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Why You Should Consider Volunteering at Film Festivals

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Film-makers around the globe are trying their best to make their mark. The growing number of submissions made by film-makers, especially at major film festivals are making the grounds more and more competitive. This growing competition is hereby making it difficult for most filmmakers to be able to get their films submitted at these festivals. However, another way to learn and get into the ideal film festival is to try and get yourself a volunteering opportunity.

Growing film-festivals always require volunteers and are always looking to hire. This is comparatively much less competitive and also works as a great way to make acquaintances.

One of the main things to bear in mind is that attending a film festival as a guest can be pretty expensive. Sundance and SXSW full badge or pass could cost you something above 1000 USD on average. This way, volunteering makes your entrance free of charge, but, you will have to work. The bright side to this is that most film festivals give their volunteers a free pass that they can use on their days off. Use this time to check out the film panels and more.

This is also one of the best ways to meet the staff, programmers, and organizers of the film festivals (and films too!). These film festivals are so immersive that you will find yourself spending an average of 16 hours a day with the same people over the course of a weekend. Making it a lot easier to make strong connections with the people you’re interested in.

While at the film festival, you will get the opportunity of getting a glimpse of what kind of films perform better there (features, shorts, or other series). This will help you understand if your project is a good fit for the film-festival or if you need to make changes in your project, or even look for other places that are more aligned to your project.

Volunteering is a great way to make connections as they usually involve a healthy mix of people with multi-cultural backgrounds. People are constantly intermingling and introducing themselves and, remember - most volunteers there are also doing exactly what you’re doing!

Volunteering at film festivals have also been one of the ways most people get employed in the film industry with different production houses etc. Some of the volunteers even become programmers and festival directors in under 5 years. So get out, and get going! You might be able to make a career out of it, or if not; a bigger and better role.

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