Why entering your film in a festival might be the most important thing you do today

FunMill Films second annual film festival is accepting submissions now

Technology has opened up the world of filmmaking to nearly anyone who wants to make their passion project. You can write the screenplay, draw the storyboards, shoot the footage, edit the film, and premiere it on YouTube, Vimeo or another similar service all on your phone.

What technology can’t do - not yet, anyway - is give your film true industry cred. One way you can gain that stamp of approval? Have your movie screened at a film festival. 

What a film festival can do for your movie

Even today, most industry professionals see film festivals as an arbiter of talent. Though submission criteria vary, most festival organizers will view, select and screen the best films submitted. Large or small, festivals want to succeed. Sharing great stories with audiences is how to do that.

If your film is selected for screening, it tells a producer or financier that you are serious about your passion and can create consumable work. Submitted and selected in several festivals? Even better.

It’s easier than ever to get your work screened

Getting your film selected was a challenge not long ago, if only because there weren’t many film festivals. This was also a function of technology and accessibility. Festivals were expensive to host and submitting could be expensive - even a little bit risky. Most festivals only accepted physical media - as many still do - but that media might be film reels or videotape. If it was lost or destroyed, it could be cost-prohibitive to replicate. Digital simply didn’t exist.

Today thousands of film festivals dot the United States, many of them homegrown passion projects from local filmmakers who want to share their love of the artform and help peers find a forum to showcase their work. In Northeast Ohio, that might be the “Short. Sweet. Film Fest,” “The Indie Gathering,” and “HorrorHound Weekend.”

>> Check out our FILM FESTIVAL CALENDAR for upcoming events <<

Filmmakers and winners from 2020's FunMill Films Fest

Sophomore year for FunMill Film Fest

That includes FunMill Film Fest, which returns for its second year on Sunday, May 16. We caught up with Kinsley Funari and Josh Miller (the “Fun” and “Mill” in FunMill Films) to see how the festival has changed in its second year and how the team will tackle COVID.

MMM: Are you surprised to be back? 

Kinsley Funari (KF): We were surprised the first one was SUCH a success, which made us realize this had to become an annual thing. We knew a second one was coming pretty much right away.

Have you submitted your movie to a film festival yet?
Josh Miller (JM): We were talking about the second Fest the day after we booked the location for the first. And the first Fest was such a success because everyone believed in us. We know now Cleveland filmmakers really rally together for something they believe in and do all they can to help each other succeed.

We want to make it bigger and better than last year, too. We have 20 teams in our Competition Event this year up from 15. That'll be exciting.

Any interesting stories out of last year's festival? 

KF: Our winner for Best Film, "Where the Shadows Fall," directed by Aaron Cabrera, absolutely killed it all over the country in other festivals. He was posting award after award, so we were really stoked to show that film. And Conrad Studios' competition film "Don't Tell Mama" went on to win a few other fests I believe. They placed third overall in our competition. That was probably my favorite film of the fest.

JM: And we're actually teaming up with one of the directors who won our competition last year, Eli Manos, for a film we're premiering at this year's fest.  He's going to co-direct with his brother, Sean Manos.

KF: We're super excited for this project. It's going to be FunMill's biggest film to date.

MMM: How are you dealing with COVID?

KF: Ugh. Is there really a way to deal with it? Haha ... Just trying to stay busy and hopeful. COVID-19 regulations will affect our theater space, our after party and potentially our award ceremony. We check in weekly to see what we will be able to pull off.

MMM: How do people get involved?

JM: We have a Facebook Event Page, FunMill Films Fest 2, where those interested can RSVP and stay updated on the festival. They can also visit our website, FunMill Films Fest, to get all the info and links they might need.

>> Check out our FILM FESTIVAL CALENDAR for upcoming events <<


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