AN ONGOING SERIES ABOUT ONE SILLY LITTLE MAN’S FILM FESTIVAL SUBMISSION EXPERIENCE
Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 14 – Big Easy Int’l & Omaha Film Festivals and Pacific Coast Premiere
Article by Justin Bowler
It’s never too late to suck.
Here’s my challenge to you, dear reader. How long does it take you to hit reply, then type “Yes”, “Yes”, “Yes” and your name? Do it. I dare you. I will time myself. Go.
I typed slowly, and it took me six seconds. Six Seconds. SIX. It’s amazing to me that some film festivals can’t spare six seconds. Even if I add on how long it takes to read my email (fifty seconds), then it still takes less than a minute. So, why do I tell you this? Well…
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, despite multiple inquiries, 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. Some fests only watch the first few minutes of your film, some don’t watch any of your film. Yet, they all accept your submission fee. It is an eye opening and sad realization.
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.
Pacific Coast Premiere
Submission Price – Up to $40
I first emailed the informational email listed on WithoutABox on 9/5, before the earlybird deadline. No response. I sent another email on 10/1, before the regular deadline. No response. I sent another on 10/24, before the late deadline and got a response from Zane Hauck, Administrator & Coordinator.
I would love to answer any questions you may have. I apologize for just now getting back to you as we have been very busy. What can I help you with?
Administrator & Coordinator
So, I sent off my questions again. No response. The deadline to submit was on 11/1.
PACIFIC COAST PREMIERE gets a NEGATIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. They charge up to $40, yet they can’t return a simple email. Does anyone really expect them to actually watch cold submissions? I don’t think so.
Omaha Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $65
I first emailed the informational email listed on WithoutABox on 9/6, before the regular deadline. I got back an immediate response from Marc Longbrake, Program Director.
Thank you for your interest in the Omaha Film Festival! Happy to chat any time.
Omaha Film Festival
2626 Harney Street
Omaha, NE 68131
His statement wasn’t exactly true. I sent my questions to him on 10/2, long before the late deadline. No response. I sent them again on 10/24, once again before the late deadline. No response. I sent them again on 11/13, after the late deadline but before the WAB extended deadline. NO RESPONSE. So, apparently, he was LYING when he said he was “Happy to chat any time”.
Omaha Film Festival gets a NEGATIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. First, they lied to me. Second, if you won’t answer three “Yes or No” eligibility questions, then you come off as pretty lazy. Third, based on 1st and 2nd, I highly doubt you watch cold submissions.
Big Easy International Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $55
I first emailed the informational email listed on WithoutABox on 9/12. I got back an immediate response from someone named Daniel Martone. He didn’t mention his affiliation with the festival.
The program manager is Joe Eastman
I immediately sent an email off to Joe Eastman. But, the email address I was given bounced back. So, I emailed Daniel again.
I hate to bother you again, but, I got back an error email for
Is that the correct address?
Not sure why Joe’s email is down. If you send it to
firstname.lastname@example.org, that also goes directly to his
account. Just checked that email and it seems to be working.
So, I sent my questions off to “Joe” on 9/14. No response. I emailed again on 10/2. No response. I emailed again on 10/24. No response. And I emailed for the fourth time again on 11/13. Guess what I got? NO RESPONSE. FYI, I CC’ed Daniel every time. Still, I received ZERO help.
Supposedly (or “supposebly” for the likes of the Big Easy International Film Festival), this is the 11th annual Fest. Well, they must have grown pretty big that they no longer need to answer three “Yes or No” questions regarding eligibility.
BIG EASY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL gets a NEGATIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. I’m not even sure if the person I was referred to was a real person. Heck, I don’t even know if Daniel was affiliated with the festival or just some email hacker that intercepted my email. But, the bottom line is… Four emails and NO RESPONSES. DO NOT SUBMIT!
There it is. The “Never Too Late to Suck Edition”. It’s really sad. But, at least you know who NOT to submit to. Hopefully, 2017 will yield better results. We shall see.
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?)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Read More of Justin Friday Film Festival Friendliness reviews:
PART THIRTEEN – Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema & Dallas Int’l Film Festival
PART TWELVE – Chhatrapati Shivaji Int’l, Columbus Int’l Film + Video & Newport Beach Film Fests
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