Book Review: An Independent Filmmakers Guide to Preparing and Submitting to Film Festivals

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A while ago, I received Anthony Straeger’s book An Independent Filmmaker’s Guide to Preparing and Submitting to Film Festivals for review purposes.

Avid FilmDaft readers might remember Anthony, the director and co-founder of the amazing Berlin Sci-Fi film festival, which I was lucky enough to be accepted into with my first short film VECTOR.

I’m free to write whatever I want, so here are my thoughts about the book:

Overall impression

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 their films 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 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.

Room for improvement

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.

Short films don’t 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, 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 since that’s exactly what I’m working on right now. But I’m not the only one, so I think this would make a great addition to the book.

Small errors

The book would benefit from having a second pair of editor’s 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 sometimes, and a simple restructuring of some chapters and paragraphs would do wonders.

I hope Anthony can find the time or money to make a third revision, which cleans this up.

Conclusion

I enjoyed reading Anthony’s book (with the long title), and I learned a lot. It also 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.

Good luck!

Up Next: 5 Pro Tips To Get Your Film Selected for a Film Festival.

Author

  • Jan Sørup

    Jan Sørup is a indie filmmaker, 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.

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