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A while ago, I received the book An Independent Filmmakers Guide to Preparing and Submitting to Film Festivals (Amazon link) by Anthony Straeger for review purposes.
A couple of years ago, he wrote this post for FilmDaft 5 Pro Tips To Get Your Film Selected for a Film Festival.
The post can be viewed as a teaser for the book, which has recently been updated to include even more information.
I’m free to write whatever I want, so here are my thoughts about the book:
The book (whose title is too long to mention and should not be spoken out loudly) is a must-read for independent filmmakers who want to have their film seen by an audience on the film festival circuit.
Anthony has decades of experience as a production company owner, festival director, and independent filmmaker.
This shows in the book because Anthony offers you a unique perspective on why some films get selected for festivals while others don’t. – Hint: it’s not just about the film itself.
Anthony guides you through all the dos and don’ts and dumb mistakes to avoid, which he sees indie filmmakers repeatedly make – from the film’s production to submitting to the film festival.
I love that the book is filled with these practical tips because it offers a very hands-off approach to what you need to get in order (a checklist, if you will) to get a chance to get your movie accepted.
When someone with that knowledge and experience is willing to share, I tend to listen, and I recommend you do as well.
Room for improvement
Now, would I be a proper critic or journalist if I didn’t also give some critique?
I would love a chapter dedicated to short films, where most filmmakers start (myself included).
A lot of the information (if I understand it correctly) is dedicated to feature films.
I don’t think short films look for distributors, sales agents, or VOD services (except Vimeo and YouTube).
Also, I would have loved more information on what directors of short films of, say, 2-5 minutes in length should do in terms of synopsis, trailer, and so forth.
I’m speaking from an egotistical point of view, of course, since that’s exactly what I’m working on right now. But I know I’m not the only one, so I think this would make a great addition to the book.
The book would benefit from having a second pair of editor-eyes read it.
Many sentences need to be cleaned up. Not typos, but sentences with extra words (or missing words).
It’s written in a conversational tone, which is fine and makes it easy to read, but in some places, it seems sloppy, which I’m sure it isn’t.
But that’s why traditional book publishers and newspapers always have editors to act as an extra set of eyes.
Also, some chapters seem to bounce around a lot and could use a bit of restructuring. Maybe it’s because of Anthony’s experience as a filmmaker and festival director.
It doesn’t mean all the gold nuggets of information aren’t there, it just means you get confused at times, and a simple restructuring of some of the chapters and paragraphs would do wonders.
I hope Anthony can find the time or money to make a third revision, which cleans this up.
I really enjoyed reading Anthony’s book (with the long title), and I learned a lot, and it gave me a lot to think about.
You often feel left alone as an independent artist and (mostly) solo creator.
You stand on the side, watching Hollywood, Netflix, and Amazon roll into film festivals and over your screens with huge marketing budgets, PR companies, agents, and A-list actors, and you know you won’t stand a chance to compete with that.
Anthony’s book invites you and is a welcome helping hand that gives independent films a better chance of finding an audience, which is what it’s all about.
Read more on the book’s website: https://www.submittingtofilmfestivals.com/, where you can also find helpful free resources for submitting your film to festivals.
About the author:
Jan Sørup is a videographer and photographer from Denmark. He owns filmdaft.com and the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.