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Hold a Private Screening for Your Digital Film

Today, it’s easier than ever to hold a private screening for your DSLR film. Sophisticated big-screen televisions with HD are everywhere, along with multiple speaker surround-sound stereo and some really good snacks. That makes it pretty easy to host movie night at your place and may even have advantages of going to a movie theater.

To make the experience for you and your guests as good as possible, consider the following suggestions:

  • Send out invitations. Make that screening a memorable event by formally inviting your guests. Family, friends, and guests will know it’s something that you’re taking seriously.

  • Create a movie poster. Choose a still frame from the movie, a photograph from set, or a portrait of one of your actors. Using Adobe Photoshop Elements, add some text and effects to make a photo-quality print.

  • Produce a full-featured DVD. It’s easy these days to make a professional-looking DVD with inexpensive, or even bundled software like iDVD. You can even break down chapters or markers in case you need to go back to key scenes later. Give your audience a real DVD feel with alternate takes, bloopers, and even commentary if you so desire.

  • Turn the lights out and movie on. That means be ready to roll. Don’t scroll through discs, tapes, or files when everyone is sitting around waiting for the movie to come on.

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Create a virtual film screening

Using an online video site, you can upload your movie and send invitations via a link. You can create a private link and decide who sees it, or make it public and hope the video picks up a following.

Check out the following online sites:

  • Blip.tv: A video-sharing service aimed at users looking to produce web shows as opposed to uploading viral-video content. In addition, it includes revenue sharing to help independent producers make money from advertising revenue.

  • Vimeo: With an anagram that spells movie, this video-sharing site with heavy emphasis on independent filmmakers allows users to upload, share, and view content. But unlike some other sites, all content uploaded to Vimeo must be original and non-commercial.

  • YouTube: The most common of the video-sharing sites, it lets users upload, share, and view videos in a variety of formats, including HD. You can even upload 3D video.

According to a 2011 study by Cisco, Inc., more content hours are uploaded to YouTube in a 60-day period than the three major U.S. television networks have created in 60 years. Online video sites also provide a community aspect. Not only can you get your video seen, but there are countless people who can give you advice and feedback.

Film festivals

One of the dirty little secrets of the movie business surrounds how films are found, bought, and sold. Film festivals and competitions play more of a part than what the public assumes. Although most of the major film festivals qualify as a competition, you’ll want to start small. This means enter it in competition that is likely to accept your work, and doesn't demand an enormous entry fee.

It’s a little bit like applying to college. Some take you and others reject you, and it’s not always about you. So when it comes to determining the best one to get you recognized as a filmmaker, consider the following advice:

  • Know your audience. Every festival has its own flavor, evident in what it prefers and accepts. Some cover a range of styles, genres, and subject matters when it comes to submissions, whereas others are more theme-specific. Do your homework before submitting.

  • Finding a festival. The more you research each festival, the better your chances of being accepted. If you work in a specific genre, try to find festivals and competitions that support it. If it’s your first film, and you’re still learning the craft, try not to jump right into a big competition only to find out it wasn’t right for you, not to mention the rejection factor.

  • Submit your film. Be sure to follow festival guidelines regarding file size, format, and method of delivery. Make sure it arrives on time. Remember, sending the wrong format can diminish your hopes of your film being accepted.

  • Keep track of your submissions. Keep a calendar of deadlines and what you’ve sent. Be on alert for phone calls, e-mails, and postal delivery regarding their decision. Once a festival has accepted your work, it may also wish to invite you to attend, request a bio, or ask you to submit a poster. With some rejections come a review. At least you can learn something from a thoughtful rejection.

  • Read the fine print. Details may include regulations and disclaimers ranging from what other festival you can enter, exclusivity, and their use of your material.

  • Go to festivals. The more connected you are with the flavor of each festival, the better your chances for having your film accepted and screened. In addition, you can learn something from other filmmakers.

  • Consider online festivals. These days, online festivals reach a wide audience, so consider them along with the festivals dedicated to a place.

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