InFocus Film School Blog


seven indigenous filmmakers in canada that you need to know

Here are seven Indigenous filmmakers located across Canada that you need to explore!

By: Sophia Lin

With National Indigenous Peoples Day around the corner, we are spotlighting some of the incredible Canadian Indigenous filmmakers in the business today. Working as directors, producers, screenwriters, and actors, these talented artists have lent their skills and unique voices to some of the best work in Canadian film.

1. Tracey Deer

Tracey Deer is a Mohawk director and screenwriter. In her words, she seeks to better the world “one frame at a time.” Her feature film Beans (2020), is a coming-of-age tale set during the Oka Crisis. Recently, it was screened and honoured at the Toronto International Film Festival.


Additionally, her work was screened at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. As well, she has been broadcasted on CBC. With her own production company, Mohawk Princess Productions, Deer plans to produce fiction shorts.

seven indigenous filmmakers from canada that you need to know

2. Jeff Barnaby

A Mi’kmaq filmmaker from Quebec, Barnaby has two acclaimed feature films under his belt. His first film, Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013), premiered at TIFF. It tells a harrowing story in the context of the residential school system.


A year later, Barnaby was contacted by the National Film Board of Canada. They reached out for him to film a short documentary. His film Blood Quantum  (2019) showcasing Mi’kmaq voices, putting a twist on the classic zombie genre.

seven indigenous filmmakers

3. Loretta Todd

Loretta Todd began in TV and documentary work, before getting into directing. Her debut narrative feature was Monkey Beach in 2020. Adapted from Eden Robinson’s eponymous novel, it opened to much acclaim at the Vancouver International Film Festival.


She is a filmmaker of mixed Cree-Métis and European ancestry and has worked in a variety of media, including animation and interactive. In 1998, she received a lifetime achievement award from the Taos Talking Pictures Festival.

seven indigenous filmmakers in canada that you need to know

4. Bretten Hannam

Hannam is a Two-Spirit L’nu screenwriter and director. With their latest film Wildhood (2021), they sought to tell a never-before-seen Two-Spirit story of a young man rediscovering himself. He embarks on a road trip through Eastern Canada and reconnects with his heritage. It received six Canadian Screen Award nominations, marking a historic moment for queer BIPOC Canadian artists.


Their work, both shorts and feature-length, focuses around themes of community, culture, and LGBTQ+ identity, and has been honoured at festivals around North America.

seven indigenous filmmakers in canada

5. Amanda Strong

A multiple award-winning Michif filmmaker, Strong’s work lies mainly in the realms of stop-motion, animation, and virtual reality. She takes an interdisciplinary, multi-layered approach to her work, creating some of the most innovative projects out there — including Biidaaban (2018) and Four Faces of the Moon (2016).


Her production company Spotted Fawn Productions is a large part of her mission to reclaim Indigenous histories, lineage, and culture.

seven indigenous filmmakers from canada you need to know

6. Danis Goulet

Sundance, Berlin International Film Festival, and MoMA have all screened many of Danis Goulet’s films. Of Cree-Métis descent, she is one of the foremost emerging Indigenous filmmakers today. Most recently, she won the TIFF Emerging Talent Award with her debut feature Night Raiders (2021). 


She got her foot in the door as a casting coordinator, then dove into the directing side of the industry. By doing so, she honed creative control over Indigenous stories. In 2021, she completed production on a thriller film for Netflix.

seven indigenous filmmakers in canada you need to know

7. Christopher Auchter

Chris Auchter grew up in Haida Gwaii, BC. An animator, illustrator, and documentary filmmaker, his work deeply roots his storytelling in the Haida people and their land. His 2017 short, The Mountain of SGaana (2017), creatively combined traditional animation with elements of Haida art.

The films he creates are often hailed as innovative and integrative. How People Got Fire (2009) was an animation film he made, entirely using charcoal, for the National Film Board of Canada.

seven indigenous filmmakers in canada


These seven Indigenous filmmakers are incredibly influential in the Canadian film industry. Their work is redefining Canadian film and we cannot wait to see what stories they share next.

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8 great lgbtq+ filmmakers

Film has been home to queer and LGBTQ+ people, visibly or not, for the entirety of its history. Here are eight LGBTQ+ filmmakers still paving the way today!

8 great lgbtq+ filmmakers

By: Kennedy Randall

From pioneering gay director John Waters, to Canadian LGBTQ+ filmmakers making waves in the film festival scene, trans filmmakers, and queer filmmakers of colour, here are eight LGBTQ+ filmmakers to check out.

1. John Waters

With a wide variety of work, John Waters’ iconic musicals and comedies have gained a cult following since the 1970s. He is the man behind the original Hairspray (1988) which found even further popularity as a Broadway musical. His fabulous sense of humour continued with classics like Cry-Baby (1990) and Serial Mom (1994). 

One of the first openly LGBTQ+ filmmakers, Waters has inspired many filmmakers through his oeuvre. His creativity doesn’t end with moving images either; he experiments with photo-based art and installations. 

john waters

2. Lee Daniels

Lee Daniels is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His work spans from arthouse film to hit twist-filled television as producer and director of FOX’s Empire and Star. His 2009 film Precious, went on to receive great critical acclaim and received nominations at the Academy Awards, Screen Actor Guild Awards, and many more.

Growing up, Daniels had pushback from his father about being gay, with many of those experiences inspiring the narrative of Precious. Though his father did not provide emotional support, Daniels’ grandmother supported him and his career. 

lee daniels

3. Xavier Dolan

French-Canadian actor and director Xavier Dolan has gained international acclaim for exploring complicated relationships between friends and family, often revealing the ingrained homophobia present in society. He was born in Quebec, Canada and has been busy making 9 films in his 11-year career. His Canadian LGBTQ+ films have received widespread recognition, in particular his 2009 film J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother) which he wrote, starred in, and directed.


With a semi-autobiographical narrative, I Killed My Mother explores the love-hate relationship between a young man discovering his homosexuality and his mother. The film’s coming-of-age narrative reveals the raw experience of growing up gay in a thought-provoking film style.

xaiver dolan

4. Kimberly Peirce

Prominent American indie filmmaker Kimberly Peirce operates through a feminist lens in her directing, writing, and producing. Her first feature film Boys Don’t Cry (1999) analyses the life and tragic death of a trans man, Brendon Teena. 

She went on to direct an episode of the popular series The L Word, influenced by her own experiences being openly lesbian. Throughout her career, Peirce has remained a prominent activist with many other LGBTQ+ filmmakers for feminist movements and beyond.

kimberly peirce

5. Chase Joynt

Trans and gender diverse individuals haven’t always been represented in a fair light. The documentary film lens can sometimes be inaccurate portraying some things as true. Further, often the individuals on-screen are not involved behind the lens. Trans Canadian filmmaker Chase Joynt aimed to remedy these issues in his documentary Framing Agnes (2022) which explores the buried case files from a 1950 study led by sociologist Harold Garfinke at UCLAl.

In Framing Agnes, a cast of trans actors turn a talk show inside out to confront the legacy of a trans woman (Agnes) being forced to choose between honesty and access. The documentary-turned-feature film defies genre boundaries and was screened at Sundance 2022 and Hot Docs 2022. Though Joynt was the only transgender director featured this year at Hot Docs, Framing Agnes achieves their mission of widening trans history and getting trans voices heard.

6. Dee Rees

Screenwriter and director, Dee Rees started her career with the feature film Pariah (2011), which went on to gain international acclaim. Inspired by her own experience as a queer filmmaker of colour, Pariah follows a young black woman named Alke. The main character grapples with her sexuality and the world’s response to it. The movie won many awards, notably the N.A.A.C.P Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture. Also, her series Bessie with Queen Latifah earned an Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie.

Rees also acknowledges the need and desire for content aimed specifically at black consumers. She has said “We’re the consumers and we’re the producers” which she expresses in her LGBTQ+ and black characters, creating an intersectional picture of contemporary experience in America. 

dee rees

7. Isabel Sandoval

Recently, trans Filipina filmmaker Isabel Sandoval has made a splash in the indie film scene. In 2019, she was the first transgender woman of colour to compete at the Venice Film Festival with her feature Lingua Franca. This film, starring Sandoval herself, follows an undocumented Filipina trans woman who falls in love in Brooklyn. Lingua Franca was bought by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY and released on Netflix, bringing Sandoval a widespread audience and recognition. 


As a trans filmmaker, she is trying to bring trans characters and narratives out of the periphery. In so doing, Sandoval creates layered, complex and multi-dimensional characters who convey the reality of living as a trans individual in our political climate. 

isabel sandoval

8. Goran Stolevski

Macedonian-Australian filmmaker Goran Stolevski took the 2022 Sundance Film Festival by storm with his feature debut You Won’t Be Alone. His folk horror film brings together questions of genre, queerness, and human connection in 19th century Macedonia. At Sundance, Stolevski took home Best International Short.


Stolveski often favours female protagonists and outsider perspectives. In You Won’t Be Alone, a young witch shape shifts and learns how to be human in the 1800s. Informed by his experience as a queer filmmaker, Stolveski’s work meditates on feeling out of place. However, he reminds us that we are never truly alone. 

goran stolevski


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become a vfx artist

Wondering how to become a VFX artist? We have everything you need to know about how to learn VFX compositing and make your mark in the industry!

become a vfx artist

By: Kennedy Randall

Visual effects (VFX) makes up the computer-generated images that you see on the screen. Whether it’s the monster that comes out from under the bed, the epic good vs. evil superhero battles, or the dinosaurs in Jurassic World, these characters and scenes come alive through VFX. And this is true in all forms of media in the entertainment industry today. Not only do blockbuster movies need visual effects, but so do advertisements, commercials, TV series, and more. 

Pursuing a career in VFX means you are creative, handy with technology, and looking to tell visual stories. There are many different roads you could take in the VFX industry. In this guide on how to become a VFX artist, we’ll tell you what VFX artists do, where VFX artists work, and VFX artist salary. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about a career in VFX. 

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Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Compositing for Visual Effects Program

What Do VFX Artists Do?

VFX is a wide term to describe artists who use computer software to create computer generated images (CGI) that are unable to be captured by a camera. These digital assets are combined with live action shots and are integrated into most movies and television shows nowadays. 

Within this broad umbrella of VFX, there are dozens of different roles that are employed at the studio, which we will go over in a moment. This is called the VFX pipeline, which is the process of different VFX roles who work together to make computer generated images and bring all these different elements to life on screen. If you become a VFX artist, there are many different roles you could undertake. 

Below, we have outlined some of the roles that make the VFX pipeline run smoothly.


Types of VFX Work

become a vfx artist

1. Previsualist

Firstly a previsualist, you will create 3D animated versions of film storyboards. You need to know how to use 3D software to create the director’s vision. 

2. Concept Artists

Concept artists take a brief, prepared by the client or a supervisor, and turn that into something that can come alive on screen. They guide the rest of the pipeline artists as they create the movie. 


To create the environment on screen, modellers create the objects, characters, and landscapes in 3D. You will have to know how to model just about anything, because your projects will vary! Modellers need immense flexibility and skill.

4.Texture Artists

After the models are created, texture artists apply shaders to the mesh, which is the primary structural build of a 3D model. This is a time consuming process, as this is what makes the models look realistic on screen. Use your patience and skill to work with the rest of your team to create a realistic end result. 

5. Riggers

From there, riggers take a model and build the character’s skeleton so it can be animated and move on screen. You will bridge the work between the modeller and the animator, making sure that the animator can create visuals that move realistically from the model. 

become a vfx artist

6. Matte Painters

Matte painters work from the concept artist’s work to create realistic environments for the animations to be integrated on seamlessly.

7. 3D Animator

At this stage, it is passed to the 3D animator who takes a character and object and makes it come live! Because this is a hefty job, some studios spread out the types of animation across different roles like junior animators, assistant animators, stop motion animators, and many more

8. Technical Directors

Technical directors (TD), then use special effects to create effects such as explosions, water, debris, and more. There are also lighting TDs who replicate realistic lighting in the shots. There are also rendering TDs, who ensure that everything is running smoothly on the computer end of the pipeline. 

9. Compositor

The compositor puts all of these elements together, using a keen eye for detail to integrate elements of a shot. Unsurprisingly, this takes a lot of patience and time to figure out solutions to get all the various elements of the pipeline to work together. 

10. Roto Artist

Roto artists work alongside the compositor to create the mattes they need. These artists are huge team players, making everyone’s lives easier. Many compositors begin as roto artists, meaning this is a role you can move up from!

11. Pipeline TD

Finally, there is a pipeline TD who is a team player, overseeing the entire pipeline and making it run efficiently and smoothly. You need to know how to troubleshoot the entire pipeline, using knowledge of each position and how they work together in order to solve problems that may arise. 


Where do VFX Artists Work?

VFX artists work wherever entertainment industries are found. VFX artists either work with a studio or freelance, working on things from games, film and television. This is especially common in major city centres that have companies looking for VFX artists. The first places people think of are Los Angeles and London but prestigious studios exist everywhere. There is WetaFX in New Zealand or Animal Logic in Sydney, Australia. 

You also might be surprised to learn Canada also has many VFX studios, mainly located in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. The VFX industry in Vancouver (otherwise called Hollywood North) is booming, with many companies growing and relocating to the area. There are also many opportunities to study in these VFX hubs, with courses like this 6-month program that can set you up for success in the VFX industry and become a VFX artist.

Sony Pictures Imageworks is one of Vancouver’s largest VFX and animation studios. With opportunities to work on movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Spiderman, keep your eyes posted for job listings once you learn VFX and compositing

Industry Light and Magic (ILM) is a visual effects studio located in Vancouver that has worked on Marvel Universe films like Infinity War, Black Panther, Thor: Ragnraok and more. Further, DNEG (Double Negative) is a star in the VFX Vancouver world. They have won a slew of awards including 5 Academy Awards, 5 Bafta Awards, and 11 Visual Effects Society Awards.

A city like Vancouver is a great place to become a VFX artist, full of opportunities and impressive companies. 

As well, Montreal has many companies like Digital Domain, Mill Film and Mr. X Inc, which has offices in both Montreal and Toronto. Canada’s VFX industry is booming, and there is no better place to get your career started!


What is a VFX Artist’s Salary?

When considering how to become a VFX artist, you may be wondering how much do VFX artists earn? According to Glassdoor, Vancouver’s VFX industry is paying well! A VFX artist’s salary in Vancouver is around $57,179 and is predicted to rise. Across Canada, the average VFX artist salary is $55,741, meaning wherever you go in Canada, VFX is booming. As the demand for VFX grows, the average Canadian VFX salary increases with it, with expected growth in the next couple years. 

become a vfx artist

Why are VFX Artists in Demand?

Nowadays, VFX artists are in high demand and continue to be as our world becomes increasingly digitized. Most of the movies and television shows nowadays use VFX and this will increasingly continue to be the case. As well, VFX artists are needed now outside of the entertainment industry, in advertisements, various commercial companies, and more. 

With this in mind, VFX is a highly employable industry and it will continue to be for years to come. Now that it is the standard for visual effects to be used in many films, it will never go away. Rather, it will continue becoming more advanced and creative. If you become a VFX artist, the opportunities where you can work will continue to grow. 

become a vfx artist

Overall, when wondering how to become a VFX artist, there are many different roles and places where you can work. Therefore, all that’s left to do is to master the skills and follow your dreams. Once you learn VFX and compositing, nothing can stop you. Work hard, be persistent, and soon we’ll all see your work on the big screen. 


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networking in the film industry

Looking to start networking in the film industry? Here are six tips on how to connect with other filmmakers!

networking in the film industry

By: Sophia Lin

A career in film can be kickstarted from a multitude of places, in a multitude of ways. However, nearly every one of those possibilities involves one key ingredient: a network. And not simply any network will do. If you’re looking to have a shot at those golden opportunities that’ll get your foot in the door, you’ll need a network that’s well-developed, expansive, and diverse.


But how do you network? Whether it’s building a community or expanding one, it’s an age-old question that can often stump creatives who’d rather focus on their craft. The good news is, we’re here to break it down. From keeping your portfolio at the ready to simply using social media to reach out, networking is far less intimidating than it seems. For many, it turns out to be one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling aspects of their career and, not to mention, a wonderful way to find your people.


So, to get to know the exact science of networking in the film industry, look no further. Take one well-informed step at a time and you’ll find yourself with an invaluable community of trusted collaborators and fellow artists.

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1. Take Advantage of Events & Structured Spaces

When it comes to events, feel free to start small — local filmmaker gatherings, panels or Q&As at the theatre around the corner, and the like. Go to places and spaces that interest you, hang around, and naturally, you’ll find people who share your passions and ambitions. From there, striking up a casual conversation and following up with an email a few days later establishes the beginnings of a well-built relationship.


Structured spaces like film schools, fellowships, or film festivals are one of the most sure-fire ways to meet budding filmmakers like yourself. The folks who have made it there are already those at the top of their game, so leveraging these opportunities is a must — both for exponentially expanding your network and getting to know some future key players in the industry.

networking in the film industry

2. Keep Your Portfolio Handy

Preparation is key, and this applies to any facet of your work. Portfolios, samples, reels, and previous work should be constantly up-to-date and at your fingertips, should any producer, executive, or agent ask you for them. These are too often spur-of-the-moment chances, so be ready and seize them when they come!


In a similar vein, have an elevator pitch ready to go. Whatever you’re working on or soon to be working on, knowing a 2-3 minute summary will come in more than handy. Whether it’s at events or interviews, this will quickly pique the interest of those around you, and almost always, a solid idea rather than an abstract concept will attract far more potential collaborators.

3. Leverage Social Media

While Instagram is one of the most frequented social media platforms, when it comes to networking in the film industry, don’t discount the power of LinkedIn and Facebook. Make connections with filmmakers you’re interested in, or simply those in the area, and you’ll get a direct channel to any work or life updates they have. Then use that chance to jump in on the conversation.


Similarly, Facebook groups are an excellent way to meet new peers. Search your specific line of work within your locale and there’s bound to be an existing group you can join. With that, you’ll also be getting the low-down on the jobs, fellowships, and internships near you — all promising opportunities to partake in to expand your network and hone your skills.

networking in the film industry

4. Connect Beyond Your Peer Group

It may seem like a no-brainer to only network with those in your field: editors getting to know editors, animators reaching out to animators. But resist the urge! This might feel like a cliche but it really is beneficial to extend your network far and wide.


Say you’re a cinematographer — get to know casting directors, actors, and even non-film people! Not only will they expand your reach, but they’ll have projects and ideas unlike anyone else you know. And in terms of your professional growth, it’s greatly rewarding to understand various facets of the film industry, enriching what you bring to your own craft. Not to mention, you might be the only cinematographer they know, so you’ll be a go-to when they’re looking for anything related to your discipline. 

5. Add Value & Give Back

You’ve probably heard the saying that networking is a two-way street. But how exactly do you give back? The first and most doable is to simply check in. Set a reminder on your calendar, and every 3 to 4 months or so, email your connections to ask how they’re doing. Be sure to include some of your own updates as well. This keeps a conversation naturally flowing, and shows that you’re genuinely interested in creating a meaningful relationship.


A second way is to make introductions and stay proactive when networking in the film industry. Don’t only be on the lookout for opportunities that fit you. If you catch wind of a great gig that just isn’t in your field, actively reach out to your network to see if anyone’s interested. Better yet, stay on top of everyone’s interests, and make an intro personally to, say, a director in need of an assistant producer.

6. Take Initiative for Networking in the Film Industry

It’s easy to forget in all the hubbub of attending various events and opportunities that you can organize your own get-togethers too. Have a group of friends from film school? Set up a weekly lunch date! Want to get to know your colleagues better? Suggest a dinner after the shoot! Sometimes, if you’re having trouble finding the right spaces to network, take the first step forward instead.


This applies to the micro-moments of networking as well. Be the first to say hi, ask a question, or offer your contact info. If you have work you’d love to show, don’t wait for someone to ask — bring it up instead. With a proactive approach, you’ll significantly expedite the growth of your network. Soon, people will know and trust you as the one who makes things happen.

networking in the film industry

Get Started!

These following opportunities are excellent launching pads for networking in the film industry and building your film and TV network:


CREATE Vancouver in Vancouver, BC

Mid June


6IXCONNECTED Networking Event in Toronto, ON



CAFÉ (Conference, Animation, FX, and Expertise) Conference in Montreal, QC

Early June


Canadian International Comedy Film Festival in Winnipeg, MB

Early October


Vancouver International Film Festival in Vancouver, BC



Lavazza IncluCity Press Conference in Toronto, ON

Late May


Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, ON

Mid September


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Filmmaking is about telling stories. What makes a meaningful film is the story you tell and how you capture it. Filmmaker and radio-host, Valécia Pépin has the courage to share real stories on screen and the talent to produce them. InFocus Film School is proud to announce that Pépin has been selected as the winner of the InFocus $10,000 Scholarship. Her short film Illusion: The Fear documents her own experience as a young woman struggling to free herself from a pimp who was taking advantage of her. We were touched by her story, her talent, and her relentless courage to push forward and keep creating in spite of her difficult past. We cannot wait to have her become a part of the InFocus family this September and see what she creates next.



Pépin was born in Haiti and was adopted by a family who resides in Quebec City. At nine months old, on Christmas Eve, 1989 she moved to Canada. She grew up in Quebec, surrounded by painting, cameras, and media from an early age.

“I have always been an artist, if I can say, because my mom was bringing me to workshops, she was always painting,” she said. “I used to be a model from two years old, so I started being in front of the camera very young.”


Pépin has always been fascinated by media and its capacity for storytelling. She was the host of her high school radio show and went on to work for CBC radio in Edmonton for many years. She knew by the age of fifteen that she wanted to be in front of the camera telling stories. It wasn’t until someone prompted her to share her own story that she decided to take a stab at behind the camera.


“At first I didn’t want to share my stories. I moved from Quebec to Edmonton because people were telling me, because of my past you will never reach your goals or your dreams. You can forget it.” 

However, this didn’t stop her. She shared her past of getting caught up with pimps as a young girl and forced to do things that she didn’t want to do. Pépin has begun to share her story through film in order to help spread awareness about this taboo subject that isn’t widely discussed.


“I can help, I can share, I can listen. People will come to me and tell me I went through this, or my sister, or my child, or my nephew.  If someone told me how these things happen, or saw it on TV, I would know the red flags and be aware. I want to spread awareness on this whole world.”


Subjects like sex work, prositution, and its dangers are often taboo in our mediascape, but its out there. It takes a lot of courage to share your own difficult past, but it makes a real story – a story that we can’t wait to see on the big screen.

With her scholarship, Pépin will be enrolling in our 12-month Film Production Program starting this September. 


I fell in love with the camera, the angles, what you want to project, and what you want to see and share and all that. I fell in love with the lens, how it works. I am comfortable being in front of the camera, but I need more experience. I need to learn how and know everything and make my own decisions behind the camera. I need the skills to do what I love” she added.


Valécia Pépin has unbelievable resilience, talent, and passion for storytelling. She has never given up, even when things have gotten tough. Her dedication and hardwork has got her so far already and we cannot wait to see what she accomplishes during her time at InFocus. 


“When life wants you somewhere they will bring you there, and this is why I keep doing this.”

how to start learning filmmaking for beginners

Wondering how to start learning filmmaking? Keep reading for our 8 tips on how to get started in filmmaking for beginners.

how to start learning filmmaking for beginners

By: Kennedy Randall

There is no single place to start learning filmmaking. Learning the craft is a long journey where you will discover what role you want on set and what stories you want to tell. How to get started in filmmaking comes down to you and the effort you can put in gaining experience. Whether that’s on set, in school, or in your area, seize the day and start learn filmmaking. 


Below, we have six starting points to start learning filmmaking. Everyone start’s somewhere, even the greatest directors. Hard work, creativity, and passion will be your guides, but keep reading for our guide on how to begin your journey in the film industry.

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Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Film Production Program!

1. Watch and Study Movies

Likely, watching movies is what drew you to filmmaking in the first place. Watching films is a great place to start on your filmmaking journey. When you are enjoying movies with friends or family, think about what you think made this film a great one. Notice how they organise their shots and scenes. As well, think about how they have used the camera to develop the plot. By taking the time to really see what makes a great film, you will develop a critical eye that will help you develop your own films.

Take the time to watch the classics as well as new movies coming out today. Director Steven Spielberg has said that he still learns from films that came out 50 years ago and tells aspiring filmmakers to watch the classics. Whether that’s Citizen Kane or Man with a Movie Camera, these are resources that are integral to filmmaking for beginners. 

how to start learning filmmaking

2. Pick Up A Camera

Obviously, eventually, you will need some professional equipment. But this is your first film, not your oscar winning feature! There is nothing stopping you from shooting something on the phone in your back pocket. As a beginner, the best way to learn is to experiment with short videos and shots on your phone. You don’t need to invest in expensive gear, have a massive budget to start learning filmmaking.

Your best assets are your creativity and what you have on hand. Grab a couple friends and shoot a short film. All you need is an idea, script, cast, and location. Practice making storyboards and getting your friends to act out different stories while you discover what your filmmaking style will be.

how to start learning filmmaking

3. Start Learning Filmmaking from Experts

There are no better people to learn filmmaking from than the people currently in the industry. Jumping into filmmaking school is a comprehensive place to start. After 12 months at this film and television course, you will learn directing, screenwriting, cinematography, and editing under the mentorship of working industry professionals. You will also leave film school with 12 films under your belt. This is not only extremely useful experience but one of these 12 films could be something you market to streaming services or production companies. By diving right into a video production course you get on set experience with top of the line equipment, room for your creativity to flourish, and prepares you for the professional film industry. 

Along with this, attending seminars or masterclasses led by industry professionals is a great place to start learning filmmaking. If you are a parks and recreation fan or curious about screenwriting in general, check out this online master class on How to Develop a Comedy Series with Norm Hiscock, a comedy screenwriter for Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Saturday Night Live. Learning from people who are involved in the industry you want to be in is a great place to start filmmaking for beginners. 


4. Volunteer on Set

Any experience you can get on set is a learning experience. When looking at how to start learning filmmaking, volunteering on set is a great choice as not only do you learn best by doing, but you also meet people involved in the industry. Being an eager and hard working volunteer may one day lead to a paid gig or other filmmaking opportunities.

Looking on reddit or other online forums about filmmaking in your area is a great place to find work. As well, you could ask your instructors from film school if they know anyone who is looking for a helping hand on set. Gaining hands-on experience is one of the best ways to figure out what you like to do. Whether that be sound, directing, or post-production, the only way to know if it is for you is to try it!

how to start learning filmmaking

5. Participate in Filmmaking Challenges

There are various filmmaking challenges out there designed for beginners to get some practice and recognition for their hard work. Importantly, many of them are short film competitions, making them easily accessible for beginners. You can find some of these competitions on FilmFreeway, which also has film festival resources that you can check out. Otherwise, just quickly google search for some short film competitions that are either online or in your area.

6. Network

These previous five starting points can offer you experience and a chance to network. Connect with local aspiring filmmakers to make your first film, watch movies together, and compete in challenges. As well, your instructors and peers at film school are an incredibly valuable resource. The person sitting next to you in your class could be your future business partner! Further, your instructors may pass along news of job opportunities and internships that could be of interest to their students. Never estimate the power of word of mouth!

how to get started in filmmaking

Overall, we hope that these six tips will be the push you need to start learning filmmaking. All famous filmmakers were sitting where you once were, deciding how to get started. The path to becoming an award-winning filmmaker and seeing your dreams come alive on screen is not a clear cut one. However, with creativity and drive to succeed, there is nothing that can stop you.

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Five of our talent students have been featured in the Graphis New Talent Annual 2022! Check out their imaginative and creative designs below. 


For new graduates or people new to the graphic design industry can attest it is daunting getting your start. Five of our alumni from our Graphic and Digital Design program, however, have proved that hard work pays off. These five talented graphic designers have been honoured in this year’s Graphis New Talent Annual.

Graphis Gold Award new talent annual

Graphis New Talent Annual awards students who, with help from their esteemed professors, produced polished works during their Graphic Design program. After selection, it is compiled in a book which is available for purchase digitally or in hard copy. The competition is steep – over 1000 submissions from international esteemed art schools. 

InFocus Film School Graphic and Digital Design Program | Learn More


InFocus is proud of Adrienne Noble, who’s work was awarded gold in the annual. “Finding out that I won GOLD in Graphis Annual’s 2022 New Talent Division was like a huge warm hug from the multiverse!” she said. Her stunning logo will appear in both the hardcover print copies and the digital copy of the annual. 


Her logo, shown below, was made in our Adobe Illustrator class with professor Lelia Singleton. “Lelia trusted me and helped to squash my new designer insecurities and imposter syndrome! The InFocus instructors are passionate and caring. They provide a real working knowledge of the tools that are required to succeed as a graphic designer” she said. 

graphis new talent annual

After InFocus, Adrienne settled into her own freelance graphic design business called Honey Wolf Creative. “The accelerated program provides students with all the skills they need to leave feeling confident and prepared to start working in the industry upon graduation.”


Four of our other talented alumni received honourable mentions for their work done at InFocus. Renée Bouche created beverage labels called “Respectfull Pints” that call attention to women’s safety and sexual assault. Her “better-believe-her bitter” and “contest-is-sexy stout” boasts 100% of your daily nutritional value of respect! It is no surprise this imaginative and advocative design received an honourable mention. 

graphis new talent annual

“This program is designed for the determined and has likely tested you, challenged you and pushed you to your limits. While, you may want to put down the mouse, trackpad, or stylus, have no fear! It won’t be long until your hard work is recognized outside of the classroom.” Renee added. Indeed, her hard work has paid off being recongized this year in the Graphis New Talent Annual!

graphis new talent annual

Another honourable mention came in for Jill Chao-sheng Li who designed a logo for the Van Gogh Museum in Lelia Singleton’s Adobe Illustrator class. “I love how all the instructors just want the best out of us. They are committed and want to teach us everything they know just to see us succeed,” Jill added.


Like many of our other graduates, she has already made a splash in the graphic design industry. She landed a full-time graphic design job 3 months after graduating from the program.


“The class schedule was intense and took real effort to put everything we learned into practice. However, this was an investment I made for myself. It led me to being part of the new talent annual, winning the Indigo Design award, and landing my first full-time graphic design job. I want to attribute it all to InFocus, the instructors and my wonderful classmates. None of this would happen if I didn’t join this program” she said. 

graphis new talent annual


Bruno Cunha made a fantastic poster designed in Lelia’s Adobe Illustrator class that would warm any pet lover’s heart! Seeing the creativity intertwine between image, text, and meaning in all the designs that have been chosen is astounding. Calling for more pet-friendly housing in British Columbia, Bruno makes a stance through his design. 

graphis new talent annual

Finally, Ángela Núñez Cadenas’s stunning poster and whimsical stationary system designed in Lelia’s Adobe Illustrator class was selected by Graphis. Her poster brings to the forefront sustainability in fashion. As well, her stationary system for the underwater museum make nature and animals come alive on the page.

graphis new talent annual

“Firstly, I learned so much while studying at InFocus film school. I also want to say thank you to Leila because she helped us a lot and pushed us to take part in this competition. The things she taught us and the way she supported us is the reason why we got these awards” Angela said.

graphis new talent annual

Not only does eco-friendly fashion endure, but our students do too! The hard work that our 6 month program expects has paid off with their awards at Graphis New Talent Annual. “It’s encouraging to see this young group entering the real world with the professional skills needed to be successful,” said co-founder and creative director Travis Tatum, of Tatum Designs. After six months, are students are set up for success in the industry.

If you want to learn more about our graphic design program, click here for more information. 


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how to become a professional screenwriter

Wondering how to become a professional screenwriter? Keep reading for nine tips on how to get your start in the screenwriting industry. 

how to become a professional screenwriter

By: Rachel Kim

So we hear you dream of becoming a professional screenwriter. You’re vibrating with ideas and you ardently long to see your stories come to moving, breathing, audio-visual life. You want your screenplays to join the annals of Oscar winners like Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network and Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite or like Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds (which didn’t win Best Original Screenplay but was so popular, it was sold as a paperback in bookstores!).

But where do you begin? How do you become a professional screenwriter?

The short answer is with a lot of work and perseverance. But you already knew that. Besides, you have enough passion and coffee to fuel you through it.

If you’re serious about a career in screenwriting, keep reading for the long answer in our guide on how to become a professional screenwriter.

InFocus Film School Writing Program

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Writing for Film and Television Program!

Amateur VS. Professional Screenwriters

All professional screenwriters were once amateurs. In fact, the very best professionals still carry the spark—the love of storytelling and the craft—that they had when they first began. Everything else they learned and developed on the way.

To become a professional screenwriter, it requires certain skills, knowledge, and perception that hobbyists don’t necessarily need. Professionals know how to analyze their own work, see what worked and what didn’t, and adjust their processes to produce better writing. They also know how to accept, evaluate, and use feedback as well as provide constructive feedback for others.

The ability to work collaboratively with others is especially crucial for TV writers who spend most of their time hashing it out as a group in the writer’s room. Get a sneak peak of what happens in a TV writers room here.

How to Become a Professional Screenwriter

how to become a professional screenwriter

1. Master Standard Formatting

If you read the Inglourious Basterds screenplay, you’ll notice interesting quirks and breaks from screenplay conventions. But that’s only allowed because it was written by Quentin Tarantino. Since you aren’t Tarantino, such deviations are only going to hurt your script’s chances of even getting read. It’s best to make standard formatting second nature to you, at least until you hit it big.

2. Sign Up for Masterclasses

Attending a masterclass is a great way to get a taste of structured instruction as well as inspiration from highly-experienced and successful screenwriters in the industry. Many masterclasses (like the upcoming “How to Develop a Comedy Series” masterclass with Emmy-Award winning screenwriter Norm Hiscock) are held online, making them more affordable and accessible for all.

Click here for more information!

3. Join a Writer’s Group

As already said above, a professional writer needs to be able to work with others, whether that means exchanging feedback or working collaboratively on a single project. Writers aren’t exactly known for their social prowess but, like working out a muscle, repeated practice will take you a long way. Joining a group of writers to share your work, give and receive critique, and even offer support in each other’s creative journeys will prepare you for a professional screenwriter’s life.

how to become a professional screenwriter

4. Use Specialized Screenwriting Software

The tool doesn’t make the artist but it can sure make your life easier. Professional screenwriters do create their work in specialized screenwriting software because it makes formatting easier and provides a clean space to write without distractions.

The industry standard software is Final Draft, used by 95% of studios including Netflix, Paramount, ABC, Pixar, and more. Though it is fairly pricey, it only requires a one-time payment and a provides 30-day trial.

Alternate options include:

  • One-time payment: Fade In, Movie Magic Screenwriter
  • Subscription: Celtex, WriterDuet, Scrivener
  • Freemium: Arc Studio Pro, KitScenarist.
  • Free/Open-source: Trelby

Maybe your word processor of choice is good enough for you now, but it’s worth learning how to use Final Draft at least so you can confidently integrate into the industry’s practices.

5. Read Screenplays

All writers need to read other works by better writers. As a screenwriter who loves film, it isn’t enough to watch movies. You have to read the screenplays to understand your craft or else you run into the pitfall of writing screenplays that feel off.

For example: dialogue. Dialogue that works too hard to mimic real life, or to mimic the way an actor might deliver it onscreen, doesn’t flow well on the page. Reading and writing have their own conventions and you need a good grasp of them to properly and skillfully engage the reader.

Moreover, it’s important to also read scripts by people who aren’t idiosyncratic auteurs. Get a good feel for the standard screenplay so you aren’t unwittingly copying someone else’s quirk. Remember: if they don’t know you, they won’t know if it’s intentional or a mistake.


6. Write & Rewrite & Rewrite & Rewrite

Okay, so this one is a no-brainer. You’ll get nowhere if you don’t actually write. Write an original pilot, write a screenplay for film, write spec scripts. Write log lines and treatments for your scripts. Don’t stop writing.

But don’t just write first drafts. Rewrite, and then rewrite again, and then rewrite it again. Knowing where to look and how to polish your drafts is crucial to become a professional screenwriter. Plus, with practice, you’ll build up the stamina you need to do those countless rewrites without breaking a sweat.

7. Create a Professional Portfolio

Alright, you’ve written and rewritten and now you’ve got a good pile of completed scripts. It’s time to put together a professional screenwriting portfolio.

Pick out a balanced variety of your BEST original and spec scripts or feature film screenplays. Add in your resume, cover letter, and—if you’re lucky enough to have industry contacts—recommendation letters. Make sure your digital portfolio is easy to navigate and your files are labeled and presented neatly.


8. Submit to Screenwriting Fellowships, Grants, & Competitions

Getting started in the competitive screenwriting field can be hard, especially without connections. However, submitting to programs like the Academy Nicholl Fellowships or the Sundance Screenwriters Lab gives you a chance to get your work produced, secure an agent, receive mentorship, and/or built a network. Check out some screenwriting contests that can launch you career here.

9. Commit to Your Screenwriting Career

Committing to your career means putting your time, energy, and money where your mouth is. Invest in yourself by taking courses, meeting and workshopping with other writers, seeking resources, attending events, or enrolling in a professional screenwriting program. Take your dreams seriously so others will take you seriously too.

dream big

Advantages of Attending a Professional Screenwriting Program

Enroling in a film school or a screenwriting course is a big but highly valuable investment. The difference is like journeying down a uneven dirt road versus a paved street. Schools provide the infrastructure in which you can focus on your writing while maintaining a clear understanding of where you need to go.

A proper professional screenwriting education provides:

  • Mentorship from industry professionals
  • Opportunities to network
  • Organized education in creative theory and industry standards
  • A springboard into the industry
  • A diverse portfolio
  • Experience working in a collaborative writing environment
  • and more…

how to become a professional screenwriter

It’s also worth looking for a screenwriting course like InFocus’ Writing For Film + Television Program that emphasizes a writer’s room environment so students are familiar and comfortable collaborating with other writers and know what to expect before even entering the industry.

Another top asset found in school is your fellow classmates. Your peers will be your first network of screenwriting professionals as you enter the industry together. Creating connections with industry mentors and classmates alike is an invaluable advantage unique to the educational space.

how to become a professional screenwriter

Hopefully you now have a clearer idea of the path to become a professional screenwriter. If you’re considering attending a screenwriting program or even just have questions, our admissions advisors are always happy to chat.

The greatest screenwriters of our time started where you are now, so trust in your passion and invest in yourself. We can’t wait to see you become the next screenwriting superstar!


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3D animation training for beginners

Considering 3D Animation training? Look no further – we have six steps to help you make your way in the 3D animation industry!

3D animation training for beginners

By: Sophia Lin

The 3D animation industry is booming with the rise of visual effects, the popularity of video games, and advancements like interactive and virtual reality 3D. These developments are all to thank for its recent and projected growth. Across the board, there’s no doubt that 3D animation is the future. But if, like many, you’re looking to get into this lucrative industry, there’s likely one key question you have. How do you start?


Well, that’s what we’re here to tackle. 3D animation is a complex, multi-faceted industry, but getting a start in it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can be a smooth, clear path to employment


So, if you’re hunting for an all-around guide to breaking in and getting the 3D animation training you need, look no further. We’ve broken it all down into 6 compact steps, so you can take that first leap with no hesitation.

Learn more about InFocus Film School's 3D Animation and Visual Effects Program

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s 3D Animation and Visual Effects Program


1. Getting Acquainted with the Industry

The first step is to get familiarized with the industry itself. Knowing about its present outlook and its future advancements is very important. This encompasses a thorough knowledge of 3D animation, such as its applications in animated feature films, video games, and live-action films. Not to mention, it’s worthwhile to get a feel for the general daily tasks of a 3D animator. This involves substantial initial research, blocking out poses, and refining character movements.


Beyond that, you should aim for a cursory understanding of the animating process. It’s quite a technically rigorous procedure, with many steps requiring various types of 3D animation training. Many specialists are involved — first to model the character, then rig it with bones, skin weights, and constraints, and finally animate it.

3d animation training

2. Know the Job Market

The second course of action is to gain an understanding of the current job market and what’s in store. For instance, 3D animation jobs are, at the moment, more abundant than ever. This sector is predicted to continue a promising upward trend in the decades to come. It’s key to understand the underlying drivers as well. In this case, the aforementioned considerations like video games and VFX contribute, with digital streaming acting as a foremost factor.


Equally crucial is building a knowledge of the expanding uses of 3D animation. Today, 3D animation is used in many Hollywood films and live-action movies. When it comes to live-action films, the work of a 3D animator can appear in many forms. 3D animators can create something as small animated animal and others the size of buildings — think Godzilla.

3. Get A Hold of Software

To begin any sort of 3D animation training, having software is a must. Thankfully, an assortment of possibilities is out there, for a variety of aims and interests. The industry-standard software is Autodesk Maya, commonly just called Maya. It features a powerful toolset and top-of-the-line animation tools. For those aiming to do animation professionally, this is the best choice. It is excellent for anything from motion graphics to environments to character creation.


In terms of the costs, Maya has a monthly fee, but students can access it for free. Another well-known and versatile software is Blender, a free, open-source program that features its fair share of functionalities as well. Yet another option is Autodesk 3ds Max, which is designed for creating professional 3D animations and design visualizations. Like Maya, the software requires a paid subscription, however, it is also free for students.

3d animation training

4. Take Relevant 3D Animation Training Courses

Like any fast-paced industry, effective learning and up-to-date knowledge are fundamental components of a successful career. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the successful, working 3D animators today are funnelled in from some type of relevant course, most typically through film school connections. 


Some courses specializing in 3D animation can be taken online or purchased via various platforms — they are often taken on your own time, with no live professors. Another option is a formal 3D animation training program at a film school. These courses provide you with an array of animation resources, as well as mentorship and networking opportunities. For a highly technical field like animation, working with industry-experienced professionals gives aspiring 3D animators a leg up. Not only do they have a wide array of connections, but also a mastery of current industry standards in 3D animation. Because many of them work while being instructors, they have a wide breath of knowledge in the industry. And don’t be daunted by the commitment — some schools have one-year programs, designed for students to enter the industry right away.

3d animation training

5. Understand Different 3D Animation Roles

Part of what makes the world of animation so diverse and multi-disciplinary is the substantial assortment of positions that 3D animators can take on. As someone looking to find their place in the industry, it’s essential to get a grasp of what’s out there before you dive in. Starting with more entry-level jobs, there are junior concept artists, who experiment with ideas and create the first sketches of a project. A more popular one is a junior animator. They brainstorm ideas, research a character’s motion, and refine the quality of overall animations.


Moving up in the ranks, you have jobs like character animators and props animators. These are the people who develop characters and render props assets, respectively. Other top jobs consist of character riggers, 3D modellers, effects animators, render wrangler, and the list goes on and on. These positions, however, require higher levels of 3D animation training, coupled with reliable experience in the specific field.

3d animation training

6. Build A Network

When you are first getting started, it is important to make contacts in the industry. This can happen anywhere and anytime, so long as you reach out, stay proactive, and keep in touch. To begin, this can look like hopping on relevant online groups and forums. You could also join learning groups, or try tutorials. One route that works for both your network and your craft is sharing your work online and asking for feedback. You will not only grow and learn, but you will make yourself known to your fellow animators.


It may not be duly evident, but the people you offer some help to or strike up a conversation with will be the collaborators, supporters, and mentors helping you down the line. As a beginner, those in your local animation scene will be glad to guide you, having been in the very same place themselves. So, go to events, screenings, and festivals, ask all your questions, and put yourself out there!


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Applying or planning to apply to film festivals? Read on to find out 6 key ways to make your film festival submission stand out.

By: Sophia Lin

Every year, thousands apply to film festivals. From film students to aspiring filmmakers to industry veterans it’s a rapidly growing number. The festival circuit remains the premier way to get your film out there. It is a chance to secure distribution, and reach awards consideration, serving as the ideal fast track to a successful and illustrious career in the film industry.


However, it can seem like a daunting task to make your film festival submission stand out. While there’s no perfect recipe for a winning submission, there are several critical ways to make your film — be it anything from a micro-short to a feature — win the hearts of festival programmers. Well-informed considerations regarding festival strategy, technical proficiency, submission descriptions, and more can make all the difference when it comes down to the fine line between rejection and selection.


Below, we’ve detailed 6 ways to make your film festival submission stand out, tailored specifically to film students looking to catch their first big break.

InFocus Film School Film Program

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Film Production Program!

1. Be Yourself and Be Unique to Make Your Film Festival Submission Stand Out

Perhaps deceptively simple, the first goal you can undertake is to remain authentic and pursue the stories that you truly believe are worth telling. Hone in on what makes you different and idiosyncratic; focus on what you have to say. If you eschew making the film that you think festivals want and instead make the film you want, it leads to one crucial quality: a unique vision.


An untold number of applicants either consciously or subconsciously create within a common mold, with the intention of replicating what a good film appears to be. When you think outside of the box and create in a way that only you can create, it leaves a lasting impression on festival programmers. They are looking for new voices, untold stories, and risk-takers who advance the craft of filmmaking.

6 ways to make your film festival submission stand out

2. Demonstrate Proficiency in Sound

All too often, applicants tend to focus solely on a few aspects: the story, the cinematography, the acting, and the editing. And while these certainly serve as the backbone of a film, there is one equally important factor that is left mostly forgotten and quickly thrown together: the sound.


Technical proficiency when it comes to sound mixing and sound editing can separate the good and the great. Excellent sound design, if paired with an otherwise well-executed film, is more than likely to shoot your submission to the top in the eyes of festival directors. These days, believe it or not, sound is the pivotal secret ingredient at times overlooked by even the best of rising filmmakers.

3. Research Festivals Carefully

It may seem obvious, but conducting research on film festivals is not as easy as it sounds. For one, the sheer amount of festivals has compounded in the last decade, with as many as 10,000 festivals on FilmFreeway. So how do you sort through the mix?


The first step is to look into the festival’s past programming. Use this to examine if they’re looking for your particular type of film. Festivals can have different themes, such as experimental, documentary, or conventional narrative. Next, understand the level of the festival: is it A-list and international, regional, or a smaller local one? Ensure that this makes sense with your submission. Especially for new filmmakers, informed festival choices will greatly maximize your chances of selection. From there, you can then start to work up the ladder!

6 ways to make your film festival submission stand out

4. Reach Out to Festival Programmers

The old adage is to network, network, network. We’re here to break that idea down a bit. Rather than attempting to mass connect with as many industry insiders as you can, it can be much more productive to conduct directed efforts to reach only the programmers for the film festivals you’re interested in.


The individual goals of festivals are meant to be distinctly separate from one another. Therefore, festival directors and programmers tend to differ hugely in terms of what they look for. For instance, you would rarely catch overlaps between the films at Sundance vs. at the Cannes Film Festival. For that reason, reach out to specific people and apply their advice on a festival-to-festival basis. This is also an excellent way to get your name out there, even before your film is considered.

5. Consider Model Festival Strategies

Creating your own developed festival circuit strategy — the precise timing, order, and selection of festivals — can take years of experience, not to mention precarious amounts of trial and error. If you’re just starting out, am alternative is to research the festival strategies of successful films you admire.


When in the year did they begin submissions? How spread out were their submissions? What was their endgame in the circuit? Then, once you’ve pinpointed the strong and weak points, model your own film’s festival strategy after it. Remember that a submission shouldn’t be the end of your efforts. You should also seek to build your network in a way that meshes with your festival strategy.

6 ways to make your film festival submission stand out

6. Polish Title, Synopsis, and Descriptions

A common trait of standout film festival submissions is that no detail is left unpolished. This could not be more true for one of the smallest yet most crucial details out there: the text that is paired with your film. Every festival will ask for a title and a synopsis, with many leaving room for additional descriptions.


At the very least, perfect your title. Countless films are submitted with generic, overused titles, which unnecessarily and disastrously harm even the most exceptional works. The title is how you make your first impression and make your film festival submission stand out, so use it to your full advantage. Following that same logic, any other text descriptions should be just as thoughtfully written. You’ve poured all the hard work into your film, now, just put your best foot forward.

6 ways to make your film festival submission stand out

These six steps are a great start in making your film festival submission stand out against the competition. Most importantly, stick to the stories you want to tell through filmmaking and share them with the world.


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