2015 is the start of a new era for Independent Film! (Part 4) by Benjamin Oberman April 1, 2015 FILM FESTIVALS Today there are an estimated 3,500 film festivals in the United States with more than 5,000 worldwide as noted by Sundance Institute Executive Director, Keri Putnam at the 2015 Art House Convergence. There can’t possibly be room for more? Wrong… New festivals appear daily. And yes, we’re joining those ranks, but with a spin, ours are completely online. During my tenure as a distributor I’ve seen a major shift in the role of film festivals. Once about discovery of films, they now serve as a powerful marketing tool for the release of major films and, as a circuit, are often the dominant revenue source for many independent films. While first time filmmakers are spending through the nose to submit to festivals in hopes of being accepted, distributors and sales agents are marketing highly credentialed films to be booked from city to city. We use new names, but we’ve returned to the original way a film print was toured around the country playing at special events for the public. As you complete your film and plan for your distribution, your festival strategy is potentially the most important decision you’ll make. If you’re not extremely well versed in the festival world, it’s worth considering engaging a festival consultant, sales agent, or distributor who understands the strategies, impact on release and revenue potential, and has deep relationships with the various festival directors, programmers, and publicists. You may notice when looking at the line-up year to year that the same distributors, sales agents, Producers, and directors have films in competition. Are they truly the best year [...]

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