AN ONGOING SERIES ABOUT ONE SILLY LITTLE MAN’S FILM FESTIVAL SUBMISSION EXPERIENCE
Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 12 – Chhatrapati Shivaji Int’l, Columbus Int’l Film + Video & Newport Beach Film Fests
Article by Justin Bowler
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style…
For those of you who don’t know, this is an ongoing review series about my film festival submission experience. These festival reviews are not based on whether or not I was accepted to their festival, it is based merely on my interaction with them as a filmmaker inquiring about their festival and if my genre film is the right fit. I send them three questions, and they are “Yes or No”. It’s pretty easy. Yet, for some reason, some fests, can’t/don’t/won’t respond.
Filmmakers submit their films online to festivals. They can pay upwards of $100 just to be considered. Yet, they never get confirmation that their film was actually watched. They never speak with anyone from the fest. They don’t know who is judging the film. It could be someone well versed in cinematic theory, who has studied film for years, dissected scenes for hidden nuances, and has a few degrees in writing, film studies and art. OR it could be some random guy who “really likes” going to movies, sees a lot of Hollywood blockbusters, and has opinions on which Transformers movie is the best of Michael Bay’s work. Sadly, filmmakers are forced to “trust the system”. It can be very sketchy. Some festivals take the time to make sure it isn’t, whereas others just don’t want and/or care to make it otherwise.
Check out my friend Paul Osborne’s documentary Official Rejection. It will give you some real insight into how unfriendly some fests are to filmmakers. Sadly, it will blow your mind.
Let me set the scene. I have a short film called OH, THE EFFING HORROR (that’s right, the title is meant to be shouted). Check out the trailer HERE.
Clearly, it is a genre picture. It’s a horror/comedy, or “Horr-omedy”. In addition to the gore and general subject matter, it contains nudity. Finally, with a run time of almost seventeen minutes, it may be too long for some festivals to program. All three of these points give rise to questions I have for festivals.
– First, do they program horror films? (The majority of the fests out there are NOT horror fests, so I would like to know if they even consider the genre in their short film competition.)
– Second, do they accept films with nudity? (Plenty of festivals have to keep it family friendly. I don’t have a problem with that, but, I would like to know that before I shell out my $45.)
– Third, is a seventeen minute run time too long? (Many fests have time limits for their shorts, but don’t always post that info on WithoutaBox.com or FilmFreeway.com.) (For you newcomers, these are the two websites used for the majority of festival submissions.)
My journey began by contacting festivals through the informational email they listed on WithoutaBox.com or FilmFreeway.com. In my email, I stated who I was, the answers I was seeking and inquired who could answer. Typically, I was referred to the Artistic Director or Programming Director.
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $3 (yes, just THREE dollars)
I first emailed on the informational email listed on WithoutABox on 10/6/16. I didn’t receive any response. So, I emailed again on 11/13. On 11/18, I was responded to by a nameless respondent. So, I sent my questions to that person on 11/18. On December 7th, three days before the final deadline, I got my answers. I did not submit.
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Film Festival gets a NEGATIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. Even though their price is only $3, they are probably run by amateurs. I’m not sure if you get accepted that you want that credit.
Columbus International Film + Video Festival
Submission Price – Up to $80
On October 30th, I emailed the informational email listed on WithoutABox. I didn’t get a response, so I emailed again on 11/13. I still didn’t receive a response, so I emailed a third time on 11/25. They NEVER RESPONDED.
Columbus International Film + Video Festival Again gets a NEGATIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. How many times do I have to email them to find out if my film is even ELIGIBLE? They come off as a big festival that doesn’t cater to cold submissions. Just a guess, most of their line up consists of invited films.
Newport Beach Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $100
I sent my initial email on 10/13. On 10/18, I got a response regarding who (should I have used “whom” there? Grammar was never my strong spot) I should contact from Riki Kucheck (Festival Director). So, I immediately sent my questions to the new contact Sarah Sleeger (Program Director) and CC’d Riki as well. I didn’t get a response, so I emailed again on 11/13. I still didn’t get a response, so I emailed again on 12/2. At this point, I got an immediate response from Riki.
WE do not have any issues with nudity. In addition, we do usually have a horror segment. As for your question regarding festival submissions. Not sure what you wanted there. Can you be more specific?
Newport Beach Film Festival
I responded on 12/3.
Thank you for getting back to me. I’m writing an article about how friendly film festivals are to filmmakers. So, I would love some examples of that.
In addition, do you realistically program 17 minute shorts?
On 12/5 she responded again.
Yes we do program 17 minute shorts. That’s actually about the average length.
We strive to be a very filmmaker oriented film festival. We have numerous events for filmmakers to connect and interact. For example, we have sunset happy hours, a filmmaker brunch, numerous parties and a filmmakers lounge. All filmmakers are assigned a programmer to assist them their screenings. We also, encourage filmmakers to attend as we like to have Q&A’s after as many films as possible. Let me know if you need anything else.
Newport Beach Film Festival
I submitted. At this point, the fest went above and beyond, to help me out. I had problems submitting, plus I had a press kit that was inadequate. Riki and Dennis Baker, Director of Short Film Programming informed me of what I was missing after I submitted, and then informed me again when I screwed up. They guided me though their process to make sure I got everything correct until they informed me that my submission was complete.
Newport Beach Film Festival gets a POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. They went above and beyond to make sure that my submission was complete by showing a vested interest in me as a filmmaker. This is some of the best personal service I have seen.
Two negatives and one FANTASTIC positive this week. If you would like to know more, check out the past articles for this series with the links below. If you would like to find out more info about my genre film, follow it on Instagram @OhTheEffingHorror for instant updates.
Once again, I’d like to hear your stories about festival submitting. If you think there is more to be said about any of the festivals I have reviewed, then I would love to hear it.
Thanks for joining me, check back Friday to find which fests are fab and which fests are effed. (See what I did there?)
Read More of Justin Friday Film Festival Friendliness reviews:
PART ELEVEN – Northeast Film Festival Horror Fest + Depth of Field Int’l, DC & NYC Independent Film Fests
PART TEN – Dawson City & San Louis Obispo Int’l Film Festivals + Zed & Short. Sweet. Film Fests
PART NINE – CISF, Cinemagic London, Atlanta & Liverpool Independent Film Festivals
PART EIGHT – Julien Dubuque, IHSFF, Atlanta Shortsfest, Austin Revolution & Media Film Fests
PART SEVEN – Dam Short, ICE & River Run International Film Festivals
PART SIX – Tampa Bay Underground, CinePlay Film Awards and more
PART FIVE – Fic Autor, Long Beach Int’l & Green Bay Film Festivals
PART FOUR – Los Angeles Film & Script, Fantastic Planet & Tally Shorts Festivals
PART THREE – Die Laughing Film Festival, Slamdance & SIFF
PART TWO – Cheyenne ZombieFest & MiSciFi
PART ONE – SoCal Clips Indie Fest & Brightside Tavern