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Quick Guide to Packing and Preparing for a Film Festival

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Film festivals are exhilarating events that bring together filmmakers, industry professionals, and movie enthusiasts from around the world. Whether you’re a filmmaker showcasing your work, a film buff attending screenings, or a hopeful networker trying to make connections, proper preparation is key to ensuring you get the most out of your film festival experience. In this guide, I’ll walk you through how to pack and prepare for a film festival, covering everything from what to bring to networking tips and more.

Packing Essentials

Festival Pass and Tickets: First and foremost, ensure you have your festival pass and tickets. Without these, you won’t get far!

Identification: Carry a valid ID, especially if you plan to attend industry events or parties that may have age restrictions.

Comfortable Clothing: Dress appropriately for the festival’s atmosphere. You may need both casual attire for daytime screenings and more formal wear for evening events and premieres. The layers are your friend, as temperature variations are common in many festival locations.

Walking shoes: Expect to do a lot of walking, so comfortable shoes are a must. You’ll likely be on your feet for long periods of time, and you don’t want to be uncomfortable.

Backpack or Messenger Bag: A sturdy, comfortable backpack or messenger bag is essential for carrying snacks, water, and your festival program.

Water and Snacks: Hydrating and having snacks on hand can help you stay energized during screenings and events. Many festivals allow outside snacks and water.

Chargers and Power Bank: Your phone and other devices will get a workout, so make sure you have chargers and a portable power bank to keep them juiced up.

Notebook and Pen: I know we live in the digital age, but I still love taking notes in a traditional moleskin notebook with a pen or pencil. Besides, jotting down notes during screenings or contact information can help you plan future festival visits.

Personal Care Items: Don’t forget items like sunscreen, lip balm, hand sanitizer, and any personal medications or items you may need.

What to Spend Money On

While some film festivals offer free events and screenings, be prepared to spend money on certain aspects of your festival experience.

Accommodation: Depending on the festival’s location, accommodations can be pricey, and not all festivals cover filmmaker travel and lodging. Booking in advance and sharing a room with fellow festivalgoers can help cut costs.

Transportation: Factor in transportation costs to and from the festival location, especially if it’s in a different city or country.

Food: Eating out at restaurants can quickly add up. Consider budget-friendly options like food trucks or local markets. I like to bring energy bars and nuts with me (backpack or messenger bag) for when I don’t have time to sit and eat or I don’t want to spend the money.

Merchandise: Festivals often have exclusive merchandise like posters, t-shirts, and collectibles. If you’re a fan, budget accordingly.

Best Practices

Plan Your Schedule: Review the festival program in advance and plan your schedule accordingly. Make a list of must-see films, panels, and networking events.

Arrive Early: Lines for screenings and events can be long, so arrive early to secure a good seat.

Network Strategically: Film festivals are excellent opportunities to network. Be prepared to introduce yourself and have a short elevator pitch about your work or interest ready in case the right time comes for you to sell your wares. Carry business cards or a QR code for a digital exchange. Don’t bug people or push yourself on them. If they ask for your card, give it to them, but don’t be pushy.

Be Open to Discovery: While it’s great to have a plan, don’t be afraid to spontaneously attend a screening or event that catches your eye. You might discover something incredible.


Film festivals often have a plethora of merchandise available for purchase. Here’s how to make the most of it.

Support Independent Filmmakers: Buy merchandise from independent filmmakers showcasing their work at the festival. This not only helps them financially but also shows your support for their art.

Sell Your Wares: If you’re there supporting a film, then bring along merch and sell or give away promotional items to fans like yourself that want nothing more than to support up-and-coming artists.


Networking is a crucial aspect of film festivals. Here are some tips to help you make meaningful connections.

Attend Industry Mixers: Look for industry-specific events and mixers where you can connect with filmmakers, producers, and other professionals. Don’t push yourself or your work on anyone. Just engage in conversation and see where it leads.

Online Platforms: Utilize festival-specific apps and online platforms to connect with other attendees and schedule meetings.

Follow Up: After the festival, follow up with the people you’ve met. Send thank-you emails and stay connected on social media.

In conclusion, packing and preparing for a film festival requires careful consideration of your needs, a well-thought-out plan, and a willingness to immerse yourself in the experience. With the right essentials, spending priorities, best practices, merchandising choices, and networking strategies, you’ll be well-prepared to maximize your time at the festival. Lights, camera, action–your film festival adventure awaits!

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