10 Film Festival Submission Tips

Following these 10 film festival submission tips will help to ensure that your film is not only submitted properly but is accepted, processed and viewed. It is important to thoroughly understand each individual film festivals submission guidelines before submitting. These ten tips will help ensure a smooth submission process without having the film immediately discarded or returned to you.

  1. Meet the submission deadline. Most film festivals have an early deadline and a late deadline, both with separate fees. Be sure to pay the appropriate fee for the proper deadline. Do not wait until the last minute to apply and mail the film, even if the deadline is a “postmarked by” date. Submit the film early enough to arrive and be processed well before the deadline. It may take a week or so to arrive and several more weeks to process.
  2. Be professional. Complete the application and entry forms online if possible. Handwritten entries may be difficult to read and do not have a professional appearance. If applications must be mailed in and cannot be completed online, copy and paste the application or submission form into a word processor and type the information. Be sure all the information is filled in completely and print the document.
  3. Review the film festival submission guidelines and requirements. Most film festivals have general requirements that are relevant to all film festivals. However, never assume that the guidelines for one will meet that of another. Each film festival has its own set of detailed submission guidelines. Study and closely follow all guidelines for the specific film festival.
  4. Thoroughly edit the film. Edit the film several times checking for quality, appearance, sound, lighting, credits, interest level and audience reaction. Have someone else review the film prior to submission. Find a test audience and ask for feedback.
  5. Do not use labels on DVD’s for film festival submissions. Adhesive labels and stickers can ruin a DVD, cause the play to stop and even fall off. Use a permanent marker to neatly write on the DVD and the case. Include the film’s title, your name, your phone number and email. Also include the WAB# if submitting through Withoutabox.
  6. Test the DVD before submitting. Once the DVD is prepared and ready to go, be sure to test the DVD first to ensure it is working properly and can be viewed. The DVD should be tested on at least two different DVD players and viewed on both wide screen and standard television sets. DVD’s should not be tested on a computer to determine if it is working properly.
  7. Send only what is asked for. Do not send extra material such as promotional information, flyers, press kits or other printed material unless they are specifically requested in the film festival submission guidelines.
  8. Use a bubble lined envelope to submit material. Never use fiber filled envelopes as they create dust and may damage the disc. 
  9. Don’t expect verification. Due to the many film festival submissions received, confirmation of the submission is not possible. Do not call to verify the film was received or ask the DVD to be returned. Additionally, submissions should not be sent certified or registered mail.
  10. Register with Withoutabox. Film festival submissions sent through Withoutabox will show a confirmation that the film was received. You can enter film festivals, check on the status and manage all film festival submissions by registering for the service through their website.
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