AN ONGOING SERIES ABOUT ONE SILLY LITTLE MAN’S FILM FESTIVAL SUBMISSION EXPERIENCE
Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Pt. 38 – DC Shorts, Gasparilla International & FirstGlance Film Festivals
Article by Justin Bowler
The Wonder continues!!! Let’s go for a three-fer!
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:
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.
DC Shorts Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $60
I originally contacted the festival email listed on FilmFreeway.com on 3/7. I got a response back a single day later, from Joe Bilancio, Director of Programming.
Hello, you are trying to reach the programming director for DC Shorts? That is me. How can I help?
Director of Programming
DC Shorts Film Festival
I sent off my questions a two days later. Shortly, thereafter, I received a response.
We do indeed screen horror comedy. In fact, last year we had a separate showcase for the genre…we will not always do that, we just had enough films for a great program.
We do not shy away from nudity at all, but it might limit where it is played.
We play shorts up to 40 minutes and most of the shorts seem to be between 10 and 20 minutes.
We are VERY filmmaker friendly. We help find host hosting to keep the filmmaker costs down. We provide Metro Cards, our mass transportation system in the District. We have a feed a filmmaker program with free and discounted food for our filmmakers. We have informal and formal gatherings and parties allowing for filmmakers to engage with there filmmakers and audience members. WE have seminars and panels n various topics important to filmmakers.
Hoe this helps.
Director of Programming
DC Shorts Film Festival
1317 F Street NW, Suite 920
Washington, DC 20004
Joe was quick and forthcoming with his answers. I immediately submitted.
DC SHORTS Film Festival gets a Positive review. Feel free to submit to this festival.
Gasparilla International Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $65
I originally contacted the festival email listed on FilmFreeway.com on 12/2. I got a response back that same day, from Monica Varner. I immediately sent my questions to her. And she responded back THAT SAME DAY!
Yes we do (program that type of film). In fact we have a whole section /side bar on horror films this year.
Our festival is not against nudity. It will just play in a later evening spot.
Yes 17 minutes is very very hard to program. In fact 11 minutes or less is great. 7 to 9 minutes being ideal. Honestly if you can make a 17 min film you can probably cut it down. For most festivals 17 minutes is very hard to program. However if it’s 17 minutes that doesn’t feel like 17 minutes then it’s fine as well.
We are Very film friendly. We are known as the film makers film festival. We are very generous to the filmmakers as far as passes and access and stipends and hotel accommodations. For a short filmmaker you will receive all access pass and a hotel night to attend the festival. Plus tickets to your film to giveaway to fiends family or giveaways.
Yes we are on all social media, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook as @GasparillaFilm
Monica D. Varner
Monica was incredibly helpful and friendly. I immediately submitted.
GASPARILLA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL gets a POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. Monica was one of the fastest responses I have had. SUBMIT TO THIS FESTIVAL!
FirstGlance Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $80
I originally contacted the festival email listed on FilmFreeway.com on 11/1. I got a response back that same day, from Bill Ostroff, Festival Director/Founder. I immediately sent questions to him. And he responded back THAT SAME DAY! His answers were simple and to the point.
We accept all genres of indie film
No, we don’t censor films, we don’t however
17 mins fits within the shorts requirements.
Once selected for the film festival, filmmakers hear from
us weekly by email with updates and information on the
We promote on social media like no other film festival in
We were named by Moviemaker Magazine 5 times as one of the
best film festival investments and one of the Top Indie
Thanks for your inquiry, we hope to see your film
Short and sweet. I submitted!
FIRSTGLANCE FILM FESTIVAL gets a POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. Monica was one of the fastest responses I have had. SUBMIT TO THIS FESTIVAL with confidence!
It just that easy to be a filmmaker friendly festival.
If you would like to see a festival that failed tremendously at being filmmaker friendly, check out my previous review and interaction with the Woodstock Film Festival. They sure were angry…
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.
Read More of Justin’s Friday Film Festival Friendliness reviews:
PART THIRTY-SEVEN – Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival
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