You’ve finally done it. You’ve made a film — most likely a short — and you’ve been accepted to your first film festival. So, what should you expect? Well, first thing’s first. I don’t want to burst your bubble (after all, getting screened at a film festival is a big deal — it really is) but it’s important not to have any illusions about what this means for you as a filmmaker.
Getting into a festival is like any other career achievement. It’s something to enjoy; it’s something to put on your resume; it’s an opportunity to gain some exposure and make some connections. It’s very rarely, however, a giant breakthrough that results in funding for a major production. After all, there are hundreds of film festivals in the United States alone, with thousands of filmmakers screening their work every year, yet when you see commercials for upcoming Hollywood releases, almost none of them were directed by filmmakers who just got discovered at a festival.