Written by The Film Festival Doctor, Dr. Rebekah Louisa Smith

The Oscar-qualifying Raindance Film Festival took place in London June 19 through 28, 2024.

Raindance is an essential festival for every filmmaker to attend at some point in their career. Not only is the programme full of international films (including immersive & VR films), but also lots of industry events and networking parties that can unlock a plethora of new career possibilities for filmmakers.

One of my client’s short films "Suppression" screened at the festival as part of the festival’s official selection. The writer and star of the film Adam Morse gave an industry panel called "Adam Morse—Defying Expectations" where he talked about cinema, impact, inclusivity, and the challenges of working as a blind director in the industry, as well as his journey to recently being signed by a big LA agency after having his debut commercial for Google played during the Superbowl 2024.

All of the above is super exciting and extremely rewarding for a filmmaker. Having a film screened at a festival like Raindance is an amazing achievement and breakthrough in their careers. By having a physical presence at the festival and partaking in the events and screenings, this can lead to making connections and building relationships with top film industry professionals and organizations (such as Netflix, BFI London etc.).

However, film festivals are also the equivalent of going to work; they’re not relaxing holidays (even if you fly to a festival in Bermuda!). They can often be very intense and highly pressured events. A filmmaker is presenting their work and to some degree might feel that they’re being judged. There’s a lot of things happening which can take a lot of time to process and can subsequently take their toll 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: Keep your mind, eyes and ears open whilst at a film festival to allow new opportunities to be presented to you. Assuming that things will go a certain way and that people will think certain things is not a healthy mindset to have. Be open, curious, and stay grounded and relaxed.

2. Don’t Create False Narratives: Try not to allow your mind to create and engage with stories that are full of fearful and anxiety-inducing reasons why people might not like your film or that nothing will happen whilst you’re attending the festival. Believe in yourself and feel confident in your film.

3. Feel the Feelings: Feel the disappointment of not winning an award and/or if someone is not complimentary about your film. Process the disappointment and know that winning doesn’t validate you and that everyone has different perceptions and film preferences. Take what they say as constructive feedback.

4. Take Time Out: Film festivals tend to start early and finish very late. Take a few hours out from the festival and go to a gallery (i.e. the Tate Modern) or even better go to a wellness spa and meditate (plenty of these in Central London), or just chill out and do nothing so you can refuel and recharge for the evening’s events.

5. Use Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) To Help With Overwhelm: There’s a lot going on during a film festival which can often feel overwhelming. EFT is an alternative treatment for emotional distress. It’s also referred to as ‘tapping’. Tapping the body can create a balance in your energy system and treat pain. EFT focuses on the energy hot spots in the body to restore balance to your body’s energy. A good place to start is to ‘tap’ your shoulders once or twice a day as this is a common area of the body where there is an imbalance and the 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 for example; ‘’I am undefeated’’. By stimulating this area of your body and saying the above statement, it helps you to significantly reduce stress levels.

For more info on this topic and navigating the festival circuit, download for free my latest book Film Festivals & Looking After Your Mental Health here - https://www.thefilmfestivaldoctor.com/shop/

The Film Festival Doctor USA LLC