Coronavirus and Cancelled Film Festivals: Where to Now?

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Last year was my first experience with SXSW, albeit in a remote capacity. Film Sprites PR was providing social media marketing for independent film Alice in the run-up to and duration of the Festival. The micro-budget first feature from Josephine Mackerras would win Best Narrative Feature and the inaugural CherryPicks Female First Award. It was a true honour to assist a filmmaker in an arena like SXSW; a Festival I had long admired.

News of the cancellation of SXSW 2020 hit me harder than I’d expected. I didn’t have any films in the Festival (either as a publicist or producer), but my heart immediately went out to every filmmaker whose film had been selected for the Festival this year. In particular, reading filmmaker Cooper Raiff’s comments in the IndieWire article about the cancellation put a huge lump in my throat. I think my heart broke further for filmmakers in that moment.

In addition to SXSW, there has also been the cancellation of the Cleveland International Film Festival, also due to Coronavirus. This, and the cancellation of SXSW 2020 is a wise decision from a disease control point-of-view, but let’s face it: it sucks. It’s a terrible situation to be in if you’re a filmmaker whose film was selected; especially if it’s your first film or your first time being selected for a Festival (or both).

EDIT: at the time of posting, the Beverly Hills Film Festival, the Full Frame Festival and the New York Children’s Film Festival had also cancelled their events due to COVID-19 fears. Denmark’s Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival has cancelled their physical event and is now planning a virtual stand-in.

So what can we do as a community to assist these filmmakers?

Thankfully the response has been overwhelming. Here’s a few alternatives that have arisen as a response to the SXSW cancellation (note: I will be adding to these regularly as new initiatives arise):

– On Twitter, the #SXSW2020 hashtag has yielded an incredible amount of reviewers who have offered to review and promote films which were going to be screened at the Festival. If you had a film that was playing at the Festival, search the hashtag and you’ll find some really thoughtful reviewers who want to help boost the signal. As I stated above, there are several other Festivals which have also been cancelled, so I encourage people who had films in these Festivals to also do a Twitter search based on posts about these Festivals to see if there are reviewers wanting to also boost the signal.

Stage 32 is offering a place to showcase SXSW 2020 projects. Stage 32 has “a global community of over 600,000 members, which includes distributors, buyers and sales agents, as well as hundreds of executives and educators who work with Stage 32 including managers, agents, financiers, development execs, and producers.” There is no fee for this service.

– If you run a film review site and haven’t offered to showcase selected films from cancelled Festivals, please think about doing so. Many Festival selections receive a boost from not only their selection at a Festival, but the reviews they receive. It’s also a great opportunity to forge a relationship with up-and-coming filmmakers and support their work going forward.

– If you have a film which was scheduled to play at any of the cancelled festivals mentioned above, contact us with your film’s trailer, your social media handles and a press kit and we will boost the signal through our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram  (please note: will will only be doing this for films that were selected to be shown at the Festivals above at this stage). If you have an initiative to assist these filmmakers, please also feel free to get in touch and we’ll update this post with the details.

Women and Hollywood wants to help filmmakers affected by the cancellation of SXSW or other Festivals; helping to amplifying crowdfunding campaigns to help recoup any losses due to cancellations. They will be publishing weekly crowdfunding features highlighting projects by and/or about women that have been impacted by a coronavirus-related cancellation.

And whether you’re a filmmaker or not: please take care of yourself. Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. And let’s not stockpile toilet paper!

Handy Resources for Indie Filmmakers

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Following the success of our blog post featuring PR and digital marketing resources for indie filmmakers, we’re back with even more general resources! These are things that are too good not to share. After all, it’s all about working smarter, not harder. Here’s some resources we stumbled across recently that we think you’ll like:

Distribution expert Peter Broderick recently taught a masterclass about the New World of Film Distribution at NZ’s Big Screen Symposium 2017, and it was hugely informative. Thankfully, you don’t have to have attended the session to make the most of his information- check out his post on the New World of Film Distribution HERE.

Want to know what types of low budget films break out? film industry Stephen Follows and Founder of The Numbers, Bruce Nash, bring you a comprehensive report that is well worth reading.

For people in the NZ film industry, ScreenSpace is a free website which acts as a classified ads service for people in the industry. Hire/sell equipment and services, post jobs (crew jobs, acting, etc), and more.

Jonathan and Kieran, the creators of ScreenSpace say: “After always struggling to find either a location, cast member, crew member or piece of gear on every shoot we’ve had, we decided to start ScreenSpace to make it easier for New Zealand filmmakers to connect and collaborate – sharing both their resources and expertise. A service by filmmakers for filmmakers to find what they want, when they need it, and for a reasonable price.”

Another excellent resource for NZ filmmakers is Showtools, a cloud-based production system which makes the production process easier. Better yet, Showtools has easy pay-as-you go pricing…and short films are FREE. Keep track of work hours, crew and rentals, and share product information with everyone easily. It’s a smart, affordable resource to make your film production less stressful and more streamlined.

Whether you’re keen to enter your film into a festival, or need to know how the screening dates of prominent festivals could affect your release and/or the publication schedules for film media, check out this handy guide to key festivals and markets.

And finally- some shaaaaaaaaaameless self-promotion: at Film Sprites PR we’re currently taking on films (short and feature-length) for publicity and digital marketing in 2018. The best time to chat with us about PR and social media marketing for your film next year is right now in order to secure our services. From copywriting for your website and IMDb profile, right through to sourcing media placements (features/reviews/interviews) and social media marketing, we do it all. For the past 3.5 years we’ve provided 25+ filmmakers and their films publicity and digital marketing, and because we focus on independent film we know the media landscape and market for indie films. For more info, download our services pamphlet HERE.

Happy filmmaking, folks!

 

Up-Coming Festival Dates For Horror Short “The Halloween Girl”

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Film Sprites PR is pleased to announce that The Halloween Girl, a short film by Richard T. Wilson and the Mad Shelley Films team has recently been accepted into two up-coming film festivals.

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Californian film fans can see The Halloween Girl as part of the 21st International Family Film Festival, happening October 20-23. The IFFF focuses on family-centric stories and celebrates gender equality, inclusiveness and diversity.

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The Halloween Girl has also been selected for this year’s Halloween International Film Festival, being held at the deliciously aptly-named Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina from October 27-29. This is the Festival’s inaugural year.

The Halloween Girl has previously won a Gold Remi at the 49th annual Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival, and an Award of Merit in the Best Shorts Competition 2015 . The film was also a semi-finalist at Shiver 2016 and an official selection at the LA Independent Film Festival Awards in January 2016.

For those who can’t make it to these film festivals- fear not! Mad Shelley Films has a treat for you in October as well.

Synopsis: Ten years after her tragic death on Halloween night, Charlotte begins to reappear to her mother, Marie, in a series of nightmares – or are they? Only adding to her distress is the news that her young son, Luke, now has a mysterious teenage friend he calls ‘The Halloween Girl’ – and her name is Charlotte. Has Charlotte really returned – and is Marie’s dark secret now in danger of being revealed…?

To find out more about The Halloween Girl, visit the website. You can also like Mad Shelley Films on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Want to spread the word? Use the hashtag #WhoIsTheHalloweenGirl