Film Threat archive logo


By Heidi Van Lier | March 14, 2011

What the f**k do I do with a movie that festivals aren’t taking?

So you’ve been through the pain and agony of a year of rejection and now all you’re left with is a tapped-out bank account and film that only your friends have seen…and they maybe didn’t even like it!

Guess what? There’s actually still hope for your film…and maybe even for you personally, but don’t hold your breath. Ok, so you probably won’t be screening at Laemmle or the Angelika but that doesn’t mean your film won’t find an audience and it also doesn’t mean you won’t still make some of your money back, maybe even all of it (if you were smart and read the section of my book that talks about under-budgeting).

Here are some ideas and tricks to get you back to finding your audience:

  1. First look at what your film is actually about. If it’s about street bicyclists in Australia you now have 3 areas to focus on.
  2. Find your niche or niches on the internet.
  3. Market directly to those groups and sites.
  4. Email the founders of the groups and sites and ask if you can have them send out an email about a screening or set up an event screening with them.
  5. Join the groups if you have to, get involved.
  6. Set up event screenings with as many different groups that are part of your niche as possible. You can split the profits with the group or a charity relating to them. You make money, they make money – Duh!
  7. Put together your own site that markets to your base. Sell your DVDs on the site, and also lay out exactly how groups can have screenings and profit-share.
  8. Or…go another route and market to schools. (There is a whole distribution market out there just for schools. They pay a lot more per copy.)
  9. You can still rent screening rooms and screen your film yourself, but really, what’s the point? (I say DVD, On Demand, and streaming is a way better way to make money. Less money up, more money back.)
  10. You can stream your feature in reels, and make them episodes. Set up a website and have people get subscriptions.
  11. You can do what the film “CRAWFORD” apparently did. (I heard Chris Holland tell this story on a panel once.) Where they had people have party screenings all at the same time right before the second Bush election.
  12. Or you can do what I’m doing, which is put your film on a shelf never to be seen from again. (Fine, I have too much weird pride to do that.)
  13. You can use your remaining DVDs as cute little sushi plates, you know for the next time you hand-roll your own sushi.
  14. You can set up screenings at art-house theaters across the country and bring your cast in. Make a Q & A out of it, sign stuff for the audience, sell that stuff.
  15. You can throw screening parties yourself, where the party is the screening and then just ask for donations. (Yeah, this makes me feel weird too.)
  16. There are these blow-up rental screens that you can put on a beach or in a field and have screenings. (Not sure how you make money off this, but at least you’ll have an audience.)
  17. You can completely recut your film and submit to all the festivals all over again. Just make sure this is allowed, some festivals don’t like this.
  18. You can still try and get a smaller distributor to look at your film, and rep it to schools, and DVD, and On Demand. Ashley Sabin and David Redmon have been doing this with some decent success and their company Carnivalesque Films.
  19. Sit back and watch your porn, just let time pass. (A little bird suggested this.)
  20. Shut the hell up and just go make another movie. (Fine, I will.)

Yeah, see? There’s still kinda some hope for you and your film! Best of luck with that.

(Everyone’s at SX now, and I’m horribly jealous sitting here in Los Angeles.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Don R. Lewis says:

    Great stuff, Heidi! I’m currently taking our massively rejected doc on the road and found this handy-dandy site that has a listing of independent theaters and such that might book your film:


    Also…everyone should go to my site and buy a shirt and/or thong:

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon