This one goes out to all the Theater Festivals out there.

I’m a big believer in festivals.  They’re like shopping malls for theater lovers.

And who doesn’t love a good mall?  If there’s one downside to the internet it’s that I never need to go to a mall anymore.  I miss me some Orange Julius!

Theater Festivals may not have Orange Julius or Spencer Gifts, but they do have lots and lots of shows.  And they provide an economical way for emerging artists to have a spotlight (or at least a par can) on their work.

That’s just one of the reasons I recommend writers submit scripts to festivals.

The other reason to be a part of a festival?  It’s a badge of honor.  A seal of approval.  It’s something for you to brag about when you get in…which can become an essential part of your post-festival marketing toolkit (and emerging shows trying to get off the ground need everything they can get).

The film industry has known about this tactic for years, which is why there are oodles and oodles of festivals that you can enter (and an entire business has been created just to facilitate the process of entering all the oodles).

Because of my web series (which has been featured in 10 festivals and counting), I’ve been living in Film Festival World for the past few months, and I’ve taken that opportunity to try and learn a few things that we can apply to what we do.

And I found one!

It’s kind of obvious…but sometimes it’s the obvious things that are the hardest to see.

Here’s a hint:  what do all film festivals have in common?

Or let me be more specific:  what do all films that have been accepted into festivals have in common?

That’s right.


Those leafy little, horseshoe-shaped things that adorn the top or bottom of a film’s poster.  (Click here to see an example.)

And they are literally a badge of honor.  A seal of approval.  These little symbols somehow say classy and quality, even if they’re for a film festival maybe run by three dudes who live in their mom’s garage and screen their movies on a 32″ non-HD TV.

Films try and collect as many as they can.  And the film festivals love it because they market their festivals! (Almost every film festival I’ve been in has sent me the laurels so fast, urging me to apply them to my advertising.)  It’s a marketing win-win because both sides get a benefit.

So why don’t theater festivals have laurels?

There should be a NYMF laurel and a Fringe laurel and a Planet Connections laurel.  Or if laurels are a film thing, then let’s come up with something else!

I have seen some shows make laurels of their own (smart), but the time has come for every festival to…

  • Create a symbol that indicates acceptance into their festival.
  • Urge the shows accepted into the festival to attach it to their marketing.

We should start adopting this practice because it’ll help…and, well, because I just don’t like it when the film industry beats us in anything.

Maybe the symbol for a theater festival can be the Orange Julius logo?

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.