound work as well as approval time and time to cut the new audio and color into your film timeline. Don’t forget time to output deliverables as well.

Our experts will work with you to review your film, the specifications of the festivals to which you want to submit, and talk with you about your needs and creative goals. Then we’ll come up with a plan that works best for you, your timeline and your budget.

Be sure to put your best foot forward when it comes to deliverables. We can create watermarked digital copies of your film or high quality DVD screeners with printed labels to help make your film stand out in the crowd of submissions. If you’re accepted, we can create DCP files and Blu-ray discs of your film and we QC our work to ensure that your film plays back perfectly. Henninger can also meet the needs of different festivals by providing files in a wide variety of resolutions and codecs. Lastly, we can convert your film to PAL from NTSC or vice versa if you’re submitting to international festivals.

If you’re a filmmaker who perhaps doesn’t have a strong post production house near your home, reach out to some of the festivals being considered and see if they can refer a preferred vendor. Many post houses (Henninger included) can provide great service even if reviews need to happen remotely. Sometimes having a post production option close to the festival can be helpful. If you’re entering a festival local to the Washington, D.C. area for example, our ability to get materials to that festival quickly can be a lifesaver.

Our goal is to do whatever we can to help your film stand out amongst the thousands of submissions a large film festival can garner and make sure that when it has its moment on the big screen, it shines. From adding top-notch color and sound to ensuring great quality and professionally packaged deliverables, Henninger can help.

For help with your film festival submission, please contact us.