How to successfully enter film festivals

I recently produced my first short film so I am currently submitting to film festivals. Mine is a short, however the same 'rules' apply for features. And each festival has different rules and regulations.

First of all, there are a few ways to enter into a film festival, the two main are that you can either send your film over to them to screen as part of the festival or submit it for competition. Either ways of these you have to pay. (most of the time)

Submitting your film to film festivals is more costly then people think, even if your film doesn't get accepted into the festival you dont get your money back.. you still have to pay to even be considered. Therefore my advice would be choose your festivals wisely. Some festivals receive thousands of applications and therefore only see a glimpse of the film, so make sure your press pack and pitch is spot on. Use enticing key words and phrases that catches the readers attention, what makes your film brilliant etc.

You also need to be aware that some festivals ONLY take premiers, for example Edinburgh film festival, I recently had an incident where one of the films I starred in premiered at GRIMMFEST in Manchester and therefore Edinburgh has declined screening it, Edinburgh is a great film festival so we were all very sad to hear these rules. Another festival I know who only accept premiers is the horror festival FRIGHTFEST. Therefore In light of this I would always advise to read and re read the small print BEFORE you submit to ANY festival, especially if you have your heart set on being in a particular one.
For example, I have have researched various festivals and I have found the one I really want my short to be screened at, im therefore giving them the 'premier' if they accept. This is a tactic, festivals love premiers.. so again, if there is one you have your heart set on, offer them the premier screening if its not an obligation in their rules already.

Do your research, know which festivals you really want to apply for and know their deadlines.. if you are entering into competition (for example for BAFTA or CANNES) you dont submit the normal route and you have to match up to specific guidelines.. You have to have a certain panoramic camera quality, sound quality and it be a certain length. These two competition festivals will not accept you if you have played in certain festivals either, these guys are looking for the best of the best and are not going to think great things of you if you have won an award for best film at a festival no one has heard of in a country no one has been to, its a snobby approach but again its all about research, know what each festival wants.
You need to be picky, not only because it wont do you or your film any favors if you are at every dodgy film festival but also because you wont get in to any of the good festivals.
This all being said.. if you want to just show your film anywhere and you just want to get it out there, then there are various new and old film festivals that wont charge you.
Whichever your route, I hope it doesnt cost you an arm and a leg.. just make sure you know your target audience and you research about the festivals.

I would suggest looking and reading through this site gives you an up to date list of which festivals are coming up/the deadlines and allows you to submit via the online link. Ive found this is the quickest and easiest way to submit your film.
But be aware, not all the film festivals are on this link. Therefore GOOGLE it ;)

Good luck people