getting your film seen
Once you have made your film the biggest challenge is getting people to see it.
organising a screening
You should organise a number of screenings for your film. First should be the cast and crew screening, where you can invite everybody who helped in any way. Try talking to the programming manager of your local cinema. Independent cinemas will often do their best to try and programme in pieces by local filmmakers.
It is also a good idea to try and get an industry screening. This should be held somewhere that regularly attracts production companies and broadcasters. If there are no preview theatres then go for the local cinema option again.
For a selection of preview theatres outside London, try: www.4rfv.co.uk/...
For information about London-based screening rooms, have a look in First Facts 2(see recommended reading). Also try the main online industry directories: www.theknowledgeonline.com
There are a number of distributors that deal with short films. They will take your short film to the markets around the world and attempt to sell it to television (including terrestrial, cable and satellite), airlines and other companies that show short films.
It is important to note that they will require a clear paper chain - clear contracts and license deals so that they know that you are legally allowed to sell all the different elements of your film on to a third party (see rights).
Make contact with each company and forward a VHS copy of your short film to see what they offer you in terms of a deal.
The BFI published a great guide to Distribution & Exhibition in 2001 (which also offers good advice on festivals) that is downloadable as a PDF: www.bfi.org.uk/...
It is very important for producers and directors to plan well for festivals. Deadlines creep up and filmmakers are always running close to the wire to have their films ready. You can find out about which festivals are coming up, and where, on the British Council website, www.britfilms.com or one of the websites listed under festival directories in the right-hand column of this page.
(There is also the main British Council website which links through to Britfilms.com and is worth checking: www.britishcouncil.org)
Each year, the British Council also choose a selection of shorts that they will distribute to certain festivals. They will also help select short films to print (there are certain prerequisites for selection).
To give yourself the best chance, provide the following information:
a good still – absolutely vital to sell your film both to the festival and, if your application is successful, to the public
a good background document – including condensed CVs for all the heads of department and talent
a good synopsis – one page that outlines what your film is about
www.withoutabox.com provides a really useful online film festival submission service. Through their submission system (BrigitFest), you can create one master online entry form to use for submitting your film to many of the major US and European film festivals. This service is free but does not include festival entry fees. Withoutabox.com members can also track their submissions, search for festivals and receive notification of festival updates and deadlines.
getting an agent
If you have made your short film as a stepping stone in your career, you might be wondering if you can get an agent to help represent you and your work. There are agencies to represent writers, directors and actors, as well as crew members, like directors of photography and production designers.
Your best plan of action is to do your homework. Find out who represents whom. Maybe track down some of your favourite talent via www.imdb.com - you can often find out who represents them by clicking on the ‘Agent’ button. The world of agents is notoriously closed and very few of the agencies have good websites, largely because they hate receiving unsolicited material. You may have to resort to your trusty search engines or fan clubs on the web to find out who someone’s agent is. From this you will start to build a picture of who the major agencies are and who they represent.
See the right-hand column links for some of the best known agents in the UK.
The First Facts 2 written guide has a very good section on 'Agents' including how and why to get an agent. The Knowledge also has a comprehensive list (see recommended reading).
You will need examples of your work: scripts you have written or a showreel of short films that you have directed. It is very rarely worth approaching an agent if you have only made one short film, unless it has been incredibly successful. Once you have more than one example, it is worth trying to find a connection, like a friend of a friend, to make a recommendation. Agents receive huge amounts of material so you need to have something to make your work stand out and encourage them to look at it, so if it has won prizes or comes with a recommendation they are more likely to look at it.
It is a competitive industry but persevere, both in building a body of work to show off your talent but also in trying to secure representation.