Read and download the pilot script for “Shōgun”

Raindance is a festival that every filmmaker should definitely attend during their career. Not only is the program packed with international films (including immersion and VR films), but it also features many industry events and networking parties that can open up a wealth of new career opportunities for filmmakers.

One of my client's short films, “Suppression,” was screened at the festival as part of the official selection. The film's writer and star, Adam Morse, held an industry panel titled “Adam Morse – Defying Expectations,” where he spoke about cinema, impact, inclusivity, and the challenges of working in the industry as a blind director. He also spoke about his recent path to a major agency in LA after his debut commercial for Google screened during the 2024 Superbowl.

All of this is super exciting and extremely rewarding for a filmmaker. Screening a film at a festival like Raindance is an incredible achievement and a breakthrough in one's career. By physically being present at the festival and attending the events and screenings, one can network and build relationships with top professionals and organizations in the film industry (like Netflix, BFI London, etc.).

However, film festivals are also like going to work; they are not relaxing holidays (even if you fly to a festival in Bermuda!). They can often be very intense and stressful events. A filmmaker presents their work and, to some extent, feels judged. A lot of things happen that can take a lot of time to process and can subsequently have a negative impact on a filmmaker's mental health.

Dr Rebekah Louisa Smith

Below are my top tips to help you take care of your mental health during a film festival:

1. Never assume anything: When attending a film festival, keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities. Assuming that things are going to be a certain way and that people think certain things is not a healthy attitude. Be open, curious and stay grounded and relaxed.

2. Don’t invent false narratives: Try not to create stories in your head full of fear and worrying reasons why people might not like your film or that nothing will happen during your visit to the festival. Believe in yourself and trust in your film.

3. Feel the feelings: Feel the disappointment when you don't win an award and/or when someone doesn't praise your film. Process the disappointment and know that winning doesn't validate you and that everyone has different perceptions and film preferences. Consider what they say as constructive feedback.

4. Take a break: Film festivals tend to start early and finish very late. Take a few hours off from the festival and visit a gallery (such as the Tate Modern) or better yet a wellness spa and meditate (there are many in central London) or just relax and do nothing so you can recharge your batteries and recharge your batteries for the evening events.

5. Use the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to relieve overwhelm: There is a lot going on at a film festival, which can often be overwhelming. EFT is an alternative treatment method for emotional stress. It is also known as “tapping.” Tapping on the body can bring balance to your energy system and reduce pain. EFT focuses on the energy hotspots in the body to restore your body's energy balance. A good place to start is to “tap” your shoulders once or twice a day, as this is an area of ​​the body where there is often an imbalance and energy can be blocked. When using EFT, it is always a good idea to say an affirmation to train your brain to believe what is true, such as “I am undefeated.” By stimulating this area of ​​your body and saying the above statement, you can significantly reduce your stress levels.

For more information on this topic and navigating the festival circuit, check out my latest book, Film Festivals & Looking After Your Mental Health, here –

The Film Festival Doctor USA LLC

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