In July we held a pre-conference mixer and screened highlights from the 2006 Animation Theatre DVD to remind everyone of what they could look forward to at the Annual General Meeting and Electronic Theatre screening in August. Both events drew good crowds and thanks to CoFA for making the big screening theatre available to us for these dates.
We had another excellent screening in September, showing Australia’s first feature length machinima, Stolen Life. Creators Peter Rasmussen and Jackie Turnure joined us for a Q&A session of their film which had its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival in June this year and which won Best Direction, Best Visual Design and Best Picture at the European Machinima Festival in the UK a few weeks ago. Congratulations and thanks to Peter and Jackie for their inspirational work.
So, in keeping with the spirit of encouraging our filmmaker membership we held a session on film festivals in October with Ruth Saunders from the AFTRS and Jenny Neighbour from the Sydney Film Festival. These two women have probably done more to advance the careers of local filmmakers than anyone will ever truly appreciate. Ruth has been entering AFTRS student films in festivals around the world to great success and her knowledge of the festival industry is unparalleled. Jenny Neighbour has been selecting and managing festival entries for the Sydney Film Festival for 17 years. Together they presented an amazingly frank insight into the festival circuit and the following advice:
- get your materials right: fill out all the forms correctly, make sure your screener copy on DVD works (not just on your computer), make sure that you have the correct spelling of cast and crew names, a complete set of publicity materials including lots of fabulous stills shots, that you have labelled of all materials (correctly!), that you have obtained and documented all music clearances, that you can provide properly mastered screening copies (be sure to doublecheck and meet the screening format, standard and aspect ratio as per the festival’s technical requirements). Don’t send ‘extras’ (eg. lollies, toys, etc) that you think will win over the selectors. It doesn’t work.
- bear in mind that festivals can get something in the order of 1500 unsolicited films submitted for acceptance but that they can usually only show something in the order of 300 films. Do the math — someone has to miss out.
- the festival’s closing date means it has to be on their desk by then, not in your local post box.
- if your film does get in, help the festival by publicizing it through your own networks and contacts.
- if your film doesn’t get in, don’t take it personally. There are a lot of factors that influence what gets chosen (refer note above re: the math) so keep doing good work and keep sending out good stuff. That’s the only way you will ever get in.