making films

How to Get Into Film Festivals

At the New York Film Academy, students in our filmmaking program learn from the best. Starting on day one through hands-on experience, students learn how to write, shoot, direct, and edit their films. At the end of each filmmaking course, NYFA students have the opportunity to screen their films, open to the cast, crew, friends, and family.

Students don’t have to stop there though. There are many opportunities for students to submit their films to festivals. We have some tips for you to help you get into film festivals.  

Pay Attention

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When you are submitting to a film festival — it doesn’t matter if it’s big or small — pay close attention to all of the submission rules and regulations of the festival committee. Each festival has its own specific set of rules, and it’s important to show the festival committee that you can follow direction.

In an interview with “The Huffington Post,” Elliot Grove, independent film producer and founder of the London Raindance Film Festival, said that a lot of filmmakers end up annoying film festival programmers.

Make sure you read all the rules and regulations for submission before you pick up that phone or send an email to the festival committee. You’ll also want to make sure that you understand the overall tone of the festival, and that the work that you are submitting is reflective of that.

When it comes down to it, there are many factors that determine whether a film will be accepted into a film festival or rejected. Think about quality of the screenplay, subject matter, color correction, and sound mixing when you are submitting a film.

You should also try and submit to film festivals early to avoid paying any late fees. Each film festival has three waves of submissions: early, regular, and late. Prices during early deadlines are at their lowest, whereas submitting late could cost you a ton of money.

Pick the Right Festival

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Again, it comes back to paying attention to details. Each film festival has its own focus and it’s important that you understand that focus before you start submitting your material. When you are looking at the different types of film festivals, you need to think about the genres that will be there and your audience. Also, does the festival have a theme for that year? These are all important factors that you should think about when you are picking the festival.

Test the Film Out Before Submitting  

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Strive to make your film as perfect as possible before you submit it to a film festival. If you feel like something is off, or something in the film could be improved, fix it before you send it off. We know you want to get your film finalized so you can see the audience’s reaction and receive some gratification, but impatience leads to mistakes.

Don’t be afraid to do a live screening with a test audience. You may need a venue, projection and sound equipment, but you’ll be able to watch the audience react to your film and receive their feedback instantly.

You may be able to tweak your film based on the audience’s positive feedback and criticism. It’s extra work for you to do before submitting it to a film festival, but in the end, it would be worth it to do a test screening.

Do you have any tips for submitting films to festivals? If so, let us know below! Learn more about filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

 

Technical Tips for First-Time Filmmakers

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Every person dreaming of becoming a professional filmmaker had that same special moment: You were watching perhaps one of your favorite films of all time when suddenly you thought, “I want to make movies too.”

Of course, not everyone who has this moment actually ends up following through with their goal. This is because anyone can see a great movie and think they can make something just as good, if not better. But the reality is that filmmaking requires dedication, hard work, and a great deal of problem-solving. First-time filmmakers must grapple with this reality, and not let the challenges of filmmaking overcome its rewards.

To help first-time filmmakers through their challenges and joys on the set of their first movie, we’ve rounded up some helpful advice on some of the more important elements of filmmaking. We hope this helps first-time filmmakers keep their vision clear and their chins up as they make their dreams of movie magic a (sometimes hard-won) reality.

Framing and Camera Work

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When actually filming your scenes, you have a wide variety of choices for framing your shots. Here we cover only 12 of the many camera shots that everyone involved in filmmaking should know . While there are exceptions, using the same type of shots throughout your scenes will result in a dull experience.

Instead, study the different types and purposes of the repertoire of shots you can use. By becoming familiar with different shots and incorporating them into your work, you’ll learn how to establish the rhythm of a scene along with the point of view. Tracking shots, pans, and zoom-ins are are also very powerful tools when used correctly.

Casting and Acting

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Many young filmmakers, when casting, put too much emphasis on the physical appearance of the actor. They often make the mistake of casting someone who “looks” the part, rather than the better actor. “The Graduate is a good example. The main character of Benjamin Braddock, was described in the book as looking like Robert Redford and not at all like Dustin Hoffman. But Mike Nichols had the courage to cast Dustin and, as a result, the movie is a classic.

Many young directors are seem to be fearful of casting actors more experienced than they are. They fear that the actor will see that they don’t know what they’re doing and embarrass them. But this is the furthest thing from the truth. If an experienced actor takes a role in your film, it is because they share your desire to make the picture better.

Directing

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Directing a picture can be a challenging experience, even for professionals. However, when you’re inexperienced and not only directing but also producing, catering, being your own assistant director and even being the transportation captain, it can be downright overwhelming. As a result, inexperienced directors often make the mistake of letting their minds wander while the camera is rolling. As soon as they call “ACTION,” they start to think to themselves, o kay, I have this shot, so after this I’ll move over there to get that shot and I have to remember to get that prop ready and don’t forget to call t he location about the schedule change tomorrow and… “CUT!” Then they find themselves in the editing room wondering, “where was I when that was happening because that is not what I wanted in the shot.” The New York Film Academy encourages our students to be in the moment, clear their minds while the camera is rolling. Because no matter how much they’ve prepared, if it’s not happening while the camera is rolling, you didn’t get it.

Editing

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Here’s a little trick NYFA New York City’s Chair of Filmmaking, Claude Kervin, recommends for those times when you get stale from watching a scene over and over and over: Flip the image left to right. Copy the scene and have the software create a mirror image. Part of the reason we feel stale is that we are anticipating every rhythm and movement in the scene. Flipping it left to right adds just enough new information to make our brains feel that we’re watching the scene anew!

Sound & Music

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A good movie requires the perfect combination of images and sound. In fact, sound is often your most powerful tool for conveying emotion to the audience and making sure they feel what you want them to feel. Without sound, it’s much more difficult nowadays to create a mood for your scenes.

While sound effects and dialogue are important, music also plays a vital role in delivering a captivating film experience. Music is also used to create an emotion, and different music works better for specific moods. Our advice: Watch a few movies from different genres and pay attention to the sounds and music they chose. Sound and music are infinitely adaptable to tone, style, and genre, and you’ll find that what worked great for “The Lord of the Rings” wouldn’t be very effective in a horror or romantic comedy.

Do you have any solid advice you’d like to offer first-time filmmakers? Let us know in the comments below!