Film Festival Submission Tips #7: Does Your Film Have A Trailer?


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Five Reasons Why Your Film Should Have A Trailer

In my experience a Film Festival Director for 10+ years, I strongly recommend that you create a trailer for any film, music video or web series episode that you are submitting to film festivals. Trailers are not a requirement for acceptance at Film Festival Circuit Events. However, having a trailer associated with your submission, is valuable to our judging process and event marketing efforts.

  1. Our Film Festival judges in each region, watch the entire video submitted, as well as, each film trailer available. When our judges watch 100 films over a 30 day period, watching the trailer can help them recall details about your submission. It's a useful memory refreshing tool in the days and weeks after watching and rating your submission the first time. Whether it is in the selection phase or the award nomination phase, our judges are always referencing, rewatching, comparing and spot checking films over time before making a final rating.
  2. If your submission is accepted, Film Festival attendees want to get an idea of what the films are about, before deciding which sessions to attend. Do you want people to be excited to see your film? In a film trailer, even a few images, lines, music or sound effects can peak interest. We post every trailer for every film accepted, on our event pages, eventbrite ticket pages and social media channels. We do this, because it helps build excitement about your creative work. This is free marketing for you and your team. 
  3. Your film’s trailer is a great way to link to a website or social media channel. Film attendees frequently ask us, “How can I be notified when this film or web series is released. How can I share this with friends?” Adding a link, turns your trailer into a gateway for people to find out more info about your productions.
  4. Your trailer can be shared or bookmarked, which is free marketing. Every share and discussion about your creative work online, helps market your film. It is also a public record of engagement that people may find, when researching your film. If a distributor is doing research about your film, then finds a YouTube trailer, don't you want them to see 100's of views and comments?
  5. A lot of filmmakers haven’t made the task of creating a trailer, a priority. Stay ahead of your competition. Only 45% of films submitted to the Oregon Short Film Festival 2019 included a trailer with their submission. Would you spend money to purchase a ticket to a film festival, that didn't have a single trailer available? Trust me, you want to have a film that people really want to see, rather than have mysterious block of time screening at a film festival.


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Six Examples Of Independent Short Film Trailers

1) Trailer For "Food Cart" - Suspense / Drama Horror (60 Seconds)



2) Trailer For "Dog Years" - Drama Film (25 Seconds)



3) Extended Trailer for "EVOKE" - Drama / Romance Film (90 Seconds)



4) Trailer For "The Joy Block" - Documentary Film - (35 Seconds)



5) Trailer for "Violent Rain" Science Fiction / Action Film (35 Seconds)



6) Trailer for "Krisis" International Comedy / Science Fiction Film (30 Seconds)



Four Tips For Creating An Effective Film Trailer

1) Include the Title, Director and Star(s) Somewhere In The Video File. 

Today, users post thousands of video files on YouTube and Vimeo every minute. Often times, the video file doesn't have any text, because users depend on the Text Title and Description to explain what the viewer is watching. Big mistake, do both! I learned a valuable lesson at a film festival recently. I integrated three different video files of film trailers into the program of the festival on day one, so that I could promote the screenings on day 2. I noticed, that the trailers were cool, but the three I picked, didn't have the title of the film in the video file! I felt a bit silly and one person even asked me, "Hey, what was that last movie with the blonde girl, when does that screen?" The moral of the story is, you don't always know, in what context your trailer will be used. Therefore, but the important text in the video file, to help the user remember the name of your film.


2) Add a "Call To Action" at the end of the trailer for 4-5 seconds.

This can be a website or social media link. When I look around the room at our film festivals, while people are watching films, they are always checking their phones. Festival attendees want to learn more about your film, share it with others and possibly get in touch with you. Including a CTA in the video of your trailer is very important, don't miss this opportunity.


3) Don't be afraid to "give away the story."

Some filmmakers get very nervous about these 4 words. They are so afraid and indecisive, that they never end up making a trailer at all. My father used to call this, "Paralysis by Analysis." Even if you're showing just a few images and some music from your film, don't be afraid to create something, no matter how short your film is. Why? Because viewers want to have some incentive to watch your film. A few still photos won't give away your story. You don't have to show the big "reveal" at the end. Just show the viewer something.


4) Have a "clean" version of your trailer, available on a public website like YouTube or Vimeo.

This can sometimes be difficult for profanity filled comedies or bloody creature eating horror films. You really need to have a version of your trailer available that is "clean" so that it will make it through the sensors and not get banned on social media. Horrifying images and F-Bombs will get you (and us) reported, which is all bad. It hurts the marketing effort, which is the opposite of what you're trying to accomplish. You can have a mature version of your trailer too, just don't expect us to market it on our social media channels.



Austin Micro Short Film Festival Website


Strengthen Your Submission Now: 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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