How To Write A Cover Letter For Alternative Film/Video (And Other Film Festivals As Well)

As a filmmaker, you need to make sure that people are interested in watching your works. Ensuring that your film is shown as festivals can make a big difference. While you may have the greatest film known to man, it won’t matter if people don’t watch it. With that being said, you need to go above and beyond to make sure that film festivals are willing to screen your movies. This is why you need to craft the perfect film festival cover letter to get the organizer interested in your film. There is a myth that nobody reads cover letters, but this isn’t the case.


We read a lot of cover letters at Alternative Film/Video festival every year. We see common mistakes made by filmmakers. These easy to fix errors sometimes make a bad first impression on your films. So why not fix them? In our opinion, getting a better cover letter will not only benefit you but us as well. Below, you’re going to find tips for creating a fascinating cover letter that will encourage organizers to screen your movie without hesitation. We hope to see great cover letters being sent to Alternative Film/Video next year!


Understand The Purpose


First and foremost, you need to understand the purpose of the cover letter. You may think it is about presenting your film to the reader, but it is not. Instead, you should use the letter to market yourself. You need to use the letter to convince the reader that you’re someone who needs to be connected to the festival. Festival directors want to make sure that the audience can connect with the films and presenters.

So, they’re going to pay close attention to the films and filmmakers that they choose. So, you should use the letter to tell the director something about you. Let them know why they need you to be a part of their festival.


Always Be Honest


Most directors have experience working with independent filmmakers. They know what to expect from and how to handle these individuals. So, if you are not honest, the director will catch on pretty quickly. Being honest is the best policy, even if you are feeling a little desperate at this point. Of course, you do not want to show your desperation in your cover letter either because this would be a major turnoff for the direction.


Just be honest with yourself and the director. This will secure your film a position at the upcoming film festival.


Be Expressive


A significant mistake that many filmmakers make when writing a cover letter is not practicing expressive writing. What exactly is expressive writing? It is a type of writing that allows the author to express themselves about different topics. In this case, the cover letter will be utilized to show the director how you feel about your film.


Don’t Drag It Out


While you can guarantee that someone is going to read your letter, they’re not going to read it for hours on end. So, you can’t write an essay. You need to keep the cover letter concise and straight to the point. Write the letter as short as you can. Then, it would help if you let a friend read it and make it shorter.


You should be considerate and avoid overusing the director’s time. Get your point across as quickly as possible, and you’ll gain points with the director.


Keep It Personal


Again, you should use the film festival cover letter to tell the reader about you and your story. Furthermore, you’ll want to connect with the reader. You likely know something about the festival director, the festival, and its history. So, you’ll want to use this information to your advantage. When writing your letter, you should touch on these things.


Write about things that prove you’re interested and know a lot about the festival. Address the director using his or her name and tell them why you’re a good fit. Prove that you’re familiar with the festival, and it’ll show that you’re not haphazardly submitting cover letters to countless festivals.


Persuade the reader that your primary goal is to play the festival in question, and they’ll likely screen your film.


Write It Down


Once you’ve assembled everything you need, it is time to write it down. This will be your first draft, so it doesn’t need to be perfect. Address the director by their name and immediately show that you’re genuinely interested in the festival. Then, you should introduce yourself and your film. Try to connect your film to previous movies screened at the festival.


This will show the director that your film will likely be a hit with the audience. Finally, it is wise to thank the director for taking the time to read your letter before signing your name at the bottom. Keep it short, and be grateful that the director is reading your message.


What Not To Do


Ultimately, your cover letter will either make or break your chances. If you use the wrong techniques, you’re going to ruin your chances immediately. It is vital to avoid making critical mistakes along the way. Below, you’ll learn more about things you should avoid when writing a film festival cover letter.


Don’t Boast


While you should tell the director about prior experiences, you shouldn’t boast. Don’t say that your film is the best thing ever or that you’re better than everyone else. If you’re too arrogant, the director will know it and leave you out of the festival.


Don’t Ramble


Again, it is vital to keep your cover letter short and straight to the point. If you begin rambling, there is a good chance that the director will stop reading and move on. Don’t add anything considered unnecessary.


Don’t Be Random


Finally, you should be careful when submitting cover letters. You should be strategic and careful. If you submit to too many festivals, you’re going to be wasting your time. Find festivals that are a good match for you and your film. Ensure that the audience works for you and that your film falls into the festival’s genre of choice.


Do You Want To Use As An Ad?


While it is not always good to utilize a cover letter as an advertisement, some filmmakers like to step out of the norm. If this is something you are interested in, you will need to take precautions when writing your cover letter. It is crucial not to be blatant when going this route. Utilizing the right terminology while avoiding anything representing an advertisement is the only way to pull this off. Fortunately, it does not require special skills or experience. But, you need to show the director that you know the ends and outs, as well as all of the fine details of your film.