Making And Submitting Your Indie Film To Film Festivals Online: All You Need To Know

Indie Filmmaker

Legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick once said, “Almost anything can be filmed”. Some of his most famous works include The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Films are no longer made with millions of dollars, by big studios, or with the backing of notable stars. Probably a decade back, if you were to tell people that a mobile phone is all you need to make a film, people would’ve laughed at us. But now, things changed, and so did technology. 

If you are still waiting for the right equipment and lavish budget to make your first move, you are falling back on your dream. Go, get up, write your story, consider your budget, find a passionate team, and get rolling. If the doors don’t open for you, break them and disrupt the status quo. Because that’s what big dreamers do – they make things happen their way. If you are an aspiring or an independent filmmaker– in this blog – you are going to know about submitting your film to film festivals online, points to consider before indie filmmaking and a lot more insights.

What Are Short Films?

According to books, a short film is any film that lasts less than 40 minutes. Far away from the glamor and glitz of commercial cinema, short films breathe fresh air by infusing new stories and perspectives. Over the decade, short films have been helping aspiring filmmakers to seal their projects, as they help producers to see what they are capable of.

What Are Indie Films?

You don’t have a mainstream star in your film. You don’t have millions of budget in your bag to shoot what you want. Yet, you don’t fall back and find your way to get the film on floors. It’s what you call a true Indie spirit. Many aspiring filmmakers perceive indie films as a pathway to pursue their creativity. 

Soul Of Every Indie Film

If you have signed up with a film studio, you’d have the luxury of a production executive to help you with shoot planning, and someone from the production team for budgeting assistance. Whereas now, it all comes back to you; you gotta figure out and mend the ways.

Nevertheless, you’ll enjoy the process as it teaches you a lot. There are so many best independent filmmakers out there who broke barriers to getting what they want. 

Below are three important commandments you should seriously consider and plan before making your indie film.

1) Script:

Story and screenplay are like the soul of this project. What is the tale that you are going to tell? What is the need to tell this story? Think deeply about these questions. Because content is everything. Also, since you know your limitations, ensure there are no exotic locations, CGI works, high-budget action sequences, etc. But remember to make your script impactful.

2) Production Budget:

If I had to suggest, write your story keeping the minimal budget in mind.

Limit the number of locations you choose. Taking pictures in multiple cities is not a good idea. Avoid writing action scenes that are too over the top. And the budget does not just include shooting alone. Taking pre-production, camera lenses, lighting, editing, dubbing, DI, mixing, and more into account is also important.

3) Cast:

Finding the right actors is half the work done. But to get it done – especially when you don’t have studio backing or budget – is the task here. There are lots of aspiring actors out there. Search in theater clubs, acting schools, social media, and wherever you can. Scout them. Take auditions. And finalize the passionate ones. Do remember to tell them about your indie film and how the journey won’t be as how they perceive it, yet it’d be rewarding in the end.

7 Surefire Tips You Need To Make An Indie Film

As an indie filmmaker doesn’t get the “usual” privileges that other directors get, here are a few handy tips and boxes that you need to tick in the process of making and directing your indie movie:

  • Story Is Everything:

All indie films are backed by a strong and original script. So should be yours. Consider your creative choices. Choose your genre. Limit your characters and locations. Plan more scenes in the day as you get natural lighting. And write an amazing script.

  • Planning Your Budget:

Once you’ve locked in the final draft, start mind mapping your budget which includes pay (if any) for cast and crew, camera equipment, lens, locations, food, and the whole of post-production. Work with people who are passionate enough to propel your project forward, despite the practical limitations.

  • Find Your Tribe:

Your crew are the most important people as they’re gonna believe and be with you until the film is done. A DOP, music director, editor, AD’s, colorist, sound designer, and makeup artist are some of the key crew members. Make sure they are well-versed technically to take your film to the next level. A good crew is essential, and you should not compromise with them.

  • Save Money With The Right Cast:

As you don’t have the liberty to cast actors with a high pay scale, you need to check out other viable options. Passionate actors can make a huge difference in making an indie film. They acknowledge your situation, accept it as a challenge to give their best performances, and share responsibilities. 

  • Plan In Advance:

Planning and pre-production are everything for an indie film. Because every penny counts. Before you start shooting, ensure the shot division, costumes, camera, lenses, shooting schedules, inform actors, and everything is ready beforehand. Have a Plan B. Have a Plan C. The shoot needs to go on, no matter what.

  • Post-Production Is The Key:

A film gets made in the editing table. And sound design is another underrated aspect of filmmaking. Make no compromises when it comes to sound design. Other areas of post-production include dubbing, background score, recording, color correction, and final mix to get the final output.

  • Find The Right Festivals:

For an indie film, film festivals across the world are gold in disguise. Now that you’ve made the film, list down the festivals you are going to submit your film. Take your film to the right audience. Who knows, you could be lucky enough to find your independent film distribution there. Explore all options. Pounce on every opportunity.

8 Incredible Tips For Submitting Your Indie Film To Festivals

Film festivals don’t just happen to showcase films from across the world, they also provide an opportunity to screen indie films with strong content, create publicity, and connect you with potential buyers. 

Apart from the exposure you get, the people you meet from the cinema business, and the experience you gain, indie filmmakers also get cash rewards and the opportunity to network with the who’s who of the industry. Here are some tips for submitting your indie film to festivals:

  • Know Your Film Festivals online:

Do not apply to all that comes your way. Be careful about what festivals you decide to send, because it is a time-consuming process. Also, all film festivals aren’t free to submit. Some charge an amount. Do your research. Know which festivals encourage new filmmakers, and choose wisely.

  • Submit With Proper Details:

Synopsis, relevant documents, cast and crew details are some details that are to be submitted. Make sure you fill in the details right so there are no lapses in communication.

  • Keep It Short And Sweet:

You are not the only filmmaker submitting to film festivals. There will be lots. So, keep your words (synopsis, bio, etc.) precise. Preferably, a one-pager would be a good length.

  • Connect With Organizers:

It’s always beneficial to have a personal connection with some coordinator of every film festivals online that you submit. Read about the festival and know the names. Try networking with them – so they know you beforehand – even before seeing your film.

  • On The Large Screen:

The moment you’ve been waiting for. Save your world premiere for the perfect film festival of your choice. Any film, mostly, gets only one world premiere film festivals online. And it comes with a lot of marketing efforts. Make it worthwhile.

  • Submitting Your Film:

How are you going to send the film? If it’s physical (via a pen drive, hard disk, or DVD), make sure it is packaged properly. If you are submitting online, Vimeo or YouTube private links are some options for organizers to access your film.

  • Don’t Stay In Touch, Always:

Follow-up and networking are crucial. Overdoing it isn’t. Know where to draw the line. The organizers would be receiving so many entries already. Don’t add up their burden.

  • Believe In You And Your Film:

A film festival not shortlisting your film is perfectly fine. Maybe that’s not your day. Maybe that’s not your festival. Do not let this rejection stop you from applying further. Be so confident that you made a fantastic film. You never know when the rainbow will rise on your cloud. Hang on with hope. 


Would you believe it if I said Christopher Nolan made his first feature film “Following” with just a budget of $6000? ‘Tangerine’, an indie film made entirely with an iPhone, premiered at Sundance Film Festival? Would you believe that?

As you read this, another indie film from our own country has been shortlisted for the 2023 Oscars, titled “Chhello Show.”

From getting your movie seen to be generated hype around it and finding a potential buyer to distribute your film, so much happens at film festivals.

All you need to do is write a great script; keep the budget in mind, surpass all the barriers and shoot, make a great movie, and film festivals are always there to take the best indie filmmakers into the mainstream. It has happened before. And it will happen to you too.

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