Film Festival Submission Tips #3: Create a Tagline And Synopsis That Generate Interest


Why Create A Tagline Or Synopsis For A Film Festival Submission?

As a filmmaker or screenwriter that is submitting to festivals, you are primarily concerned with getting selected by a Film Festival. As a Film Festival Director, that is managing a selection team for an event, our primary concern is telling the world about the great films and screenplays that we just spent months to select. As a filmmaker or screenwriter, you should create the marketing language for your film or screenplay, so that you can control how much information about your creative work is revealed. If you write nothing in the Synopsis portion of your submission, that means you are trusting a festival staff member to write something that may or may not accurately represent your submission.Why take the risk? For every Film Festival Event, we create hundreds of social media posts about the official selections. All of the Film Festival Attendees want to know, which films are the best, so that they can attend the screenings that sound interesting to them. Our events screen between 4 hours and 16 hours of films. And only a small percentage of people watch all of them. Therefore, you should write an interesting Tagline or Synopsis to attract as many people as possible. Give the Film Festivals something fresh, creative and attractive to market.

Do you know the difference between a Tagline and a Synopsis?

A Tagline, is a phrase or two about your film or screenplay that is meant to be memorable. For Example,  for the film "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’s" the Tagline was, “One man’s struggle to take it easy.” The Tagline for "Alien" was “In space, no one can hear you scream.” There are a plenty of fun lists of famous film Taglines on the web. Check out this article by Mashable if you’d like to see a list of major Hollywood Taglines that I found interesting. 


Here is an example of a Tagline that is pretty straight-forward.  “A guy and his dog are bored, looking for something to do at the park. Hilarity ensues …”

A Synopsis, is a public description of your film or screenplay that gives the audience an idea of what genre it is and what the film is about. Sometimes filmmaker’s struggle to write a Synopsis, because they are afraid that to reveal too much about the story. If you’re not the best writer, get some help. Ask someone to watch your film and write a basic Synopsis. Anything between 5-10 sentences is a good range. Obviously, if your film is only 60 seconds long, you’ll have a shorter Synopsis. If you have a feature film, it may be longer than 10 sentences. Use good judgement, but try not to go over 250 words.


Here is an example of a Synopsis, that is simple. “Peter’s Birthday Gift” is a mockumentary film that follows a seventeen year-old high school student, Peter Larkin. Peter is interested in two different girls and can’t decide which one that he’d like to date, so he decides to make his decision based on the gift that each girl gives him on his Birthday. Which gift will Peter choose? He seeks out a friend for advice, that secretly wants to give Peter a gift that he never expected.”

Film Festivals Appreciate Submissions That Are Complete

The Portland Comedy Film Festival had 400 submissions in 2017. Approximately, there were about 300 films and 100 screenplays. Do you know how many films and screenplays lacked a single word for their Tagline or Synopsis? 10% of Film Submissions and 30% of Screenplays submissions. That is almost 60 submissions that didn’t even attempt to describe their creative work with a single word!


When it's time to market the official selections for each event, we spend a lot of time, emailing filmmakers and asking them to update missing Taglines, Synopsis, Director's Statements, Writer's Statements and images that were omitted from their Film Festival Submission. Get ahead of the competition and have your Synopsis and Tagline ready to go, from now on. This way, Filmmakers, Screenwriters and Festival Directors have a common goal. Let's get Festival Attendees excited about your submission, so that they can spread the word.




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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