AN ONGOING SERIES ABOUT ONE SILLY LITTLE MAN’S FILM FESTIVAL SUBMISSION EXPERIENCE
Film Festivals: Positive Reviews & Deserved Boos: Segment 44 – Midwest Horror Fest, Flint Fright and Kinofilm, Manchester International Short Film Festivals
Article by Justin Bowler
IS THIS ARTICLE STILL GOING?
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 specific type of 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.
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 my kind of horror films? (There are all kinds of horror fests, some are all “gore”, all “hack and slash”, some are “terrifying”, so I would like to know if they even consider the genre in their short film competition.)
– Second, do they accept films with nudity? (Believe it or not, even horror festivals sometimes have to keep it nudity free. I don’t have a problem with that, but, I would like to know that before I shell out my $45.)
– Third, is a 17 minute run time too long? (Many fests don’t realistically program 17 minute shorts. In addition, sometimes they have time limits for their shorts, but don’t always post that info on FilmFreeway.com.)
The bottom line is, I need these questions answered before I give them my money. My journey began by contacting festivals through the informational email they listed on FilmFreeway.com. In my email, I stated who I was, the answers I was seeking, and inquired who could answer.
Midwest Horror Fest
Submission Price – Up to $25
On 7/1/17, I originally contacted them through their informational email listed on FilmFreeway.com. On 7/24, they got back to me. One day later, I shot off my questions, and a day later I received a response.
Midwest Horror fest is currently accepting all types of horror even extreme and other genres such as sci-fi and Grindhouse. We don’t plan on censoring anybody’s work so nudity is totally acceptable. The festival will be a two-day Festival we have a lot of time slots and it is in a great location, it’s an old movie theater that is currently being restored and has a lots of space they will also be booth space available for filmmakers who we encouraged to come along to talk about that films thanks!
With a maximum of $25 for submission, and only $10 for earlybirds like me, it’s hard not to submit to this festival. I’m sure they are swamped with submissions, so getting answers back a little later than normal was acceptable. I submitted.
MIDWEST HORROR FEST gets a very POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness.
Kinofilm, Manchester International Short Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to $55
On 2/13/17, I originally contacted them through their informational email listed on FilmFreeway.com. I did not get a response, so I contacted them again on 3/2/17. They got back to me one day later
The programmer for the festival is not in post yet, can I help you ? I am the festival director and make most of the decisions around here.
I understood reaching them early in the season can be tough, so I sent off my questions. I didn’t get a response. So, I sent them off again on 3/22. On 3/29, I received this.
I thought I did answer this letter once, maybe you didn’t get it. No problem for you to submit your film (and do it before the end of the month to benefit from the current discount code).
Yes we do programme films more than 10 mins and often that includes films around the 15 mins mark and even up to 20 / 21 . Obviously it depends on the quality of the film and if it works well as a 17 min film it’s fine.
Submissions this year are presently through film freeway.
It’s completely possible that something got lost along the way, and I greatly appreciated them answering again, if it did. I submitted.
KINOFILM, MANCHESTER INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM gets a very POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness.
Flint Fright Film Festival
Submission Price – Up to FREE
I’ll be honest, I didn’t contact them. I just submitted. Why? BECAUSE IT WAS FREE!
FLINT FRIGHT FILM FESTIVAL gets a very POSITIVE REVIEW for filmmaker friendliness. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE A FREE FESTIVAL!!
Three fantastic fests!!!! AND ONE OF THEM WAS FREE!
If you would like to see how the opposite of this interaction, then check out my interaction with the Woodstock Film Festival. They are, without a doubt, the most challenging festival that I have dealt with:
I want to thank everyone who has reached out with their own stories. It’s really nice to hear about other great festivals that I haven’t covered. In addition, thank you to those of you who reach out with praise for this article. I too believe it is important to demystify the online film festival submission process.
I will continue to post follow-ups from time to time as festivals are still getting back to me. Stay tuned.
If you would like to know more, check out the past articles for this series with the links below. If you would like to find out more info about my genre film, follow it on Instagram @OhTheEffingHorror for instant updates.