It’s your dream: having your film featured at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s a beautiful dream, and one that takes a lot of hard work and a dash of luck to be realized. It’s not impossible, but the competition is intense, and you need to bring you’re A-game. Here are some things you should consider before submitting your film to Sundance.
1) Originality is key
Humans love telling stories. We’ve been telling them for so long, it can seem like they’ve become repetitive. Some of them have, but that shouldn’t scare you.
Having an original story is key to your film getting noticed. Embrace your own voice and find an authentic way to depict your film. Be brave, take risks, and put your film’s heart out there.
2) Don’t submit anything less than your best
When submitting your film to Sundance, it has to be whole. But whole doesn’t mean 100 percent done. You don’t need to be completely finished with post-production, but your work does have to be fully realized. As a filmmaker, you know a project can take on a life of its own, growing, evolving, and shifting in focus or tone as you work. Your film should be in the final stages of evolution before you submit it, or else you risk submitting a project you’ll have abandoned come screening time.
3) Rules, rules, rules
This seems like common sense, but some filmmakers get so swept up in the excitement of the festival that they don’t read the rules. Before you submit anything to Sundance, spend a good amount of time on their website. Learn all the important information, like your deadlines, fees, the rules and regulations, and read over the FAQs. Get familiar with these rules so you know if your film is, a) a good fit, and b) ready for submission.
4) Stick to your story
Winning films are brave and bold, and they aren’t afraid to take risks. But don’t let your film get swallowed up by the risks you take. Your story still needs to shine through. You may want to experiment with form, but if you want your project to resonate, remember that your story has to complement the stylistic choices you’re making. There’s nothing wrong with formal experimentation, but without a solid story backing it up, it can feel hollow. Remember to be brave and stay true to your voice, and you’ll be that much closer to success.