Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 36 – Shriekfest and Tulsa American Film Festivals

Film Festivals: Positive Reviews and Deserved Boos


Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 36 – Shriekfest and Tulsa American Film Festivals

Article by Justin Bowler

The greatness continues!

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.

Call for Submissions

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.)

Film Freeway

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.


Shriekfest Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $95

I originally contacted the festival email listed on on 3/7. I got an immediate response from Denise Gossett, Festival Founder/Director. She was very quick to answer my questions.

Hi Justin, see below.

Is your festival against nudity?
no, we program nudity all the time 

I realize you probably CAN accept a 17 minute film, but realistically, do you actually program them?
of course, we have short film categories.  

How filmmaker friendly is your festival? Can you give me an
extremely, that’s what we live for.  I think if you ask around you will see after 17 years we have an amazing reputation. 

2013 Movie Maker Magazine voted one of the Coolest Film Festivals in the WORLD! and in the Top 5 Coolest Horror/SciFi Film Festivals in the WORLD!

Declared “LA’s Most Successful & Entertaining Horror Film Festival” by LA WEEKLY

2011 Movie Maker Magazine top 13 film festivals to die for!

2010 Movie Maker Magazine top 25 film festivals worth the entry fee! 

Founder Denise Gossett voted number 5 out of 13 Most Influential Women In Horror History
and voted 2016’s Most Influential Women In Genre!

Denise Gossett
Festival Founder/Director
Shriekfest Film Festival & Screenplay Competition (our 17th year!!)

I instantly submitted. She was fast to respond, concise in her answers, and the accolades regarding her and her festival are great. I highly recommend this festival.

SHRIEKFEST Film Festival gets a Positive review. Submit to this festival with confidence.

Tulsa American Film Festival

Tulsa American Film Festival
Submission Price: Up to $55

I originally contacted the festival email listed on on 3/6. A few days later, I got a response from Colleen Thurston, Programming Director. I sent off my questions. At first, I didn’t get a response, so I sent them off again a few weeks later. She emailed me back shortly thereafter.

Hi Justin,

Thanks for reaching out, and my apologies for not responding sooner (email was living in the Drafts folder).

We welcome all genres, and nudity is not a problem, although you may want to submit both versions for our programming team to consider.

We DO program 17 minute shorts. That being said, of course we accept far fewer longer shorts than we do those that are under 10 minutes. Last year we had one shorts program that consisted entirely of four longer (15 min +) shorts.

We of course support our filmmakers, and like to continue to promote their work even after the festival via social media channels. We encourage filmmaker participation in all screenings.

I really enjoyed what I read on your blog, thank you for your interest in including some insight about Tulsa American on it! 

Colleen Thurston
Director of Programming
Tulsa American Film Festival

In addition to this email, she also apologized once again for the delay in response and offered me a discount if I was going to submit. It was incredibly kind of her. It was unexpected, but very cool. I am always impressed with anyone who recognizes when things aren’t perfect, takes responsibility and apologizes for it. It just shows the difference in class. Colleen Thurston is classy. I submitted immediately.

TULSA AMERICAN film Festival gets a Positive review for filmmaker friendliness. Submit to this festival with confidence.

I love it when the fests are great, and this week they were GREAT!!!

If you would like to see the opposite of great, check out my review and interaction with the Woodstock Film Festival:

Week 33- Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 33 – Catalina, Woodstock Film Festivals & Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image

Week 34- Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 33.5 – Woodstock Film Festival Follow-Up

If you would like to know more about other fantastic fests, check out the past articles for this series with the links below. They are not all like 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,
Justin Bowler
IG @IndyFilmTwittic and @OhTheEffingHorror
Twitter @JustinTBowler

Read More of Justin’s Friday Film Festival Friendliness reviews:
PART THIRTY-FIVE – Et Cultura and Molins Horror Film Festivals
PART THIRTY-FOUR – Woodstock Film Festival Follow-Up
PART THIRTY-THREE – Catalina, Woodstock Film Festivals & Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image
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

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