View Full Version : Why do some Film Festivals not take DVD?


eomer41
07-13-2011, 12:10 PM
I was searching for film festivals to enter on withoutabox.com (WAB). They show many different film festivals. I wanted to enter into some of the more popular/bigger name festivals such as: Sundance, Indie Memphis, AFI Fest. It seems those feativals do not take a DVD submission. When I try to qualify the technical format of my short it says they want: 35mill, Beta SP, Digi Bata, Other - Digital. I have a .mpeg DVD.

Do they not take DVDs or am I missing something?

Gonzo_Entertainment
07-13-2011, 01:20 PM
Most 'top tier" festivals won't exhibit from DVD. They want a film print, a digi beta, etc... In my experience, most will take a DVD for the submission copy, but not for the exhibition copy if accepted. Though most want a regular region 0 NTSC DVD not a .mov or mpeg burned to DVD for the submission copy. They want to be able to stick in a DVD player and have it go.

A FEW festivals are now going to Blu Ray as an acceptable exhibition format, thank god, because projected DVD (the format a lot of "lower and mid tier" festivals use) looks like complete crap.

CamVader
07-13-2011, 01:27 PM
Some I have checked out want a Quicktime file on a SD card or thumb drive.

Gonzo_Entertainment
07-13-2011, 01:44 PM
Yeah cam, with lots of lower and mid tier festivals all the movies for a given theatre get burned onto a hard drive in correct order. The projection booth has a macbook hooked to the projector. That's how Phoenix FF was. So I can see them using a format like that.

DeJager
07-16-2011, 10:09 PM
Interesting!!

brianluce
07-16-2011, 10:21 PM
I'm glad they're going that way. SD cards. Though I've never entered a fest, I've heard other filmmakers lament the cost of dubbing their movies to DVCPRO HD Tape. Media alone is around $75 fwik.

DirtyPicturesTV
07-17-2011, 05:23 AM
I was able to enter both Sundance and Slamdance with an online screener on Withoutabox.

Big mistake -- Withoutabox apparently uses video compression technology from 1997. It's awful, ruins your movie, and I'll never do it again. Only did it this time because I waited until the last minute (another thing I'll hopefully never do again!).

Gonzo_Entertainment
07-17-2011, 06:21 PM
I was able to enter both Sundance and Slamdance with an online screener on Withoutabox.

Big mistake -- Withoutabox apparently uses video compression technology from 1997. It's awful, ruins your movie, and I'll never do it again. Only did it this time because I waited until the last minute (another thing I'll hopefully never do again!).

I haven't bought in to online screeners on withoutabox either. i mail a DVD.

sonnyboo
07-17-2011, 07:02 PM
I was searching for film festivals to enter on withoutabox.com (WAB). They show many different film festivals. I wanted to enter into some of the more popular/bigger name festivals such as: Sundance, Indie Memphis, AFI Fest. It seems those feativals do not take a DVD submission. When I try to qualify the technical format of my short it says they want: 35mill, Beta SP, Digi Bata, Other - Digital. I have a .mpeg DVD.

Do they not take DVDs or am I missing something?

They accept a DVD for selection purposes, but a DVD uses MPEG2 compression which is really low quality. Presentation on a big screen in a real movie theater will mean you (and the festival) will want a higher quality image to use as a source for projection.

eomer41
07-20-2011, 09:05 PM
They accept a DVD for selection purposes, but a DVD uses MPEG2 compression which is really low quality. Presentation on a big screen in a real movie theater will mean you (and the festival) will want a higher quality image to use as a source for projection.


I guess the bigger the screen the bigger the projection the bigger the quality. Tape does seem to work better for projections now that I think of it. I have watched a DVD on a home theater projection and it looks fine but it sounds like a real theater is a different story.

By the way, I entered my short using an online screener (Withoutabox). So far I have one rejection and several pending.

Thanks for the replys!

Gonzo_Entertainment
07-21-2011, 11:00 AM
Regular DVD is 480P. You blow that up on a 30' wide screen and it looks VERY rough. It looks WAY better if they project some HD format (or film). Festivals are starting to come around to Blu ray which looks pretty decent projected. Any burned media like a DVD or a Blu Ray has issues with crapping out on you as well. That's the other reason they don't like them. Sometimes they skip, jump,. freeze, etc...

CamVader
07-21-2011, 11:34 AM
Regular DVD is 480P. You blow that up on a 30' wide screen and it looks VERY rough. It looks WAY better if they project some HD format (or film). Festivals are starting to come around to Blu ray which looks pretty decent projected. Any burned media like a DVD or a Blu Ray has issues with crapping out on you as well. That's the other reason they don't like them. Sometimes they skip, jump,. freeze, etc...

That's why I'm thinking the SD card thing will eventually take off for shorts. The cost will be the card you never get back.

sonnyboo
07-21-2011, 01:51 PM
That's why I'm thinking the SD card thing will eventually take off for shorts. The cost will be the card you never get back.

Data files on any format (Jumpdrive, flash drive, hard drive, email, SD card, CF card, science fiction card that doesn't exist yet) will be the future in no time.

CamVader
07-21-2011, 04:13 PM
Data files on any format (Jumpdrive, flash drive, hard drive, email, SD card, CF card, science fiction card that doesn't exist yet) will be the future in no time.

I think you're right. It's just a matter of more of the festivals catching up with technology and saying goodbye to tradition. Some still accept cave drawings, though. ;)

sonnyboo
07-21-2011, 05:11 PM
I've been using this media player, the WDTV from Western Digital and it can play most file types, every variation of HD with HDMI or analog output. Having put on more than 15 film festivals, the last one was such a dream because I just hit PLAY and it went off without a hitch. I loved it.

It is the future of presentation, at least for indies as most Hollywood movies are being played digitally on screen now too. Most theater screens, even the $1 second run theaters, are converting to high end DLP digital projection.

Gonzo_Entertainment
07-31-2011, 01:15 PM
I've been using this media player, the WDTV from Western Digital and it can play most file types, every variation of HD with HDMI or analog output. Having put on more than 15 film festivals, the last one was such a dream because I just hit PLAY and it went off without a hitch. I loved it.

It is the future of presentation, at least for indies as most Hollywood movies are being played digitally on screen now too. Most theater screens, even the $1 second run theaters, are converting to high end DLP digital projection.

Hollywood of course loves it. No more several thousand bucks each for film prints. Money straight in their pocket.

WideShot
08-30-2011, 03:52 PM
Firstly, let me be clear that well projected well produced standard definition DVD's can and do look excellent in a theater at 30' wide. The problem is, most DVD's are not well produced and there are many better less compressed projection formats available, such as the aforementioned tape products like Digibeta and HDCam although they certainly have their drawbacks, cost being #1. Indeed, the easiest way to screen a film for acceptance is to pop a film in a DVD player and have it start playing. The best way to screen a film for an audience is off the best quality print possible, whether that be a 35mm print, hi-res tape format, or from a digital hi-res copy like blu-ray.

One other problem with DVD's that it seems nobody understands is that while there is supposedly a "standard" Mpeg-2 codec, the bitrates, audio codecs, menus, VTS structure, GOP length, etc is all over the board when it comes to one DVD from the next. With a true standard like a tape - it either has a picture and audio or it doesn't, you don't have to worry about one machine choking on a tape encoded with too high a bitrate like you do with DVD.

Another reason is because some well entrenched festivals have been set up to screen these other formats and see no reason to make exception to show an inferior format. That is their prerogative.

A final reason why some festivals don't screen from DVD is because it keeps the riff raff out. They figure if you aren't pro enough to be able to get a single print on an alternative format of your film, then it probably isn't pro enough to be in their festival.

Screenwriter
10-12-2011, 07:06 PM
Yeah the bigger festivals we've played at require the better deliverables, and the small festivals do fine with a dvd copy. Once you sign a distribution deal, you will be providing them with these different formats anyways.

I will say this, and I'm surprised nobody has brought this up. Often times, if you want a festival to screen your film, if you have the option... Send them an online screener from a password protected account. This goes with people who want to review your film.

At the early stages in the game, I would send out a DVD to big names in Hollywood or people with influence, if they were interested in my film. But I've learned it's very risky, unless it's a large distribution company or a big film festival.

We've been luck to not have our film pirated, but I know for example, after we played at the Slamdance Film Festival, the projectionist gave the copy to a friend, who passed it to a friend, and one of those friends hit me up, telling me how much they loved the movie, and where it came from. This is how movies hit the pirate circuit before it's been released, killing a % of your initial sales. Be careful.

We make sure and insist that they send us the copy back, after they've screened it now. We are super paranoid, and you should be if you've invested the time and money into your baby, and you feel it's got a chance in the market.

wheatgrinder
10-13-2011, 12:48 PM
Screenwriters comments make me wonder if the POOR quality of the WAB online screeers isnt a GOOD THING. Nobody would pirate the low quality.

Im not clear on one point.. are you demanding the submission copy back, or the presentation copy? Most say you wont get the submission copy back, so maybe again its a GOOD thing that the DVD is low quality?

gorillaonabike
10-13-2011, 02:50 PM
So that's what they don't take and why they don't take it. However, as someone who wants to enter a load of festivals, I would like to know what they do take and how do I get it onto that format from a Mac?

Gonzo_Entertainment
10-13-2011, 02:55 PM
So that's what they don't take and why they don't take it. However, as someone who wants to enter a load of festivals, I would like to know what they do take and how do I get it onto that format from a Mac?

For the submission copy, as we said, most just want an NTSC DVD. Should be able to author that from a bunch of different programs.

If you get in a festival big enough that want digibeta or something, you'll generally pay someone to create it for you.

DirtyPicturesTV
10-14-2011, 03:28 AM
The real question is why do so many festivals ONLY take DVD?

Nothing pisses me off more that paying to watch a film in a theater, only to find out that it's a straight DVD projection, which usually looks like total crap run on a cheap projector.

Film festivals are either very cagey or simply extremely dishonest about their prints these days. It used to be that festivals would list a film's format in their catalog (35mm, BetaSP, etc), but most festivals ended the practice so that they could get away will selling tickets to screenings of low-quality prints. And small festivals love showing DVDs, because they save enormous amounts of money on print shipping.

But unless these festivals are also honest about the quality and format of the prints shown, then it's simply a fucking scam. I say that they should go ahead and project DVDs if they want, BUT a) Tell us exactly what you're projecting, and b) Don't charge us the same $15 ticket price for low-quality screenings -- because they cost the festival much less to show them.

Gonzo_Entertainment
10-14-2011, 08:46 AM
There is a move towards Blu Ray and projecting in HD.
As I enter festivals for my new film I'm seeing it more and more as an acceptable exhibition format.

Blade_Jones
10-14-2011, 02:46 PM
I wanted to enter into some of the more popular/bigger name festivals such as: Sundance,
Don't waste your money on submitting to Sundance. Sundance is like a Ponzi scheme for indie filmmakers. They should hang a sign that reads "we do not choose indie films for our festival but feel free to send us your money and enter."

Wombat
10-14-2011, 05:23 PM
Don't waste your money on submitting to Sundance. Sundance is like a Ponzi scheme for indie filmmakers. They should hang a sign that reads "we do not choose indie films for our festival but feel free to send us your money and enter."
Oh, they choose indie films alright, they just have an interesting definition for what qualifies as "indie."

I'd only submit if I was really, really confident in my film.

Screenwriter
10-14-2011, 08:15 PM
Screenwriters comments make me wonder if the POOR quality of the WAB online screeers isnt a GOOD THING. Nobody would pirate the low quality.

Im not clear on one point.. are you demanding the submission copy back, or the presentation copy? Most say you wont get the submission copy back, so maybe again its a GOOD thing that the DVD is low quality?

I ask for all of the copies back, and I tell them my reason. Most comply, some don't. Yeah, my point is though, if you've got a good film, guard it with your life. It'll one day hit BitTorrent, so it's good to prolong this event the best you can.

DirtyPicturesTV
10-20-2011, 12:35 AM
Oh, they choose indie films alright, they just have an interesting definition for what qualifies as "indie."

And fewer than 30 films are in competition at Sundance (out of hundreds) -- and those films get all of the attention and press. The best way to become a competition film is to develop your feature through the Sundance Lab program.

Scammy, indeed.

Gonzo_Entertainment
10-20-2011, 10:05 AM
Any facade (and it was always a thin one) of being an "independent" film festival was stripped away from Sundance when they programmed The Butterfly Effect.