From Raindance.org: It was awards night at my first film festival in Houston, and a man introduced himself. His appearance screamed Hollywood. Trendy suit. Slicked back hair. Unwavering eye contact. This was the type of person film festivals were made for — not me. He held out his hand and assured me that we had so much in common because we both had made no-budget features and were based in LA. He would most definitely call when we got back home. Of course I never heard from him. Guys like that are like the pickup artists of film festivals. They go around introducing themselves to everyone they meet, pretending as if they’re best of friends. I, on the other hand, am an introvert. I just can’t do that.
Relax, fellow introverts. You can still benefit from film festivals. Sure, it may be on your own terms, but if you try, you too can walk away from the festival with a valuable experience and a new network of fellow filmmakers. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from my own festival experience that I hope can help fellow introverts, ambiverts, and maybe even a few extroverts.
1. Take the advice of others, but take it with a grain of salt.
We live in an extroverted world. Particularly if you’re a filmmaker. You will read advice that terrifies you. You mean I’m supposed to stand in the street handing out flyers to random people walking by? I have to collect ten business cards from other filmmakers at the meet-and-greet, and they don’t even serve alcohol?? No and no. Sure, you can do these things if you want to, but you don’t have to. There are other ways to build an audience and network — ways that may be more suited to your personality and therefore more successful. You can spread the word from the safety of your own home via the internet. You can use your great research skills to learn about the other filmmakers so when you do talk to them, you’ll actually have something meaningful to say. An introvert trying to follow an extrovert’s advice can feel a bit like a left-handed child trying to scratch out a sentence with his right hand. By all means, seek out all the advice you can find before the festival. Just know that you don’t have to actually use all of it.