Thursday, September 1, 2011

How not to disgrace your homeland at a festival.

Ah, film festivals. They're like alcohol-soaked minefields dotted with really interesting presentations, famous people and the odd film.

In a fit of insanity I've decided to go to Moondance and collect my award in person. This means travelling for two days total in order to spend three days in Boulder, but hey. I've never been to Colorado!

As I'm also going to Texas at the end of October to attend the Austin Film Festival for the third time, I thought I'd write something about going to festivals. What are the do's and don't's and what should you do to prepare for them?

Here are my top five tips - but I'd welcome more thoughts on this!

1. Look at the festival lineup as early as possible and decide what events you're going to attend. There's usually a lot on, and you may need to prioritise workshops/drinks receptions etc.

2. Also examine the list of people attending, if it's available. I'm not necessarily saying you should target people, but it's a good idea to see if there's a big writer/director/producer/whatever that you'd like to chat to for a few minutes, and maybe try and buy them a beer.

3. Stay up! The best conversation comes at 3am in a bar when everyone's forgetten that they earn a million per picture and you've a screenwriting minnow who once optioned a script for 5 grand. And get up early to make sure you hit the morning workshops. Basically, I get no sleep at film festivals - and I wouldn't have it any other way.

4. Do not get drunk. BIG mistake - you'll be that drunk person everyone remembers. Especially if you're Irish - you just end up fulfilling people's cultural stereotypes. Spanish people shout, German people eat sausage, Irish people get blackout drunk. Don't be one of those people!

5. Don't have any huge, unrealistic expectations. You may not (probably won't) get an agent or sell a script for big money. (Sell a script at all and you deserve major kudos!) Just go along, talk to people and have fun. Learn loads. And make sure you write descriptions of people you meet on the back of their business card so you remember who's who. Otherwise you'll have loads of cards and no idea who anyone is afterwards.

Oh, and if you go to Austin, make sure you visit the taco truck that serves amazing Mexican food on South Congress Avenue. Their burritos cost two dollars but are better than any restaurant.

Happy networking!

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