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Open email notification of termination of membership to LiftOff

Open email notification of termination of membership to LiftOff

Hi,
I had arranged a meeting with Ben & James which they, unfortunately, canceled at short notice. More, unfortunately, I was then unable to rearrange a meeting with them which was very disappointing. It was repeatedly suggested that I should arrange a meeting for a "career road map session", something which I was not at all in need of or desired. Why did I finally gave up on Lift0ff and am now terminating my membership? Accepted into an early stage of a liftoff film competition, it was then suggested that I then send out links to my cast and crew that they had worked on, also my social media connections, to suggest that they pay to vote for our film, really? More than embarrassing, it would be an act of exploitative desperation to do this and not one that I could ever accept or endorse. For the next week or so I was sent daily "guilt" emails informing me of how poorly my film was doing in accumulating/collecting votes, since I hadn't informed anyone this was inevitable. Though I watched ond voted for all the other films and provided feedback whenever possible, I guess altruism only goes so far in a competition which is set up to be a dog eat dog competition. The preliminary stages of your film competitions are by far the most despicably exploitative model that I have ever had the displeasure to experience, attempting to get the filmmakers to get their cast and crew to pay for the right to be able to vote their own film is simply sad and very poor form, all this to be able to be able to progress to where the public have a chance to see and vote for their favourite film. I originally joined your organization because I was initially impressed and excited by it only to quickly become completely disillusioned with its management and ethos. I, therefore, will not be continuing my membership as I no more wish to be a dissatisfied customer.
Regards Ray Brady
www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/
-----------------------------------------------
Please note: The above is purely acoount of my own personal experiences with the LiftOff organization and in no way supported or endorsed by the whole body of the ShootingPeople membership or management.

  • I can wholly commiserate with you Ray. For some time now I've had the strengthening notion that all but a handful of festivals and quasi film authorities are at best self serving and vulnerable to less than angelic practices and at worst brazen scams. Even the integrity of the Oscars is looking increasingly dodgy.

    Whilst it is nice to recieve laurals, even from third tier outfits, the benefits to ones business models aren't what they where. The fragmentation of media and entertainment platforms are altering the nature of our enterprise. The emerging innovations that new technologies, methodologies, social politics and budgetary realities demand also suggest the need for an evolution of culture too. It's a reassessment of what and who actually are the great and the good. Clearly the relationship between talent and success has been more about business than it has been about merit. It's that artificial reality that's going to be corrected by what I belive is that disruptive but beneficial fragmentation.

    3 months ago
  • Many thanks, John, the idea of having to first pay a fee to enter a film festival only then to be asked to get all your friends and family to pay to be able to vote to move your film forward in the competition is clearly wrong. It is the second example of this festival business model that I have come across and been disappointed by a worrying trend for new filmmakers. There are thousands of ​film ​festivals now, twenty times the amount than when I first started submitting films to festivals, each charging entry fees, most providing very little in value in return even for the winners, with dozens of new ​film festivals starting up every year I am ​in the future only going to consider entering ones that are considered to be prestigious and respected by my ​respected ​peers, distribution and sales companies.
    ​Regards Ray​

    3 months ago
  • Ray, no lie, I knew a guy who set up his own "soundalike" festival (swapping International with Independent, Internet or something like that) which had 2 entries - one who obviously stumbled across him by accident somehow and paid to submit. The other entry was his own feature which coincidentally won the "jury prize" and had all the laurels on all the boxes of the few dozen (probably) copies sold. Terrible film, obviously, but the point is the terrible depths some "festivals" plunge to .

    3 months ago
  • The Lift-Off festivals franchise is a self-seving Their "business. It cares little about the films and the filmmakers. I lost all respect for them for the same reasons you mentioned. Making films as an independent filmmaker is costly (a lot of us use our own money) then and getting the film through festivals costs even more.To ask filmmakers to pay even more over the festival fee just to get their films seen, or get a membership for the "priviledge" of applying to their festivals at a reduced fee (you still have to pay for the memebrship AND festivals fees for each festival you submit to) is ethically wrong in my independent filmmaking book and clearly a money making scam. Thankfully there are lots of other festivals to submit to that won't break the bank, or are at least worth their fees.

    3 months ago
  • Entered 'Lift off' once and once only. I was stuck by the international nature of the multiple festivals, seemed a tempting way to get a film shown in multiple countries and they big up career progression. First warning sign for me was not receiving a notification that my film hadn't been selected. This is a clear signifier that your dealing with a poorly run festival and one interested in making money, not in filmmakers. Did some digging around and wasn't impressed by feedback from other director friends. Reckon we should feedback negatively to film freeway and other platforms if instinct suggests you're being taken for a financial ride? Rejection from film festivals is a way of life for filmmakers and I'm pretty thick-skinned but there's some self-serving, mercenary organisations out there and reckon 'lift off' is up there!

    3 months ago
  • Hi Ray - don't give up on all new festivals! Because there are innovations which aren't out to exploit filmmakers. Yes, this is a blatant advert, but the ShortFilmReviews festival gives an online review to all submissions, whether selected or not. And won't ask for any further contributions (apart from buying tickets to the gala awards event, but that's standard).

    3 months ago
  • I want to add to this discussion that I've had a very positive experience with them. I attended the London Lift off festival a few weeks ago and saw and voted on ten short films. Several of the films were excellent quality and speaking to the filmmakers in the bar afterwards, they felt that LiftOff was a better experience than most festivals.

    My experience of them with my film is positive too. I do think having a paywall to vote for online competitions is a bit cheeky and also not a good way of encouraging viewing numbers for getting feedback and votes. But my film is showing in Manchester next week with a Q&A and I'm happy to be there. They have given me a consultation on promoting the event and my film and they are very approachable and friendly.

    Ultimately I want to find a distributor so I'm mostly interested on whether they have good relationships with distributors.

    3 months ago
  • Sorry to hear your experience Ray. I haven't got Lift-off membership, but spent a tenner putting my short into Manchester lift-Off festival. After getting a rejection to the live screenings, I was offered entry to the 'online festival' competition. After some deliberation I decided to go with it because it gives me free access to watch the other films which I am very curious about. However, I completely understand your reservations about how these competitions promote a dog-eat-dog approach. I won't be promoting my online screening as I feel the pay-to-view competition is an exploitative model and I'd much rather it was free and open for all.

    3 months ago
    • Hey Mark, I totally understand and agree but I went with it and promoted the online competition that I was selected for and my prize was to show at the Manchester festival next week.

      I find that any attempts to promote the festival actually raise awareness of your film among your social media following and that stands a chance of opening doors, selling tickets to screenings and potentially crowd-funding money for new projects.

      It's very small effort compared to making the film so it feels worthwhile to me but depends how much you want/need the recognition.

      3 months ago
    • @Michael Lebor Michael, well done on getting a live screening at Manchester. I should clarify that I won't be promoting it amongst family, friends and crew (as I don't want them paying anything) but I will raise awareness on my twitter account for my sci-fi followers.

      3 months ago
    • @Mark Jepson
      Yes totally understand. I think in the end about 10 of my close friends did it. It's a big ask but they were happy and felt part of something when it won I think. I would considerably prefer it was watched by many people and won on merit... but perhaps it's a good lesson about the industry! Certainly I think knowing and meeting and contacting judges and festival selection panellists is a good idea sadly. Something I've learned a bit later in my career than I'd hoped..

      I also won an award from the smallest festival on the planet (Jellyfest based in LA) and when I posted about it online people think it's great, it looks good on a poster... and I honestly think that will work in my favour when I contact distributors. We will see...

      3 months ago
    • @Michael Lebor - I've been pretty happy with my festival run for Remembrance, so not that bothered about Lift-Off (I'm in Manchester next week for the Starburst Festival). However, I totally agree about public image vs reality. I've won a couple of awards at smaller festivals and it has definitely helped to raise awareness for the film. Certainly, getting official selections and occasionally winning something helps to build a receptive online audience.

      Obviously your efforts to get close friends paying to view a Lift-Off competition has worked out perfectly for you. In my case I'd rather have the money diverted towards my next short project, which is why I'm holding back and choosing my moment!

      3 months ago
  • Great to hear all your experiences on this and many thanks for all who have taken the time to comment either way. I was actually selected as LiftOffs first featured "member of the month" and I too was initially very excited and impressed with their international scale/network of festivals. I have since discovered several other festivals "groups", that are interlinked, all recommending that you also submit to their affiliates, often offering partial discounts as an incentive to do so, these "offers" I find both annoying and disturbing but...paying a submission fee to enter a film competition only then find to be contacted and told that there are intermediate levels of competition before reaching public screening makes a sham of "being selected" (their words), being told that I would need to persuade friends, family and social media contacts to pay to be able to vote for my film to enable me to progress forward in the competition, basically it means whoever has the most money to buy votes goes forward, either gifted, begged or repaid by Paypal or a couple of pints when next seen in the pub, gets to progress to the live screenings. I do not believe for one second that it would be helpful in developing social media confidence in me as a filmmaker and my future work to encourage them to buy votes for me to progress in LiftOffs competition/s (as only paid subscribers had the right to view and vote), when I could have simply sent them a Vimeo link to watch my film for nothing. Any model where you need to buy/pay your way forward is simply not ethical once you have already paid a submission fee to enter.
    People are very wary to leave negative reviews on FilmFreeway or any other site in case they would be perceived as suffering from a case of sour grapes, looking like that they were simply using their feedback to vent their spleen for not being selected, when in truth, they actually mostly had, it is that they simply didn't want to compete with payments, buying votes to progress further and yes, by emailing you every day with vote tallies I'm sure some desperate people really felt pressured into competing even more aggressively by buying more voting rights in an attempt to keep up or win, if they had enough money to do so.
    Raygards
    PS Congratulations to Julian Richards of Jinga Films for winning Best Director at Fantasporto 2019 with two feature films in competition. Kudos Julian

    3 months ago
    • I do agree. I was disappointed by not getting into bigger festivals so put in some effort to ask friends to vote. I don't regret it but I agree it's not ideal.

      By the way, well done for getting onto Amazon, has that been worth it financially? How did you do it?

      I tried to watch Psychomanteum but I couldn't hear it well enough with small headphones or out of laptop speakers. Is that just me? I will try again with proper speakers!

      3 months ago
  • Hi Michael,
    Many thanks. I used FilmHub to get Psychomanteum onto Amazon, I also have Team One (AKA Intergalactic Combat) and a feature-length art-house doco called Articulate up on Amazon, I have three other feature titles going up over the summer. No sound issues with Psychomanteum when watched on a TV though the dynamic range varies greatly over the various short films included. In my experience I would highly recommend FilmHub as an agitator their percentage is very reasonable. When selecting your price bracket, if you put your film on as a premier top price film it may not attract wide distribution and pick-up but you will make more money, percentage wise, from any sales you make. If you choice to put your film on as a second tier level film it will get wide international pick-up and distribution but the payments will be small per sale. The money for any film is going to be small but attracting a wider audience and having the chance to develop an international fan base with the reach of distribution you can find on their second tier price range could prove to be very advantageous in the future as long as you have the films to fee into distribution on a regular basis. I guess the choice must be decided by whoever owns the majority of your film rights by asking them do they want money before a wide audience or visa versa. I have tried most other Platforms and portholes for distribution and refuse to put content out through them anymore. After attending various film markets for decades if you do not have a trustworthy and fair sales company representing your film at them it proves to be very expensive. Check out my thread on "Fair and exploitative distribution revenues available to indie filmmakers" from two months ago. Resurrect it, if you would like to hear possible updates from contributors or add your own experiences to it.
    Regards Ray
    www.imdb.com/name/nm0002916/

    3 months ago
    • What can I treat myself to from the Psychomanteum profits? Just kidding... you well sir :)

      2 months ago
  • Great, thanks Ray, I'll check out your other work and I'll resurrect your thread!

    3 months ago
  • Any type of "Pay-To-Play" which this clearly sounds like, as far as having to have people pay to vote, is a serious red flag. It questions the legitimacy of any type of creative endeavor engaging in this, not just this one. The music industry is ripe with this type of bullshit, usually begun by people who have failed to have a real career on their own, and then starting a business preying on kids that in all likelihood don't have a shot to begin with.

    2 months ago
  • Very helpful all, thx

    2 months ago
  • For what it's worth Marc, Lift-Off have been good to me so far. Apart from only being selected for the "online" section of one of their festivals and having to get friends and family to pay to watch and vote for my film... (not a major hassle but certainly it wasn't a real competition) I have a had good experience since.

    My "prize" for winning The Melbourne online section was to be shown in Manchester, which I attended last week. It was a small section of a nice bar but the audience was good, keen and had good questions for me during the Q&A.

    I've been nominated for a "season award" for my feature doc so I guess that will involve attending one of their events, which look quite fun from the videos and pictures last year.

    Some of the short films that I watched were extremely high quality, with some excellent talent involved.

    2 months ago
  • I had a similar experience. A short film of mine didn’t make it into the Lift-Off Tokyo festival but they offered me the chance to participate in the online version. I eagerly agreed and then found out viewers would have to pay to watch the films. When I was encouraged to invited my family/friends to vote I didn’t even pass on the link. No surprise, I didn’t win anything.

    I have recently won a competition with them to go to Pinewood studios next Friday for a Comedy Genre Lab. I’m hoping their ‘real’ festivals are not similar cash generating opportunities but I will see what it is all about.

    2 months ago
    • I had exactly the same experience and also too on principle did not even bother to forward on the link. In regards to comparing LiftOff to Raindance, they are not even in comparable leagues. Elliot Groves, Raindance is now considered by many to be one of the top ten film festival competition's in the world. My first feature "Boy Meets Girl" (1994) was in competition against Tarrantino for best feature, Discovery Award, needless to say my film didn't win. "BMG" was also in Competition in Sitges IFF in the same year and in that festival was in competition with Michael Haneke's "71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance", we both lost out though to another winner, "The Mask", which had a budget of thirteen thousand times more than BMG. So sometimes it's not all about the winning, but being considered to be of comparable merit to compete alongside other huge films. More information regarding my long competitive film festival history can be found on the imdb and a longer fully comprehensive list of awards and competitions at www.ukfilm.co on the AWARDS page.
      Regards Ray

      2 months ago
  • How much to people have to pay to watch a short film and be able to vote?

    2 months ago
    • For the recent Manchester Lift-Off Online festival there were about 100 short films on offer. It cost £10.00 for guests to view all the films (free for submitting filmmakers). Guests have two votes. The winning film had 30 votes - so it effectively cost £300.00 to 'win' a live screening at the Raleigh Studios, Lift-Off Los Angeles.

      2 months ago
  • $10 to watch several short films in the online "Social-round" part of their festival. Only people who pay can vote (with the exception of the filmmakers themselves, who I guess would be tempted to only vote for their own film), along with any cast, crew, family or followers that were prepared to pay $10 to be able to vote for their film to progress further along to the next competition level. I received the following selection notice:

    "Dear Filmmaker,

    Congratulations. Your film has been selected to screen online, during Los Angeles Lift-Off Film Festival 2018!

    We hate rejecting films, unfortunately we don't have the resources to screen everything, so we are doing this to try and give the work we really like a second chance - every Lift-Off Festival has this and it has proven to be a great route for well-supported work.

    This is an invaluable opportunity to see lots of your contemporaries' work and generally, support indie film. This is why we charge just one event ticket for the whole duration of the festival (i.e. you buy and view the entire collection of films).


    This year's prize
    The winning film will form part of our live theatre screening at an upcoming Lift-Off festival.

    How we pick our winner
    This year we are making our scoring and judging a lot more detailed, where we expect the most engaged and talented project to be awarded. The festival scoring will consist of two very important rounds...

    Round 1: Social Round. The first round is open to the general public, where for the whole week we will be collecting "votes" that will come from our marketing efforts and yours. This is a great way for the festival to introduce new people to your work and indie film as a whole. Be sure to get your supporters, and your projects social media ready.

    Round 2: Judges and Community Round. The top ten films from the social round will be promoted to our final round, where we will migrate the shortlisted films into our own Lift-Off Community Platform. From here Community+ Members and Lift-Off's Official Judges will go further in-depth and score the films based on multiple aspects. The film with the highest overall score wins."

    So to be clear, you pay to submit your film, you then are informed that you have been selected as you are sent details that you are in the online AKA "Social Round" interim selection group where depending on how many people you can persuade to pay for the right to vote, will decide which films actually go forward further in the "competition".

    Whilst $10 may not sound like a lot to watch a bunch of short films, in a world in which the majority of people do not want to pay anything to watch online content in reality charging any fee for the right to watch and therefore be able to vote, means whoever is prepared to buy their way forward in the "competition" can do so.
    Regards Ray

    2 months ago