Do It Yourself Festival

Top tips for running your own film festival at school

Into Film Festival Attendees in Cinema (2019)
Into Film Festival Attendees in Cinema (2019)

Nothing beats the big screen experience for watching a film, but due to the challenges many schools will face as a result of the pandemic, most of the Into Film programme is moving to 2021. But, you can still recreate the magic of cinema with your very own at-school film festival. 

What are the benefits of running a film festival?

  • A fun and engaging way to support your delivery of the curriculum
  • Helps young people develop valuable life skills such as time management, problem-solving and teamwork
  • Creating an event for students to take some time out and create a welcome distraction at a challenging time
  • An engaging way to celebrate annual events such as Black History Month and Anti-bullying Week

Looking for inspiration?

Find out how one school ran their own film festival to inspire and celebrate their students' creativity, or how working with film can support your school to earn an Arts Award. Or perhaps you want to hold a themed event, like a Shakespeare Screening. We also have lots of great filmmaking guides - check out our Exhibition and Distribution mini filmmaking guide.

Before you get started...

Before you get stuck in, think about what type of festival you want to run. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How long will my festival run for? Over half a day or three days?
  • How many films will be screened?
  • Will my festival have a theme?
  • What other activities will my festival include? For example, poster-making, virtual guest speakers, Q&As, film of the festival vote or filmmaking workshops. 
Primary Festival attendees

How to run your own film festival: 

This simple guide aims to make running your own film festival as easy as possible, and enjoyable for everyone involved. Once you have decided upon your main festival structure follow these simple steps:

Step 1: 

Get buy-in. It is important to get everyone behind your festival and offering their support from the start.

Step 2: 

Find a location. Find out which spaces are available to use, such as a school hall or classroom. Think about how suitable these spaces are e.g. how will social distancing work? How many people/seats can fit in? Is it dark enough to watch a film?

Step 3: 

Set a date so you have something to work towards.

Step 4: 

Choose a name for your festival. Think about a catchy or unique name so it grabs people's attention. To build excitement around the festival, you could run a competition to see who can come up with the best name.

Step 5: 

Allocate job roles. Give people specific roles and responsibilities such as: sending out invitations, introducing films, film programming (i.e. choosing films you would like to show), showing people to their seats, taking photos/filming on the day or giving out/selling snacks.

Step 6: 

Choose your films. It may be useful to come up with a theme to help you choose films. For example, the environment or Black History Month. Make sure that films chosen can be enjoyed by everyone. You could check out Into Film's extensive film library and film guides to help you shortlist films.

Step 7: 

Let other people know when and where your film festival is happening. Create a range of different marketing materials such as posters, flyers or use school assemblies to help promote your film festival.

Step 8: 

Plan your schedule. Create a schedule or plan of events for your film festival. For example, what time will the event begin/end? When will films be shown, guest speakers present, or poster design activities run?

Step 9: 

Send invitations. If possible at the moment, you may wish to invite parents or carers, as well as other teachers and students at your school. You may also want to feature a special guest who can perform different roles on the day, such as introducing a film or judging a competition.

Step 10: 

Final preparation. To ensure that your film festival runs as smoothly as possible, make sure that:

  • The space is set up to seat the number of people you have invited and where possible create a theatre seating plan so there's no bad seat in the house, ie tiered seating.
  • The venue is decorated to give it a more cinematic feel.
  • Your guests know where they need to be and when.
  • Everyone involved in the festival knows what role they have been given and what their responsibilities are.

Finally, sit back and enjoy the film festival that you have worked so hard to create over the past few weeks! 

To make the most of your film festival, why not get students writing a review of a film they've just seen? We have lots of review writing tips for both Primary and Secondary. Build anticipation and for the event and encourage creativity by challenging students to design tickets for the festival and maybe even run it as a competition.

And, if you are able to or thinking about goingto the cinema, here are some tips as to what you can watch.

Into Film Festival ticket at Edinburgh Zoo with Monkey

Into Film Festival

Find out more about our current Into Film Festival plans.

Into Film Festival Attendees (2019)

Into Film Festival 2019

Check out highlights from 2019's Into Film Festival.