AN ONGOING SERIES ABOUT ONE SILLY LITTLE MAN’S FILM FESTIVAL SUBMISSION EXPERIENCE
Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 33 – Catalina, Woodstock Film Festivals & Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image
Article by Justin Bowler
I guess they can’t all be great.
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 FilmFreeway.com (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.
Catalina Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $75
I originally contacted the festival email listed on FilmFreeway.com on 1/25. I waited, and waited and waited. No response. I sent them another email on 4/1. I waited some more. No response. So, I sent them another email on 4/25. That same day I received this welcoming response.
What is it that you needed?
CFF Programming Team
Since, I was so warmly welcomed, after three attempts to contact them over three months, I sent my questions to the nameless respondent, wondering if it would take three more months to get a response. Happily, on 4/28, I received a response.
Please see the answers to your questions below.
Let me know if you have any others!
The Nameless Respondent
OR you can call Karyl, (Carol, like Christmas)
From the trailer it looks like it would fit into the Wes Craven category, but we ask the filmmakers to choose the one they feel is best. If we find that it fits another category better and it ends up being one of the selected films, we ask if we can screen it under the new category.
We do not have a problem with nudity.
Realistically, do you program 17 minute shorts?
If they are good, we make it work!
We love our filmmakers! They are our “Rock Stars” and we treat them as such, and even refer to them as such! LOL! From the moment they are notified they have been selected to screen with us, we try to do everything we can to make sure they have a good experience. We try to make it as easy as we can for them to join us on the island, and once they are there, we let them know we are thankful they even considered us to showcase their work!
While I appreciated Karyl’s answers, I did not submit to this festival. Unfortunately, it took three months and 4 emails to get my submission questions answered. In addition, at $50/short, it carries a hefty submission fee. Plus, I faced a 35% increase due to their lack of responsive.
CATALINA Film Festival gets neither a NEGATIVE OR Positive review. Submit at your own risk.
Woodstock Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $95
I originally contacted the festival email, firstname.lastname@example.org, listed on FilmFreeway.com on 1/31. I waited. And waited. No response. So, I sent another email on 2/10. Then, I waited and waited again. I sent another email on 3/2. I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. NO RESPONSE. They never got back to me.
WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL gets a NEGATIVE review for Filmmaker Friendliness. Do not submit to this festival.
Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image
Submission Price – Up to $60
I originally contacted the festival email, email@example.com, listed on FilmFreeway.com on 1/31. They immediately responded. I sent them my questions immediately as well. Then, I waited. No response. So, I sent the questions again on 2/10. No response. So, on 3/2, I sent the questions AGAIN. They NEVER responded.
Well, two negative reviews and a submit at your own risk. It isn’t the best of news this week. Next week will be better… hopefully.
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?)
Read More of Justin Friday Film Festival Friendliness reviews:
PART THIRTY-TWO – Killer Valley Horror, Los Angeles Reel & Halloween International Film Festivals
PART THIRTY-ONE – Sidewalk, Nightmares and HorrorHaus Film Festivals
PART THIRTY – Austin, Monmouth & Atlanta Horror Film Festivals
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