In concept, this documentary should be of great value to aspiring filmmakers facing the vast and often confusing world of film festivals. In reality, this production provides very little in the way of original information, let alone insider secrets.
The video is hosted by someone named Chris Arend (his festival cred is never defined), and he speaks in a monotone voice directly to the camera about the basic do’s and don’ts of festival participation. There are also interviews with the director of the Tiburon International Film Festival and with a couple of filmmakers that enjoyed a degree of festival success (including Sylvia Binsfeld, who produced this documentary).
The production may provide some elementary educational value to neophyte directors that have absolutely no clue about how the festival circuit operates – basic hints about creating a digital press kit or printing up promotional postcards are suggested as being par for the festival course. But for anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the subject, the film can be seen as merely skimming the surface.
Even worse, this film gives the impression that festivals are a mandatory right of passage for independently produced features and shorts – recent changes in the film distribution environment, especially in regard to online distribution and retailing, would suggest otherwise. Further complicating matters is the film’s amateurish presentation – Arend’s on-camera narration looks like a YouTube-style webcam monologue, while interviews with a couple of indie filmmakers sound a lot like promotional puffery.
On the plus side, however, the film recommends that its viewers seek out Chris Gore’s “Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide” for more information. Yes, we’re getting a little self-promotional here. But, hey, the Gore book is really the best way for any aspiring Tarantino to learn how to work the festival circuit – this little film won’t even help find the door, let alone get your foot inside.