The marquee lights have dimmed and your latest festival visit is in the books.Your bags are packed and you’ve got a three hour flight ahead of you. What better way to make use of those airborne hours than to summarize your festival experience for your reference and the benefit of other filmmakers. If you’re wondering what the structure of such a thing might look like, check out these suggestions for putting together a useful review.
1. The Big Picture - Introductions are everything. Write out a personal snapshot of the festival, its location and a breakdown of your overall impressions. This will help set the stage, and provide a helpful reference to compare with other festivals.
2. Communication - One of the most important elements of your experience is the quality of communication with festival staff. Whether it’s arranging your transportation to and from the airport or making sure your film screener is being shown at the proper aspect ratio, these details can make or break your visit.
3. Quality - Did the presentation of your film leave you satisfied or have something to be desired? Were the festival accommodations hosted in a fleabag hotel or the Four Seasons? Was the filmmaker lounge outfitted with nice couches and hot meals, or were you left sitting in a folding chair with some stale cheese crackers? The overall quality of your time away is crucial to understanding the focus of the festival. Be brutally honest about honestly brutal circumstances, so the next generation can choose wisely.
4. Cost vs Returns - While it is unusual, there are some festivals that will actually pay for you to attend and even give you money if your film wins a prize. It may not be enough to cover your total production expense, but it’s worth noting when you consider whether or not to foot the entry fee.
5. Wrap it up - What was your big takeaway from the festival? Did you feel appreciated? Would you recommend it to others? This is the paragraph that really counts...the one where you get to tell the festival whether they made the final cut.
Once you’ve got your review finalized, make the film festival world a better place by adding it to the growing library at Film Fest Finder. Not only will you build a reputation for being a frequent festival attendee, you’ll be helping guide the industry to a higher standard.
Greg Hamilton is a contributing writer for MovieMaker Magazine. When he isn’t programming cinema in his hometown of Portland, OR, he is attending and writing about film festivals from Serbia to San Antonio.