An insight into festival submission strategies
When you finish a short and you want to join the festival circuit, keep in mind that for some films the first screenings are crucial for the film’s further festival run. If you think that your film fits A-list festivals, you should prioritize them before moving on to genre or smaller festivals. Certain festivals only program movies with premiere status, so films that have screened before or are online publicly may not be eligible for submission anymore. Even if a festival has no premiere status rule, its curators might still give preference to debuts. For other films it might be a better approach to skip the world premiere festivals and head for country premieres or festivals without premiere requirements. Often it doesn’t make sense to waste too much money and waiting time, as your film’s lifetime on the festival circuit is limited to 2.5 years.
Here is a short overview of the various types of film festival premieres to guide you through the film festival galaxy. Of course, CUT-UP HUB will assist you by checking and alerting you to the premiere requirements of the festivals on your Festival Lists.
Want to start big? World premiere
To begin with, a film’s first public screening ever is its world premiere. It is an exclusive event and its setting has to be carefully selected from the many opportunities.
The wish for the exclusivity of festivals like Cannes International Film Festival and Venice International Film Festival is based on the idea that presenting world premieres improves the reputation of a festival. A world premiere means that your film has never been shown publicly either online or at a festival. However, an invitation-only screening for family, cast and crew wouldn’t jeopardize the premiere status.
The international premiere is the first public screening of your short outside the main country of production. Some festivals also demand that the film has not participated in an international competition at a national festival. When a festival favours international premieres, you might have to withhold your film from any other public screenings abroad. Sometimes it is worth the effort in order to get the film screened at a more prestigious festival, such as Berlinale Shorts. It’s a long game, so play it right and be patient!
Navigate cleverly through country premieres
In order to avoid long waiting times for the world debut, you might start your film’s tour with a country premiere, the first screening in a country. If you wish to submit your work to several festivals, consider where exactly these events take place. Before entering countries with several important festivals, you have to prioritize and make a decision. For example, the Edinburgh International Film Festival and Krakow Film Festival program country premieres.
Regions, states and cities
A regional premiere is the domestic festival debut of your film. If a festival requires regional premiere status, it means your film is eligible only if it did not yet have a public screening or exhibition as part of a film festival in a certain region, e.g. in a state or a city. This way, a film can have a Bavarian premiere, a New York City premiere, and so on.
The Crew of THICK SKIN at their Danish premiere at Odense Film Festival
Remember that you can use your film’s premiere status as an incentive for festivals to program it. If you are careful when utilizing these labels, you can garner attention and get publicity for your work in the first phase of your career when you need it the most.
Fortunately, you don’t have to make all these decisions by yourself. CUT-UP provides you with information about the premiere status requirements of each festival. In addition, we also mark festivals with world, international, country and other premieres. This results in a simple and user-friendly platform that helps you to create the best premiere strategy for your short film.