FILM FESTIVAL CIRCUIT… HUH? (3 Secrets. 1st is Who? 2nd is Cost? 3rd is?)


“Go to the Festival Circuit”. “Go to the Festival Route.”…. “What the heck are these people talking about?”

Either of these phrases come from the mouths of professional producers, directors and studio executives that know not how to teach filmmaking.

Plus, “Festival Circuit” or “Festival Route” are, even sadder, misleading phrases mouthed by film instructors at those absurdly over-priced 4-year (NYU, USC, UCLA, etc.) $200,000-$300,000 theory film programs is….

…”Go to the Festival Circuit!”    Or… “Go to the Festival Route!”

FESTIVAL-Glamor-2   FESTIVAL-Glamor-2

Huh! What the heck are they talking about? I hate those phrases. Why? Because there is no Festival Circuit.

“Please name the Festival Circuit?”

Go ahead…Yes, “the actual name of the circuit” or name the Festival Route.

Yes, once again, the actual name of the organization that created this alleged route.”

Name it. Name it. Name it. or Name them. Name them. Name them.

You can’t. You can’t. You can’t.


Simple! ‘Caue there ain’t no Festival Circuit. There ain’t no Festival Route. Point. Period. End sentence!

And…. anyone who teaches that or says that should be muzzled.

And…. please if you’ve been to a $200-300K Film Program where the instructors told you that please, I beg you, “SUE-LITIGATE-SUE-LITIGATE”…. Get your money back. …I would love to be your expert witness to help the litigation.

It is time we stand up to these ridiculously over-priced education costs and demand refunds.

THERE AIN’T NO FESTIVAL CIRCUIT! (Sundance? Cannes? Berlinale? Huh?)

Anyway; back to the Festival Circuit (aka: Festival Route)….


Name it? Go ahead tell me the name of the organization that takes your film and spirals it, as in circuit or route, from city to city, from nation to nation, from festival to festival (via, Satellite or DVD or UPS)…. Go ahead, “name this circuit”.

There is none.

No don’t think you’re smart by saying “Sundance, Cannes, Berlin (oops, Berlinale), Tribecca, Toronto, Venice, etc.”

This is not a circuit. You’re cherry picking. Yes, these are important festivals to attend but it ain’t a “route or circuit”… it’s a hodge-podge of some of the more important festivals.

30 years ago I bet you couldn’t name 10-15 Film Festivals in the entire world.

Go ahead… try.

Yes, Cannes existed. Sundance was maybe 5 years old. Toronto had been established. I’m sure there was something in LA, in NY, in Hong Kong, in London… However, that’s only 6-7 and you are pushing to come up with 15-20 festivals in the early ‘80s.

Now, today, there are 2,000-3,000 Film Festivals. They are everywhere. Can you name me a city that doesn’t have one? Wait…can you name me a city that doesn’t have 3-5 festivals.

2,000 – 3,000 FILM FESTIVALS: 3 Reasons to Attend

New York and Los Angeles alone, last year each had 75-100 Film Festivals. They’re everywhere, everywhere…   So why do you go to a FILM FESTIVAL?

You know the answer and you state it in 3 ways…

(1) To Sell your Film

(2) To be Discovered

(3) To Get a Distributor.

I agree these are all true reasons to submit & attend a Film Festival.

Now an Important Point: Of the 2,000-3,000 Film Festivals how many of them have distributor’s buyers (aka: Acquisition Executive) in attendance to actually (1) buy your film, (2) to discover you and (3) secure a distributor?

The answer is maybe only 15-20.

Can you name these 15-20 Festivals?

Now, can you now tell me the Organization, the Circuit or the Route that they are all members of?

The answer is “NO”. And, matter of fact each of these 15-20 Major Film Festivals hate-each-other and are all in competition for World Premieres…

Therefore, if you get into one of the 15-20 Major Film Festivals the programmer(s) of the other Film Festivals will likely (not guaranteed) automatically reject your submission because you have given away ‘The World Premiere”… Remember, you can only have ONE World Premiere.

Facebook-Online-Yellow   Facebook-Online-Yellow   Facebook-Online-Yellow (I list the 15-20 MAJOR FILM FESTIVALS and as important I also teach what they cost, when to attend & how to get in at either my “2-DAY, “DVD” or “ONLINE” Film Schools)

WHAT DO FILM FESTIVALS COST (Part 1)? How Much Do You Keep?

Lets talk Film Festival costs and revenues for a moment.

Film Festivals “Aren’t Free” and “Whatever Box Office revenues your film secures at that festival…you don’t get a penny of it”.

“Most Festivals keep every frickin’ penny”….   What do I mean you ask?

When your film is selected; the festival charges admissions and receives Box Office Grosses.

And did you know that they don’t give a single penny to the filmmaker, like you, who has just spent at least 4,000 hours and money in making something that the Festivals (aka: the worst distributors in the world) keep every penny….

Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, etc… they don’t give the filmmaker a single penny of the Box Office Gross that they receive…

Son of a gun… And they even have the audacity to charge you to have them make money…. Huh?

Now back to what a Festival costs:


  1. ENTRANCE FEE (aka: Submission fee)
  2. PRINT (select proper format, re-dub?, color-correct?)
  3. FREIGHT (for prints, press kits, etc)
  4. FLIGHT (you know you’re going, they ain’t payin’)
  5. HOTEL (where you sleeping, hotels are booked)
  6. PUBLICITY (posters, one-sheets, flyers)
  7. FESTIVAL MAGAZINE (ads, articles, etc)
  8. PUBLICIST (Hire a Unit Publicist…you can’t hype yourself)

It adds up.

It isn’t massively expensive. However, to a broke filmmaker, with your limited micro-budget feature, it is.

IMPORTANT POINT: Please be careful how many festivals you go to… receiving award after award after award (each festival costs $3,000 – $20,000 to attend) knowing that there are no Acquisition Execs at that festival. Saying is “If a tree false in the woods and there is no one there…”

I do not mean for this blog to be negative. It is not. It is positive.

Negative is those 4-year $200,000 – $300,000 film schools that teach go to the “Festival Circuit” and never explain what they mean, what they cost and what the odds are of getting accepted.

I want you to attend the alleged “Festival Circuit” but now knowing that it is at the most picking one maybe two. and only one or two that if you hope to be discovered at this Film Festival better have the major 30-40 global Acquisition Execs in attendance… and these festivals are not free.

No Acquisition Execs. No attend. Point. Period. End sentence.

SUNDANCE-Redford-1   SUNDANCE-Redford-1  (Redford. Redford. Redford. Sundance. Sundance. Sundance. Not Free. Not Free. Not Free)

FESTIVAL COSTS (Part 2): Attract Acquisition Execs to Your Screening

  1. TICKETS: (buy 2 tickets for each Acquisition Exec to attend your screening)
  2. INVITATIONS: (handwrite personal invites to the 15-20 Acquisition Execs)

Hope this non-romantic, cut-to-the-chase info truly helps you, the talented artist, to navigate the murky road to Hollywood and succeed in this very lucrative and competitive business.

Success does happen. Just be realistic. Festivals are everywhere. Major Festivals are not free.

Now it is up to you to get the great script and supply the talent & work ethic.

Happy Filmmaking,


Please share if you have ever screened your film at a Film Festival.

FESTIVAL-Sundance     Facebook-Online-Yellow     FESTIVAL-Sundance

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3 comments on “FILM FESTIVAL CIRCUIT… HUH? (3 Secrets. 1st is Who? 2nd is Cost? 3rd is?)”

  1. Raphael

    Hello there!

    I gotta admit, all those expenses make me feel a bit lost.

    I’m an european filmmaker who is working on making his first feature, I’m taking your advice and just going for it. Noneless I am making it with a zero budget basicaly (20000$ worth of owned gear sure but practically no money invested in the film). Pretty much guerrila filmmaking like Rodriguez on El Mariachi.

    I intended to try get a selection on some of those major festivals you mention and I even watched your 2 day film school (great source of information by the way!) and still I’m a bit overwhelmed by how much you still need to do and expenses you need to have, even after selection at such a festival.

    Maybe I was naive but I always though that the hard part was getting selected. How would I even know who the Acquisition Execs are? How to get in contact with them? And doing publicity for your film to get people in attendance when you’re not even from the same continent as the festival?

    Gotta admit, like previously stated, all this makes me feel a bit lost. Any good advice you could send my way on the subject? Am I just being to negative?

    Thank you for all the knowledge you continually share with us, it helps a lot!


  2. Aaron

    Hey, I appreciate you nonsense no b.s. approach to filmmaking and this just makes it so much better. By the way I’ve sat in your 2 Day Film School twice and I’ve learned more from you in two days then I did in film school in two years. You truly are a wealth of information and resources. You also don’t talk over our heads but break it down in layman’s terns and for that you’re number. Thanks for keeping it real.

  3. Interesting article. But surely festivals are more than the three things you mention, and in particular the smaller festivals are much different. They are about networking, awards are about providing a marker, an indication that a filmmaker is moving in the right direction… It helps to ensure we keep people in the race. Of course filmmakers should plan their “route” so that they select the festivals that best serves them and their film…

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