Step 1 (Optional): Get dumped. ^ Although not necessary, a devastating blow to your ego and soul can be just the motivation to put these steps into proper motion. Also, a film festival is a perfect divertissement with a plethora of entertainment options (a number of films to chose from, parties, and possibly even forums and seminars) and gets you “out of the house” as all of your friends keep whining at you to do.
Step 2: Choose your festival. ^ If you’re following step one, then you might just pick the festival nearest your dumpage you can handle. Then again, if your first choice is the All Holocaust Documentary Film Festival you might want to wait for something who’s content is a little less harrowing. (Then again, if that’s what you’re into you might as well go with it.) If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with a number of options geared towards specific interests and lifestyles then you can fine tune your approach. Otherwise, the following steps will help you attract exactly the kind of people you want to meet regardless of your viewing options.
Step 3: Get a pass. ^ This is to ensure that you see the most films possible and maximize your chances for meeting Miss or Mr. Right. The less money you have to spend to accomplish this step the better. Many festivals require volunteers to help with everything from administration to serving the popcorn and will often compensate said volunteers with full passes or tickets to screenings. Volunteering is also a good option if you can spare the time as it gives you another chance to meet new people with similar interests (those being movies, film and cinema). Another option is to offer to write reviews for a local paper or a website you like. Depending on the festival, acquiring press accreditation can be quite easy, or a bit of a pain, but in general most festivals welcome increased exposure and will welcome you with open arms. Your other option of course is to make a film and submit it to the festival. Do what you have to.
Step 4: Wait. ^ Regardless of how smoothly any festival is run, this step is likely inevitable. You will wait in line to buy tickets or passes. You will wait in line to get into a movie. You will wait in line for food at the theater. You will wait inside the theater for the film to start or for the director to end his long winded not very informative introductions that only really applies to the five people in the first row who worked on the film with him. Take advantage of this time and don’t be afraid to start conversations with your fellow “waiters.” (But seriously, don’t talk while the filmmaker is talking, regardless of how long winded he is. That’s just rude.)
Step 5: Take advantage of built in opening lines. ^ There will be tons of them and you yourself will hear them often. These lines do not necessarily mean that you are hitting on someone/they are hitting on you, but serve as perfect ice breakers. Examples: “Have you heard much about (film you are about to see)?” “Been to many films so far?” “Seen anything good/interesting/funny/sad/scary etc. so far?” “Do you know much about (blank) director/actor/genre/country films?” You get the idea. Regardless of whether or not the person you are speaking with can actually answer the question in the affirmative, you have just started a conversation. For better or for worse, just roll with it (in case of “worse,” see step 7).
Step 6: Dress to impress. ^ This is to help with steps 4 and 5. Try to wear your interests and personality on your sleeve: literally. This makes you approachable and gives people who want to approach you an opening. T-shirts and hoodies with catchy slogans or moments/ideas from your favourite movies are good options, just make sure they don’t have holes/giant ketchup stains on them. (Washing them before you wear them also helps.) Other options: a dapper hat, a good jacket, a nifty bag, patches, buttons and pins. References to films/other interests will also help differentiate between those who “get it” and those who don’t. (Case in point: the girl at the Krispy Kreme who looked at my “Night of the Living Dead” patch and exclaimed, “Hey, it’s Avril Lavine.”) Avoid conversation with these people like the plague as it will only lead to throbbing head pain.
Step 7: Bring props. ^ An extension of step 6, this is also handy for avoiding “those who don’t.” A book or magazine can serve as an opening, or as a way to ignore people you’d rather not talk to. Other good ideas: snacks to share (this is especially good if you made them yourself as it gives you a chance to showcase your domestic skills, marginally more impressive if you are male), a deck of cards, or pen and paper for tick-tack-toe.
Step 8: Get business cards. ^ It doesn’t really matter if you actually do anything or not, just make sure they have your name on them and some contact information (phone, email, whatever you’re comfortable with). You can even make them yourself on the computer and customize them with cute little graphics etc. This not only eliminates the awkward “hey, let me find a pen to scribble on this wrinkled piece of lint I just found in my pocket” moment, it also makes you look professional. Hey, it’s the early stages, they don’t need to know the truth yet.
Step 9: Take advantage of the other festival related functions. ^ Most festivals will have various parties, seminar, panels and other functions scattered throughout the proceedings. Do what you can to weasel your way in, and schmooze, schmooze, schmooze. Again, refer to step 5 when you’re stuck.
Step 10: Follow up. ^ Okay, so the festival’s over, you’ve barely slept and your eyes feel like they’re going to fall out from all the amazing (or not so amazing) films they’ve absorbed. Take a brief moment to massage the kinks out of your poor abused posterior, then sift through that pile of business cards you’ve no doubt accumulated and start making contacts. Regardless of whether these steps actually garner you a date you’ve no doubt had fun, met some new people and had some good conversations. Also, hanging out with new friends expands your social circle, which in turn expands the date finding field. If you do manage to get a date, best to keep things casual, maybe suggest coffee or a drink. Or, you could go see a movie.