Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 30 – Austin, Monmouth & Atlanta Horror Film Festivals

Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos


Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 30 – Austin, Monmouth & Atlanta Horror Film Festivals

Article by Justin Bowler

Boy, these guys are SOOOOOO much better than last week. 🙂

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.

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.

Austin Film Festival

Austin Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $85

I originally contacted the festival email listed on on 2/13. The following day I received a response back from Harrison Glaser, Film Competition Director of the Austin Film Festival. The following day, I sent him my questions. Literally, one day later, he got back to me.

As the Writers Festival, we look for strong writing and strong storytelling, and that can be storytelling of any form and any genre. Every year we accept all types of stories. So yes, we’ll certainly consider a horror comedy as long as it tells a good story. And we have no qualms or issues with nudity or other explicit content (again, we only look at these issues as how they help or hurt the story). Runtime is definitely a factor in selecting films for the competition. It’s obviously easier to program a shorter film, but we accept short films of all lengths, from two minutes to forty.

I encourage you to take a look at our website and the events we hold at the festival, namely the Conference, which offers unique and powerful networking opportunities for filmmakers of every level.

Best of luck with the film. I encourage you to submit, which you can do here:

Harrison Glaser
Film Competition Director | Austin Film Festival
1801 Salina Street | Austin, Texas 78702
O: 512.478.4795 | F:  512.478.6205
24th Annual Austin Film Festival
October 26-November 2, 2017

I was impressed with his expediency and his straightforwardness. I immediately applied.

Austin Film Festival gets a Positive review for Filmmaker Friendliness.

Monmouth Film Festival

Monmouth Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $60

I originally contacted the festival email listed on on 2/3. That same day I received this response…

Greetings Justin, 
If you can let us know what this is in reference to we can be sure to pass it along to the appropriate person. 

I’m always slightly leery of any email that has a salutation sans a person’s name. It usually means that no one wants to take responsibility. But, I acquiesced and sent a follow-up email. No response. So, I sent another email on 2/16. A response came on 2/24.

Hey Justin,
I’m, Nicholas Calisti,the Submissions Director for Monmouth Film Festival – I can answer any and all of your questions. 17 minutes is fine andwe except any and all genres, we are also completely fine with nudity as long as it makes sense for the film. Could you tell me more about how you’re writing about your
film festival experience, as this is something we’d be interested it being a part of.
Nicholas Calisti

I sent another email back to him with links to the series I’m writing and Nicholas got back to me.

I enjoyed what you wrote and part of the reason we started this film festival is because how we were treated as filmmakers when submitting and attending festivals.

I loved his responses. They literally created a festival because of the way they were treated as filmmakers. That is awesome! I immeditealy submitted to the festival, knowing I would get a fair shot.

Monmouth Film Festival gets a Positive review for Filmmaker Friendliness. These guys are fantastic. Submit with absolute confidence!

Atlanta Horror Film Festival

Atlanta Horror Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $60

I originally contacted the festival email listed on on 2/8. No response. So, I emailed again on 3/2. I received an immediate response from Eric Panter, Director of Programming. I asked him my questions. Three days later he responded…

Here you are!

I’m wondering, as your line up starts taking shape, what are you looking for in style and theme this year: gore, suspense, comedy horror? 
A. We are really into all genres, although we tend not to program many found footage projects.

Is your festival against nudity? (I have two versions of my film, one with a topless shot and one without.) 
A. We encourage all forms of expressions, and nudity is fine.

I realize you probably CAN accept a 17 minute film, but realistically, do you actually program them?
A. Under 20 minutes is good for a short, although we have included 40 minute films before. 

How filmmaker friendly is your festival? Can you give me an example?
A. We love our filmmakers. We always schedule a Q&A with the audience after the film screening, and invite our filmmakers to the bar next door for drinks and munchies. 

Trailer looks good, and great title. Looks EFFing fun.

Eric’s responses were great. Satisfied that I would get a fair shake, I submitted.

Atlanta horror Film Festival gets a Positive review for Filmmaker Friendliness.

Back to being positively positive! Nice. Submit to these awesome fests 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 @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?)

In the words of Elle Woods, “Let’s keep it positive!” (That was for you musical indy movie fans who happen to also love musical theatre).

Justin Bowler
IG @IndyFilmTwittic and @OhTheEffingHorror
Twitter @JustinTBowler
Read More of Justin Friday Film Festival Friendliness reviews:
PART TWENTY-NINE – Cinema at the Edge, Amsterdam International Filmmaker Festival & London Independent and Los Angeles Thriller Film Festivals
PART TWENTY-EIGHT – Crested Butte, NEPA Horror and Norwich Film Festivals
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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