Filmmakers who submit their films to Film Festivals know that if they send one film to 100 different festivals, maybe only 1 festival will accept their film for screening and award it, so there is a 1% chance of their film being screened. This 1% becomes less and less every month and every year as more and more films are produced. However, even the films that do fall into this 1% still have a lot of issues after their film has received the status of “Accepted”. Most filmmakers once they get this status believe that their film definitely be screened and are very happy with this, however, it’s not always so simple.
Yes, people who submit their films to festivals usually believe that all they have to do is make a film in order for their work to be screened at a festival. However, the desire to show the film at a film festival alone is not enough for the screening to take place.
Modern film production technology and film equipment have become readily available to everyone - even to children. (We have even opened a category called "Films Made by Children" at some of our festivals).
As a result, some festivals within our network now receive more film submissions than the Venice Film Festival, TIFF, Cannes Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival and Raindance Film Festival have received all together in the past two years.
What follows is a list of the main stages, obstacles, and requirements to have a film shown at our festivals.
Here we present only 10 out of maybe 100, which are the most common.
1. Preselection by Judicial Assembly.
Due to the fact that there are so many problems related to showing films, the Jury selects at the first stage 3-4 times more films than the festival can show. In professional language, this stage is called Preselected. After this step, only 25-30% of films will end up at the next stage.
Most of our festivals show our films in movie theaters. Movie theaters use only one movie format, which is called the DCP. If the filmmaker doesn't have a copy of his/her film in the DCP format, the film cannot be screened in a majority of cinemas. If the event takes place in a small club, or any other rented facility (not a movie theater), sometimes there is a projector that can display DVD and Blu-Ray formats. Only 20% of the filmmakers who submit films to the festivals know about DCP and how to make one.
If you need to make a DCP, we can help you - DCP creation.
Most filmmakers do not realize the fact that, in all non-English speaking countries, if the film was not created in the local language, subtitles are a must. Moreover, a large majority of the filmmakers - usually for economic reasons - make subtitles through Google translator, which is unacceptable. Only 10% of the filmmakers who submit films to the festivals know about this and can make them.
If you need to add subtitles, we can help you.
4. Film quality.
A huge number of films are of a very poor quality, according to some basic parameters: poor image quality, bad sound, etc. Having a low quality film is a major obstacle to screening at any of our festivals. About 60% of films submitted to the festivals are very low quality and can’t be screened, and even if the filmmaker has a high quality film and they believe that it’s enough just to upload this high quality version through Filmfreeway and wait till the festival downloads it for use, what they don;t realise is that Filmfreeway, to save disk space, only download low quality versions of the films. If the festival truly cares about the quality of the screening films, which the majority of them do, they will never accept a copy of the film uploaded and downloaded through Filmfreeway or any other submission platform.
5. Transfer of film copies.
For a film to be screened at any of our festivals, a copy must be transferred (sent) to the festival or in our case to one of our Production Centers. Many filmmakers believe that if a movie is uploaded to one of the two known aggregators, FilmFreeway or Withoutabox, or to Vimeo or Yyoutube - then the transfer problem is solved. However, this is not quite true. A copy of a film submitted through these, or any other aggregators result in very poor quality (See paragraph 3 and 4). They are fit only for the pre-show or for online festivals. Yes, if the film is a short, a good quality copy can be downloaded from the Internet, but for full-length films, downloading from Internet sources is not acceptable.
Therefore, filmmakers must spend the money and time to send a copy of the film to the Production Center. About 75% of the filmmakers can never pass through this issue.
6. Testing the movie.
Testing of the film can involve passing through several stages. The first stage: Acceptance of the films by the Film Festival directly or by the Production Center. Second stage: if the testing goes well, the film is copied to the hard drive as a DCP and sent to the cinema. Most cinemas prefer to test the films not on the day of receipt, but 1-2 days prior to the date of the festival. Sometimes, the film can't be launched by cinema equipment, though it was working well on the same equipment at the Production Center of the festival. In some other cases, the film worked well at the cinema prior to the screening, but on the event day, it didn't work for an unexplained reason. There were cases when the filmmaker put a lock on the DCP, and it was not possible to launch the disk.
If testing in the theater passes favorably, the film should then be able to be successfully projected at the festival. At this stage only 30% of the films pass through.
7. Consent of the filmmaker.
Very often a filmmaker who has applied for the festival, suddenly and without explanation, withdraws their permission. This then automatically cancels the screening of the film.
10% of filmmakers do this.
8. Distributor's consent.
Sometimes a distributor whose movie has been submitted to the festival, suddenly and without explanation, withdraws his permission. This then automatically cancels the screening of the film.
10% of films don’t pass through this issue.
Although it may seem strange, around 80-85% of filmmakers never respond to messages that were sent by the Film Festival to them directly or through the aggregators. The main reasons are:
- the letter falls into the spam folder.
- filmmaker's procrastination.
- filmmaker's workload of filming and having no time to read letters.
- filmmaker's forgetfulness, or unexplained failure to respond.
10. The final decision of the Judicial Assembly granting the approval for a film to be screened at the festival.
As a rule, if a movie reaches this last stage, the possibility of the film being screened is 90%. In other words, 9 out of 10 films that reach this final stage will be screened at the Film Festival. Though, there is still 10% chance that something else can happen at any time.
Conclusion: All these 10 issues and about 90 more issues make the stages between “Accepted” status of the film and the status “The film is screened” hard to achieve. And the percentage of the preselected films that are screened is 3-5%. It means th
at if 200 films were preselected - only 6-10 of this films would eventually be shown at the festival.
An important point to learn is that there are 0.1% filmmakers (from as many as one thousand) who will actually attend (including paying the the costs of travel and accommodation) a festival when they get the status “Selected”, without any final confirmation from the Festival. This type of filmmaker are normally referred to as “Problem makers”, as they don’t clearly understand the screening stages and the full process. Every festival who has a history has encountered this type of person and knows what the effect of these people can be if their film is not screened. For example, if one such problem maker writes a negative review about your festival on Filmfreeway, the Festival will be removed from the platform forever, without any explanation. If the festival is not on Filmfreeway, it simply can’t exist and prosper and will end up closed in the very near future. However, that’s a separate problem that can be written about in the next article.