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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Contests - Screenwriting and Filmmaking  ›  Markís submitting to Film Festivals guide Moderators: Don
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: June 19th, 2015, 6:03am Report to Moderator
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The below Ďguideí is based on my own personal experience submitting scripts and short movies to festivals over the past 12 months. Take from it what you will.

Youíve created a masterpiece. Maybe it is a script Tarantino would go medieval on your ass to own, or maybe youíve managed to get a script produced into an ass-kicking-awesome movie. Youíve written your Oscar speech and hired your mom to be your Manager. What now?

Well, you could enter a film festival to show the world (especially JJ Abrams) what you are capable of.  What are your options?

There are over 3000 film festivals worldwide. That number is growing exponentially; a bit like my stomach as I eat those bags of chocolate that are Ďbig enough to shareí but I ainít sharing pal! The point is, there are so many itís impossible to track. Luckily there are websites which specialise in this area.

Festival Submission Websites

The two main contenders are Withoutabox (www.withoutabox.com) and FilmFreeway (filmfreeway.com). Both list thousands of festivals, provide various tools to help you create your projects, upload materials and browse/submit to the festivals.  

Withoutabox has been going since the dawn of time (2000), you can tell by their archaic design.  In 2008 they were bought out by IMDB. So the good news here is you get an IMDB title page/credit for every eligible submission.  The bad news; the website is user unfriendly, theyíve been slow to keep up with changes in technology and there have been complaints about overcharging. Personally I donít like them. Iíve had submissions go missing and others where the status has not updated, so Iíve had to contact the organisers direct to sort things out.

Filmfreeway is the new kid on the block. It doesnít have as many festivals available as Withoutabox but the list is growing all the time. Itís more modern looking and is constantly adding new functionality in response to feedback. Personally I prefer it. Iíve had a good user experience so far. I wouldnít be surprised though if Withoutabox buys them out once theyíve reached a certain size.

How much will submissions cost?

Withoutabox and Filmfreeway are free to join, free to use but the entry fee for each festival varies and is based on a tiered system. The key here is to get in early.  Some festivals start accepting over a year in advance and most offer an early bird discount. If itís a Seasame Street festival Iím sure theyíll offer a Big Bird discount, but I digressÖagain. From this point on the prices rise steadily through a tiered range as time goes by.  

To save some cash it is also worth following some festivals on social media, as they do randomly throw out discount promo codes.

Some festivals are free! If you use the advanced search options, you can set the price filter to $0 . Be careful though, some of these are only free under special circumstances, like if you are a student or a wizard with a lisp or something.

Which Festivals should I enter?

This is where you are going to have to do your research. Festivals will gladly accept any script or movie you submit. Theyíll gleefully accept your money, while dribbling saliva down their chins like rabies infected baboons. However, as soon as they start trawling through the thousands of submissions, they will reject yours faster than a fast thing thatís been fast for a very long time, if it doesnít meet their criteria.

Let me put it this way, itís no use submitting a script about a blind albino transgender Jew in war- torn Nazi Germany, who has a secret love affair with Hitlerís briefcase, to a sci-fi festival is it? And yet you will be surprised how many people pick festivals at random.

Itís not just the genre. Some festivals focus on a certain theme, others specialise in supporting a cause or championing a specific gender. I saw one which specifically said in the small print they only accepted submissions where you could prove it was a collaborative project involving people from different countries. Yet, the rest of the promotional material did not state this rule.

The other aspect to consider, what are the prizes? If you just want to promote your work, get some awards, any festival will do. Thereís nothing like bragging rights, right? However if you want a way into the industry, if you are looking to get an agent, win a professional table read or if you want cash, then only certain key festivals offer such rewards. Be warned though, the competition for these is fierce!

So before parting with your hard earned cash:

ē     Read ALL the rules and criteria for the festival. Itís easy to get caught out by a stipulation.

ē     Research the festival! The promotional page makes it look super professional and slick but go to their actual website and it may look like something a demented child has hacked together with a hammer and a jar of marmite. Do you really trust your work and money to a festival that canít even put together a decent website?

ē     Review some of the previous qualifying/winning entries. If last yearís winning entry was a black and white silent film showing a slugís life over 24 hours, should you submit that romantic comedy?

What are my chances?

Here is the mule kicker. Entering and paying a fee doesnít get you into the festival. Itís gets you a consideration; thatís it. You can pay a small fortune and simply end up with a load of rejections with no explanation as to why.

What festivals will never, ever do, is inform you of your chances of being accepted. The promotional material makes it all sound glamorous, exciting and within your grasp. Just remember it is all marketing aimed at trying to generate as much money as possible.

Let me throw some figures at you Ė this is based on independent movie submissions only, I donít have any actual figures for script submissions.

ē     Manchester (UK) International Film Festival Ė This is their first year. Theyíve had over 1000 submissions with only 20 slots available.

ē     Palm Springs (LA) Film Festival Ė Over 3400 submissions.

ē     Sundance Ė 200 slots available Ė woo hoo! Over 9000 submissions - WTF?

With so many entries, itís hard to fathom how they could possible review each one and give each their full attention. From the stories Iíve heard some festivals donít. Mere mortals like us have no idea which festivals review each entry fairly and which just take your money and run.

So unless your work has the backing of a big player, a recognised actor or a major Indy studio is involved who could promote your work, itís worth considering:

Online festivals - They have more slots compared to traditional venues and the festival can run over longer periods of time.  

Smaller, specialised festivals - Sure they may not be as glamourous as Cannes but there are less submissions to contend with.

Feedback Festivals - Some festivals provide feedback! So even if they reject it, youíll know they gave your submission the attention it deserves and you will know why you got rejected. Please note, some festivals charge a hefty extra fee for feedback but some provide this service as standard.

New Festivals Ė These are trying to establish themselves, theyíll be wanting to make a good impression in their first year, get as many submissions as possible and therefore the rules for acceptance may be less strict.

Super Secret Tip!

If youíve read this far, well done! You win a straw donkey! Plus, Iíll let you in on something Iíve only recently discovered. The GOOD festivals actually want you to engage with them direct!

Shocking I know. Itís easy to leave the communication between the third-parties like FilmFreeway, I did for a long time and ended up with a lot of rejections. Iíve come to realise that once youíve submitted your project, the best thing you can do is get hold of the festivalís email address, tell them a bit about yourself, tell them about the project youíve entered and even tell them how itís doing/done in other festivals.
Iíve only used this method for the past few weeks and already Iím receiving great engagement from the festivals via email and on social media. Will this increase my chances? Who knows? Time will tell but it canít hurt to try.

If you have any personal experiences to share please do so.

Best of luck, unless you are entering the same festivals as me! If you do, may your submission supernaturally explode and I win by default.

-Mark


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: June 19th, 2015, 8:03am Report to Moderator
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One thing to add.


A lot of countries fund film through Public bodies. Short films and features.

For instance, the UK Film Council and what is now the expanded BFI.

They would offer money to filmmakers who fit their criteria. This criteria was very stringent, and being  a public body often had some kind of diversity link..ethnic, gender, disability. This meant a lot of the stuff they produced was very liberal, very leftist kind of stuff. Most of it was utterly crap.

However, these bodies are spending money and they want their stuff seen. So they do deals with the major festivals...and the films, regardless of how good or bad they are, will fill up the quotas of many of the festivals.

This of course happens with commercial entities as well...who pay to have certain films shown.

So numerous of the supposedly open slots...as slim as they are...are already gone before you even enter.


It can be a very expensive waste of time, but like everything else in the film industry, you don't always have much choice.
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: June 19th, 2015, 8:06am Report to Moderator
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Only festivals worth a damn in terms of prizes: Berlin, Cannes and Academy Awards.

Next tier are those that winning will get you a nomination for an Academy Award.


In terms of attending...only bother with those that have Film markets...London, LA, Sundance, Cannes etc
Unless there is a film market there the people that matter...the sales execs etc won't be there.
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AnthonyCawood
Posted: June 19th, 2015, 8:52am Report to Moderator
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Good article Mark

i wrote an article on the same subject that was on the homepage a couple of months ago, though only on the screenwriting...

http://www.simplyscripts.com/2.....worked-world-part-5/

So for additional info on resources on the writing side then check that out too...


Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
Available Short screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/short-scripts
Available Feature screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/feature-film-scripts/
Screenwriting articles - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/articles
IMDB Link - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6495672/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
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Don
Posted: June 20th, 2015, 8:24am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Mark,

I hope you don't mind, I put this on the main site at: http://www.simplyscripts.com/2.....m-simplyscripts-net/

- Don


Visit http://www.simplyscripts.com for what is new on the site.


-------------
You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Wayne Gretzky
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: June 20th, 2015, 10:47am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Don
Mark,

I hope you don't mind, I put this on the main site at: http://www.simplyscripts.com/2.....m-simplyscripts-net/

- Don


Hey no that's great. I did submit it for the front page a week or so ago but didn't hear anything, so thought I'd share it on the forums in case it was of any use to anyone. It's all good!



For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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irish eyes
Posted: June 20th, 2015, 2:16pm Report to Moderator
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There`s too much blood in my alcohol

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Thanks for the info Mark 3!

Now how do I get my straw donkey?

Mark 1


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StevenClark
Posted: June 21st, 2015, 2:23pm Report to Moderator
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Interesting.  I just submitted a script to a festival via Filmfreeway. It's a lower level fest, offers decent prizes. They always say to start out small. So far my project is "in consideration," noting I have met all the criteria. But the judging status is undecided. Huh? I hope this isn't one where there is small print I have missed. I don't think so. I'd hate to think I entered and later discover my script somehow didn't meet their qualifications. Anyway, small amount of money invested, I'll just hope something good comes from it.

Steve


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AnthonyCawood
Posted: June 21st, 2015, 2:36pm Report to Moderator
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Steven - if memory serves Judging status is undecided until you get through to next round, or not... and fingers crossed for the former... just means that they haven't decided on your script as yet.


Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
Available Short screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/short-scripts
Available Feature screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/feature-film-scripts/
Screenwriting articles - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/articles
IMDB Link - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6495672/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: June 21st, 2015, 2:42pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from irish eyes
Thanks for the info Mark 3!

Now how do I get my straw donkey?

Mark 1


Mark 3? I presume you mean like the Iron Man suits, I'm the superior version?

The Donkey is in the mail, well done for reading it all


Quoted from StevenClark
Interesting.  I just submitted a script to a festival via Filmfreeway. It's a lower level fest, offers decent prizes. They always say to start out small. So far my project is "in consideration," noting I have met all the criteria. But the judging status is undecided. Huh? I hope this isn't one where there is small print I have missed. I don't think so. I'd hate to think I entered and later discover my script somehow didn't meet their qualifications. Anyway, small amount of money invested, I'll just hope something good comes from it.

Steve


That's how it works so everything is going smoothly so far. Your script will be 'in consideration' forever now, even if they reject it which is odd but it's just the submission status so ignore that column now. It is the judging status that is important.

It will stay as 'undecided' until the judges have had a chance to review it and the notification date is up, but sometimes you do hear before this date.

Then the status will change to either Accepted or Not Accepted and you'll get an email from Filmfreeway telling you the status has changed. Some festivals will also send you an email explaining their decision in a bit more detail but some don't.  

The annoying ones are the ones that change to Not Accepted and you haven't a clue why, no explanation or anything. Personally I don't bother with such festivals ever again.

If you are accepted that means you are in the festival and you should get contacted to tell you what happens next.

Best of luck.


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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AtholForsyth
Posted: August 31st, 2015, 3:04am Report to Moderator
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I use Filmfreeway and have been accepted for 3 festivals, here's what I do.

Set the fees to £0.

Click on submit, if the fee is still £0, submit it. I dont even read the criteria as there are to many festivals to read about. If you get disqualified for being in the wrong catagory or whatever, who cares, you tried. The more you enter the better your chances.

This is just the way I do it but it works for me.
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