You’re an independent filmmaker and after many months or even years of work, your baby… your film… is almost ready to meet the world. Now the work of shopping it to film festivals and getting it into exhibition shape begins. What improvements will give you the biggest bang for your buck? What kind of deliverable will you need to submit and exhibit your film?
So how can we help? This quote, from the Videomaker article, spells it out quite clearly: “While many festivals say they accept a work-in-progress, don't waste your money sending rough cuts and early edits. Unless you know the festival programmer or director, you need to send a highly polished, color corrected edit complete with audio cleanup and sweetening.”
A quality post-production facility can provide color correction, sound design and mix either before submission to festivals or once the film has been accepted but before deliverables are due for exhibition. While giving the film attention in these areas before submission will likely increase your chances of acceptance, we understand that it’s not always feasible, either due to budget concerns or timing issues. You may instead choose a hybrid approach, tackling problematic or particularly important scenes before submission and working on the rest after acceptance. Keep in mind that if you think your film could benefit from a pass through color and/or sound departments, you will need to budget time for these processes. Specifically, you’ll need to budget time for the actual color and sound work as well as approval time and time to cut the new audio and color into your film timeline. Don’t forget time to output deliverables as well.
Post-production experts will work with you to review your film, the specifications of the festivals to which you want to submit, and talk with you about your needs and creative goals. Then those experts will come up with a plan that works best for you, your timeline and your budget.
Be sure to put your best foot forward when it comes to deliverables. The post-production facility should be able to create watermarked digital copies of your film or high quality DVD screeners with printed labels to help make your film stand out in the crowd of submissions. If you’re accepted, experts can create digital cinema package (DCP) files and Blu-ray discs of your film and QC the work to ensure that your film plays back perfectly. A high quality post-production facility can also meet the needs of different festivals by providing files in a wide variety of resolutions and codecs. Lastly, you may need to convert your film to PAL from NTSC or vice versa if you’re submitting to international festivals.
If you’re a filmmaker who perhaps doesn’t have a strong post-production house near your home, reach out to some of the festivals being considered and see if they can refer a preferred vendor. Many post-production facilities, Henninger included, can provide great service even if reviews need to happen remotely. Sometimes having a post-production option close to the festival can be helpful.
A goal of a post-production facility is to do whatever is necessary to help your film stand out amongst the thousands of submissions a large film festival can garner and make sure that when it has its moment on the big screen, it shines.