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Dos and Don’ts When Sending DVD Screeners to Film Festivals


DO MAKE AN EFFORT TO MAKE YOUR DVD PACKAGING ATTRACTIVE. The programmers certainly appreciate a good-looking DVD packaging. Actually, they’re pretty easy to impress. As long as your DVD case is presentable enough and it’s obvious you put some thought on your DVD packaging, they’d be smiling. Give them a plain DVD without even a label and they would automatically think you’re one of those filmmakers who don’t give a damn. Your film may be good but it’s also a good idea to impress them even before they play your DVD.

BUT DON’T PUT SO MANY STUFF IN IT. Don’t put a booklet of your synopsis, hundreds of movie stills or merch because programmers don’t care about those things. Keep your DVD screener simple and to the point. Put your DVD in a creative DVD case but don’t overdo it. You’ll only be wasting money.

 DO E-MAIL THEM ABOUT IMPORTANT INFORMATION. If you are suddenly selected at a certain festival for a world, International, or any premiere that affects your application, do inform the programmers. Do e-mail them if there are other changes to your application like the running time, sales agent, etc.

BUT DON’T PESTER THEM WITH TOO MANY E-MAILS. These people receive so many e-mails a day. Please make their lives easier by only sending very important e-mail (i.e. the ones you can’t find in FAQ or is really urgent). Asking them if they’ve viewed your film already or whether the results can be given earlier, blah blah blah. Try your best not to be of annoyance to these busy people. They watch an average of eight films a day and answer to hundreds of e-mails a week. Give them a break.

FOR ROUGH CUTS, PUT A TITLE CARD THAT YOUR PROJECT IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS. It’s different when viewers watch your film with the fact that it’s still a work in progress that when they don’t know this fact and they watch the same cut. Of course, they’re more forgiving to the flaws of you film. Sure you can put this information in your application form but sometimes programmers just don’t care about papers anymore and just go directly to the DVD. We can’t blame them. Being assigned to watch over 800 films for the festival is a tedious work. Reading all info for each film is almost impossible! So make sure you put it in a title card.

BUT DON’T FLASH WATERMARKS EVERY 5 MINUTES.  Showing ” For Your Consideration” every 5 minutes will not only distract them, it also shows how paranoid you are that they will pirate your DVD. This is not a very good first impression.

 DO PUT A COVER LETTER. As mentioned above, giving them too many stuff along with your DVD screener is not the best way to get their attention. They’d probably just t0ss the extra papers (glossy or not) to the side. But one thing they will most likely read is a cover letter. Make it brief and to the point. State why your film is important and what it’s about, the more personal your letter is, the better.

BUT DO NOT BEG. Never ever beg. Do you know how many times a regular film festival programmer gets a desperate letter? Too many in a day. That style just doesn’t work, even to the most compassionate programmer. You’d look like one of those auditioners in American Idol that beg and cry just to get in. No amount of begging can save you. Show good work, that’s all that matters.

I know all you want to do is make films but in order for you to make more, you need to be an entrepreneur. Learning the basics of and packaging selling your film is a must. If you just finished your film and you’re about to send out DVD screeners, good luck!

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