Be an Insider

I help independent filmmakers gain insider knowledge and find success on the film festival circuit without having to navigate the complex industry on their own or make costly mistakes in the process.

Heather Brittain

Hi, I'm Heather Brittain,

Founder of Film Festival Insider

What I have built with my course, Film Festival Insider, is what I looked for but was not able to find when I first started my own journey as an independent filmmaker navigating the world of film festivals. Of course, I had heard of “the big five”, and I knew of a few other local festivals, but I had oh-so-much more to learn. I scoured the internet in search of answers, about submission how-to’s and logistics, about what to do once I got accepted, and about how to make the most of my film’s festival run. The lack of information was surprising, and the sheer volume of festivals on the submission platforms (at the time, Withoutabox was dominating submissions), was overwhelming. Just to give you some perspective, in 2013, there were approximately 3,000 active film festivals. Today there are more than 13,000 festivals on FilmFreeway alone.

Since those early days, I have produced several more films and, with each project, each festival run was more successful than the last. I learned how to better strategize my submissions, both by knowing which festivals are right for my film, so as not to waste money on festivals which may not be a good fit (or may be a scam), and how and when to submit my film for optimal results.

Over time, I became vice-chair of the Garden State Film Festival, New Jersey's Premier Independent Film Festival®. Founded in 2002, we attract 20,000 people to our event every year. As a programmer, having watched thousands of submissions since the early days of my involvement, I have an entirely different knowledge of what film festivals are looking for (and what they are most definitely not looking for).

Over the years, with the advantage of having the perspectives of both a filmmaker, and a festival organizer, I have learned what filmmakers need to do to gain respect and accolades for their projects. I have found successful methods of strategizing festival submissions, garnering reviews and press, increasing acceptance ratios and winning awards – including audience awards in a town/state/country where they know absolutely no one!

For me, the best part of being a festival organizer is having the ability to give indie filmmakers a platform upon which they can shine, and a venue at which they can make connections which may lead to their next project - or several projects! I love being a part of those journeys, even if just in some small way.

My course takes my influence beyond my own festival and teaches filmmakers how to apply what I know to their own festival runs. Film Festival Insider is an extension of my genuine love and passion for helping my fellow filmmakers.

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