Film Festival Submission Tips #6: Have You Created A Poster For Your Submission?


Film Posters Are Still Relevant

Traditionally, every film released in theaters is represented by printed materials which may include an 11×17 or 18×24 poster. They are standard marketing tools that sometimes become collectable items. Have you ever arrived to a movie theater a little early? Did you find yourself strolling along the walls, checking out the movie posters to see what is being released? If you see a cool poster for a film, you may say to yourself “I want to take the kids to this one” or “Wow, I didn't know they were releasing a sequel to that one.” Then, you might check out the film’s trailer online and read some of the early reviews to see if it’s worth your money.


Portland Comedy Film Festival Fall 2019

Film Festival attendees go through a similar process. They scroll through our website or social media pages, looking for images to see what peaks their interest. For our film festival events we post about every official selection on at least one social media platform. Facebook, Twitter or instagram. If a film does not have a single image to represent it, a generic laurel is posted in its place. These “generic logo” posts get very few clicks compared to the ones that have images. Do you want your film, web series or screenplay to be perceived as boring and generic?




Some of you reading this may be saying, “I spent so much money on this film, I can't afford to make a poster right now.” Or a screenwriter may say, “I don't even have this film funded yet, why would I have a poster?” My response is, that even if you don't have a poster, any image that is associated with your submission will help set it apart from others. A headshot, screenshot, or behind-the-scenes photo will work.




Creating a poster shouldn't be expensive. With a cup of coffee and a few Photoshop tutorials, a 12 year old can add some basic text to a screenshot and make a poster. There are also graphic artists on that will make a poster for less than $20 in less than 72 hours.




The reason I am writing this post is because, this one issue has hindered our marketing efforts for our official selections to every festival of every genre for 10 years. A staggering 33% of films and screenplays do not provide a single image that represents their submission. Not even a headshot, behind-the-scenes photo, or a simple screenshot. I have emailed submitters in the past and have asked them, “Hi, I noticed that you don't have any posters or images that represent your film. Can you please add one to your FilmFreeway submission details or your Withoutabox Press Kit?” I get a variety of responses like:

  1. “Why do you need this?”
  2. “Other festivals do not ask me for posters.”
  3. “If I get accepted, then I will make one.”

Hopefully I have answered question number one in this post already. I can't answer question number two. But if more festivals are asking you for marketing materials like I am, then you should probably consider making some. As for statement number three, we do not negotiate acceptance. Nice try though.




More Film Festival Submission Tips Articles

  1. Your Submission Contact Details Must Be Accurate. Do you know how many submitter emails bounce and don't have a phone number listed? Read more ...
  2. Choose A Submission Title That Is Memorable. Is your creative work getting lost in the shuffle? Read more ...
  3. Create A Tagline And A Synopsis For Your Submission. Do you know the difference? Read more ...
  4. Create A Director's or Writer's Biography For Your Submission.  Do you think that a Biography and a Job Resume are the same thing? Read more ...
  5. Create A Director’s or Writer’s Statement. This is an opportunity to explain your personal motivation, inspiration, experiences and challenges that lead to the creation of your submission. Read more ...
  6. Create A Poster For Your Submission. Stay ahead of the competition, don't be generic. Read more ...
  7. Create A Trailer For Your Submission. Because video gets more clicks than text. Read more ...
  8. Include A Social Media Link With Your Submission. Social Media is a free marketing tool that Film Festivals use. There are several reasons why you should not ignore this opportunity. Read more ...
  9. Include A Website Link With Your Submission. All roads lead to a central hub for your submission. Read more ...
  10. The Final Cut vs. The Festival Cut. The edit that you send to festivals matters. Do you know the difference? Read more ...


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About the author
Mikel Fair

Mikel Fair

Mikel Fair My name is Mikel Fair. I am the Director of Film Festival Circuit Inc. First of all, we are a company that manages film festival events in Texas and Oregon. Furthermore, we like to have fun and celebrate independent film. I worked for 15 years in the television and film production as a location sound mixer and production manager. I have also worked in post production as an editor, post sound mixer and composer. Above all, watching independent films and reading creative screenplays is my passion.

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