AN ONGOING SERIES ABOUT ONE SILLY LITTLE MAN’S FILM FESTIVAL SUBMISSION EXPERIENCE
Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 20 – Lake George Film Festival and Lisbon, NY State & Illinois Int’l Film Festivals
Article by Justin Bowler
If you, as a festival, won’t even take the time to answer THREE QUESTIONS regarding eligibility, then WHY THE FUCK SHOULD ANYONE SUBMIT TO YOU? Incidentally, three of the four fests this week cost over $70 to submit. If the price doesn’t drive you away, let me tell you, you should not cold submit to any of them. Can you say CASHGRAB?
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.
Lisbon International Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $20
I first emailed the informational email, firstname.lastname@example.org, listed on WithoutABox on 10/29. I did not get a response. So, I emailed again on 11/13. No Response. I emailed a third time on 12/2. Still, they did not respond to me.
If you won’t even respond to three yes/no questions, then you are not operating as a legitimate film festival.
Lisbon International FILM FESTIVAL gets a NEGATIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness.
Lake George Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $80
I first emailed the informational email, email@example.com, listed on WithoutABox on 10/30. I did not get a response. So, I emailed again on 11/13. I got this response…
How can we help you?
No name was listed. That is always a red flag. So, I emailed again with my questions on the 13th. I did not receive a response. So, I emailed them for the fourth time on 12/19. Still, they did not respond to me.
Really? You have up to an $80 submission fee and yet you don’t have anyone responding to email inquiries? Red flags abound. SKETCHY AS HELL!!! Stay away from this festival.
LAKE GEORGE FILM FESTIVAL gets a NEGATIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness.
Illinois International Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $80
I first emailed the informational email, firstname.lastname@example.org, listed on WithoutABox on 10/30. I did not get a response. So, I emailed again on 11/13. No Response. I emailed a third time on 12/19. Still, they did not respond to me.
There is a trend that I have noticed. If the informational email listed is “festival”@gmail.com, then the chances are the email is NEVER checked. In this case I am right. Stay away from this fest.
ILLINOIS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL gets a NEGATIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness.
New York State International Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $70
I first emailed the informational email, email@example.com, listed on WithoutABox on 10/30. (NOTICE THE EMAIL ADDRESS.) I did not get a response. So, I emailed again on 11/13. No Response. I emailed a third time on 12/19. Still, they did not respond to me.
Did you notice the email listed is “festival”@gmail.com. I told you there was a trend. This is the third fest with the standard gmail account, and the third not to respond. I’m pretty sure the email is never checked. Stay away from this fest.
NEW YORK STATE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL gets a NEGATIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness.
Look at that, I just saved you $250!!!! You are welcome. So, stay away from these fests. Your cold submission probably won’t get any love, or even looked at.
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 NINETEEN – Hoboken Int’l, NYC Downtown & Love Horror Short Film Festivals
PART EIGHTEEN – West Chester, Oaxaca and Crimson Screen Horror Film Fests
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