Quick Tips To Better Festival Submissions
The Sioux Falls Sno Jam Comedy Festival just finished screening & making their selections for the 2019 festival and since I was on the screening committee I thought i would give some quick tips for better festival submissions. While I'm no expert and I can't speak for every festival producer out there, I've screened 1000's of submissions for different comedy festivals. I've co-produced three different festivals in three different states with a combined experience of almost 10 years so I can definitely give my two cents.
When making a video you will need to put some quality into it. Now this doesn't mean you have to spend a ton of money on equipment nor does it need to be a fancy multi camera shoot. You can buy a pretty decent camera for a couple hundred bucks and if you don't have it, most phones can record high quality video.
Just remember to turn it horizontal to increase the span of the shot and position it head on to the stage if you can. Also make sure it's on a tripod because no one wants to watch a shaky video. This isn't the "Blair Witch Project". It's good to frame it so that the shot is a waist up video. That's close enough to get good facial expressions, but not so close we can see what you had for lunch.
Another important part of quality is the audio. If the audio isn't clear chances are the people screening your video will not be able to hear how funny your jokes are. Even if your voice is getting muffled by laughter the screeners need to hear you. They want to hear your jokes, not the dishes getting dropped in the back or your friends talking sh** about you. One trick is to record your audio with a recorder separate from the video and then put them together using a video editing program. There are plenty of free programs too.
Most festivals have hundreds of videos that they must screen in order to choose their selections so they can only spend so much time watching each video. That's why it's important not to waste their time. What does this mean exactly? Well, it means your video should not be monetized with ads (Personal Note: this really pisses me off). It should start right off with you telling your first joke. No fancy intros or an emcee introducing you. We already know who you are because you've submitted to our festival.
The first impression is everything. With that in mind the first joke you tell should be your best joke. You need to grab the screeners attention right away and then keep them laughing. While most festivals want your best material, that doesn't mean they want a "best of" compilation of your jokes. They prefer one set from start to finish. Some festivals prefer unedited videos and some don't care as long as the material is great. Personally I like when a comic submits a video of one set that has been professionally taped with multiple camera angles because this tells me that they are taking comedy serious enough to be investing time & money into getting quality video.
Before you submit your video it's a good idea to make sure that the video link you send is not broken because most festivals will automatically disqualify your submission if they can't open it. If your video is password protected (I recommend your video being unlisted not password protected), make sure you give the festival the correct password. Now I can't guarantee if you follow all these tips you'll get into every festival, but you will definitely be on the right track.