How-to Festival

On Screen Manitoba’s Guide to


  • PRIORITIZE. While all laurels and screenings are beneficial, not all festivals are worth attending.
  • TARGET festivals that have industry recognition and attendance.
  • NICHE OR GENRE FESTIVALS are less glamorous than A-list festivals, but this is often where you will find your audience.
  • CONTACT the festival programmer(s) to find out who will be attending. Pay special attention to which broadcasters, distributors, and programmers will be in attendance. Email existing contacts that may attend the festival to meet up and keep relationships warm.
  • BOOK as many meetings as possible in advance, by contacting the festival programmers and potential buyers. While some meetings may ‘just happen’ at the festival, don’t count on it!
  • PRESS RELATIONS. Find out if the festival has a publicist and work with them to promote your film. If possible, and depending on the scale and importance of the festival, hire a publicist.
  • POSTER. Print well-designed posters and send them to the festival in advance.
  • PRINT POSTCARDS with a blank back onto which you can put labels with screening info for each festival. It pays off to arrive a few days before your screening so that you can hand out postcards at all of the festival parties. This raises your visibility as a filmmaker and also increases your audience attendance.
  • BRING business cards with a headshot, and postcards of your film with festival info.
  • BULK. Be prepared to meet more people (and give out business cards and postcards) than you expect.
  • PANELS. Attend the industry panels. And approach the speakers after the panels to exchange business cards.
  • PITCH. Have efficient, well-designed, and diverse pitches for current and developing projects.
  • APPROACH broadcasters and distributors – they are there to acquire new programming. Be aware of the content the broadcasters and distributors are buying; don’t waste their time pitching projects that don’t fit.
  • MINGLE. Don’t just go to screenings. Go to ALL the festival parties. This is where you will meet distributors and fellow filmmakers. Email new contacts early on, and follow-up with phone calls if emails aren’t returned.

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