Why are filmmakers not going to film festivals they submit to?

I've discovered many talented filmmakers after seeing their films at festival screenings. They've even gone on to win prizes and you know what? They didn't turn up.

I don't understand why someone who spends money, time, invests their soul in a project can't be bothered to turn up, or finds an excuse not to go. I know there is a cost associated with attending festivals. That is totally understandable, but when there is no concerted effort to make a trip to a big event or a single festival being submitted to, it's a huge opportunity missed.

Festivals like Cannes, Berlin, Tribeca and Toronto are great places to meet peers, future collaborators, distributors and so on. Avoiding them is like putting a film on the shelf. The same goes for smaller festivals around the world.

There is also a notion that if a film is screened at a film festival and gets a prize it will make a difference to someone's career. What really counts is being there, presenting the film, talking to the audience, getting to know the execs, and producers who may fund the next project. Without that drive it's impossible to make it and I know this because I've seen it year after year. This same attitude producing the same result. Making films is also a business and people forget that it requires face time with the industry.

On top of that, filmmakers who are given the chance to meet the press, lose FREE exposure at a festival and honestly, sometimes all it takes is one article to change a career.

So guys, if you're not going to film festivals after making your submissions, then don't make your films. Without promotion a film does not exist. At least put that film festival trip into a film's budget from day 1 and plan to go to at least one of the festivals on the list. Check out this guide on the most common mistakes filmmakers make to avoid falling flat.

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