Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 37 – Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival

Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos - Pt. 37


Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 37 – Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival

Article by Justin Bowler

Seriously, this is just fantastic! It’s so good, I am only highlighting one fest this 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.

Official RejectionCheck 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 HorrorClearly, 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.

Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival

Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $90

I originally contacted the festival email listed on on 3/14. I got a response back a single day later, from Steve Coulter, Head of Programming.

Hello Justin,
I’d be happy to help answer any questions you have relating to our Call for Entries. Please let me know how we can help and I’m happy to put you in touch with the right person. Thank you for your interest in Blue Whiskey!


Steve Coulter – Head of Programming
Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival

I sent off my questions a single day later. That SAME DAY I received a response.

Hello Justin,

I took a brief look at your website, and I’m very happy to see a filmmaker sharing reviews about your film festival experience. If you are interested in getting some comments or more information about the festival, please let me know what you are looking for or what questions you may have. I’m happy to direct you the right person or set something up.

Let me answer your film submission questions first.
• No entries would be ineligible based on genre. We don’t have any set genre categories, just the categories listed in our Call to Entries on FilmFreeeway (i.e. Short Narrative, Feature Narrative, Short Documentary, Feature Documentary, Music Video, Series Pilot, Illinois Film).
• We have screened films with some nudity before. If you are interested, you could submit either version of your film that you’d prefer. (We include appropriate disclaimers as necessary if we exhibit a film containing content that may be sensitive for some audiences).
• We program short films of a variety of lengths and we have often selected films with runtimes of 17 minutes and longer.
It’s very important for us provide an excellent experience for the filmmakers and we really try to put the spotlight on the filmmakers at this festival. To give a couple of examples, we do a live Q&A moderated by one of our judges (who are there to see every film for the first time with the audience) with every attending filmmaker and also offer a live Skype Q&A with filmmakers who cannot attend in person. We have a filmmaker liaison at the festival to help filmmakers with questions, travel/lodging help, anything that’s needed. We are also presenting our third Independent Filmmaker Achievement Award (to be announced) at this year’s festival. This is something we do to bring back an emerging indie filmmaker who had a film at Blue Whiskey in a previous year, and have a conversation with the filmmaker about where they have gone since. You can also check out some feedback from past participants on our FilmFreeway page or on Facebook. 

I hope you will choose to enter your film!

Steve Coulter – Head of Programming
Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival

Twitter @BlueWhiskeyFF
Instagram @bluewhiskeyff

I’ve never actually attended the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival, but if it is half as friendly as they say they are, boy, THEY DO IT RIGHT! I literally could not wait to submit and did so seconds after receiving Steve’s email. I would love to attend, but even if I don’t get in, I’m very satisfied that my film will be given a fair chance. That is all I ask. SUBMIT TO THIS FESTIVAL!!!


Could Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival be any better? Seriously, they are the epitome of awesome.

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-SIX – Shriekfest and Tulsa American Film Festivals
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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