Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 28 – Crested Butte, NEPA Horror and Norwich Film Festivals

Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 28 - Crested Butte, NEPA Horror and Norwich Film Festivals


Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 28 – Crested Butte, NEPA Horror and Norwich Film Festivals

Article by Justin Bowler

Four FOR FOUR!!!!

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 FilmFilmmakers 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.

Oh, the Effing Horror

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 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.

Crested Butte Film Festival

Crested Butte Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $60

I first emailed the informational email listed on on 12/2. One single day later I got a response from Jennifer Festival Director (I’m still not sure if that was her full name) (Or her title) (Or BOTH!).

Hi Justin, 
Yes, Michael Brody can be reached at this email address. And he is both the Artistic Director and Programming Director.
Jennifer Festival Director
Crested Butte Film Festival

Boom. I shot my questions off to Michael. One single day later, he got back to me.

Hi Justin,
Great to hear from you and thanks for contacting us at Crested Butte.
I’d love to talk with you about our festival so let’s set up a time in the next week or so. I’m at ***-***-****.

RE: your film. A horroremdy sounds really fun and we’d love to see. Thanks for submitting. And female nudity? No problem here.

We program four short narrative programs and four short doc programs a year. A 17 minute film works really well for us.

I’d say we are extremely “filmmaker friendly” and our quote by filmmaker Marcelo Mitnik on our submission page is a really good example. Crested Butte if a fun-loving town and the film festival has done a lot to add to it.

I think that’s everything. Please let me know if you have other questions.

Michael Brody
Festival Director

Festival Director

Crested Butte Film Festival | September 28 – October 1, 2017

Michael was pretty awesome: straight forward and to the point. No wonder he gets his title listed twice at the bottom of his emails.

CRESTED BUTTE FILM FESTIVAL gets a very fast POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness!

NEPA Horror Film Festival

NEPA Horror Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $150

I first emailed the informational email listed on FilmFreeway on 11/20. A week later I received a response from the festival with the info for their Festival Director, Bobby Keller. So, I shot my questions over to him. A single day later I got a response from him.

We are all about nudity! I don’t believe in censorship. We did just change a guideline after “13 Short Films 2” and changed the length of submissions to under 13 minutes. It was originally 30 minutes or under, but the audience gets fidgety sitting through three 20 minutes shorts in a row.

But seriously, we had Joe Bob Briggs host the last festival and I was talking to him in the hotel lobby the next morning and he gave me a lot of good advice, which included shortening the length of submissions. We arent showing 13 films at Spooky Summer on July 15th though, so I can be more lenient if a submission ran over a few extra minutes, maybe.

One day later, I received this.

Also, I encourage all the filmmakers to attend and even offer them a chance to introduce their films. In 2017, I want to start giving out awards (trophies) as rewards.

The following day, I received this (and I came to love how thorough Bobby was),

Oh yes, we have a Facebook page, a Twitter (that I barely use), and I just recently made an Instagram. The Facebook page is the most “active” of the three. We also have a website

And the following day, I received this…

Instagram is nepahorrorfilmfest, I don’t know what the twitter is because I don’t use it anymore.

Then this…


And finally, this…

Hey! You inspired me to make a new Twitter for the film festival. It is @SpookyScranton

Bobby actually made me laugh out loud. This was one of the most thorough and entertaining interactions I have had with a festival. He is an excellent ambassador for the fest. I happily submitted and I infinitely believe they will take the time to give my film a fair chance.

NEPA HORROR FILM FESTIVAL gets an extended POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. Submit with confidence!!!

Norwich Film Festival

Norwich Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $75

I emailed my eligibility questions on 1/31/17 to the informational email address listed on FilmFreeway. I got an immediate response from Co-Director, Craig. (I wonder if the other director does not have a last name either.)

Hi Justin
Co-Director here (Craig). How can we help you?

I shot him my questions that same day. I didn’t hear anything back for a few weeks, so, I shot my questions again on 2/11/17. I received an immediate response.

Hi Justin, 
Apologies on missing your last email. We have been a little bit crazy this way with messages since opening up submissions. 

With regards to your film – nope, we don’t have any issues around genre – we are open to anything.  As a festival, we have programmed 17 minute shorts (in fact our competition is for shorts under 25mins). As a festival we select the best films we have submitted to us in a year, so if your film makes it into the official selection we would then programme it.  RE: Topless question – we are not against nudity, but I would advise that you send the version you want the volunteer judges to judge.

Also, our festival is incredibly festival friendly. Last year we screened 5 short nights which hosted a mix of genre films – it was such great fun! We screen the films in an auditorium which fits up to 100 people and then after the screenings we always encourage our audience to come and talk with the volunteers about the films. We love to chat film! We also offered a couple of networking events after screenings which again encourages people to talk about some of the films they watched. 
Hope that helps, 
Wishing you all the best

This interaction was just dynamite. I submitted immediately.

NORWICH FILM FESTIVAL gets a POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. Submit with confidence.


If you would like to know more, check out the past articles for this series with the links below. They are not all as happy and positive as this week. If you would like to find out more info about my genre film, follow it on Instagram @OhTheEffingHorrorfor instant updates.

Norwich FF

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-SEVEN.5 – Breckenridge Film Festival Follow-Up
PART TWENTY-SEVEN – Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival, Idaho Horror and Kansas City Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-SIX – Sick ‘N’ Wrong, Woods Hole & CayFilm International Film Festivals
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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