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What’s better- an online film festival vs. an in-person film festival?

(Part 2 of 2)

A great question that was posted by a filmmaker:

“My feature documentary recently received notification of acceptance to a festival that will be held online. I am torn between accepting to get the ball rolling vs holding out for an in-person premiere later this year.” There is the old saying “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush” but I am wondering what other filmmakers’ experience is has been with online festivals. Did they help your film take a step forward towards distribution or fizzle out?”

What’s better online vs. in person?

From my perspective, laurel is a laurel. The only reason that a laurel at Festival de Cannes is great is that I am assuming that one of the big production companies just picked up your film. You struck professional gold. Good for you! But, from my perspective, laurel is a laurel. If a laurel comes with money, that is a better laurel.

In-person is great if you have the money to drop on a hotel, dinner, and drinks. Unless the hotel, dinner, and drinks are getting you the distribution deal, I would eliminate the cost. It’s just vanity.

Are the online film festivals valuable?

I think that online film festivals are the future of the independent film industry. The industry started going in that direction last year, and Covid-19 has caused a proliferation of online film festivals to accelerate. This is the democratization of filmmaking in action! You no longer have to physically go to the film festival to get the benefits of going and winning at the film festival. All of the action happens on social media anyways.

In conclusion, if you are an independent filmmaker, then I would advise getting your film in the best festivals that will accept your film. When I consider looking at a film, the first thing that I ask is “where is your film in its festival journey?”

Sal Framondi

Film Festival Live


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