Short Film Distribution: Audience reach or Festival appeal?

November 16, 2016


The closer we get to the completion of our short film, one question is getting more and more important: how are we going to spread our message once the film is complete?


Since the first crowdfunding campaign our final goal has been quite explicit: we want to spread the message contained in the theme of our film to as many people as possible; to be open to opportunity and not fear people around you.

That is what our first “Smile, Talk and #SaveTheCupids” campaign was all about.


So, what is the best way to achieve our goal of raising awareness of the film and finding the widest worldwide audience possible?


Well, in the modern world of short filmmaking there are two main ways to do this that are accessible to most content creators: film festivals and online distribution.



So the path to follow looks pretty clear, right? We should release the film online as soon as possible and send it to as many festivals too!


Well… no. It’s not that simple.


Despite the fact that things are rapidly changing, unfortunately the online distribution and film festival worlds are still fighting each other for exclusiveness.


I had the pleasure of listening to Katie Metcalfe, shorts programmer at Sundance Institute, talk about this subject at BAFTA’s and British Film Council's Short Sighted event on November 5th 2016 in London.
In 2013 she wrote an article for Short of The Week listing some of the major film festivals in the world and their policies about online distribution of short films.


What does this list show to filmmakers and how it affects the way they must plan to reach their audience?


Well, it shows that some of the major film festivals in the world, like Venice and  Cannes, still require a clear premiere status to be taken into consideration for the selection process, even for short films.


Whilst other festivals like Sundance and SXSW have already shifted their selection policies to be more online distribution friendly, and so ultimately filmmaker friendly.


But why is the chance to screen at a major film festival so important anyway?


Well, a major film festival acceptance is the dream of every filmmaker as it brings a larger audience, prestige for the film, recognition for the team who made it and consequently creates a big buzz, particularly for the film industry professionals. 


Obviously, for any of this to happen you need a great film, able to compete with the best of the best in the filmmaking world. But hey… who doesn’t want to dream that all the hard work they put into making a film isn’t enough to enter it into the Mount Olympus of quality storytelling?


Sure, you should be honest with yourself and your film but modern history has shown us that in the rapidly changing world of communication and media, everything is getting more unpredictable and hyper criticism is definitely the way NOT to go for a wannabe artist.


So what is the correct choice then? Releasing the film online and using the momentum that the festival run creates to raise awareness around the film? Or aiming for the prestige that some major film festivals create, but postpone the chance for the audience you’ve reached to watch the film until the end of the festival run - which in most cases can last up to 18 months?


Obviously between these two choices there are a lot of middle ways but we would really love to know what your opinions on this topic are.

Please share it with us in the comments below or through our social media.


On our side, we are still thinking about the best distribution strategy for Cupids, but we will soon let you know our decision here on this blog, and through our newsletter, so… watch this space ;)


Until then, have an happy life and remember to

“Smile, Talk and #SaveTheCupids” ;)

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