Getting ready to submit your film to festivals? Alumna Amanda Presmyk (B.A. Film & Media Arts and B.A. Journalism ’14), VP of production at Cinestate and director of operations for the Oak Cliff Film Festival, has some tips for you.

Presmyk has six years of experience in feature, television and commercial producing. Now in her fourth year with the Oak Cliff Film Festival, she offers a few film festival do’s and don’ts to help you get ready to submit your film:

DON’T just submit to whatever film festivals pop up on FilmFreeway or have cheap submission rates. The “spray and pray” method is the wrong approach and will burn through your submissions budget quickly and ineffectively. 

Texas Theatre Dallas SMU Film festDO research the festivals. There are thousands of fests across the country and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses and often its own focus. There are genre fests, LGBTQ fests, experimental fests, alternative content fests, female film fests, etc. Be thoughtful, narrow it down to a number of festivals that you truly think are a good fit, and go from there!

DON’T be afraid to reach out to a festival directly to request a submission fee waiver or discount. It doesn’t always work, but the worst they can say is no! This is a good way to stretch your festival submission budget further.

DON’T be afraid to submit a rough cut if a deadline is approaching if you just need another few weeks to put the finishing touches on your film. Film programmers are film lovers and filmmakers. They know how to look past unfinished elements and are eager to get their program locked by a certain time. They would rather have an awesome film submitted on time with rough titles and temp audio than receive an awesome film two weeks too late!

DO attend your local film festivals, whether or not your film is selected. Every single person attending a festival is your potential new best friend/creative collaborator/mentor/colleague/crew person/teacher/financier/developer/writer/actor. Go and bask in the glory of being surrounded by people who share your passion and let that energy inform your future work!

DO volunteer at film festivals. I started my involvement with the Oak Cliff Film Festival by hanging around and insisting I wanted to be involved. You can get many of the same benefits (networking, exposure, watching great films) that you would get if your film was being shown, potentially years before you have a film accepted in a festival.

Amanda Presmyk earned a B.A. in Film & Media Arts and a B.A. in Journalism from SMU Meadows School of the Arts in 2014. During her time as a student, she worked on two feature-length films in Meadows’ Summer Film Production program, in which students produce films they then promote via film festivals.

Read more about SMU Meadows Division of Film & Media Arts undergraduate and graduate programs.

Want more? Four festival-savvy Meadows film alums give advice in the article “It’s a Wrap! Now What?”