Why Should a film student apply to film festivals?
That's a great question. Most institutions do have their own festivals and it's great to be recognized amongst your peers. The biggest reason to apply to film festivals is the opportunity it provides you to network with other members of the community. In my experience networking with other filmmakers helps ideas and projects germinate.
A film festival is like an idea incubator. Actors, Directors, Writers, and Producers all in the same room at the same time. Everyone has varying degrees of experience and access to equipment. The one thing everyone shares in common is that they love making movies.
I was at a film festival about three years ago to see a horror film I was in. It was the first time any of us had seen the film and needless to say none of our hopes were very high. Midway into the screening we had all slumped into our seats after hearing "cut!" for the umpteenth time and all of us were ready for the post screening party. Even after a bad experience the only thing we could talk about over drinks was a new project.
The thing about film is that everyone always feels they can do it better the next time. The many lessons learned on one feature always inform the decisions on the next. Fast forward another twelve months and we had returned with another feature film. One we had made that germinated over drinks after the screening of the previous film. In fact I think the group of us from that film (although going separate ways) have gone on to make nearly half a dozen feature films in the three years that have passed since that film festival.
So apply to that film festival. You always need an excuse to get off campus for the night and head into New York or Los Angeles for a screening.
Brandon Ruckdashel is the Festival Director for YoungFilmmakers. He has been the Program Director for NewFilmmakers for the last three years and Marketing Director for six. Brandon is a filmmaker who is most well known for his acting work in the HBO series Co-Ed Confidential and numerous B-Movies. Brandon has worked with Roger Corman alumni Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski along with a number of other very talented directors. Brandon's Directorial debut GRINDER will be out in theaters in 2016.
YoungFilmmakers screens quarterly in New York at Anthology Film Archives. Opened in 1970 by Jonas Mekas, Jerome Hill, P. Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka, and Stan Brakhage, Anthology in its original conception was a showcase for the Essential Cinema Repertory collection. An ambitious attempt to define the art of cinema by means of a selection of films which would screen continuously, the Essential Cinema collection was intended to encourage the study of the medium’s masterworks as works of art rather than disposable entertainment, making Anthology the first museum devoted to film as an art form. The project was never completed, but even in its unfinished state it represented an uncompromising critical overview of cinema’s history, and remains a crucial part of Anthology’s exhibition program.