Conquering Your First Film Festival : The dos and don’ts

You made it! After 3 planes, 2 trains, and 1 long bus ride you finally arrived at your first film festival. Whether you’re a filmmaker trying to promote your latest indie thriller, an actor looking to make a name for yourself, or a writer trying to land a job with a top executive, here are some quick networking tips to make the most out of your experience.

Film Festival networking tips

Do come prepared - Film festivals are fast paced environments where you may have only 30 seconds to wow your favorite film director so perfect your elevator pitch. Make the most out of your time by researching beforehand what films will be showing and which directors will be attending. Don’t forget to have copies of your resume, business cards, or portfolio accessible, but not out in the open.

Don’t party all night - The nightlife can be tempting and parties can be a great way to meet people in the industry but overdoing it could prevent you from effectively networking with industry professionals during the day. Be productive, not passed out.

Do ask questions – After the screening of a film, most filmmakers will conduct a question and answer session with the audience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, this is a learning opportunity and a way to get your voice heard. That being said, ask thoughtful questions. Don’t be that person who wastes everyone’s time.

Don’t be shy - There are many opportunities to introduce yourself to industry insiders, after a Q&A session or even when waiting in line for the bathroom. Seize every moment and remember eye contact and a firm handshake can go a long way.

Do attend a workshop – Festivals will sometimes offer workshop opportunities for aspiring industry professionals, you should attend them. Even if you consider yourself a film expert there is always room to learn and to improve. In fact, some of these workshops are actually designed to help individuals network. Don’t miss out!

Don’t forget to follow up – You’ve schmoozed your way into your favorite director handing you his business card. Now what do you do? You follow up. In this digital age there is no excuse not to send a friendly email thanking someone for his or her time or mentioning your interest in an internship.

Do dress to impress - We have all heard the dated saying “dress for the job you want not the one you have,” in the case of the film festival this is important. You don’t need to invest in a whole new wardrobe but showing up in sweat pants is a bad idea. Wearing a clean outfit and taking a shower should do the trick.

Don’t be overwhelmed – Depending on which film festival you’re at there could be a lot going on, remember to breathe. Part of taking advantage of the opportunity is remembering to enjoy it so go out see films, eat dessert, and have fun.

Recommended: Check out our guide on how to get your short film into the Oscars

film industry network members