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Robin

festival Submissions

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Hello, I am submitting a short to a few film festivals for the first time (I usually make music vids but trying narrative film).

Any advice from your own experience is welcome including any small festival jem's that are easy to overlook.

First of all I have a technical questions..

I filmed on a bmmcc in 1080. I am cropping to 2:35 using the 'output blanking' in resolve. I am still exporting the full 1920x1080. Sooo when a festival asks if the film is 'flat' which the file size is or scope which the visible image is, what do I choose. 

Or should I be exporting into a wider scope ratio rather than 1920x1080 with black bars added.

Thanks in advance for any help and advice ūüėÄ

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Most festivals will ask you for a flat 1920x1080 file for projection so you should prep one of those with the black bars at the top and bottom. Some festivals are sophisticated enough to project in anamorphic but I wouldn't count on it, especially for a short where they're programming things in blocks. Most people will be submitting/projecting 1920x1080 so it's best to have a simple file that they can drop right into the timeline.

As far as which festivals to submit to, it's always a somewhat scattershot process but I'd take a look at what kinds of films they've programmed in the past as a guide. You wouldn't submit a drama to a comedy festival, etc. Each festival has a personality so you should target festivals that look like your film.

The other thing is travel - it's most valuable for your career to be able to actually be there for the screening so you can meet the programmers and festival people. I once won best short film at a festival that I wasn't even there for, so that was a missed opportunity. And that's why it's better to be there. So if you don't think you'd be able to make it to the screening (on your own dime) then that festival might be a lower priority than one where you can. Obvious exceptions are the top tier fests where you'd go regardless... but what difference does it make that your film played the Hawaii Children's Film Festival if you're not there? Ideally what happens is that you get into one or two top festivals and other festivals invite you to submit with a fee waiver - that way you can play Hawaii or wherever without having to pay to submit.

Often programmers from one festival will go to others nearby to scout films and filmmakers. And often programmers will move from one festival to another. So getting to know the people who work at the festival will help your reputation over time as those workers spread to other festivals, etc.

So, to recap, start applying to places you'd like to go, starting with the top dogs. Prioritize places you can get to on your own. As for festival gems, I had a great time at the Milwaukee Film Festival last October. Really well run, strong audience engagement. I wrote a long journal about the experience here. And I've had great fun at the Los Angeles Film Festival (top tier fest, great staff), Blackstar and Urbanworld, (niche festivals that fit my film), and New Orleans (incredible city, met a lot of filmmakers), etc. They're all fun. 

Keep plugging away and good luck.

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Be careful that many of these are just a money grab.

https://thespinoff.co.nz/media/05-05-2018/waaaait-is-this-the-auckland-film-festival-i-think-it-is/

https://thespinoff.co.nz/media/19-05-2018/mysteries-of-the-auckland-international-film-festival-the-sequel/

https://thespinoff.co.nz/auckland/04-06-2018/david-farrier-goes-to-the-auckland-international-film-festival-and-it-is-total-balls/

I had a meeting with a director a couple of days ago and that was one of the festivals he'd submitted to! Had spent around $2K on festival submissions in total he said! :-o Which must have around doubled what his short film's budget was?!

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So many film festivals out there are such baloney.

The worst are the ones wherein your film gets "selected" but never screens.  A close second are the ones that screen their selections, but decide to do it in a conference room on a DVD player.

Many out there are nothing more than money grabs.  Some doofus will set up a "festival" on FilmFreeway --and then never does anything irl.  It's just online nonsense.  As they say, "Pics or it didn't happen."

I've entered 'em all as a doc filmmaker.  Been there and done that.

And because I've been burned, frustrated by the process, and want to do it right, I now help run a small legitimate film festival in my SoCal hometown.  If you're interested in submitting, our "Early Bird" window is still open and here's a discount code: PROMOBSFF33.  It's basically a cheap $14 submission fee right now.  Once you're in, and if you attend, we go out of our way to try and make the experience a special one.

Check out the BSFF here.  You'll see all the films we've programmed over the years and you can even delve into our blog for more info.  It's all there.  If you think it's a good fit, send in your work.

As for the tech question, many will take only 1080p.  DCP or otherwise.  You'd probably have to letter box to fit.  I know that's what we do for the BSFF.  We've also screened 4K files starting in 2018, but I think we're still kind of the exception.

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58 minutes ago, kaylee said:

legit question: when was the last time a short or a directors career took off bc of a festival?

NOT cuz a video also has 3 million views on vimeo

seriously curious abt whats going on in these streets

Well, none really, but that's not the only reason to go to good film festivals. They can be fun too.  I know ours is a pretty good time. Simple, maybe... but fun. 

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57 minutes ago, fuzzynormal said:

Well, none really, but that's not the only reason to go to good film festivals. They can be fun too.  I know ours is a pretty good time. Simple, maybe... but fun. 

They can also be a good place to network.  Film-making is a team sport after all :)

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1 hour ago, fuzzynormal said:

Well, none really, but that's not the only reason to go to good film festivals. They can be fun too.  I know ours is a pretty good time. Simple, maybe... but fun. 

and this too

24-badlands-palm-canyon-hotel-rv-resort-

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2 hours ago, kaylee said:

legit question: when was the last time a short or a directors career took off bc of a festival?

NOT cuz a video also has 3 million views on vimeo

seriously curious abt whats going on in these streets

Gareth Edwards http://filmlondon.org.uk/news/2011/april/gareth_edwards_on_sci-fi_london

https://www.mangauk.com/gareth-edwards-from-factory-farm-to-godzilla/

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6 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Also pretty much any one who gets into one of the "big" festivals like Sundance for the first time will see a massive boost to the future of their careers. 

tbh, I'm not so sure about that.  Getting in is great, but to do so usually flows through some rather well established industry networks used by Sundance.  If you're in, it's typically because you're already in the game or are being groomed.  Like most big festivals, they recruit-curate almost all their program.

In other words, open submissions have a chance to get programmed, but it's a long shot.

8 hours ago, kaylee said:

24-badlands-palm-canyon-hotel-rv-resort-

Yes, that too. ¬†There's plenty¬†of camping and hiking that make our BSFF weekend a fun get-away in addition to being a good fest. ¬†I like the snow in this¬†shot, but the real view from that position is 90¬į counter clockwise.

BTW, we offer a sponsored trip to here, Fontes Point, during the event.  Sunrise from this vantage is really something else. 

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13 hours ago, kaylee said:

legit question: when was the last time a short or a directors career took off bc of a festival?

NOT cuz a video also has 3 million views on vimeo

seriously curious abt whats going on in these streets

The director Dee Rees had a short film, Pariah, that played in Sundance in 2007.  Then a kickstarter. The feature version of Pariah played in Sundance 2011. The Director of Photography of both, Bradford Young, won the cinematography award at Sundance that year. A few years later he was nominated for an Oscar for his work on Arrival in 2017. Rees' most recent feature, Mudbound, received four Oscar nominations. You can't do much better than that.

Here's the trailer of the feature version of Pariah. I went to a screening of it last weekend in NYC.

 

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1 hour ago, IronFilm said:

Ah yes, that is the same guy investigating and festival as I linked to earlier 

They are also actively pushing their bullshit on Fb:

Canadian Diversity Film Festival
https://www.facebook.com/events/173197406692112/

Having passed many years in South Asia, with first hand insight into the staggering level of corruption - bordering on moral and ethical bankruptcy - it's not surprising as to the jokers behind this. And knowing just how challenging it is to make a film, I'd love to catch each of them in the lawless street from which they were birthed.

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4 hours ago, fuzzynormal said:

Keep in mind when it comes to the Sundance (or any other big film festival) worthwhileness debate: causation vs correlation.

Of course, plenty of worthy films don't make it into Sundance (ahem, mine), and plenty of people have success independent of what film festivals they play. And there are a good many people who've blown up after their work took off on Vimeo just as a good number have done the same through the festivals. Causation is almost impossible to prove in any of those cases so I'm not sure the point of bringing it up here. The film Pariah that I mentioned earlier was rejected the first time they applied to Sundance and it was only after premiering at Women in Film and Video and word-of-mouth building over several months that they were invited to the next Sundance, which (to me) is a great story of the perseverance that is necessary to go far in this world.

But since we're talking about film festivals, I guess the best part of what they do is create the context for the artistic side of the work. There are infinite numbers of channels broadcasting the latest reality tv competition shows and a lot of good filmmakers hone their craft working on them, etc. But those types of shows don't provide a platform for filmmakers who want to be making feature films and aren't quite there yet. Film festivals (the good ones, at least) do. They help both the audience and the creative workers, albeit through imperfect means. I spend a lot of time on Vimeo, have found a great many projects I love and have learned a ton from that platform, too. But one of Vimeo's limitations is that it's not designed to stoke the shared viewing experience that is one of the foundations of our industry. Film festivals do that, too. (again, the good ones). It's up to each of us to decide how we want our work to be seen and how to make sure we're making work that can reach it's audience. I think of film festivals as a critical piece of infrastructure in that process, just like Vimeo. For me a film is complete when it is seen by its audience, the better if that process can happen in a dark room with hundreds of people watching at the same time. Film festivals do that. The good ones.

 

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