AN ONGOING SERIES ABOUT ONE SILLY LITTLE MAN’S FILM FESTIVAL SUBMISSION EXPERIENCE
Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 18 – West Chester, Oaxaca and Crimson Screen Horror Film Fests
Article by Justin Bowler
Two out of three ain’t bad, right?
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.
Submission Price – Up to $95
I first emailed the informational email listed on Withoutabox on 10/28. I got an immediate response from the submissions team. They referred me to Ramiz Adeeb Azar, CEO/Director General (I’ll be honest, that is the fanciest title I’ve seen). I sent my questions off to him, and he answered me immediately.
Thank you so much for your inquiry. Your email was forwarded (yes again) to me. First, thank you so much for considering Oaxaca FilmFest. Next…..17 minutes is a long short but last year we screened 8 of them and historically that is about the number.
We love Horror…Kristen Stewart won for Best Actress last year with the horror/thriller Personal Shopper (Directed by Assayas).
We just concluded our 7th edition with an attendance of three times that of the 6th edition and with nearly 5000 submissions in 2016 we are very excited about the 2017 edition.
Finally, after checking with our entire team-on both a personal and profesional level we are all OK with nudity.
Good luck with your project and hope to see you in Oaxaca in October,
Lic. Ramiz Adeeb Azar
Short and sweet. I submitted.
OAXACA FILMFEST gets a POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. You can submit with confidence.
Crimson Screen Horror Film Fest
Submission Price – Up to $60
I first emailed the informational email listed on WithoutABox on 11/19. Within minutes, I received a response from a nameless respondent with an address that was particularly patriotic hUSAfan1@aol.com
We play films with nudity but nothing borderline pornographic. But we play comedy and all types of films with horror elements. Thanks for reaching out.
Sometimes even I, yes ME, make mistakes. I emailed him back with…
Thanks for getting back to me. I appreciate your time. Can I get your name and affiliation with the festival for my article?
Thank you so much,
I was so thrown by the email address that I didn’t notice he had listed his name. He responded well anyway.
I’m the founder and director. Thanks again!
At this point, I felt secure that my submission would be watched. So, I submitted.
CRIMSON SCREEN HORROR FILM FEST gets a POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness.
West Chester Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $65
I emailed my eligibility questions on 9/9 to the informational email address listed on WithoutABox. There wasn’t any response. On 10/2I emailed again. No response. On 10/24, I emailed again. On 11/14, I received this response from Carol Jean Quigley, President of WCFF.
I’m so sorry but I just found your emails in my spam folder. So sorry it may have felt like I was ignoring you! Please tell me what I can help you with or what questions I can answer.
I’ve copied one of my other emails here so please reply to both so I will get your messages
sooner! I look forward to speaking with you further!
Carol Jean Quigley
I shot her an email 2 days later. She responded 5 days later with answers. 75 days AFTER my initial contact. I submitted, but truthfully, I am not hopeful, nor am I even sure if my film will be watched. I certainly won’t be accepted if they read this review.
WEST CHESTER FILM FESTIVAL gets a NEGATIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness.
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?)
Let’s stay positive!
Read More of Justin Friday Film Festival Friendliness reviews:
PART SEVENTEEN – Nashville, Minneapolis/St. Paul Int’l & FirstGlance L.A. Film Festivals
PART SIXTEEN – Dances With Films & Southside Film Festival
PART FIFTEEN – Int’l Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema & Maryland Int’l Film Festival
PART FOURTEEN – Big Easy Int’l & Omaha Film Festivals and Pacific Coast Premiere
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