Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 26 – Sick ‘N’ Wrong, Woods Hole & CayFilm International Film Festivals

FF-Reviews & Boos-PT26


Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 26 – Sick ‘N’ Wrong, Woods Hole & CayFilm International Film Festivals

Article by Justin Bowler

WHAT? More great festivals? YES, PLEASE!!!

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.

Submit your film

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.

Oh, the Effing Horror

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 or (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 (and in some cases Withoutabox). 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.

Woods Hole FF

Woods Hole Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $55

I first emailed the informational email listed on on 10/8. A few weeks later I got a response from Judy Laster, Festival Director.

Hi Justin,

Sure, feel free to email with questions, but it’s best to check out the submission information on the website first. 

Judy Laster
Festival Director
Woods Hole Film Festival

It’s nice when I get a response from the person I most want to talk to right off the bat. Most times, I have to explain myself to a volunteer in submissions. In addition, I find it funny when festival representatives tell me to check the submissions information on the website first. NOTE TO FESTIVALS: It’s far easier for me as a submitter to check the website than try to get a hold of anyone in your festival. Most filmmakers know this and do so. Unfortunately, most fests don’t realize they are far from providing all of the information that filmmakers require on the submissions page. Specifically, I have yet to see a single fest that says they accept films with nudity.

I responded to Judy with my questions. Two days later she got back to me.

Hello Justin,

Happy to answer questions about the Festival. Feel free to send them along. Regarding your question about filmmaker friendliness, we are geared toward creating a great filmmaker experience. For opinions by filmmakers, check out filmmaker reviews on Film Freeway.
In terms of specifics about your film, a short film can be up to 40 minutes. Regarding the genre, we show comedy and some horror, but it really depends on the film and how it fits in the overall program. If you plan to submit it’s probably best to submit the non-topless version. Last year we had approximately 65 shorts and 30 features. 

Hope that helps.

Judy Laster
Festival Director

She answered my questions in a timely manner and gave me information specific to my film (glad I asked, or else I would have submitted the version with the topless shot). Since I had avoided catastrophe, I submitted.

WOODS HOLE FILM FESTIVAL gets a POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness.


CayFilm International Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $45

I first emailed the informational email listed on FilmFreeway on 1/28. One day later, I received a response from… ?

You can send anything to this address and it will be forwarded to the right person.

This is usually a red flag: no name attached, and they didn’t care that I am from a media website. I responded with my questions. They responded.

So yes you can submit. You will have better chance with the one without the topless shot and 17 minutes is fine on time. We feel we are a great festival for filmmakers as it was created by filmmakers. We meet all filmmakers at the airport and give them a VIP pass worth $500 which gets you into everything. We also have discounts on hotel rooms and some other specials for visiting filmmakers. Also, we have Q&A with filmmakers if they want it. We have some great reviews on the film freeway site as we have been voted in the top 100 of film festival after our second year. Check out the film freeway page

Let us know if you have any other questions,


While I appreciate his answers, I still wasn’t terribly satisfied that this person wasn’t giving me their name. Why wouldn’t the festival want to be quoted as a specific person?

I was very hesitant to submit. Then I got an email from the Festival Director.

Let me know if there is anything I can help you with. I have seen your emails and everything looks good that was said to you. I have several volunteers that are helping out so you might get a few responding to you so I thought you can just email me if you have any other questions. We are getting a lot of emails a day now hopefully I can get your direct and respond as soon as I can.

This year’s event is going to be epic! Last year’s was amazing but we are going to do some really cool things this year. Announcements should be coming out in the next month. Definitely going to be something to attend!

Tony Mark
Festival Director

Happy that the Festival Director reached out to confirm, and satisfied that my questions were answered, I submitted.


Sick n wrong

Sick ‘N’ Wrong Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $60

I emailed my eligibility questions on 1/3 to the informational email address listed on FilmFreeway. I immediately received a message from Stephen.

I pretty much am the Sick ‘n’ Wrong Film Festival.

I thought that was a funny response and I sent him my questions. He got back to me a few weeks later.


Man, I am so sorry I haven’t gotten back to you before now. If you’re still interested in my answers to your questions, here they are!

Sick ‘n’ Wrong is a festival for movies I like to call “aggressively bizarre.” There tends to be a lot of horror and a lot of black comedy, but we’re completely open to all genres. Defining “sick ‘n’ wrong” is pretty tough, but if I were going to program my dream feature lineup, it’d probably include The Greasy Strangler, Holy Mountain, The Human Centipede (all three!), Meet the Feebles, and Happiness. Hopefully, that’ll give you an idea about the family of strangeness we’re looking for.

As I said above, SnW is open to all genres, so your movie is definitely eligible. We’re not squeamish about nudity at all, and while a seventeen-minute short might have had a tough time last year (we only programmed two movies longer than fifteen minutes), this year, we’re expanding to two days and four or five blocks, so the longer stuff has a much better shot at getting seen. 

I really hope the filmmakers who attended last year would call us filmmaker-friendly! Every visiting filmmaker got two VIP passes, which got them admission to the festival as well as an open-bar after party once the screening was over. I also tried to organize a filmmakers’ brunch the morning of the fest, but not enough people were available to attend. 

Post-fest, I’ve tried to support our alumni. Every week, I’ve been posting either one of the movies or another project by one of the filmmakers on SnW’s Sunday Sicko Spotlight on Facebook ( I also share their news and projects whenever I can. 

I hope this message isn’t so late it’s useless! If you have any more questions, let me know, and I’ll try to get back to in a slightly more timely manner.

Stephen Stull

I loved his answers. I’m fine that he took a few weeks to get back to me. He apologized and got me what I needed. I happily submitted.

SICK ‘N’ WRONG FILM FESTIVAL gets a POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. Submit with confidence.

Look at that, three fests that you can submit to with confidence (JUST LIKE LAST WEEK). Hopefully, other fests will take after this positive lead. Sadly, many don’t, but let’s not focus on that. Instead, let’s focus on how awesome these fests are. Feel free to submit with confidence.


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 @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!

Justin Bowler
IG @IndyFilmTwittic and @OhTheEffingHorror
Twitter @JustinTBowler

Read More of Justin Friday Film Festival Friendliness reviews:
PART TWENTY-FIVE – Overlook, Milledgeville and Provincetown Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-FOUR – Breckenridge Film Festival
PART TWENTY-THREE – Indie Horror, FAMEUS Int’l & Atlanta Underground Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-TWO – Brooklyn Short Film, Buddha Int’l & Sun Valley Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-ONE – Festival Reviews REVIEW!
PART TWENTY – Lake George Film Festival and Lisbon, NY State & Illinios Int’l Film Festivals
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

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