How to Start, Organize and Promote a Film Festival

A film festival is one way to share a passion. Have you ever wanted to be in the movies, behind the scenes to see how a film is actually put together? In the past, film critics and distributors looked to the already established market for well-known directors and well financed films. However, attention towards smaller film festivals has grown massively due to independent movies becoming more widely accepted and popular. For those who might consider putting up a film festival, read the details below it will help you.

What you need to start a Film Festival

Staff: It is not that hard to find volunteers willing to be part of a film festival. These people are driven by passion in what they do and recognition alone is often considered enough pay for them. However, they may be offered a percentage of the profits in the end if the festival turns out profitable.

Films: There is criterion for coming up with movies to show at a festival and often start with a number of previously shown movies. Ideas are then developed based on the samples. The internet is an excellent source of ideas as are professors and film critics. Organizers get in touch with recognized event coordinators and ask for their recommendations and guidance on what they would like to show. Being in contact with as many film organizations in an area as possible not only helps find movies and ideas but may also be a way of getting partners.

Screening Venues:  When organizers have an idea of what kind of movies they want to show, a generic proposal letter is written for the festival. The first letters they send out are those to screening venues discussing the possibilities of using the venue for the film festival. This letter often describes the event, the scope of the event, the kind of audience to expect, and the budget.

Finances: Getting the money is the hardest part of starting a film festival. However, when everything is sorted, the rest is all about getting good preparation and organization. Money from sponsoring organizations is usually budgeted for specific purposes and only given at certain times of the year. Proposals should, therefore, be submitted early enough. Cultural institutions may not have actual money to contribute but can be of help with getting press coverage and member support.

Considerations to make as you organize a Film Festival

The following are considerations made in regard to both budget and labour:

Costs of Film/Video Rentals: Sometimes a filmmaker does lend the film free-of-charge although very rarely. Film festival organizers often have to come up with alternative ways to obtain movie and video.

Shipping Costs of the Films: Films can be imported or exported to and from a festival. A customs broker’s help can be sought to assist in navigation of federal requirements.

Graphic Design: Graphic considerations for a film involve the kind of promotional material that is needed, what designs to put on it, as well as who to assign the job.

Printing Costs: Costs vary depending on the material, size, quantity, quality, etc. They usually stretch the entire film festival organization process.

Postage Costs: Mailing is done a few months to the festival and is dependent on the amount of contact information available as well as the kind of mail to send as there are different classes of mail.

Office Supplies: A procurement team looks into the needs of the office that may need to be set up for easier management of planning and administrative operations.

Festival Gifts: Gifts (if any) can be given to attendees as a sign of gratitude. Considerations are made with regards to cost as well as a gift that can be acceptable to the majority of people.

Subtitles/Translators: Quite a number of films require translation and subtitles. Arrangements can be made to outsource a translator or work with a volunteer or a local one.

Hospitality: If there are invited guests like filmmakers or critics, a number of hosting preparations have to be made. Also, organizers may want to offer attendees refreshments, food, or other things to make them comfortable.

Other costs are: security, ushers, servers, and clerk


Techniques that can promote a Film Festival

1.      SEO promotion

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency can promote a film festival online via search engines like Google. They have gained popularity due to their ability to deliver in the marketing field. is one such agency. They promote by:

Use of inbound links: Inbound links are generated by traffic being directed to a website through the use of certain keywords as well as anchor texts.

Use of backlinks: Backlinks provide better search engine indexing and ranking such that a website always appears at the top of a search engine. They are generated by linking to other pages.

Online exposure: Targeting effectively translates to more traffic, leads, as well as sales (tickets) which expose the festival to the world.

2.      Visual identity

A festival needs a clear visual identity that will distinguish it from other events. It can be used in various formats including posters, videos, invitation cards, tickets, T-shirts, cover photos, etc. In line with the festival program, it can be achieved by:

•    Using a theme

Film festival organizers can pick a theme for the festival and build the program around it. Themes linked to current affairs often get people’s attention and are good ways to kick-start a festival.

3.      Advertising

Advertising not only includes newspapers or radio but also any other channels through which the festival can be promoted. From posters to billboards, to a car broadcasting with a megaphone, numerous avenues exist. It all depends on the budget as well as target audience. Moreover, there is a free form of advertising called word-of-mouth.  It works by way of people talking to others about the movies that will be shown.

4.      Online promotion

Further to the SEO promotion, there are additional online promotional techniques by which a film festival can reach to further audiences for example:

•    Social networks

Social networks are popular in most countries. For example, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, WhatsApp, are some of the most widely used. Facebook allows for the creation of an event where it is possible to invite as many friends as possible.  A profile name that matches the title of the film festival makes it easier for Internet users to notice the event and share.

•    Newsletters and Emails

Emails and newsletters still deliver great results in this age of social media. The only requirement is enough contact information, as they are free to send and receive.



There you have it, always keep in mind that a film festival is a means to share the passion for something as well as provide entertainment.


Also See: Movie: Lines of Wellington