I'm back in the UK preparing for the Raindance Film Festival this month in London.
It doesn't matter if you have had a film screen in the festival or not [I don't this time] there are still 12 things you do after attending a film festival:
1. Remember the reasons for attending a film festival
Perhaps before you set off to your film festival you should take stock and try and understand why attending a film festival is so important in the first place. Some filmmakers who come to Raindance in the heart of London UK come because they want to see the world, and others come because they want to network. As a professional filmmaker there really are only 4 reasons to attend a film festival: mainly to sell and promote your film.
2. Organise your leads
Sitting on a plane coming back from Mexico I felt like a door-to-door salesman sifting through my leads. You do so too. Get all those business cards and enter them in your database. Remember that a database is only as good as the way you design it, making the names you enter easily researchable and retrievable.
3. Review your notes
If you are like me at a festival, you will have travelled from seminar to screening to party with head-bangingly loud music. You'll have written notes on everything from a corner of a napkin to the back of a matchbox. Now is your chance to transcribe these notes and these to-do lists, while you can still read your hand-writing and remember the moment it was written in.
Fortunately for me - I generally have lengthy plane journeys back to the UK, meaning I can crack open my laptop, type contacts into my contact database and then send follow-up emails from +35,000 feet. Of course when I land it means several dozen emails are going to churn out - but at least I have done them.
Make a note of any journalists you might have bumped into. Send online screeners to sales agents and distributors who might have shown an interest in your film. And don't forget to thank everyone you meet or whose path you crossed.
5. Freshen up your website
Every web expert will tell you that the trick to repeat visits to your website is to include lots of great content. Here is your chance to post pictures of your trip. Start a blog, if you haven't already. Post news of your film's screening. Note any awards you have won.
If you have attended without a film, tell us how the event was important to you and how you think it was worth attending. Tell us about films you saw there. Giving a good review to another film is a surefire way to make an internet friend.
Give us local tips of where to stay and eat. Anything you can think of that will allow visitors to your site to get an idea of who you are and learn something of value as well.
6. Set up alerts
Make a list of topics, film titles and the interesting people you meet on your travels. Google and Yahoo will allow you to set up an 'alert' that will notify you every time this special person or film is mentioned on the internet.
You can then visit the page and often respond, either by pushing the page out on your social media or by commenting.
7. Get your diary in shape for to attend your next film festival
When you are at a festival, network with fellow filmmakers and see what festivals they recommend. Look at the two websites we use: filmfreeway.com and withoutabox.com and see which festival deadlines are coming up. Raindance has two blog posts you might find useful: Worlds Top 100 Film Festivals and Top Film Festivals for shorts.
Get your flights and accommodation booked early to save money.
8. Keep up the momentum
Here's the tough part: start working on your next project. Everywhere you go people are going to be asking you what your next project is. Carry a pitch deck and mood reel with you. You just never know when you might find a future collaborator. The film industry loves a prolific filmmaker.
9. Social Media
We all know how demanding it is to maintain a social media network. It is oh-so-important. A great social media strategy will help you raise funds when you crowdfund, pack out festival screenings and help you build your personal brand.
It's impossible to manage more than two or three social media platforms. Pick a few that you feel an affinity with. We use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
10. Build your team
As you tour festival and film networking events remember you are always looking for new team members - people with unique skills that you could collaborate with. Networking is such an essential skill filmmakers need.
11. Look after the landlord
Touring festivals is a time-consuming business. While you are on the road there won't be any money coming in. You need to plan for this well in advance and remember there are ways filmmakers can make a living while you are trying to make it.
12. Look after yourself
You only get one body and one brain. Wise filmmakers look after these two most important assets. I don't want to sound like grandpa here, but remember the essentials that filmmakers always eat for breakfast.