Nothing is ever easy in life so it’s no surprise con men always try to cash in on unsuspecting prey – this includes fragile new filmmakers who are unsure of their first steps especially in the film festival circuit. Make sure you don’t fall for these scams.
The Film Festival Consultant
The Scam: These so called consultants often make themselves look legit while watching out for newbie filmmakers looking to get their film screened at festivals. The “consultant” will promise to have inside connections to ensure screening, sometimes they will promise distribution of the film and even an awards nod (as far fetched as that sounds at this point.)
The Fact: There are legitimate film festival consultants out there and the festival organizers often recognize them as well. Make sure to check and double check that you’re dealing with a professional before you shell out money and your time on empty promises.
The Close Friend…
The Scam: Con men will often drop and claim that they have inside connections, usually a big name actor, producer or director – impressing the newcomer. They will offer to give your script, make sure it gets read and noticed, but for a fee, of course.
The Fact: Like any friendship, it pays to build a meaningful relationship. If you have to pay for someone to read your script or look at your film, then maybe you should reconsider. No doubt the filmmaking business is a people industry, but it’s best that you build a meaningful relationship with the right people than pay someone just because they supposedly know someone on the inside.
Shelling Money Upfront for Representation
The Scam: These people often disguise themselves as festival affiliates, agencies or agents and demand for your money upfront to get in. They will often promise and overpromise to get your film in the door provided you hand out the fee first.
The Fact: No self-respecting promoter or rep will ask for your money upfront. If you meet someone who does, head the other way fast! The truth is if your film is good, they will have no problems selling it or getting it in. Quality sales representatives will often be selective about the films they represent whereas those who aren’t will usually demand money ahead of time and take on any film that comes their way.
If you aren’t sure how to find reliable representatives, talk to established filmmakers and ask them about it. If you’re joining a festival, ask the programming team in the festival if they have recognized representatives you can work with.