Here's some hints to filmmakers who want their films shown to sell out crowds at film festivals.
Talk to the ticket sellers. Those volunteers get all the questions: what should I see tonight? What's playing that's good? What can you tell me about this film?
Of course the ticket sellers can look the films up in the program. So can the ticket buyers, but they want to know more than that.
If the filmmakers take the time to talk to us, to tell us about their film, to pass on some of the excitement they feel about their baby, we learn enough to pass on that excitement.
When someone buys a ticket for that film we can say something positive about it that reaffirms his/her decision to see it. That makes them more inclined to see another film.
Ticket sellers get excited when a film sells out. They get even more excited when they see it sell out because they encouraged people to see it. We gave each other high fives when we sold that last ticket. We were excited for the film maker.
Leave promotional cards with the ticket sellers. That gives us something tangible to Festival guests when we discuss a movie. It also gives them something to take away when the film they want to see is sold out. Many people asked us how they could see the films they'd missed, so the card should tell them how to follow the film on Facebook, or give a webpage they can visit to watch for future showings.
Posters are nice, but Festival goers can't take them home.
Bring your extra tickets down to the ticket booth so they can be given away. A Festival visitor will almost always go to a film when the ticket is free. Your film will have a larger audience and you just might make a fan for life.
Engage the public yourself. Several filmmakers hung around the ticket area, making themselves available to interested people, as Jesse Shapiro of Nobody Walks in LA did. As the photo to the right shows, he stood near a poster of his film, ready to talk to anyone and everyone. We ticket sellers could point to him and say, "There's the filmmaker right over there." People's eyes would light up and they'd look at him with awe. His film had three showings, two were sold out. Phil Furrey, the man behind Since: The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 engaged in conversation with people as they walked in the mall. His film sold out it's first showing and a second was scheduled.