Film Festival Press Kit

You’d think making the film was the hardest part of the filmmaking process, right? Wrong. Hell in terms of getting support, festival runs, exposure, and a little personal satisfaction of having a real audience enjoy it is the hardest thing to accomplish. And to do so, you’re going to need a Press Kit.

A Press Kit you say? Yes, the documentation that informs the festival everything and anything about the production that you are submitting. But how does your submission rise above the others? Well it’s not easy since “only the best films make the cut” to quote Melbourne International Film Festival. But there are some aspects that won’t make your submission get rejected. And that’s what we’re here for: the bare essentials to press kits.

What do I need?

Cover Sheet
A cover sheet is simply like your CV cover sheet. It’s that thing you whack on the top of your submission that needs to make the selector keep reading. Yes, reading. Before they even watch your film, they’re going to read what you have to write. Be fluent, informative, and engaging. If you wouldn’t read it, don’t submit it.

Include the title, contact information, writer and director, a little introduction to the story, and mention of any film festival awards you have won (mostly in their award symbols).

Also, you’ll want to include some technical information about your film. A typical inclusion will answer: Country of Production, Year of Production, Running Time, Format, Sound, and Language. If your film has a language other than english or has snippets of other languages, add the title of Subtitle, and of course make this yes (if you don’t have subtitles, get on it).

Synopsis
Before you even made your film you should have had a synopsis. Most likely this is the one you wrote for your funding application. Fix up any minor details that should be added or removed. If you don’t have one, get writing. This is where you put everything on the line for a thumbs up to move onto the next stage.

This isn’t a pitch, it’s not a paragraph that end with, “Will he live? Watch to find out!” or, “Will they fall in love?” It is a paragraph, paragraph, a paragraph of story outline, that is engaging, informative, doesn’t spoil the ending, but makes them want to watch.

Logline/One Line Synopsis
Additional to the one paragraph synopsis, is the one line synopsis, or logline. Though it says “one line” it really means one sentence. This is not to say you can spill conjunctions everywhere, its a simplified version of the paragraph.

Stills/Photos
During production, you should have had some stills taken of the the production. Choose the best, normally ones that you’d imagine would be used in the publicity of the festival’s banners, and pamphlets. Include them in the kit.

Cast and Crew
Add some mini biographies of the main cast and crew. You are able to add a picture (headshot, not partying nightclub shot), but not required. Include any accomplishments, other films into festivals, and contributions to films.

Anecdotes
As well as knowing you made the film, and you think it being worthy of screen time, festivals often like to know any hardships you over came during production. This is not a time to rat out on actors, or crew or start complaining about the catering. This is a time to state the fact you were filming in scorching weather that caused the camera to exceed filming capabilities, but you persisted and allowed you to capture the feel required for the setting of the characters.

Reviews
If your film had been reviewed add them. These are not (I stress not) your friends reviews, or teachers, or paid reviews. These are reviews that a critic writes purely on the basis of reviewing. The more accredited the critic/company within the film industry, the more better.

This is highly optional, since not every film will be reviewed. Or even have good reviews.

Credits
A page dedicated entirely to listing all included in the making of the film – cast, crew, and any additional personnel.

Other Notes

Seems pretty simple! But what else? Well You’ll also need to include your film (most likely on DVD) formatted to the right colour (PAL or NTSC). Also include a copy of the press kit on a CD. Some festivals are beginning to move into the green age, and request pure press kits be entered on CD.

But as a key to know what to submit, anything you believe will increase your chances of being selected. Think of all the submissions the festival will receive and how you can stand out. It is completely like a job interview – professional self selling.

Resources

A wonderful list of the past year’s press kits minus any stills, and clips. But quite nice to view other press kits and see how they did it.