‘As a programmer, you start to have a kind of instinctive feeling about films,’ – when it comes to documentaries, Rich Welch, Program Manager and Co-Director of Antenna Documentary Festival, knows his stuff. Only in its third edition the festival has become Sydney’s major meeting point for the international and local documentary industry. As one of FilmFestivalLife’s exclusive submission partners, we’re curious why documentary filmmakers should submit their work to the Aussie festival. We had an inspiring chat with Welch, where he gave us his 6 top tips for documentary filmmakers.
Latest Deadline • 09 May 2014
1. Get as much feedback as you can.
We have three competitions; best Australian short, best Australian feature and international feature, which all come with cash prizes. Last year we launched something called the Digital Pitch; our first pitching session whereby interactive projects were pitched to panel of industry judges. We also have Antenna’s DocTalk – a series of interactive talks and masterclasses. So we‘re doing a lot of different things to connect people from various industries within our local landscape.
2. Make sure your film is a match.
As a programmer, you start to have a kind of instinctive feeling about films. We‘re looking for films that can connect with audiences, together with films that are relevant to an international audience. We want to see the author behind the film, to feel there is filmmaker who has put their thoughts into the film we’re seeing… When you’re looking at which festivals to submit, you need to know what they‘re looking for to see if your film is a possible match. Check previous programs, as you can get a good idea of what most festivals are looking for from the films that have already screened. Finally, read the regulations! The submission process takes time – not to mention money – so making sure your film is eligible should be the first thing you do.
3. Find festivals who will celebrate your film.
When you‘re making a film, you invest your heart and your soul into the film. The festival should also want to celebrate the film you made. That‘s why you should look for festivals who will do that with your film. At Antenna whether it‘s a short or it feature film, they get treated all the same. They’re all equal and receive the same celebration. Try to visit the festivals where you film is selected. Obviously, some festival can be far away, like ourselves in Australia, but if you can get yourself to a festival that’s screening your film, do it!
4. See the boost festivals can have.
Film Festivals bring something which isn’t already there. Here in Sydney, festivals keep growing audiences which provides many boosts to the industry, such as providing a platform for great local and international films to be shown. For example last year, Antenna screened over 25 premieres that wouldn‘t have been screened anywhere else in Australia. And even as we move to a digital age with films becoming available online etc, I still think it‘s so much nicer to watch the films in the environment of the cinema; the audiences, the Q&A‘s, the filmmakers and even the potential founders for the filmmakers next film all present in one space. Film festivals help to bring a film to life…
5. Get in contact with the industry.
I think the best thing about Antenna is the inclusiveness. For five days we become a little family where everyone is together. It‘s all takes place in two or three places, making for a really exciting and friendly environment where you can be chatting with filmmakers and industry members, or fellow doc lovers. It gives you the opportunity to talk about what you love, what you enjoy and also what you do. So, the key thing you can expect from Antenna is this inclusive environment.
6. Enhance your festival life with online submissions.
I was actually thinking about how it was only three years ago (since our first festival) whereby the process was the following; The filmmaker would submit online. Then they’d have to send us the DVDs, which we then had to give to the all our programmers to watch. DVDs could get lost on-route or wouldn’t work and things like that… If I’m honest, it was all quite a nightmare. So FilmFestivalLife makes it so much simpler. It’s clean, easy and enjoyable to use. It also looks beautiful – that’s another bonus!
Rich Welch, Festival Co-Director
Antenna Documentary Festival
Oct 15 – Oct 19, 2014
Sydney , Australia
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