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Film Festivals - worth the hassle? Please take the survey!

Hi, I need your help!

If you have made a short or a feature in the last 5 years that you have submitted to film festivals I'd be grateful for your insights.

Please take the short survey here:

I'm trying to complete some research I've been doing on film festivals by getting information and opinions of indie filmmakers about their experiences of submitting films to film festivals.

Responses are anonymous, but I'm happy to update people with the findings on this thread, depending on how many responses I get. Feel free to share the link, or add any further comments about your film festival experiences below.

  • Done, hope it is of some use.

    1 year ago
  • Yes I've had very little success with festivals. Whether its the quality/subject matter of my films or the huge competition I don't know but very few have been accepted. There are thousands of festivals round the world. There's no money in making shorts that's for sure but I reckon festivals are win-win - take entry fees off filmmakers and charge the film goers too.

    1 year ago
  • Thanks for your feedback guys. I have to say, it's very tempting to believe that festivals are just a money-making racket for those who organise them. At times I've certainly felt I've been pouring my money into a black hole! However, getting selected can make all the difference for some of us (of course, it depends on the quality of the festival too).

    1 year ago
  • I checked the survey, and don't feel it asked the right questions.

    1. Has a client / investor / talent ever asked you if you've won a festival?

    2. Have you acquired any jobs or funding as a result of being in a festival?

    3. Have you ever invested in a filmmaker because of past success at festivals.

    Those are the kinds of questions I'd ask.

    1 year ago
  • Hi Vasco - thanks for the feedback. Those are interesting, relevant questions. I'd love to hear your experience.

    1 year ago
  • All done for you.

    1 year ago
  • Even winning BAFTA's, Oscars and RTS awards is no guarantee of commercial or career success, even though those levels of award, unlike those third level laurals, really are potentially empowering. Distributers, financiers and others who can raise ones aspirations to the level of viable success will appreciate those credentials at the top of the festival awards pyramid, but below the top two or three levels the rest are of dubious value other than providing a sense of achievement for those who have yet to have had any other form of recognition within any viable market.

    Unlike law or empirical physics judging the merits of a film is at least significantly subjective. Even the last Oscar best film has been slated as being a unmerited by many. Launching a film without having an effective distributer or an independent distribution/promotion plan that's at least as creative as the film itself is usually an uphill struggle rarely viable without the benefit of ones own or someone else's independent wealth. Chasing low level laurels might impress some folk but there's a great many such endowed efforts that remain undiscovered by any viable market, along with their creators.

    The old refrain 'content is king' is always true. That other old proverb about the 'Emperors New Clothes' is also helpful. It's worth concidering whether it's better to focus energy and resources in self promotion through the the Internets unprecedented empowerment and othe forms of direct engagement with people rather than within the incestuous bubbles of minor festivals.

    1 year ago
  • Survey completed but not quite sure how useful it might be. Maybe this might help...over the last two decades plus I've won dozens of awards at smaller film festivals and been nominated soo many times but I would swap all of them in an instant to have won one of the major awards that I have been nominated for and sadly not won whilst in competition at major film festivals. Simply put some festival awards are worth a awful lot more than others. Some open doors, others are as John most eloquently meerly the 'Emperors New Clothes'

    1 year ago
  • Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far. John, Ray...I hear you regarding the value of festivals. Kind of reminds me a bit of the Dov Simens advice that there are only 12 - 20 film festivals that matter.

    If "Festivals are way overdone"then maybe filmmakers need to concern themselves more with building their audience online. But how do they do this? From the survey results so far (23 responses) despite the majority of films being completed in 2017 or before, only 45% have been made available online.

    The vast majority of film festivals won't build an audience for filmmakers - this has to be nurtured by the filmmakers themselves.

    1 year ago
    • Love that video. My favourite part is, "If you're doing short films, you're 12 years old." So true. It's time to grow up and make those features.

      Perhaps I need to give Dov Simens another chance (I really didn't like his book, lots of bad advice in there. But, I guess no one is always right.)

      1 year ago
  • I don't believe that festivals are overdone, but they are over-hyped or mislabelled. When I ran the Brussels 20k, I didn't do it thinking I was going to get scouted for the olympic team.

    If I won the London Marathon, or even Brussels 20k, that might be a big deal, but those are extremely competitive.

    When I run a local fun run, even if I could win, I know no one will care. If fact, calling myself an "award winning athlete" would make me look like a jerk. That's not to say winning is a small achievement, it's just not important in the long run.

    Local film festivals can have value, especially for audiences. I love WOW (Wales One World) festival which brings foreign films to our little cinema which normally wouldn't be here. (These films are often recruited, and don't pay entry fees.)

    I've also been to lots of obscure film festivals which show films that go "nowhere" but are worth watching, and it's worth speaking to the filmmakers. I had good experiences at film festivals.

    It's fun to see your films or your friends' films on a big screen. (When you're little enough, it's fun to be on youtube.) I'd love to have a short film in an Aberystwyth, Vampire-vs-Gangster country-western musical festival. In a fun run kind of way.

    But, most film festivals are like fun runs without the fun. That's how they come across, anyway. They sell the sizzle, but there's no steak.

    The idea of a festival as necessary for exposure for mainstream genre short films? Well, youtube and vimeo (and especially social media) kind of put paid to that.

    For professional filmmakers? Festivals are unnecessary.

    1 year ago
  • Vasco this gets a like, retweet and follow. Very well written.

    I disagree about your last line... for professionals film festivals give exposure and can build an audience. I've seen many professional films at festivals so there must be a reason.

    For film makers like myself, I see film festivals as a way of networking, as a way of having a bit of fun but also to find distributors, who do attend some of the better festivals. I've recently had money in the bank for a film I shot a few years ago because it got into Frightfest, the director had built up a small but ok following on social media and as a result the audience was good and the distributor took it on and we made our money back.

    7 months ago