I get asked a lot how to properly submit to festivals and competitions. Like most anti-social individuals, I am often learning this the long way because I am afraid of just asking someone. So I have compiled a list of what is MORE LIKELY to work. There is nothing that is for sure gonna work unless you know the people putting on the festival or competition.
Great head shots are a must! Even in this day and age, I see people with headshot from their friend’s iphone or a compact camera and I just get sad inside. Not because they didn’t come to me, but because it shows! The people that put on festivals and competitions look at hundreds of head shots and they can tell which ones came from a person knowing how to do head shots and from someone that was too cheap to get someone to do it for them properly. It gives off the impression that you are not serious about it, and if you are not taking it seriously, then why should they. Depending on where you live, it can be expensive, but if you are serious about comedy, you need them done and done right.
Rewrite your bio. You know that bio that you sent to that one booker? Well, if you are submitting to a festival or competition I suggest you either write another, or you just truncate the one you currently have. Just get it to the point. They are usually looking for the cool stuff you have done, so throw that on there. You placed in a competition somewhere? Great! Throw it on there! You opened for Elvis during Christmas…ok…throw it on there! If you are like me, and your bio isn’t as flowery as others, it can be a little hard to get people to want to give up a prime spot just to you, but if you wow em with what you did, that may help over come that.
Submit sooner rather than later. Now, I don’t have numbers, so this is just my opinion, but I feel the sooner you submit, the greater your chances of getting selected. This may be because of several reasons, maybe the later the submission timeframe the more they think you don’t want to do it. Maybe just because of human nature, but the majority of the submissions are coming in so they ignore most of the later ones. Or, I could just be wrong, but with my own examples (again not meant to be seen as absolute), when I submitted early I got in and when I waited until the last couple of weeks I didn’t.
Have a good video. Make sure the video is one in which you can be heard more than the wait staff. Make sure that you are not blown out. A great video makes it look as though you know what you are doing. Like I said earlier, you have to look like you are a comic and not just some weirdo wasting everyone’s time. Make sure the link works before you send it. Put it up on YouTube, you can have it unlisted if you just want to submit it and not have other’s watching it, and then just copy the link and paste it into the submission form.
Here is a very important thing to understand about festivals and competitions. They by themselves will not make or break your career. If you are depending on a competition to get you all the work you need then you are thinking about it all wrong. If you submit and send in your stuff and you didn’t get selected, don’t get mad at the organizers, look within. Did you send everything they asked for? Did you not have your video link right? Did you forget to pay the submission fee? Did you not submit at all and just thought they should know you wanted to do it? If all of that was done, then it could just mean that they had everyone they needed or that your submission wasn’t as strong as the others that submitted. This doesn’t mean you are a terrible comic or anything, it just means that you will have to try again next year.