2018 has seen great success by Dodge College alum. For graduating students with thesis films premiering this May who are interested in entering film festivals, here are tips to join the ranks of successful projects:

  • Keep it short – Think: the longer it is the better it has to be. Also, a shorter film will have more options at making it into a program, due to the time constraints faced at festivals.
  • Story over just about everything – If your story is trash, camera tricks and visual effects won’t save it. Festivals often focus more on story than over the top productions, so be critical of the other pieces that make up a film.

That said

  • Make time for sound –Everyone notices poor sound design, so make sure to get it right. Set your film apart by nailing the audio of your film or you might be denied entry.
  • Teamwork – the cast and crew that helped make your film should also be a part of the promotion of the film. This team is your most valuable ally when spreading the word about your movie. Treat them right!
  • Create a Buzz – no promotion, no audience. People won’t show up for something they don’t know about; think about a few must-haves. Must haves: a website for the film with attached social media accounts, and promotional materials (postcards, posters, swag).
  • Submit early – submitting costs money, to pay less money, submit early. Submit late, pay more. Additionally, early submission might increase your chances of being selected.
  • Maintain expectations – Sundance receives over 10,000 submissions with only 60 films in their program. Don’t be afraid to “go for it,” but be aware of your odds.

Increase your odds by

  • Knowing your fest – A wide range of film festivals exist, often focusing on a specific genre. Playing to your film’s strengths or niches will save you time and energy when submitting.
  • Be kind – With thousands of films being sent in, you can set your group apart from the pack by writing appreciation letters, being kind to festival staff, and being an all-around caring person. This one doesn’t just apply to film festivals…
  • Talk to Kevin – don’t know Kevin? Kevin Harman?! He’s the Festival and Industry Relations Specialist at Dodge College. Kevin will answer any and all questions you have about the film festival process. Schedule a consultation with him today at festivalsubmissions@chapman.edu


  • Have Fun – Don’t take this process too seriously, it’s the just rest of your career we’re talking about. But seriously, this should be a victory lap for your film, so make the most of the time and celebrate!