For feature films fees average about $50 per entry. Then if you make it in, you want to be able to attend and network. So you have to make a very well researched list and budget for all that.
Let me preface this by saying you don’t have to go this route, it’s expensive and if you have something that you think is sellable, but maybe not a good fit for festivals, skip this one and go to the next step. That said, you only have one year of exclusivity to hit as many film festivals as you can and try to rack up some laurels. My Toxic Backyard screened at 9 festivals (one of which was an amazing film tour) and won 2 awards. Done and done.The cost was high though. I spent about $1000 just in submission fees (I submitted to a lot more festivals than I got into.) It’s more fun to talk about the places you get accepted, then all the places you’ve been rejected from. It can be really disheartening to get all those rejections, but you have to develop a thick skin and learn not to take it personally. Sometimes you don’t even get rejected because the screeners and programmers of the festival didn’t like your film. They might love it, but aren’t able to find a place for it with all the other films they have programmed. Maybe it just doesn’t fit time wise and/or theme wise. If you really want to get an idea of what film festivals have to go through to choose the films they’ll go with, volunteer to be a screener. It’ll be good experience and film festivals need all the help they can get.
Then there were additional costs in traveling to some of the festivals. I couldn’t make it to all of them. Sometimes you might get help with room and board from the festival. They might offer free hotel rooms or at least discounts. It never hurts to ask, if you’re planning on going. Couch surfing is a thing. I've hosted and been hosted and had good experiences. You also might look at youth hostels. I've done that before too.
So what do you get out of all that? It’s fun. I love traveling and I love movies and this is the best possible mash up. Your film finds audiences. Festivals are great places to have your film showcased. You can engage the audience, generate some buzz, and have a lot of people see your work on the big screen. Then there’s the laurels. Laurels say: this film was chosen with a select few out of the hundreds of other independent films made that year because someone thought it was worth seeing. Film festival acceptances and awards say to the average viewer that someone thought this was better than the rest.
Want to get regular updates about film, travel and whatnot? Subscribe here.