When is the best moment to release your short online?

 

One of the recurring questions of filmmakers is, if and when their short should be published on video-sharing websites. When it comes to festival submissions, indeed some festivals do not consider films which are already available online, especially world- or international premiere festivals. Nevertheless, many filmmakers don’t know that publishing does not necessarily impact their submission options negatively, since actually at least 70% of the important festivals do accept films which already have been released on the internet. But you need to find out which ones. For instance, Sundance, Tampere Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival have lately awarded shorts that already have been published. 

Keep all the balls in the air

In order to maximize the number of views, it pays off to have both - a festival run and an online release. It’s essential to create a solid strategy in advance. In most cases the online premiere should be held about six months to up to two years after your film is completed, depending on your festival goals, the content and the genre of your film. After a while you can juggle with the festivals AND the video-sharing sites, and keep them in the air at the same time.

Before publishing, come up with a meticulously planned marketing strategy which you can follow through. A key point is to decide where to release your short. There is no need to be loyal to one platform. The more sites you distribute on, the higher the chance is to reach out to a wider audience. Vimeo with its strong filmmaking community, Short of the Week or Nowness are all suitable for your film’s online premiere. Plus uploading the film directly to your film's facebook page and mobilizing your friends, family members, cast and crew will help to spread the word on social media. 

Festival first? Online first? Or both?

Festival first: Have a look at Fela and Etienne’s spectacular HYPERTRAIN, produced in 2016. After planning the festival premiere carefully, the film got screened at over 60 festivals and won several awards. Now in April 2018 the Swiss animation celebrated its Vimeo Staff Pick, and even continues its successful festival run. Watch HYPERTRAIN

Online first: However, you don’t necessarily have to hold off with uploading your video until you are finished with the festival circuit. Remember that music videos also go online right away, but still can make a decent career at festivals e.g. like our THROUGH MY STREET. Watch THROUGH MY STREET

 

This strategy can work for short films as well, just like it did for MARIE’S DICTIONARY. This insightful documentary by Global Oneness Project was launched on Youtube, Vimeo and other platforms in 2014, and was featured by Short of the Week. The festival premiere was in 2015, and the film  screened e.g. at the Oscar-qualifying Seattle International Film Festival and Traverse City Film Festival. As we followed a diverse and broad strategy, MARIE’S DICTIONARY also got presented at specific ethnographic and anthropological events, such as Montréal First Peoples Festival and Antropofest. Watch MARIE’S DICTIONARY

 

Another simmilar strategy was applied by our Indian member, Devashish Makhija. His hilarious short TAANDAV held an early Youtube premiere and already went viral with over 2 million views, once it got programmed by Tampere Film Festival. Watch TAANDAV

It’s not easy but you don’t have to make all the decisions alone

Having your film already published online or not, FestivalWhizz helps you while navigating between festivals by providing you with personalised advices. We collected some CASES for festival strategies, for you to decide if you want to start big or go broader. When starting your film’s festival run with FestivalWhizz, you set if your film is online or not, and you can always update this status if you decide to publish your film at a later point. Our algorithm will consider the new status and provide your next festival list excluding festivals which don’t allow films to be online. This way FestivalWhizz enables an easy and efficient planning of your distribution strategy and a smooth transit from unpublished to published, and still keeps the festivals running. 

 

by Lilla Puskás

2018 © FestivalWhizz / CUT-UP GmbH, Switzerland. Free for fair use: if you quote, credit.