Fun With Film Festivals

It’s so great to see that nearly every city has a film festival these days, some more popular than others. I love film festivals but it’s not really about the films, it’s everything else they have to offer.

by Jamie Campbell

The movies are great, obviously, the festivals showcase so many films that you probably wouldn’t get a chance to see anywhere else. It’s wonderful showing up at a screening and just getting to enjoy something different, something that probably doesn’t fit into the Hollywood cookie cutter, but something great nevertheless.

Plus, there are those movies that every screenwriting book tells you will never get made. You know the ones, they break every rule, don’t have a three act structure, and are completely insane. You wal1412649_video_camerak out of there either amazed at its awesomeness or shaking your head thinking ‘my movie is totally better’. Either way, at least you feel something.

But, as a writer, I can get so much more from the festivals than just hours of entertainment. Many festivals offer seminars on all types of interesting things, including screenwriting. You get to hear from people in the industry that are actually getting their hands dirty in the trenches, living the dream, and willing to share their story with you. This is the kind of information you can’t get anywhere else, no matter how many times you Google it.

Many festivals offer seminars on all types of interesting things, including screenwriting

It was at the Gold Coast Film Festival a few years back that I first met Karel and heard all about The Story Department. Attending his free seminar, he somehow managed to inspire me to give screenwriting a shot and completely opened up my world from just being a novelist. From that day, I haven’t looked back.

A 979536_60524147side benefit of the festivals is networking. How many times do we hear that it’s not what you know, but who? So many times I want to strangle that sentence but it’s also true so I leave it alone. Many of the filmmakers who made the movies attend the screenings. It could be the actors, the directors, producers, or the writers (sometimes all four). They are there, wanting to talk about their film, which means you can find out how they did it.

How did they get produced? How did they do it on that budget? What was the writing process? Where did the idea come from? There is so much information you can gather from the professionals that will help you with your writing. It’s guaranteed you will come away with knowing more than you did when you arrived.

They are there, wanting to talk about their film

And it’s not just the professionals you can network with. Everybody else there could be a potential filmmaker. Looking for someone to collaborate with? Someone you can endlessly talk to about your multi-million dollar alien movie that you’re writing? Someone who understands your obsession with movies? Chances are they are sitting two rows back from you to the left. Talk to everyone, see why they are there – at least you already have something in common.

So film festivals can change your life, don’t underestimate them. Get out there and join in the fun. As writers, we need to step out of our cave eventually and I can’t think of a better place to go than a festival, at least you will be amongst your people.

The Gold Coast Film Festival is currently on right now. Like, right now. Check out the full program here.

-Jamie Campbell


Jamie Campbell is an author, screenwriter, and television addict.

Jamie is proud to be an Editor for The Story Department.

Her latest spine-tingling thriller Gifted is out now.

Photo Credits: Stock XChng

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