There are many valuable benefits when it comes to attending film festivals.

By Michael Joseph Luna

When it comes to the GI Film Festival, this would be the perfect opportunity to establish a network of U.S. military Veteran filmmaker contacts and the civilians who support them. Various individuals within the industry can help you reach your desired goals. Having business cards on hand would be ideal; make a card specifically for what you want to be known for, and I’d suggest to know your audience. Also, should a business contact give you their information, make certain to follow up with the person(s) within 72 hours after receiving it, to demonstrate your attentiveness to the contact. Attention to detail is important in the entertainment business and military veteran community.

Be sure to attend as many industry panels and film screenings that come with a Q & A. Make friends with the people who are there. They will provide valuable insights from the various individuals who have produced a film or who have worked with a specific film production company.  Furthermore, punctuality is important. Be certain to be on time to specific screenings or any scheduled events planned, to demonstrate that you take the festival with seriousness and devotion. Are you interested in submitting a project? Will you attend the PitchFest? What’s your mission?

One of the issues that may arise is the cost of attending a film festival, being that it would be too expensive. Fortunately, you’re creative and you’ll figure out a way to make it work. For example, go and volunteer at the GI Film Festival and gain a new set of skills or much needed experience. Negotiate a deal so that you can offer your volunteer services in exchange for a festival pass. Another good money saver is to purchase tickets for screenings that you would be interested in only, instead of a whole festival pass. Gather some friends and/or family together and share the costs of attending the festival. Lastly, it would be a good idea to ask others who have attended a film festival before for a “survival guide” in how to navigate through one.

Do you have a plan?

There are many assortments of activities that happen while attending the GI Film Festival. One such opportunity is that filmmakers would have the chance to greet one another face to face. Try to gather as much information about any upcoming projects that filmmakers would have, in being that you would like to be a part of them in the future. To be interesting, you must be interested. Festival sponsors and board members can have a variety of connections with whom you should make contact with. Do you have a plan? While attending a festival, if you have a film project in mind that needs a film crew for hire, the event would be a great opportunity to recruit potential crew for your production. Make friends with everyone.

While attending a film festival, who specifically would you like to talk to? One important factor to take into consideration is, who would give their full attention to you? Prior to the film festival or while there, make a listing of the specific people with whom you’d like to set a meeting. If they will help you with certain priorities, then make the effort to follow-up with them. When meeting with these individuals be sure to have questions prepared, so they will learn about specific information quickly. Always exchange ideas with many filmmakers, jury members and board members to maximize your festival experience. Integrity is key. No fluff.

It’s essential that you have a proper pitch about yourself, and the project that you’re currently developing. Time is of the essence, so be certain that you can properly explain your project in under two minutes. Many activities happen within a film festival, and you would not want to take too much of an individual’s time. Be certain to have a specific “ask” in mind when you pitch an idea. Rehearsing your pitch can be a great stress relief before you actually pitch. You must have solid knowledge of what you’re saying.

Michael Joseph Luna | Filmmaker, Fresno CAAbout The Author:

My name is Michael Joseph Luna, I’m a civilian and I’m a filmmaker who lives in California. I’d love to connect with our U.S. Military Veteran community and learn about more of these powerful stories. The GI Film Festival has inspired me to help “Bridge the Gap” between Veterans and civilians.