When deciding what are the best film festivals to enter your film into, the absolute first thing you need to consider is what exactly you want to get out of your film festival experience. To find a distributor? To connect with appreciative audiences? To win awards? To hobnob with celebrities?
The second thing you need to consider is what your film festival budget is going to be. Many film festivals are very expensive to submit to, while others are absolutely free. Plus, you need to consider if you're going to be traveling to any film festivals that accept your film and figure that into your budget.
Lastly, you need to do your research on whether or not certain film festivals will be receptive to accepting your film.
For example, the annual Sundance Film Festival is considered one of the best film festivals in the world where many films are sold for big sums to major distributors. However, let's say you only set yourself a $100 budget for submitting your science fiction epic about killer robots from space that has tons of special effects and explosions. In that case, you could blow your entire film festival budget submitting to Sundance -- their final deadline fee is $100 -- only to find out that Sundance never accepts science fiction movies or movies with lots of special effects. Now your movie is never going to be seen!
With all that in mind, here are some of the best film festivals out there:
1. Sundance Film Festival -- Yes, Sundance is still one of the premiere film festivals in the world, as long as your film is a low-budget independent film, either a drama or a comedy. Thousands of films are submitted every year and only a few get in. Yet, it's still worth it to try yours. Just be sure to take advantage of their early submission dates to save yourself on the entry fee, i.e. $50 vs. $100.
2. AFI Film Festival -- Hosted by the prestigious American Film Institute, this festival is hosted literally in the heart of Hollywood and screens a wide variety of films from all over the world, including indie dramas, comedies and late night cult films. And, you never know, if your film is accepted and you're lucky enough to go, you might be lucky enough to meet top Hollywood talent at their gala events.
3. SXSW -- That stands for South by Southwest, which has quickly become one of the hottest, most cutting edge film festivals in the world. The festival actually includes movies, music and high-profile panels about the rapidly changing face of our media landscape.
4. Tribeca Film Festival -- Founded by actor Robert DeNiro with the goal of bringing attention and money to downtown NYC in the wake of 9/11, Tribeca quickly became one of the biggest buyer markets for indie film, with many film screening there going on to receive theatrical and DVD distribution from some of the biggest companies in the industry, who typically have offices right there in Manhattan.