When is the best moment to release your film online?

One of the recurring questions filmmakers have is whether and when their short should be published on video-sharing websites. When it comes to festival submissions, some festivals do not consider films that are already available online, especially world or international premiere festivals. Nevertheless, many filmmakers don’t know that publishing does not necessarily limit their submission options, since at least 70% of the important festivals do in fact accept films that have already been released on the internet. But you need to find out which ones. For instance, , Tampere Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival have lately awarded shorts that had already been released.

Keep all the balls in the air

In order to maximize the number of views, it pays to have both — a festival run and an online release. It’s essential to create a solid strategy in advance. In most cases the online premiere should be held about six months to two years after your film is completed, depending on your festival goals, the content and the genre of your film. After a while you can juggle festivals AND video-sharing sites, and keep them in the air at the same time.

Before publishing, come up with a meticulously planned marketing strategy which you can follow through. A key point is to decide where to release your short. There is no need to be loyal to one platform. The more sites you distribute on, the higher your chance is to reach a wider audience. with its strong filmmaking community, Short of the Week are all suitable for your film’s online premiere. Uploading the film directly to your film’s Facebook page as well and mobilizing your friends, family members, cast and crew will help to spread the word on social media.

Festival first? Online first? Or both?

Festival first: Have a look at Fela and Etienne’s spectacular HYPERTRAIN, produced in 2016. After planning the festival premiere carefully, the film was screened at over 60 festivals and won several awards. In April 2018 the Swiss animated film celebrated its Vimeo Staff Pick, and even continued its successful festival run.


Online first: However, you don’t necessarily have to hold off on uploading your video until you are finished with the festival circuit. Remember that music videos also go online right away but can still make a decent career at festivals, for example our THROUGH MY STREET.



This strategy can work for short films as well, just like it did for MARIE’S DICTIONARY. This insightful documentary by Global Oneness Project was launched on YouTube, Vimeo and other platforms in 2014, and was featured by Short of the Week. The festival premiere was in 2015, and the film screened at the Oscar-qualifying Seattle International Film Festival and Traverse City Film Festival, among others. As we followed a diverse and broad strategy, MARIE’S DICTIONARY was also presented at specific ethnographic and anthropological events, such as Montréal First Peoples Festival and Antropofest.


A similar strategy was applied by our Indian member Devashish Makhija. His hilarious short TAANDAV held an early YouTube premiere and had already gone viral with over two million views when it was added to the program of the Tampere Film Festival.


It’s not easy but you don’t have to make all the decisions alone

Whether your film has already been published online or not, CUT-UP HUB helps you to navigate between festivals by providing you with personalized advice. When starting your film’s festival run using our tool, you indicate whether your film is online or not, and you can always update this status if you decide to publish your film at a later date. Our algorithm will consider the new status and provide your next festival list, excluding festivals that don’t allow films to be online. This way, CUT-UP HUB enables easy and efficient planning of your distribution strategy and a smooth transition from unpublished to published, while still keeping the festivals running.

CUT-UP offers precisely targeted and personalized strategies, submission services, and festival consulting for short films. www.cut-up.ch

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