This is an interesting topic, maybe a few points to add, maybe not totally
thought out, but I am currently doing festivals with a film so I have been
spending a lot of time thinking about these issues, particularly as they
pertain to documentary festivals.

- Yes, I wish festivals didn't charge fees, it definitely feels very
scammy, especially in the Without-a-Box era which is a debilitating
humiliation festivals are perpetrating on filmmakers. But backrooming fee
waivers is at the heart of the problem, right? I mean that's a serious
structural inequality because who is going to have leverage in that system?
A young person from a fly-over film school with an off kilter movie? And
the (in my opinion) disturbingly conservative/repetitive/samey programming
happening in american festivals I think bears this out. Professional
programmers who spend all year schmoozing and glad handing (AND GETTING
PAID) is not a system that works very well, and its not a system that
filmmakers can access by sending plucky emails to programming directors. I
feel that the "only fools pay entrance fees" is a bit blaming the victim.
(You didn't say exactly that, but I have heard it). There is no real

- I think the good news is that, while festivals have bent over backwards
to ingratiate themselves to economic forces (True/False, Rooftop Films, Hot
Docs), they have rendered themselves almost completely useless at actually
helping filmmakers find an audience for their work. They are so completely
focused on a pseudo "entrepreneurial" eco-system of media making and
distribution that that nobody pays attention to them but themselves. EG:
These "partnerships" that festivals are promoting with bizarre, off-brand,
online streaming sites is sad to see. It seems to me, from my observation,
that even though it SEEMS that festivals are indispensably important for
filmmakers, in actuality they have never been more superfluous. Whatever
the audience for your film, festivals (generally speaking) are not really
going to help you build it. There are way better ways to engage communities
of people and get your work in front of them.

On Tue, May 27, 2014 at 4:01 PM, Medford Reinhardt <> wrote:

> This article by Sean Farnel is relevant to what you're saying:
> A few more thoughts:
> 1) This is just in my opinion of course, but you shouldn't ever pay a
> festival entry fee. Send an email directly to the programer with a write-up
> or a link to part of or the entirety of the film. Ask if they're
> interested. If they're not, you've saved money, and if they are interested,
> you will almost never be asked (in my experience) to supply that entry fee.
> The dirty little secret of most film festivals is that a HUGE amount of
> what is shown comes from solicitation and from private correspondences.
> Only a small percentage of submissions are actually accepted. I have had
> many conversations with programmers that have corroborated this.
> 2)  A film festival often cannot logistically expand its dates. Finding
> the space and infrastructure to screen films often occurs the year prior to
> the festival, and predicting the number of entries is of course impossible
> at that time. Still, I understand your frustration. But any festival that
> receives entries that are comparable to the number of slots they have is
> just not getting enough entires.
> 3) Let festivals know when they are being shitty. I suspect filmmakers are
> often timid and afraid to confront these kind of behaviours for fear of
> being cast in a negative light, but I suspect that most festivals would
> take it very seriously.
> 4) Something very important to remember. Amazing films get rejected from
> festivals all the time, for a wide variety of reasons: too much
> representation from one country, having too many films that work in the
> same style, a film that can't be placed into any of the existing shorts
> programs. There are many reasons and every year, programmers often will
> pass along films to other festivals because of this. A rejection from a
> festival is not a judgment of quality. If the programmers are worth a damn,
> it can have many other meanings around it.
> Medford
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